Netflix's 'The Ripper': Peter Sutcliffe murdered 13 innocent women, who were The Yorkshire Ripper's victims?

Netflix's 4-part series documents the events leading up to his arrest. As many watch The Ripper's crimes unfold, it's time to revisit the young women whose lives he brutally cut short


                            Netflix's 'The Ripper': Peter Sutcliffe murdered 13 innocent women, who were The Yorkshire Ripper's victims?
Peter Sutcliffe, the six women murdered by Sutcliffe: (L-R, top to bottom) Vera Millward, Jayne MacDonald, Josephine Whittaker, Jean Royle, Helga Rytka and Barbara Leach (Getty Images)

Netflix's latest documentary series 'The Ripper' is a gripping, horrifying display of the crimes of one of England's most terrifying serial killers Peter Sutcliffe. But you might know him better as the Yorkshire Ripper, who recently in November succumbed to coronavirus after refusing treatment. For five long years, the killer haunted the streets making them unsafe for women. Over this period, he killed 13 women and remained elusive from the police and authorities. Every man on the road was a suspect as the largest police manhunt in British history struggled to catch hold of this vicious murderer. Netflix's four-part series documents the events leading up to his arrest. And so as many will watch The Ripper's crimes unfold, it is time to revisit the innocent women whose lives he brutally cut short. 

Six of the young women murdered by Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper. Top left to right; Vera Millward, Jayne MacDonald, Josephine Whittaker and bottom left to right; Jean Royle, Helga Rytka and Barbara Leach.

Wilma McCann, 28, Leeds, October 1975

28-year-old McCann was The Ripper's first victim. She was attempting to hitchhike her way back home from a night out when he attacked her with a hammer and stabbed her fifteen times. 

When Sutcliffe died, McCann's son Richard, who was only 5 when his mother as killed, said, "The attention he's had over the years, the continuous news stories that we've suffered over the years, there is some form of conclusion to that. I am sure a lot of the families, surviving children of the victims may well be glad he has gone and they have a right to feel like that."

Richard was gripped with anger all his life, but around 2010, he chose to "forgive" Sutcliffe. "I am sorry to hear he has passed away. It's not something I could have said in the past when I was consumed with anger," he had said. It was important for Richard to focus on peace for his departed mother and not hatred for the man who murdered her. "I want her to be remembered as the mother of four children, the daughter of her parents. She was a family woman who, through no fault of her own, was going through adversity and made some bad decisions, some risky decisions. She paid for those decisions with her life."

Richard McCann, the son of the Yorkshire Ripper's first victim Wilma McCann, speaks outside the High Court on July 16, 2010 in London, England. The High Court judge Mr Justice Mitting ruled today that Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, will never be released from prison. Sutcliffe received 20 life sentences in 1981 for the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven others. (Getty Images)

McCann's eldest daughter Sonia Newlands had said in a BBC documentary, "I think most people remember the number 13 – for the number of women he killed. But what about the children? There's 25 of them and no one remembers them." She died shortly afterward by suicide. 

Emily Jackson, 42, Leeds, January 1976

Jackson had three children when she was killed by The RIpper. When Jackson's family struggled with finances, she started working as a part-time sex worker. Her husband, who was a local roofing contractor, was aware of her work, agreed and supported it. They used the family van for this. 

Sutcliffe murdered her in a similar manner as McCann after he picked her up soliciting - he hit her in the head with a hammer and then used a sharpened screwdriver to stab her in the neck, chest and abdomen. When he stamped her on the thigh, he left behind his boot impression. 

Irene Richardson, 28, Leeds, February 1977

The 28-year-old sex worker was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Sutcliffe left tire tracks near the murder scene, which resulted in the police having a long list of suspects. 

Patricia Atkinson, 32, Bradford, April 1977

A sex worker, Atkinson was murdered in her own flat, where Sutcliffe left yet another impression - a footprint on her bedclothes. 

Jayne McDonald, 16, Leeds, June 1977

This was one murder that saw The Ripper stray from his modus operandi. Sutcliffe was targeting sex workers so far, but the teenager was not one. This frightened locals further since it meant that the serial killer would attack any woman. 

Jean Jordan, 21, Manchester, October 1977

Sutcliffe gave a new £5 note to Manchester-based Jordan, a sex worker. It was this note that police traced to branches of the Midland Bank in Shipley and Bingley, helping them to narrow their search. Eventually, they interviewed 5,000 men and Sutcliffe was one of them. 

Alan Royle, Jordan's partner and the father of two of her children, buried her on her 21st birthday. He had said, "It [Her work] didn't matter to me at all. I was hooked and I loved her, but, after she told me, she stopped it there and then, and said she wanted to move in with me. She said the only time she would ever do it again would be if her family was absolutely starving... She walked out of the house one day for a packet of cigarettes and didn't come back." 

Yvonne Pearson, 22, Bradford, January 1978

For almost two months, the body of 22-year-old Pearson was not discovered. She was one of the victims of The Ripper. He bludgeoned across the head with a ball-peen hammer, jumped on her chest and then stuffed horse-hair from a discarded sofa in her mouth. 

Helen Rytka, 18, Huddersfield, January 1978

Helen was working as a sex worker along with her twin sister Rita when she was killed. The news of the recent round of murders should have been a warning to her - but Sutcliffe claimed her life less than a fortnight after he killed Pearson. He struck her in the head five times before stripping most of her clothes off. Then repeatedly stabbed her in the chest. 

Vera Millward, 41, Manchester, May 1978

41-year-old Millward, a prostitute, was very sick and had undergone several operations leading up to her death. On the night of her death, she had gone out to get cigarettes. But her body would be found in the grounds of Manchester Royal Infirmary. 

Josephine Whittaker, 19, Halifax, May 1979

19-year-old Whittaker was a bank clerk on her way home from her grandparents' home a little after midnight when she was attacked. 

Barbara Leach, 20, Bradford, September 1979

The Bradford University student was studying social psychology and was about to enter the third year. She was attacked and dumped under a short pile of bricks close to her university and her lodgings. 

Marguerite Walls, 47, Leeds, August 1980

The civil servant from Leeds had many plans. Just a day after her death, she was supposed to go on a holiday, as a result of which she decided to stay back late to complete her work. Barely half-a-mile from her home, she was attacked by The Ripper. 

Jacqueline Hill, 20, Leeds, November 1980

20-year-old student Jacqueline Hill, the 13th, and last, victim of serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, the 'Yorkshire Ripper', circa 1980. Hill was murdered on her way home in Leeds on 17th November 1980. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Sutcliffe's last victim was a 20-year-old student at Leeds University. The English degree student aspired to be a probation officer. One night as she was walking her way to school, he killed her. Her body was found in a wasteland. 

Doreen Hill, the mother of murder victim Jacqueline Hill, arrives at the Old Bailey for the trial of Peter Sutcliffe for the 'Yorkshire Ripper' murders, 5th May 1981. (Photo by Graham Turner/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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