Two Sides Of The Coin – Kiss – Unmasked

  • Posted on March 1, 2018 at 1:28 AM

The night of Sunday, January 4, 1981 — 30 years ago on Tuesday — was bitterly cold. The roads and pavements in Bradford, Two Sides Of The Coin – Kiss – Unmasked Yorkshire, were shiny with ice.

Nobody would have been daft enough to go out unless they had to. Yet after the phone rang at my home in nearby Leeds at 8pm that evening, I couldn’t get out of the door fast enough. My hands were shaking with excitement. I even forgot to put on a coat. You see, I was then a young trainee reporter on the regional newspaper, the Yorkshire Post, and over the next few hours I would be the first person in the world to uncover the fascinating personal details of the most notorious mass murderer of modern times: the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe. For five years, this monster’s crime spree — the savage murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven — had gripped not only the north of England, but the entire world. With two murders and two attacks within the past few months, the Yorkshire Ripper was, by New Year’s Day 1981, the biggest news story of its time.

Peter William Sutcliffe had been arrested in Sheffield on January 2. But no one outside the police knew any details — not even his name or where he lived. No one apart from a few reporters on the Yorkshire Post, that is. So until early the next morning, when hundreds of journalists and TV news crews from all over the world would descend on Bradford, I would have exclusive access to Sutcliffe’s neighbours and relatives. My normal reporter’s beat in those days was village stories in the Yorkshire Dales and the occasional flower show.

Sutcliffe that I began gathering on that freezing Sunday night. It is those notes I have in front of me now as I write. Yorkshire, and there were three P. Sutcliffes listed in the phone book within a few hundred yards of one another in Heaton, the area where we knew the Ripper lived. I wrote down the addresses on the first page of the notebook. I had a feeling it would be obvious when I found the right one. Number 6 Garden Lane was the last house I went to, and as soon as I saw it I made a big Biro tick in my notebook.

It wasn’t just the police panda car outside: the house just looked deeply spooky. In a road of ordinary 1930s semis, it was tall and detached and set high above the street. In the yellow streetlight, it was grey and forbidding. It reminded me of the Addams Family house. So was this the home of the Yorkshire Ripper, the maniac who had terrified millions of women all these years? We always imagined he would live in a seedy bedsit, not a middle-class detached house in one of the best parts of Bradford.

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