Who was the Yorkshire Ripper? The infamous killer is put under the spotlight in a new documentary

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The infamous Yorkshire Ripper murders are to be put under the spotlight in a major TV documentary due out soon.

by Lloyd Bent

A police poster from the search for the Yorkshire Ripper

A police poster from the search for the Yorkshire Ripper

A three part television series made for BBC Four will take a “whole new perspective” when it revisits the horrific crimes of Peter Sutcliffe, who killed 13 women in the 1970s and '80s.

It will explore whether the attitudes of the time had an impact on the troubled police investigation into the killings, with a number of Sutcliffe’s victims having worked as prostitutes.

Who was the Yorkshire Ripper?

Peter Sutcliffe was born in Bingley and is one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers. He is currently serving 20 life sentences for the murders, which took place over six years. The former lorry driver and gravedigger was dubbed The Yorkshire Ripper because he mutilated his victims with a hammer, a knife and a sharpened screwdriver.

A line of policemen searching for clues during the Yorkshire Ripper investigation in 1977 (Photo: Yorkshire Post)

A line of policemen searching for clues during the Yorkshire Ripper investigation in 1977 (Photo: Yorkshire Post)

For years he evaded capture, with his closest family having no idea that he was behind the infamous crimes.

He was finally caught while driving with a prostitute in his car when he was arrested for having fake license plates. Police found the murder weapons in the vehicle.

He was convicted and sentenced in 1981, and after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia he was sent to high-security psychiatric hospital Broadmoor, where he lived until 2016. After that he was deemed mentally well enough to be in normal prison, and transferred to HM Prison Frankland in Durham.

When asked why he committed the murders, Sutcliffe claimed that voices in his head had told him to kill prostitutes. However, not all of his victims were sex workers.

The Yorkshire Evening Post on Monday 5 January 1981 when Yorkshire Ripper suspect Peter Sutcliffe was arrested

The Yorkshire Evening Post on Monday 5 January 1981 when Yorkshire Ripper suspect Peter Sutcliffe was arrested

The police investigation into the crimes has been heavily criticised in the years since Sutcliffe’s capture. At one point, police were focussed on a hoax confession tape that indicated the killer could be from Wearside.

An associate of Sutcliffe had also reported him to police in November of 1980 in connection with killings, however this detail vanished among all the paperwork that had accumulated during the course of the investigation.

Documentary will revisit murders with a 'whole new perspective'

The TV series, which has a working title of The Yorkshire Ripper, is being made for the BBC by the Wall to Wall Media production company and is due to air this year.

It will also speak to some of the survivors of Sutcliffe’s attacks as well as police officers who investigated his crimes and journalists who covered the case.