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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Yorkshire Ripper

Peter William Sutcliffe is an English serial killer who was dubbed "The Yorkshire Ripper". In 1981 Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering 13 women and attacking seven others. He is currently serving 20 sentences of life imprisonment in Broadmoor Hospital. 

Peter William Sutcliffe was the first of six children born to John and Kathleen Sutcliffe, on 2 June 1946, in Bingley, Yorkshire. As a boy he wa
s reserved, and preferred spending time with his mother, finding it difficult to make friends at school, and he was often bullied. He left school aged fifteen, with no clear career focus, and his early working life was spent in a number of short-lived, menial occupations, which included a stint as a gravedigger.

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 Outwardly he presented as a diligent, likeable individual, if a little reserved, and, in 1966, he met the daughter of Czech immigrants, Sonia Szurma, whom he courted and eventually married in August 1974. They moved in with her parents, as his chequered work history meant that they had insufficient funds to buy their own home.

During the time of their courtship, Sutcliffe had developed an obsession with prostitutes that he indulged together with a friend, Trevor Birdsall, and they spent a large portion of their spare time cruising red-light districts in the Yorkshire area. This obsession continued after their marriage and the acquisition of his HGV licence in June 1975, and his subsequent work as a lorry driver, took him away from home more than ever, enabling him to indulge his obsession without fear of detection. There is speculation that a bad experience with a prostitute, during one of these forays, led to the violent hatred of these women that resulted in the death of thirteen women, and the vicious attack of seven others.

At his trial, Sutcliffe pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of murder, but guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The basis of this defence was his claim that he was the tool of God's will. Sutcliffe claimed to have heard voices while working as a gravedigger, that ultimately ordered him to kill prostitutes. He claimed that the voices originated from a headstone of a deceased Polish man, Bronisław Zapolski, and that the voices were that of God.

"I thought 'God, what have I done?'... I realized I would be in serious trouble. I thought the best way out of the mess was to make sure she could not tell anybody."

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