Wilma McCann worked as a prostitute in Leeds. She was the first publicly acknowledged victim of the Ripper, who was to be branded as such after the linked murder of Emily Jackson in Leeds on the 20th January 1976 some 11 weeks later. Jackson’s murder was immediately linked to the murder of Wilma McCann because they were both prostitutes and in the same area and within a short interval of time and both were murdered with brutal violence by only 2 or 3 blows to the head, accompanied by sexual ritual. The Ripper was believed to have used a stone or some other blunt instrument to strike her down first. The subsequent murders were carried out with a hammer. Wilma had her throat cut. She received multiple stab wounds and was stripped. B blood semen was found on her. Only minimal details were released by police about her injuries. The police probably have other linking factors never disclosed but these murders were always linked as Ripper murders. Hammer attacks were unheard of at that time although they are not unheard of now. Killer blows to the head, prostitutes, Leeds and timing, were the linking factors. The knife that Tracey used to stab Wilma was to be buried into prostitute Barbara Booth’s skull only nine weeks later in another part of Leeds. That murder was quickly taken off the books by Detective Dick Holland with the arrest and confessions of a disturbed youth Mark Rowntree. If the murderer did not go on to taunt the West Yorkshire police with more linked murders these would have been forgotten about in time and put down to pimp violence. But this was not an ordinary man. This was a man on a mission to show the police that he was unafraid of them and hated them. This was a criminal of the most violent type who was taunting the police and chose to link some of his crimes deliberately so that they would be in the same frame.This was a man who knew he was inviting serious attention to himself and the attention of every policeman.
Anybody who studies the statement of Peter Sutcliffe below, and compares this to the hard facts of the case, will see that Sutcliffe was way off beam and reacting to prompts by the detectives who were writing his statement down.
Confessing to the Ripper’s murders this copycat killer was unsure and hesitant about many things and this contrasts sharply with his confessions to his own crimes which fit the facts and the evidence of victims who survived and witness statements.
There can be no doubt that the police knew that he was making it up but due to media pressure and their own methods of solving serious crime, they were gone past the point of no return at that stage and were starting him down the road to a room in the mental home.
A criminal will remember clearly the smallest details of every crime he commits and especially in violent crime of this nature. Sutcliffe didnt know what he was talking about in this case and his description of the land, the road,his car and jacket etc are just off the radar because of the facts and the bungalow and the watch dog beside the murder spot not to mention the injuries to the victim and her handbag looped around her arm.
Extract from Sutcliffe’s statement to police after his arrest.
|I, PETER WILLIAM SUTCLIFFE, wish to make a statement and I want
someone to write down what I say I have been told that I need not
say anything unless I wish to do so and that whatever I say may
be given in evidence. SGD: P W Sutcliffe
WTD: P Smith DS 268 J Boyle DI(DATE TAKEN: 4.1.81 Time: From 2.50pm to 1.12am)
That was the incident that started it all off, I was driving
through Leeds late at night I’d been to somewhere having a couple
of pints, you’ll know the date better than me. It was WILMA
McCANN. I was in a Ford Capri K registered a lime Green one
with a black roof with a sun grill in the back window. I saw
this woman thumbing a lift where the Wetherby Road branches to
the right but you can carry straight on. She was wearing some
white trousers and a jacket. I stopped and asked her how far
she was going. She said “NOT FAR THANKS FOR STOPPING” and she
jumped in. I was in quite a good mood and we were talking on the
way. She said something about just before we stopped about did
I want business. To me I didn’t know what she meant by this.
I asked her to explain and straight away a scornfull tone came
into her voice which took my by surprise because she had been
She said, “BLOODY HELL DO I HAVE TO SPELL IT OUT” she said it as
though it was a challenge.
My reaction was to aggree to go with her.
She told me where to park the car. It was just off this road
we turned left we came to this field which sloped up I parked
near the field.
We sat there for a minute talking then all of a sudden her tone
changed and she said “WELL WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR LETS GET ON
Before we stopped she had said that it would cost a fiver.
I was a bit surprised I was expecting it to be a bit romantic.
I think she had been drinking because she was being irrational.
I couldn’t have intercourse in a split second I had to be arroused.
At this point she opened the car door and got out. She slammed
the door and shouted “I’M GOING, ITS GOING TO TAKE YOU ALL FUCKING
DAY.” She shouted something like “YOU’RE FUCKING USELESS.”
I suddenly felt myself seething with rage. I got out of the car
wanting to hit her to pay her back for the insult.
I went to her and said “HANG ON A MINUTE DON’T GO OFF LIKE THAT.”
She was only 3 or 4 strides away she turned and came back to me.
She said something like “OH YOU CAN FUCKING MANAGE IT NOW CAN YOU.”
She sounded as though she was taunting me.
I said “THERE’S NOT MUCH ROOM IN THE CAR CAN WE DO IT ON THE GRASS?”
This was with my idea of hitting her.
She said, “I’M NOT GOING TO DO IT HERE BLOODY WELL NEXT TO
THE CAR.” With that she stormed up the hill into the field.
I had a tool box on the back seat of the car and I took a hammer
out of the tool box I followed her into the field. I took my car
coat off and carried it over my arm I had the hammer in my right
hand. I put my coat on the grass. She sat down on the coat.
She unfastened her trousers. She said “COME ON THEN GET IT OVER
WITH.” I said “DON’T WORRY I WILL.”
I then hit her with the hammer on her head. I was stood up at
that time behind her. I think I hit her on the top of the head
I hit her once or twice on the head. She fell down flat on her
back and started making a horrible noise like a moaning gurgling
I thought “God what have I done” I knew I had gone too far. I
ran to the car intending to drive off. I sat in the car for a
while I could see her arm moving. I was in a numb panic I still
had the hammer in my hand. I put it back in my tool box. I
half expected her to get up and realised I would be in serious
trouble. I thought the best way out of the mess was to make sure
she couldn’t tell anybody. I took a knife out of the tool box
it had a wood handle with one sharp side the blade was about
7″ long about 1/2 – 3/4″ wide.
I went to her. She was still lying on her back. I thought that
to make certain she was dead I would stab her in places like the
lungs and the throat. I stabbed her at least four times once in
the throat. Before I stabbed her in the body I pulled her blouse
or whatever it was and her bra so I could see where I was stabbing
her. I was in a blind panic when I was stabbing her just to make
sure she wouldnt tell anyone.
What a damn stupid thing to do just to keep somebody quiet.
If I was thinking logical at the time I would have stopped and
told someone I’d hit her with the hammer. That was the turning
point. I realise I over reacted at the time, nothing I have
done since then affected me like this.
After I’d stabbed her I went back to the car, I remember that
I’d taken my coat off the ground after I’d hit her with the hammer
and I’d taken my coat back to the car. I started the car and shot
off backwards along the narrow road leading to the road swung
the car round and drove away towards Leeds. I drove home as
soon as possible. I was then living at my Mother-in-Laws house
at 44 Tanton Crescent, Clayton, Bradford. I was very frightened
and don’t even remember driving there. I thought I was bound to
get caught. I parked my car outside the house. I’m trying to
remember if it was my Mother-in-Law’s house I was living at then
I’ve thought it out now it must have been her house. I looked
over my clothing before I went in the house. I went straight to
the bathroom and washed my hands and went to bed. I don’t have
any of the cloths I was wearing that night they are worn out.
I cannot honestly remember what I did with the hammer and the
knife I don’t remember chucking them away that night. I haven’t
got the knife now I may have kept the hammer in the tool box but
I’m not sure of that even. The next day I saw it on the TV news
about the murder and I felt sick and I still half expected a knock
on the door by the Police.
I carried on trying to act as normal living with my wife and
in-laws. At that time I worked at Common Road Tyre Services at
After that first time I developed and built up a hatred for
prostitutes in order to justify within myself the reason why
I had attacked and killed WILMA McCANN.