Marcella Claxton
9th May 1976

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Marcella Claxton

Ripper survivor Marcella Claxton appearing in 'Manhunt' - a documentary about the Yorkshire Ripper's crimes and arrest

Marcella Claxton left a party in Chapeltown at 4:00am on the 9th of May 1976. She was drunk and a prostitute, but was not intent on working that night. She began the long walk back through the back streets around Roundhay Road to her home in Harehills. It was a journey she was lucky to complete alive.

By Sutcliffe's account, Claxton was amenable enough to his suggestion of 5 for sex and got in his car. He drove her to the Soldiers Field area of Roundhay Park, where she got out to urinate - eerily reminiscent of the circumstances in which Sutcliffe would later kill Irene Richardson in almost the exact same location. As she did so, Sutcliffe attacked from behind with 8 or 9 heavy blows of his hammer. Somehow, Marcella Claxon survived the assault and Sutcliffe, uncharacteristically, drove off without inflicting any mutilations or ensuring that she was dead. She told police that he had put a fiver in her hand and told her not to talk to the police - an assertion that Sutcliffe would later fiercely deny when confronted with it.

Marcella was a somewhat educationally subnormal black woman in 1970s Leeds - and Leeds police had a notorious reputation for racial bigotry. In fact, the police internally referred to her as 'just this side of a gorilla.'

As such - and despite Marcella's repeated calls to the police and what turned out to be an excellent photofit of her attacker - she was not counted among Sutcliffe's victims until after his arrest and confession.

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