British serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, who was widely known as the Yorkshire Ripper, has died in the hospital at age 74 after contracting COVID-19.
Peter Sutcliffe Yorkshire Ripper 1981. Photo credit: Mirrorpix / MEGA
A prison service spokesperson said: "HMP (Her Majesty's Prison) Frankland prisoner Peter Coonan (born Sutcliffe) died in hospital on 13 November. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed." Sutcliffe had underlying health issues prior to contracting the novel virus, which he refused treatment for. Therefore, the Prison Service couldn't confirm his cause of death as it is "rightly a matter for the coroner."
Nicknamed the "Yorkshire Ripper" by the U.K. press, Sutcliffe was convicted in 1981 for murdering 13 women. He was also found guilty of the attempted murders of several other women during his reign of terror in England from 1975-1980. He was sentenced to serve 20 life terms in prison.
Sutcliffe — who was obese and had diabetes — confessed to the police in 1981 but decided to contest the charges later in his trial at the Old Bailey in London. Sutcliffe claimed he was on a mission from God to kill prostitutes, although not all of his victims were sex workers.
Detectives discover yet another 'Ripper' victim. Photo: MEGA
According to Britain's PA news agency, the Yorkshire Ripper — who was eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia —spent many years in Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital before he was considered stable enough to be transferred to Frankland prison in County Durham in 2016.
Sutcliffe was born in June 1946 in Bingley, West Yorkshire. He worked as a truck driver and gravedigger at a time. Sutcliffe carried out his first killing in October 1975, less than a year after he tied the knot with ex-wife Sonia. His first victim was Wilma McCann, 28, who was a mother of four and a sex worker. She was battered with a hammer and stabbed 15 times. His last victim was Jacqueline Hill, 20, in November 1980.
"After that first time, I developed and played up a hatred for prostitutes in order to justify within myself a reason why I had attacked and killed Wilma McCann," Sutcliffe previously told police. Sutcliffe continued to kill multiple victims over the course of the next five years in West Yorkshire and two in Manchester. He mutilated all of his victims with a hammer, screwdriver and knife.
He was interviewed throughout the years in association to the investigations but managed to avoid arrest and continue murdering. The cops eventually arrested Sutcliffe after they stopped him in his brown Rover car with a false license plate.
Police searching the ground behind the home of Peter Sutcliffe in Bradford following his arrest on January 9, 1981. Photo: Andrew Varley/MEGA
While Sonia hasn't seen her ex-husband in years, she visited him once in a police station where he confessed: "It's me, luv. I'm the Yorkshire Ripper."
His first victim's son praised the coronavirus for taking the life of the monster. "Good riddance. Who'd have thought that coronavirus could produce at least one happy ending?" he told The Sun after hearing the news.
Boris Johnson's spokesperson said: "The PM's thoughts today are with those who lost their lives, the survivors and the families and friends of Sutcliffe’s victims," while noting: "It is right he died behind bars for his barbaric murders and attempted murders."