Yorkshire Ripper hoaxer Wearside Jack dies at the age of 63

John Humble, also known as Wearside Jack, derailed West Yorkshire Police's inquiry in the 1970s, leaving the real culprit Peter Sutcliffe to continue his killing spree.
John Humble, also known as Wearside Jack, derailed West Yorkshire Police's inquiry in the 1970s, leaving the real culprit Peter Sutcliffe to continue his killing spree.
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The man who hoaxed police into thinking he was the Yorkshire Ripper has died at the age of 63.

John Humble, also known as Wearside Jack, derailed West Yorkshire Police's inquiry in the 1970s, leaving the real culprit Peter Sutcliffe to continue his killing spree.

Reports say Humble died of alcohol abuse in July with friends saying "he drank to forget".

Humble sent West Yorkshire Police detectives a two-minute message and three letters turning the attention away from the real murderer during the police inquiry in 1978 and 1979.

The delays he caused allowed Sutcliffe to kill at least three more women.

Humble, who was from Sunderland, was 23 in June 1979 when he sent the tape to West Yorkshire police Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield, who was leading the inquiry.

Oldfield was convinced the man on the recording was the killer.

The recording said: “I’m Jack. I see you are still having no luck catching me.

Read more: The Yorkshire Ripper Files: Who was the hoaxer Wearside Jack?

“I have the greatest respect for you George, but Lord!, you are no nearer catching me now than four years ago when I started. I reckon your boys are letting you down, George. They can’t be much good can they?”

“At the rate I’m going I should be in the book of records... I’ll keep on going for quite a while yet. I can’t see meself being nicked just yet...

“Well, it’s been nice chatting to you, George. Yours, Jack the Ripper.”

Oldfield launched a £1million publicity campaign to find the man with the Wearside accent and questioned 40,000 men.

Read more: The silencing of Wearside Jack

Sutcliffe, of Bradford, was quizzed but released several times – partly because he didn’t sound like Wearside Jack.

When Humble realised police were taking him seriously, he phoned to tell them it was a con. But they didn’t believe him.

Read more: 'I did it because I was bored and on the dole'

Days later, in September 1979, Sutcliffe bludgeoned to death student Barbara Leach, 20, in Bradford.

The Ripper killed civil servant Marguerite Walls, 47, in Leeds in 1980.

His 13th and final known victim, student Jacqueline Hill, 20, was murdered later that year in Leeds.

Humble had evaded justice for nearly 30 years when in 2005 a cold case review by West Yorkshire police matched his DNA – taken after he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in 1991 – to a sample taken from one of the letters.

He was jailed for eight years for perverting the course of justice.

After Humble was released in 2009, he was moved to South Shields, Tyneside, and given a new identity, John Samuel Anderson.