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Yorkshire Ripper serial killer Peter Sutcliffe has died

Sky News logo Sky News 13/11/2020 Tom Parmenter, news correspondent

Peter Sutcliffe wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a building: Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, has died © Imagebridge Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, has died

The serial killer known as the Yorkshire Ripper has died.

Peter Sutcliffe, 74, was one of the UK's most notorious prisoners, having murdered at least 13 women across the north of England in the late 1970s.

He was jailed in 1981 and spent several years at Broadmoor Hospital where he was treated for paranoid schizophrenia. His sentence was made a whole-life term in 2010 before he was transferred to HMP Frankland in County Durham in 2016.

Sutcliffe died at University Hospital of North Durham, three miles from where he was an inmate, a Prison Service spokesman confirmed.

More on this story: In profile - the twisted life of the Yorkshire Ripper (Press Association)

He was sent there after developing COVID-19, but is understood to have refused treatment for the virus.

The 74-year-old had previously returned to prison after being treated for a suspected heart attack two weeks ago - but was forced to go back to hospital after testing positive for coronavirus.

a group of people posing for a photo: Victims top left to right: Wilma McCann, Jayne McDonald, Yvonne Pearson, Patricia Atkinson, Josephine Whitaker, Vera Millward, Jacqueline Hill, Barbara Leach, Marguerite Walls, Irene Richardson, Helen Rytka, Emily Jackson and Jean Jordan © Rex Features Victims top left to right: Wilma McCann, Jayne McDonald, Yvonne Pearson, Patricia Atkinson, Josephine Whitaker, Vera Millward, Jacqueline Hill, Barbara Leach, Marguerite Walls, Irene Richardson, Helen Rytka, Emily Jackson and Jean Jordan

He was obese and had a number of health problems, including diabetes and heart issues.

Sutcliffe grew up in West Yorkshire and after leaving school held a number of different low skilled jobs, including a job as a gravedigger.

He got married in 1974, but had also become obsessed with female sex workers.

Peter Sutcliffe looking at the camera: He was jailed for 13 murders in 1981. Pic: Shutterstock © Rex Features He was jailed for 13 murders in 1981. Pic: Shutterstock

He started attacking women in the late 1960s, but the first known murder happened in 1975 when he killed 28-year-old Wilma McCann, a mother-of-four from Leeds.

Over the following five years he continued killing women across Yorkshire and the North West and as the story of his crimes grew, he became known as the Yorkshire Ripper.

It led the police to advise women in some areas not to go out alone at night.

a man wearing a suit and tie: He was given a whole life sentence in 2010 © Imagebridge He was given a whole life sentence in 2010

His 13 known victims were: Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson, Tina Atkinson, Jayne MacDonald, Jean Jordan, Yvonne Pearson, Helen Rytka, Vera Millward, Josephine Whitaker, Barbara Leach, Marguerite Walls and Jacqueline Hill.

Richard McCann, the son of his first victim Wilma, told Sky News: "He ruined so many lives.

"He will go down as one of those figures from the twentieth century in the same league I suppose as someone like Hitler."

a car parked on a city street: The Sheffield street where Sutcliffe was arrested in 1981 © Imagebridge The Sheffield street where Sutcliffe was arrested in 1981

"It was never just a drunken fight, he went out there with tools and implements and he murdered people again and again and again and again."

Sutcliffe's cause of death has not been confirmed, but will be investigated by the coroner.

Confirming his death, a Prison Service spokesman said in a statement: "HMP Frankland prisoner Peter Coonan (born Sutcliffe) died in hospital on 13 November. The prisons and probation ombudsman has been informed."

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