A letter postmarked “Sunderland”, arrived on the desk of Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield, who was of course leading the hunt for The Yorkshire Ripper. The letter, written as it was spelt, read;
I am sorry I cannot give my name for obvious reasons. I am the Ripper. I’ve been dubbed a maniac by the Press but not by you, you call me clever and I am. You and your mates have’nt a clue that photo in the paper gave me fits and that bit about killing myself no chance. I’ve got things to do. My one purpose to rid the streets of them sluts. My one regret is that young lassie McDonald, did not know cause changed routine that night. Up to number 8 now you say 7 but remember Preston 75, get about you know. You were right I travel a bit. You probably look for me in Sunderland, don’t bother, I am not daft, just posted letter there on one of my trips. Not a bad place compared with Chapeltown and Manningham and other places. Warn whores to keep off streets cause I feel it coming on again.
Sorry about young lassie
Jack the Ripper
Might write again later I not sure last one really deserved it. Whores getting younger each time. Old slut next time I hope. Huddersfield never again, too small close call last one.”
Criminal investigations often lead to such hoaxes, but one minor detail in this letter stopped it being filed away and fogotten about – “Preston 75”.
Now in Preston in 1975, November 20th to be precise a 26 year old prostitute Joan Harrison was murdered in a style to that resembled the Yorkshire Ripper killings. There was a bite mark on her breast which showed that the killer had a gap in his teeth. Saliva found on her body showed that the killer belonged to blood group B secretor.
When Peter Sutcliffe was arrested he denied this murder, and still does so to this day. Sutcliffe’s blood group is not B secretor, although he has blood group B.
The writer of the letter caught the attention of the police. Joan Harrison’s murder had been reported in the press therefore one can assume that the author of the letter could have details from the writing in the newspapers.
The envelope had no fingerprints on it, but whoever had licked the envelope flap down had blood type B secretor.
This was interesting as there is a rarity of people with blood type B secretor.
Graphologists examined all of the writing confirmed they were written by the same hand, and that the author was an aggressive psychopath with an extrovert personality.
On 13 March 1978, the northern editor of the Daily Mirror received a letter, postmarked “Sunderland”. The letter read:
I have already written to Chief Constable George Oldfield “a man I respect” concerning the recent ripper murders. I told him and I am telling you to warn them whores I’ll strike again and soon when heat cools off. About the Macdonald lassie I did’nt know she was decent and I am sorry I changed my routine that night. Up to murder 8 now you say 7 but remember Preston 75. Easy picking them up, don’t even have to try you think they’re learn but they don’t. Most are young lassies, next time try older one I hope. Police haven’t a clue yet and I don’t leave any I am very clever and don’t look for me up there in Sunderland cause I not stupid just passed through the place not a bad place compared with Chapeltown and Manningham. Can’t walk the streets for them whores. Don’t forget warn them I feel it coming on again. If I get chance sorry about young lassie I did’nt know.
Jack the Ripper
Might write again after another week gone maybe Liverpool or even Manchester again. To hot here in Yorkshire, Bye I have given advance warning so it’s yours and their fault”
The police were convinced that these letters were fakes, as they made no mention of the missing Yvonne Pearson, who was at that time dead but undiscovered. Analysis of the phrasing used in the letters struck everyone as to how closely it paralleled the original Jack the Ripper letters, as if the author had used them as a template.
There are a list of at least ten phrases of similarity between both sets of letters. No fingerprints were found on the envelope, but the reference to Preston 75 was again mentioned, and the murder of Joan Harrison was included within the Yorkshire Ripper murders because of this.
This however should not have been so. Joan’s killer had had sex with her before killing her, something Sutcliffe performed only once – Helen Rytka.
Joan was bludgeoned to death but had no stab wounds The police however now saw the letters as being from the Ripper himself.
On 23 March 1979, George Oldfield received another letter:
Sorry I havn’t written, about a year to be exact, but I hav’nt been up North for quite a while. I was’nt kidding last time I wrote saying the whore would be older this time and maybe I’d strike in Manchester for a change, you should have took heed. That bit about her being in hospital, funny the lady mentioned something about being in hospital before I stopped her whoring ways. The lady won’t worry about hospitals now will she. I bet you be wondering how come I hav’nt been to work for ages, well I would have been if it had’nt been for your cursered coppers I had the lady just where I wanted her and was about to strike when one of you cursing police cars stopped right outside the lane, he must have been a dumb copper cause he did’nt say anything, he did’nt know how close he was to catching me. Tell you the truth I thought I was collared, the lady said don’t worry about the coppers, little did she know that bloody copper saved her neck. That was last month, so I don’t know when I will get back on the job but I know it won’t be Chapeltown, too bloody hot there, maybe Bradfords Manningham. Might write again if up North.
Jack the Ripper
“PS. Did you get the letter I sent to Daily Mirror in Manchester.”
This time, forensic evidence was on the envelope. Again, there were traces of saliva coming from a blood group B. Oldfield was convinced that the letters were from the Ripper, and that he was responsible for the murder of Joan Harrison. The next correspondance was the one that was to lead the Ripper enquiry off on a tragic tangent and cause four women to lose their lives. It was to prove one of the most sensational aspects of the Yorkshire Ripper case.
A small package, postmarked Sunderland, arrived on George Oldfield’s desk on 17 June 1979. It was addressed in laboured block letters to ASST. CHIEF CONSTABLE OLDFIELD, LEEDS C.I.D. LEEDS CENTRAL POLICE HQ. LEEDS. WEST YORKSHIRE.
Also scrawled on it was “From Jack the Ripper”. Handwriting experts were in no doubt that the writing came from the same hand that had written the letters. Inside was a cassette tape, the transcript of which follows:
“I’m Jack. I see you are still having no luck catching me. 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?”
“The only time they came near catching me was a few months back in Chapeltown when I was disturbed. Even then it was a uniformed copper not a detective.
“I warned you in March that I’d strike again. Sorry it wasn’t Bradford. I did promise you that but I could’nt get there. I’m not quite sure when I will strike again but it will definitely be sometime this year, maybe September, October, even sooner if I get the chance. I am not sure where, maybe Manchester, I like it there, there’s plenty of them knocking about. They never learn do they George? I bet you’ve warned them, but they never listen.
“At the rate I’m going I should be in the book of records. I think it’s eleven up to now isn’t it? Well, I’ll keep on going for quite a while yet. I can’t see meself being nicked just yet. Even if you do get near I’ll probably top myself first. Well, it’s been nice chatting to you George. Yours, Jack the Ripper.
“No good looking for fingerprints. You should know by now it’s as clean as a whistle. See you soon. Bye.
“Hope you like the catchy tune at the end. Ha Ha .”
The “catchy tune” was from a song by Andrew Gold, called “Thank You for Being a Friend”. The tape lasted for three minutes and thirty seconds. It remains a frightening recording. The accent of the speaker was clearly discernable as “Geordie”.
Oldfield now staked his reputation on the authenticity of the tape and letters, and the hunt began for a killer with a Wearside (Geordie) accent. Police dismissed suspects if they did not have a Geordie accent, and a multi million pound publicity campaign was launched, together with a special hotline set up for the public to phone in and listen to the tape. Sadly, all of this was wasted effort, as Sutcliffe’s capture a year and a half month’s later proved.
The tape was played in factories, working men’s clubs, over the tannoy at Football matches at Roker Park and housing estates in the Wearside area in an attempt to find someone who could identify the voice on the tape.
Since the arrest of Sutcliffe, much effort has been put in to try and identify the hoaxer.
Mrs Olive Curry, a retired canteen worker, has searched tirelessly for the identity of Wearside Jack for the past twenty years. She claims to have served Sutcliffe and a man who, after hearing the tape, she believes to be Wearside Jack, on many occasions at the Fisherman’s Mission café in North Shields.
Mrs Curry beleives that Wearside Jack was Sutcliffe’s accomplice in some of the Yorkshire Ripper murders.
She began a correspondence with Sutcliffe after his imprisonment, and has received a few hundred letters from him.
Mrs Curry even drew a picture of what the mystery man looked like. Sutcliffe, however, has always denied this claim and the fact that he had an accomplice. None of the evidence ever pointed to two men being involved in the Yorkshire Ripper murders.
In 2006 John Samuel Humble was finally convicted of producing the hoax letters and sentenced to 8 years in jail for perverting the course of justice.