Remembering the Yorkshire Ripper's victims: The 13 women Peter Sutcliffe killed

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·5-min read
The Yorkshire Ripper's 13 victims. (PA)
The Yorkshire Ripper's 13 victims: Top row (Left to right) Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson and Patricia Atkinson. Middle row (left to right) Jayne McDonald, Jean Jordan, Yvonne Pearson and Helen Rytka, Marguerite Walls. Bottom row (left to right) Vera Millward, Josephine Whitaker, Barbara Leach and Jacqueline Hill. (PA)

The Yorkshire Ripper, who died on Friday, was convicted of the murders of 13 women during his five-year killing spree across northern England.

Typically targeting lone women, Peter Sutcliffe carried out brutal attacks and mutilated corpses.

He was jailed for 20 life terms in 1981, having also been convicted of seven attempted murders, and died in prison after testing positive for COVID-19 and being diagnosed with multiple health problems.

His victims came from different backgrounds and aged between 16 and 47. Sutcliffe mostly carried out his murders in the West Yorkshire area, but had victims in Manchester.

Here are the women whose lives he took.

Wilma McCann

The 28-year-old mother of four was battered to death early on 30 October 1975.

Sutcliffe picked her up in Leeds before hitting her with a hammer and stabbing in her neck, chest and stomach.

Read more: Yorkshire Ripper's death brings 'closure' for victim's son

He told police of the sex worker’s death: “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.”

The next three women he would kill would all be engaged in sex work.

Emily Jackson

Emily Jackson, the second murder victim of Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper.
Emily Jackson, the second murder victim of Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper. (PA)

The mother-of-three from Morley, Leeds, was killed on 20 January, 1976.

Sutcliffe picked her up near a pub in Leeds before attacking her with a hammer and screwdriver.

Irene Richardson

The 28-year-old mother-of-two was similarly attacked with a hammer on 6 February 1977 – more than a year since the previous victim he was convicted of killing.

Richardson, from Chapeltown, Leeds, used a knife to mutilate her.

Patricia Atkinson

Sutcliffe murdered Atkinson, from Bradford, on 24 April, 1977.

The 32-year-old mother-of-three, who had turned to sex work after suffering personal problems, was killed in her flat with a hammer.

Read more: In profile: the twisted life of the Yorkshire Ripper

Her body had been repeatedly stabbed with a knife or chisel.

Jayne MacDonald

The youngest of Sutcliffe’s murder victims, Jayne MacDonald was a 16-year-old shop assistant.

She was struck over the head with severe blows and then stabbed in the chest and back.

Jayne MacDonald, the fifth murder victim of Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper.
Jayne MacDonald, the fifth murder victim. (PA)

At the time, the distinction being made by some between the Ripper’s sex worker victims and non-prostitutes he killed, like MacDonald, drew criticism.

Jean Jordan

The body of the 21-year-old from Manchester was found at an allotment site in Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

She had been killed by hammer strikes to her head and then stabbed. It appeared Sutcliffe had gone back days after her death to further mutilate her body.

Jordan died between 30 September and 11 October 1977.

Yvonne Pearson

The 22-year-old was attacked and murdered by Sutcliffe in Bradford, where she lived, some time between 20 January and 26 March 1978.

It was thought at the time that her head injuries came from a big stone instead of a hammer, and no stab wounds appeared to have been inflicted on the victim.

Authorities initially believed the killing to be separate to the other murders, but West Yorkshire Police connected it by May 1978.

Watch: Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe dies

Helen Rytka

Murdered aged 18 on 31 January 1978 in Huddersfield, Rytka was found in a timber yard.

A post-mortem examination found she suffered hammer blows to the head and stab wounds to the body, a pattern similar to most of the previous Ripper killings.

Vera Millward

The body of the mother-of-seven was found on 17 May 1978, a day after she died.

Sutcliffe had attacked her with a hammer to the head and then stabbed and slashed her body.

Josephine Whitaker

Building society clerk Whitaker was murdered in Savile Park, Halifax, on 4 April 1979 in a method that was clearly the Yorkshire Ripper’s.

After suffering two hammer blows to her head, she was stabbed 25 times across her body.

Barbara Leach

The 20-year-old student was murdered walking in the university area of Bradford on 1 September, 1979.

Barbara Leach, the eleventh murder victim of Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper.
Barbara Leach was the 11th victim. (PA)

She was hit by a hammer to the head and stabbed in the abdomen and upper body eight times, and police believed the weapon was the same used in Whitaker’s murder earlier in the year.

Marguerite Walls

A 47-year-old civil servant from Leeds, Walls was killed on 20 August 1980 as she walked home.

Marguerite Walls, the 12th murder victim of Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper.
Marguerite Walls was murdered as she walked home. (PA)

Sutcliffe hit her on the head, which knocked her over, and strangled her.

Police initially did not link it to the other murders because of the new method of killing, and at first focused on sex offenders who lived in the area Walls died.

Jacqueline Hill

02/09/1979 - ON THIS DAY IN 1979 - Jacqueline Hill, the 13th and last known victim of the Yorkshire Ripper, is found dead in Leeds  PA NEWS PHOTO 19/11/80  A LIBRARY PHOTO OF THE 13TH VICTIM OF THE YORKSHIRE RIPPER, JACQUELINE HILL A LEEDS UNIVERSITY STUDENT
Jacqueline Hill, the 13th and last known victim of the Yorkshire Ripper, was found dead in 1979. (PA)

Another student, Hill was 20 when she was murdered in November 1980.

She was the final confirmed victim of the Yorkshire Ripper murders.

Like his other brutal killings, Sutcliffe used a hammer to attack her in the head and stabbing her body.

Watch: What is long COVID?