The Yorkshire Ripper serial killer has died in hospital after contracting the coronavirus, Britain’s Prison Service has confirmed.

Peter Sutcliffe had reportedly refused treatment at University Hospital of North Durham after being transferred there from maximum security HMP Frankland, where he was an inmate.

Sutcliffe, 74, had tested positive for COVID-19 and was suffering from underlying health conditions.

He was serving a whole life term for murdering 13 women across Yorkshire and England’s North West between 1975 and 1980.

He was convicted in 1981 and, after a long spell in Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire, he was transferred to HMP Frankland in 2016 after being deemed stable enough to serve time in prison.

Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper, has died.
Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper who murdered at least 13 women in the UK, has died. Credit: AP

A Prison Service spokesman said: “HMP Frankland prisoner Peter Coonan (born Sutcliffe) died in hospital on November 13. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed.”

Sutcliffe had reportedly suffered from a range of conditions before his death including heart trouble, diabetes and obesity.

Born in Bingley, West Yorkshire, in 1946, Sutcliffe left school aged 15 and worked in menial jobs before becoming a grave digger.

Four of the Yorkshire Ripper's 13 victims, (top left) Helen Rytka, who was killed in Huddersfield, January 1978 (top right) Josephine Whitaker, who was killed in Halifax in April 1980. Bottom left, Vera Millward, killed in Manchester in May 1978 and (bottom right) Barbara leach, killed in Bradford in Septrember 1980.
Four of the Yorkshire Ripper's 13 victims, (top left) Helen Rytka, who was killed in Huddersfield, January 1978 (top right) Josephine Whitaker, who was killed in Halifax in April 1980. Bottom left, Vera Millward, killed in Manchester in May 1978 and (bottom right) Barbara leach, killed in Bradford in Septrember 1980. Credit: AP
February 20, 1981 picture of blanketed lorry driver, Peter Sutcliffe, 35 after he was committed in custody by Dewsbury Magistrates to stand trial at Leeds Crown Court.
February 20, 1981 picture of blanketed lorry driver, Peter Sutcliffe, 35 after he was committed in custody by Dewsbury Magistrates to stand trial at Leeds Crown Court. Credit: AP

He began his killing spree in 1975, battering 28-year-old sex worker Wilma McCann to death on October 30, 1975, which followed three non-fatal attacks on women earlier in the year.

Sutcliffe avoided detection for years due to a series of missed opportunities by police to snare him, and eventually confessed in 1981 when he was brought in due to a police check discovering stolen number plates on his car.

Despite his 24-hour-long confession to the killings, Sutcliffe denied the murders when indicted at court.

Police searching the ground behind the home of Peter Sutcliffe in Bradford following his arrest on January 9, 1981.
Police searching the ground behind the home of Peter Sutcliffe in Bradford following his arrest on January 9, 1981. Credit: Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Jailed for 20 life terms

In May 1981, he was jailed for 20 life terms at the Old Bailey, with the judge recommending a minimum sentence of 30 years.

He was transferred from Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight to Broadmoor secure hospital in Berkshire in 1984 after he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

More than two decades later, a secret report revealed that Sutcliffe probably committed more crimes than the 13 murders and seven attempted murders for which he was convicted.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, urged people to remember Sutcliffe’s victims.

He tweeted: “Lot’s of breaking news about the death of convicted murderer Peter Sutcliffe. I understand why this is news worthy, but my ask of the media is lets show the faces of those he killed, not him. The 13 women he murdered and the 7 who survived his brutal attacks are in my thoughts.”


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