1961 Leaves school aged 15 Sutcliffe works in various jobs - perhaps most notably as a gravedigger
1969 First arrested Sutcliff first comes to the attention of the police when he is arrested in an area known to be frequented by prostitutes. He is discovered holding a hammer and charged with 'going equipped for stealing.' Hindsight will, of course, prove this to be a disastrous misreading of Sutcliffe's character.
September 1969 The Stone in Sock Attack Sutcliffe first known attack on a prostitute occurs somewhere in Bradford's red light district. After a series of encounters with prostitutes in the area that leave him feeling alternately disgusted with himself and with prostitutes, Sutcliffe has his friend Trevor Birdsall drive him into the red light district. He hits a prostitute with stone in a sock. Her identity is never uncovered.
November 1971 Starts work at the Baird television factory
April 1973 Leaves Baird factory after being asked be a salesman
10th August 1974 Marries Sonia Szurma
4th June 1975 Gains HGV license
15th July 1975 Olive Smelt Olive Smelt began the 15th July 1975 as an office cleaner. By 11:45 that evening she would find herself name eternally bound to that of the Yorkshire Ripper - and left forever changed by her chance encounter with Peter Sutcliffe.That evening, she was drinking in a pub in the centre of Halifax. Many ... Olive Smelt: in depth
27th August 1975 Tracy Browne Despite Sutcliffe's later claims to have been driven by God to kill prostitutes, one of his earliest known attacks was on a 14 year old schoolgirl, far from the seedy red light districts that would become his hunting grounds.Tracy Browne had been visiting her friend in Silsden, just a mile from the ... Tracy Browne: in depth
29th September 1975 Starts work as a driver for a tyre firm
30th October 1975 Wilma McCann Wilma McCann was the first known victim of Peter Sutcliffe. He had attacked before, but his victims had lived. From this day forward, he was a murderer.The poverty of her life can be judged by her working pattern. Leaving her children in the doubtful care of her eldest daughter - herself just 7 year... Wilma McCann: in depth
20th January 1976 Emily Jackson Poor Emily. When, after her murder, it was disclosed that she had been working as a prostitute it stunned those who knew her as a quiet, respectable, 42 year old housewife. But financial pressures were piling up at home and so she took the fateful decision to mix her pleasure - almost nightly visits... Emily Jackson: in depth
5th March 1976 Sacked Dismissed for stealing tyres
9th May 1976 Marcella Claxton 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 aliv... Marcella Claxton: in depth
5th February 1977 Irene Richardson Poor, luckless Irene was already on the cusp of destitution - living in a practically homeless state - when fate dealt her the final blow of an encounter with The Yorkshire Ripper. She left her rented room in Cowper street saying she was going to visit a popular night club in Leeds city centre. In f... Irene Richardson: in depth
6th February 1977 The Ripper Enquiry: The 'Tracking Enquiry' launched Having acquired good quality tyre tread marks from the scene of the murder of Irene Richardson, police begin the colossal task of trying to identify the make of vehicle used by her killer. By careful measurement of the track width of and turning circle of the car, police are able to narrow the potential types of vehicle down to just 51 models of car. This still leaves 53,000 cars and their owners to be checked in West Yorkshire alone. Police dismiss all those who have already been eliminated from their enquiries to further narrow down their list.
23rd April 1977 Patricia Atkinson Manningham in Bradford has become infamous for its links to prostitution, largely thanks to the works of Kay Mellor, who has set several of her books and screenplays in the area. However, in 1977 even that dismal claim to infamy was usurped by the murder of Patricia Atkinson.Particia Atkinson - also... Patricia Atkinson: in depth
26th June 1977 Jayne McDonald If the murder of Patricia Jackson had hinted that Peter Sutcliffe could vary both his geographic range and be prepared to kill indoors, the murder of Jayne McDonald wiped clean any notion that merely prostitutes would have to fear his attentions. For not only was poor Jayne not involved in prostitut... Jayne McDonald: in depth
July 1977 The Ripper Enquiry: The Tracking Enquiry ends With 20,000 vehicles still to be checked, the tracking enquiry is called to a halt when it is decided that the manpower necessary to complete the search cannot be justified. Sutcliffe's car is on the list of remaining vehicles.
3rd September 1977 Sells white Corsair Sutcliffe sells his white Ford Corsair registration KWT721D - although the car remains in his possession for several weeks after this.
26th September 1977 6 Garden Lane, Heaton Peter Sutcliffe's home during the latter half of his murder spree, which he shared with wife, Sonia. They moved in on September 26th, 1977. Perhaps surprisingly, she still lives alone in the property which she shared for so long with one of Britain's most notorious serial predators. In 2010, it was ... 6 Garden Lane, Heaton: in depth
26th September 1977 Buys a red Ford Corsair Sutcliffe acquires a new car with the registration PHE 355G. This car will later be spotted on numerous occasions in red light districts - again flagging Sutcliffe as a potential suspect.
1st October 1977 Jean Jordan Despite his gruesome appellation as "The Yorkshire Ripper", Peter Sutcliffe showed with the murder of Jean Jordan that he was prepared to kill anywhere that was convenient, regardless of county boundaries. As he became aware of the extent of police operations and surveillance in Yorkshire, he began ... Jean Jordan: in depth
9th October 1977 Jean Jordan: Sutcliffe returns to Jean Jordan's body Realising that the £5 note he had given to Jean Jordan could possibly be traced back to him, Sutcliffe takes the risky decision to return to her body. He attends a housewarming party and then drops his parents-in-law off at home. This, along with the testimony offered by Sonia, provides him an alibi for this evening when later questioned. In fact, Sutcliffe drives back to Manchester and tries to find Jean's purse or handbag. Stumbling in the dark, Sutcliffe is enraged and scatters her clothing and possession about, but fails to locate the note. In an attempt to throw police off the scent, he slashes her abdomen with broken glass and tries to remove her head with a hacksaw. He hopes this will hide the fact that this is part of the Ripper series.
During his confession, he tells officers:
"...it was my intention to create a mystery about the body, I felt sure this was the end for me anyway. I had taken a hacksaw out of my car intending to remove her head. I started sawing through her neck, the blade might have been blunt because I was getting nowhere at all, so I gave it up. If I had cut the head off I was going to leave it somewhere else to make a big mystery out of it. The glass I used was about 3/4 of a pane with the corner missing."
10th October 1977 - 10:30 Jean Jordan: Body found Two local men - Mr Morrisey and Bruce Jones - are looking for loose bricks around the allotment when they discover the horrifically mutilated corpse of Jean Jordan.
15th October 1977 The Ripper Enquiry: £5 note recovered Jean Jordan's handbag is found just 189 feet from her body. Inside is a brand new £5 note. Chief Superintendent Ridgeway of the Manchester force realises that this could be a major clue and begins an intensive effort to track down people who may have received the note. Working closely with operatives from the Bank Of England, he is able to trace the batch of notes in which it had been delivered to a branch of the Midland Bank in Shipley.
Further work established that the note must have been delivered into the pay packets of number of local firms, leaving 8000 people to eliminate. Sutcliffe's employers T. & W.H. Clarke are among those employers.
2nd November 1977 - 19:45 The Ripper Enquiry: Sutcliffe First interviewed Sutcliffe is interviewed at home in the presence of Sonia by Detective-Constables Edwin Howard and Leslie Smith as they attempt to trace the £5 note found at the scene of Jean Jordan's murder. He appears relaxed and casual as he is questioned about his pay packet, and denies being a 'punter'. Sonia confirms that he was at home in bed on the date of the murder and attended a family house warming party with her on the date of the Ripper's return to the crime scene.
The detective-constables file a five paragraph report stating Sutcliffe's wife had given a general alibi for the night of the murder.
8th November 1977 The Ripper Enquiry: Sutcliffe Questioned again Sutcliffe is again questioned about his movements on the date of Jean Jordan's murder and her killer's subsequent return to the body. The police also visit Sutcliffe's mother to ask for confirmation of his alibi - that he had attended a house warming party. She confirms his story, telling the detectives that Sutcliffe had dropped them off at home in Bingley after the party.
17th January 1978 The Ripper Enquiry: £5 note enquiry ended Having interviewed 5000 men with inconclusive results, the decision is taken to remove the few remaining officers on the £5 enquiry. Ridgeway tells the press: "There is always the chance that we have already seen that person. We have interviewed everybody who could have received that £5 note. It is more than likely that we have interviewed the person who received the fiver, but it does not follow that it is the same person that murdered Jean Jordan. We have just about exhausted the enquiry. It has drawn a blank."
21st January 1978 Yvonne Pearson Like many of the sad stragglers of humanity that Peter Sutcliffe would claim, Yvonne Pearson lived an unstable life of drink and prostitution. On the night of the 21st of January, five days away from a scheduled appearance in court for soliciting, she left her two children with a 16 year old neighbo... Yvonne Pearson: in depth
31st January 1978 Helen Rytka Helen Rytka and her twin sister Rita were newcomers to the prostitution trade, but had already developed a crude but effective system that they believed would ensure their safety in the red light district of Huddersfield.They would take clients at roughly the same time and rendezvous around 20 minut... Helen Rytka: in depth
8th March 1978 John Humble: 'Wearside Jack': First hoax letter Humble's first letter - addressed to George Oldfield - mentioned "Preston '75" a crime linked to the Yorkshire Ripper at the time but later proved to be the work of a different man by DNA analysis in 2011. The letter was postmarked Sunderland, and sparked the disastrous focus on suspects from that part of the world.
I am sorry I cannot give my name for obvious reasons. I am the Ripper. I've been dubbed a maniac by the Press but not by you, you call me clever and I am. You and your mates haven't a clue that photo in the paper gave me fits and that bit about killing myself, no chance. I've got things to do. My purpose to rid the streets of them sluts. My one regret is that young lassie McDonald, did not know cause changed routine that night. Up to number 8 now you say 7 but remember Preston '75. get about you know. You were right I travel a bit. You probably look for me in Sunderland, don't bother, I am not daft, just posted letter there on one of my trips. Not a bad place compared with Chapeltown and Manningham and other places. Warn whores to keep off streets cause I feel it coming on again.
Sorry about young lassie.
Jack the Ripper
Might write again later I not sure last one really deserved it. Whores getting younger each time. Old slut next time I hope. Huddersfield never again, too small close call last one." Read more
26th March 1978 Yvonne Pearson: Body discovered Yvonne's body is found.
16th May 1978 Vera Millward Sutcliffe's choice of victims was, until 1978 exclusively prostitutes (accepting that he really believed that Jayne McDonald was a prostitute) and all led troubled existences. Perhaps Vera Millward most fitted the popular image of 'human chaff' that (often unfairly) surrounded sex workers then as mu... Vera Millward: in depth
13th August 1978 The Ripper Enquiry: Sutcliffe Interviewed for the third time Sutcliffe is interviewed for a third time after his red Ford Corsair is observed by undercover officers in Bradford's red light district on no fewer than 7 occasions. Detective Constable Smith was unaware that Sutcliffe had been interviewed twice before and accepted his explanation that his normal driving route to and from work would often take him through the red light district. Smith was unaware that Sutcliffe had recently bought a black Sunbeam Rapier that had also been clocked 9 times in the red light district already.
Sonia Sutcliffe offered alibis for her husband's presence on two murder dates.
4th April 1979 Josephine Whittaker The final phase of Sutcliffe's "career" saw him widen his net to include women from any and all walks of life. Previously, he had trawled notorious red light districts, looking for obvious prostitutes who would naturally present a vulnerable target to his attentions. At least partly because of the e... Josephine Whittaker: in depth
17th June 1979 John Humble: 'Wearside Jack': Sends Perhaps more than any 'clue' this recorded tape came to dominate the thinking of West Yorkshire Police - sending hundreds of officers on a wild goose chase to carry out door-to-door enquiries in Sunderland.
"I'm Jack. I see you are still having no luck catching me. I have the greatest respect for you George, but Lord! You are no nearer catching me now than four years ago when I started. I reckon your boys are letting you down, George. They can't be much good, can they?"
6th August 1979 The Ripper Enquiry: Oldfield falls ill George Oldfield's body finally revolts against the 14 hour, 7 day weeks he is working and he suffers a series of minor heart attacks. He is forced to go on sick leave.
2nd September 1979 Barbara Leach Pretty, 20 year old Barbara Leach was about to start her final year studying social psychology. Drinking in the Mannville arms on Great Horton Street, Bardford with friends she could have no way of knowing that her seemingly-bright future was about to be cut short in the most horrific of ways.At clo... Barbara Leach: in depth
13th September 1979 The Ripper Enquiry: Special Notice issued On the strength of their belief in the validity of the Ripper letters and tape, West Yorkshire Police issue a nationwide special notice to all police forces stating that:
A person can be eliminated from these enquiries if:
Not born between 1924 and 1959
He is an obvious coloured person
His shoe size is size 9 or above
His blood group is other than 'B'
His accent is dissimilar to a North Eastern (Geordie) accent
2nd October 1979 The Ripper Enquiry: Campaign launched to identify the writer of the letters and tapes Local businesses contribute most of the estimated £1,000,000 campaign to identify the sender of the Ripper letters and tape. Huge posters are mounted by every road and the tape is played regularly on local radio and news channels.
January 1980 The Ripper Enquiry: £5 note enquiry revived Detective Chief Superintendent Jack Ridgeway and his team from Manchester return to West Yorkshire. Through a massive (and secretive) re-enactment of the events at the Bingley branch on the day the note was distributed - complete with a batch of dummy replica notes - they felt confident that they had narrowed down the recipients to just 3 firms who between them only employed just 300 men.
6th January 1980 The Ripper Enquiry: Oldfield Oldfield completes his convalescence and once again takes the reins of the Ripper enquiry.
25th January 1980 The Ripper Enquiry: Sutcliffe arrested for drink driving Sutcliffe is arrested for drink driving in Manningham by constables Doran and Melia. As his arrest takes place in a red light district, Sutcliffe's details are passed to the Incident Room at Millgarth as a matter of routine. The officers are told that Sutcliffe has already been eliminated from the enquiry.
20th August 1980 Marguerite Walls The Yorkshire Ripper's two previous victims - Barbara Leach and Josephine Whitaker - were young women cut down in the flush of youth. If any proof were needed that Peter Sutcliffe was now intent on taking the lives of any woman, regardless of class, age or appearance it was provided with the murder ... Marguerite Walls: in depth
5th November 1980 Theresa Sykes Theresa Sykes was just 16 when Peter Sutcliffe attacked her on Bonfire Night in 1980. The young mother had walked a couple of hundred years to buy cigarettes from a grocery shop and was almost home, when Sutcliffe emerged from the shadows behind her, and struck her on the head. This was possibly the... Theresa Sykes: in depth
17th November 1980 Jacqueline Hill The Yorkshire Ripper's final victim was Jacqueline Hill. Aged just 20 and in the third year of her course at Leeds University, she attended a seminar for probation officers on the evening of November 17th 1980. It was a cold, rainy night and her bus journey home to her halls of residence in Headingl... Jacqueline Hill: in depth
17th November 1980 - 21:30 Jacqueline Hill: Attacked and killed Sutcliffe, having eaten some chicken and chips from KFC, spots Jacqueline Hill and follows her to a quiet, dark spot where he attacks her with his hammer before stabbing her many times with a sharpened screwdriver. Apparently disturbed by her still-open eyes, he viciously stabs her through one.
17th November 1980 - 22:00 Jacqueline Hill: Hill's handbag is found A 31 year old Iraqi student - Amin Moosa Hussein - is walking along Alma Road when he finds a ladies handbag. Discovering that it contains money, a Barclay card and other important personal items, he tries to take it to the site office of his residential flats, but it is closed. Instead he takes back to his flat, where his flatmate says he will take care of it in the morning.
17th November 1980 - 23:45 Jacqueline Hill: Blood noticed on handbag Hussain re-examines the handbag and realises that there is blood present on it. After some discussion with housemates, it is decided that they should phone the police.
18th November 1980 Jacqueline Hill: Police called The students call 999 and are transferred to the local station at Ireland Wood. Two policemen are sent to the flat, where they take details of the discovery of the handbag. One of them remarks - apparently jokingly - that "this will be the Ripper's 13th." They decide to search the grounds of 7 Alma Road where the handbag was found.
25th November 1980 The Ripper Enquiry: Sutcliffe's friend reports him to the police Trevor Birdsall - the friend of Peter Sutcliffe who had been with him on the night of his first attack finally makes his suspicions formal, writing to the police: "I have good reason to know the man you are looking for in the Ripper case. This man has dealings with prostitutes and always had a thing about them… His name and address is Peter Sutcliffe, 6 Garden Lane, Heaton, Bradford. Works for Clarke’s Transport, Shipley." Despite being marked as 'Priority No. 1' and indexed against Sutcliffe's name, it is lost in the filing system until after his eventual arrest.
5th January 1981 The Ripper Enquiry: Sutcliffe formally charged with murder at Dewsbury police station
5th May 1981 Trial begins
19th May 1981 Found guilty Sutcliffe is found guilty on 13 charges of murder and 7 of attempted murder. He is sentenced to 30 years, with the judge remarking he believes Sutcliffe to be beyond redemption
22nd May 1981 Begins sentence at Parkhurst
10th January 1983 Attacked in prison James Costello slashes Sutcliffe's face with a broken coffee jar at Parkhurst
March 1984 Sent to Broadmoor under the terms of the 1983 Mental Health Act
24th May 1989 Sonia Sutcliffe Wins Damages for Libel from Private Eye A jury awards Sonia Sutcliffe a record £600,000 in damages after finding that Private Eye had made libellous claims that she had attempted to profit from her story. The amount is reduced to £60,000 on appeal.
April 1994 Divorce Sonia Sutcliffe finally divorces Sutcliffe
23rd February 1996 Attacked in prison Fellow prisoner and convicted robber Paul Wilson attempts to strangle Sutcliffe in his cell with a pair of earphones
10th March 1997 Attacked in prison Fellow prisoner Ian Kay blinds Sutcliffe's left eye with a pen - and badly damages the right
17th September 2003 John Humble: 'Wearside Jack': Search called off The police announce that they are calling off the search for the hoaxer, saying: "The offender can not now be prosecuted for the charge of wasting police time, because of the time that has expired. We have no plans to continue with the matter."
17th January 2005 Allowed to attend his father's funeral Sutcliffe is allowed to leave Broadmoor under tight secrecy and supervision, to visit Arnside in Cumbria where his father's ashes were scattered following his death in 2004. When announced, the decision is vociferously attacked in the media. The Home Office issue a statement defending the move.
"The decision on this individual was made by the previous Home Secretary David Blunkett. This decision was subsequently reaffirmed by Charles Clarke. A full and comprehensive risk assessment was made by the authorities and the individual was closely supervised at all times. At no point was there any danger to members of the public."
9th May 2005 John Humble: 'Wearside Jack': Reinvestigation mooted A claim that an ex-police officer may have been behind the hoax tapes prompts speculation that the police may revisit evidence relating to that investigation.
20th October 2005 John Humble: 'Wearside Jack': Arrested An arrest for being drunk and disorderly had led to Humble's DNA being placed on the national police database. When Sunderland's cold case review time look again at the Ripper letters, they recover DNA from the saliva on the back of the stamp. This leads them to Humble's door and he is arrested on a charge of perverting the course of justice.
9th January 2006 John Humble: 'Wearside Jack': Trial begins at Leeds Crown Court Charged with four counts of perverting the course of justice, Humble enters a plea of not guilty for each one.
23rd February 2006 John Humble: 'Wearside Jack': Admission For the first time, Humble admits that it is his voice on the tape and that sent the letters.
20th March 2006 John Humble: 'Wearside Jack': Changes plea to guilty Humble pleads guilty to all four counts.
21st March 2006 John Humble: 'Wearside Jack': Sentenced Humble is handed an eight year sentence for perverting the course of justice. The judge allows that it could never be certain that Sutcliffe would definitely have been caught earlier if not for the hoax, but notes: "The least that could be said was these victims would have stood a better chance of not being attacked had these police resources been directed in West Yorkshire." The court hears that Humble is a "hopeless alcoholic" who had attempted suicide after realising what he had done.
1st June 2006 Byford Report published The secret report of Sir Lawrence Byford into the investigation and failures of police efforts to apprehend the Yorkshire Ripper is finally published in full following a Freedom of Information request.
19th December 2007 Sonia Newlands (neé McCann) Sonia Newlands - daughter of Wilma McCann - sadly took her own life in December 2007, aged just 39. She was just 7 when Sutcliffe murdered her mother on playing fields near the family home in Leeds and had been left in charge of her younger siblings despite her youth.The McCann's background wa... Sonia Newlands (neé McCann): in depth
22nd December 2007 Attacked in prison Fellow inmate Patrick Sureda attacks Sutcliffe with a knife in an attempt to blind him. The blade misses Sutcliffe's eye and instead scars his cheek.
16th July 2010 Sutcliffe given full life term Justice Mitting judges that Sutcliffe should serve a whole life term at the Royal Courts of Justice
11th April 2011 Olive Smelt: Dies Mrs Smelt dies, aged 82 from Pneumonia in Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. Her daughter Lucy tells reporters: "She never got over that night. She did well to survive and had to learn to accept what happened mentally. But physically her mobility was never the same. She has been through hell and suffered in silence. She never complained. May she rest in peace."
She is survived by two other children - another daughter, Linda, and a son, Stephen.
July 2013 John Humble: 'Wearside Jack': Released on license Humble is released from gaol on license and finds himself the target for both physical and verbal abuse. His sister tells reporters that his windows have been smashed.
15th October 2015 Sutcliffe taken from Broadmoor for eye appointment The Sun photograph Sutcliffe as he is taken, unhandcuffed, to an eye specialist in Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey. His eyesight is deteriorating due to his diabetes, but also as a result of attacks he suffered in prison when attempts were made to blind him.
1st December 2015 Declared 'cured' of paranoid schizophrenia Doctors treating Sutcliffe at Broadmoor secure hospital declare that the serial killer's paranoid schizophrenia has been 'cured' - raising the possibility that the erstwhile Ripper could be returned to the mainstream prison population for the first time since 1984. A spokeman for the Ministry of Justice tells the media:
"Decisions over whether prisoners are to be sent back to prison from secure hospitals are based on clinical assessments made by independent medical staff.
The high court ordered in 2009 that Sutcliffe should never be released. This was then upheld by the court of appeal. Our thoughts are with Sutcliffe’s victims and their families." Read more
24th August 2016 Sutcliffe is moved back to the general prison population After 32 years in Broadmoor secure hospital, Sutcliffe is returned to the general prison population following the assessment of his doctors earlier in the year that his supposed schizophrenia had been cured. The Home Office will not comment on Sutcliffe's (now calling himself Peter Coonan) whereabouts, but press speculation places him at HMP Frankland, Durham. Read more
3rd April 2017 Yorkshire Ripper: Cases linked to Peter Sutcliffe reviewed Police are alleged to be questioning Peter Sutcliffe (now Coonan) about 17 unsolved murders committed between his first known attack in 1969 and his arrest in 1981. Read more