The infamous serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, known in the UK as the Yorkshire Ripper, died in hospital at the age of 74 on Friday, the prison service said.
Sutcliffe murdered 13 women and attempted to murder seven more between 1975 and 1980.
He was serving 20 life terms at a prison in County Durham, in northern England. By the time of his death, he had spent almost 40 years in prison.
A spokesman for the Prison Service said: “HMP Frankland prisoner Peter Coonan [born Sutcliffe] died in hospital on November 13. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed.”
Sutcliffe died at a hospital in North Durham, near the prison where he was serving his sentence.
He was sent to hospital after contracting coronavirus, but local media reported that he refused treatment.
Sutcliffe already had a myriad of health problems. Two weeks earlier he was sent to hospital after suffering a suspected heart attack. He was also obese and had diabetes.
He was one of the UK’s most infamous serial killers.
Sutcliffe used hammers and screwdrivers to kill women of all ages across northern England. His actions led to such a state of fear and terror in the region that police told women not go out at night alone.
His killing spree was also marked by police mishandling of his case despite a huge investigation.
The police missed a number of chances to catch him, even interviewing and releasing him nine times.
One of the reasons for this was a hoax tape recording that police thought was from the killer.
In 1981, he was caught with a sex worker in a vehicle with fake number plates. After finding screwdrivers in the glove department, they then found a hammer and knife dumped near where the car was originally stopped.
In the end, Sutcliffe unexpectedly confessed to his crimes.
He told the detective: “It’s all right, I know what you’re leading up to. The Yorkshire Ripper. It’s me. I killed all those women.”
He gave a detailed confession to the police, and asked for his wife to be brought to him so he could admit he was the serial killer.
At his trial in May 1981, he said God told him to kill sex workers.
Sutcliffe said at his trial: “It was just a miracle they did not apprehend me earlier – they had all the facts.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “The Prime Minister’s thoughts today are with those who lost their lives, the survivors, and with the families and the friends of Sutcliffe’s victims.
“Peter Sutcliffe was a depraved and evil individual whose crimes caused unimaginable suffering and appalled this country. Nothing will ever detract from the harm that he caused.
“It is right that he died behind bars for his barbaric murders and for his attempted murders.”
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