6th February 1977 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.
July 1977 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.
15th October 1977 £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 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 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 £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."
13th August 1978 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.
29th July 1979 The Fourth Interview Detectives Constable Laptew and Greenwood interview Sutcliffe at home again. For the first time, his behaviour and demeanour cause unease. Both Laptew and Greenwood feel uncomfortable about the behaviour of Sutcliffe and his wide and question him more closely than they had intended. Unaware of the previous interviews, other factors - such as his appearance - make Laptew in particular suspicious. After the interview, he prepares a report of several pages urging the chief investigating officer to take a closer look at Sutcliffe. The report is either ignored or lost in the welter of paperwork, and once more Sutcliffe is left free.
6th August 1979 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.
13th September 1979 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 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 £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 Oldfield Oldfield completes his convalescence and once again takes the reins of the Ripper enquiry.
25th January 1980 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.
25th November 1980 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.
2nd January 1981 - 22:50 Sutcliffe arrested for the final time Sutcliffe is apprehended in a car with prostitute Olivia St. Elmo Reivers as part of routine training for a young officer still on probation. Sergeant King and Constable Hydes approach the car and question both the driver and the woman accompanying him. Sutcliffe gives a false name and address as John Williams of 65 Dorchester Road, Canklow. It soon becomes apparent that the license plates on his car belong to another car and have been stolen and he is arrested. Before being taken to the station, he asks the officers if he can urinate and they let him walk to the end of the alleyway to relieve himself before taking him to Hammerton Road police station for further questioning.
4th January 1981 Sutcliffe confesses to being the Yorkshire Ripper
5th January 1981 Sutcliffe formally charged with murder at Dewsbury police station