In 1981, Peter Sutcliffe, the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’, was convicted of thirteen murders and seven attempted murders. All his proven victims were women: most were prostitutes.
Astonishingly, however, this is not the whole truth. There is a still-secret story of how Sutcliffe’s terrible reign of terror claimed at least twenty-two more lives and left five other victims with terrible injuries. These crimes – attacks on men as well as women – took place all over England, not just in his known killing fields of Yorkshire and Lancashire.
Police and prosecution authorities have long known that Sutcliffe’s reign of terror was far longer and far more widespread than the public has been led to believe. But the evidence has been locked away in the files and archives, ensuring that these murders and attempted murders remain unsolved today.
As a result, the families of at least twenty-two murdered women have been cheated of their right to know how and why their loved ones died: the pain of living with that may diminish over time, but it never fades away completely. Five other victims survived his attacks: their plight, too, has never been officially acknowledged.
Worse still, police blunders and subsequent suppression of evidence ensured that three entirely innocent men were imprisoned for murders committed by the Yorkshire Ripper. They each lost the best parts of their adult lives, locked up and forgotten in stinking cells for more than two decades.
This book, by a former police Intelligence Officer, is the story not just of those long-cold killings, of the forgotten families and of three terrible miscarriages of justice. It also uncovers Peter Sutcliffe’s real motive for murder – and reveals how he manipulated police, prosecutors and psychiatrists to ensure that he serves his sentence in the comfort of a psychiatric hospital rather than a prison cell.
This book was really interesting and if true crime is your thing you should give it a read. The crimes that Peter Sutcliffe were charged with are well discussed and have been written about frequently but this book looks at the geography of his life and the number of similar crimes committed in areas he had links with at times he was likely to be there. Some fit his known pattern, others are slightly different, but all share elements of his modus operandi.
Even before reading this I did wonder how many other victims there were out there, either people who were killed or those who had a near misses. I do understand from a practical point of view why there is nothing to be gained and that it would be expensive to investigate every crime that took place in every area he lived or visited, but you can’t help wondering if there are women out there who never got justice.
I give this book 5 out of five stars.