THE MANCHESTER CONNECTION
There were five acknowledged Ripper victims in the frame after the murder of 16 year old shop assistant Jayne MacDonald in Leeds on June 26th 1977. George Oldfield was now leading the hunt and there was massive national publicity about the Yorkshire Ripper.
After Peter Sutcliffe’s arrest he stated that “he felt terrible after this murder, that the devil had got into him and that he was a beast.” This disturbed and sick man had himself committed several assaults on women in the same general area but there was no publicity about them.They were ignored and he was a non entity, There was no linkage to his crimes and no special squad on them. His blood group and teeth pattern always ensured he would be eliminated as the Ripper but he didn’t know that. The Ripper was on every policemans mind. He was the real prize because he was taunting them with clues. Even if Sutcliffe had told the West Yorkshire police that he was the Ripper, they would not detain him after a blood test. The sheer ferocity of the Ripper’s murders ,their injuries known only to policemen and himself ,the ritual redressing and arrangement of the bodies and the clothing , the sexual assaults , the bites and the flesh torn from some victims with the claws of the hammer ,the total package ensured that nobody could duplicate the act.
Sutcliffe, this disturbed man wished to be caught but he would have to go outside West Yorkshire if he was going to be caught as the Ripper. I cant say what went through his mind but I have to go on the evidence of his crimes and fit it into the jigsaw puzzle of events strictly on the basis of evidence, both known before his arrest and his own accounts after his arrest .Bear in mind that he was not a known criminal or known to be violent. His violence stemmed from frustration with a dominating , incessantly nagging ,bossy and sexless wife and when it spilled over he vented this pent up hatred for her by attacks on other women and masturbated over their bodies. In this way he had several assaults under his belt all of which were glancing blows to the head with a stone loaded sock not resulting in death followed by masturbation over a dazed body then fleeing the scene. Most of the victims described him and remembered him when he was arrested. This looked very convincing at his trial and at that stage the police wanted to load all of his unsolved crimes into the Ripper frame to make it look more convincing to a sceptical public. They moved the goalposts.
Sutcliffe travelled to Manchester to prove he was the Ripper.He picked up prostitute Jean Jordan in Hulme and drove to Southern Cross Cemetary, a quiet non residential allotment area. He parked on the side of a busy road and they walked inside a double hedge.
He struck her on the head 11 times, unlike the Ripper’s 2 or 3 heavy blows, and left her body hidden between the hedges. Then he went home to Bradford. Frustration set in. Nobody found his victim and there was no news about a Manchester murder. He returned one week later and pulled Jean’s body out of the concealed hedge. He scattered her clothing around and used a broken pane of glass from a nearby glasshouse to slash the stomach and the limbs. On both occasions his car was parked on the side of a busy motorway but the police didn’t notice him. That day the body was found and the Manchester police started their investigation. They combed the scene for any clues and put out an internal police report to find Jeans handbag.
At a press conference George Oldfield stated that there was no reason to connect this murder with the Yorkshire ones.
Six days later ,Sutcliffe returned to the scene and planted Jean’s handbag there in which he had placed a brand new five pound note issued by the bank after her murder. Chief Superintendant Ridgeway , realising he had a nut case on his patch, travelled to Bradford within 48 hours with 30 detectives. He set up an incident room in Baildon and started checking on the businesses where the note originated. Ridgeway told the press “we are looking for a very strange man” As they progressed through their list of possibles they met Sutcliffe who was moved to a short list of suspects. Ridgeway and his men left Bradford with a bundle of statements and reports and the months dragged on.
January 1978 saw the Ripper murder of Helen Rytka followed by a blaze of publicity. But one week before this murder Peter Sutcliffe had claimed his next victim whose body was to remain undiscovered for two months. Yvonne Pearson was a prostitute soliciting on Lumb Lane on Saturday night 21st January 1978.She had been standing on the same corner from where Tina Atkinson had been last seen the night she met the Ripper. She felt so safe because she was under the gaze of Ripper squad police as live bait, who reported that she was picked up by a man resembling “a white Asian” . When she was reported missing the police sent out internal alerts to trace her.
On the 26th March her body was found where it had lain for more than two months, concealed under an old setee on waste land at Arthington street not far from where Sutcliffe had picked her up.
Her arm was sticking out and this led the police to believe her killer had returned to the scene to ensure the discovery . Closer investigation revealed a copy of the Daily Mirror dated weeks earlier and containing a big story about the Ripper murder of Helen Rytka whose body was found on the 3rdFebruary indicating the killer had returned a second time. Chief Superintendant Trevor Lapish of Bradford CID told the press “We must now face the very real possibility that there is a second man preying on women .It may be that he is jealous of the Ripper .There is no doubt that some sick people do get unhinged when they read about killers like the Ripper and they decide to jump on the bandwagon.” And “It could be a person jealous of the publicity the Ripper is getting . As a result of Professor Gee’s post mortem we are able to say that this killing is not in all probability one of the killings already under investigation. The injuries do not coincide.”
Vera Millward , a 42 year old woman who had been a prostitute and now only had a few private clients for sex but didn’t solicit on the street, was Tracey’s next victim.
He knew her of old when his own wife was on the game in the same area years earlier. His hallmarks on the victims body were unmistakable. More massive publicity ensued. The letters were known only to the police and the Ripper at that time. Two weeks later the first Manchester murder by Peter Sutcliffe was included in the Ripper frame publicly by the police on the basis of information confided to them by Billy Tracey. They reasoned that he was bragging rather than winding them up. From now on Sutcliffe’s murder was in the Ripper frame and subsequent interviews he had with police were in that context. He was never a candidate and was always eliminated.
The Yorkshire Ripper murder investigation continued over 1978 and 1979 culminating in the huge publicity campaign of Summer 1979 which I chanced to read about in Ireland. I decided my information was so sensitive I would go to the U.K. It would be impossible to explain a man like Tracey over the phone and very dangerous..I missed my flight booked to Leeds Bradford and decided to take the next one to Manchester. Having phoned the Manchester police ahead ,I arrived about 8.0 or 9.0 pm. Detectives Page and Henderson met me at the airport.
The next day I was taken to see Chief Inspector Frank Atkinson in Longsight police station. Despite a hostile reaction from every policeman I met I felt that I had done my best and got the message across. It was now up to them and they didn’t want any help from me. They gave me no feedback and confided nothing in me. I had to pay for the sandwich they gave me.
The Sunday Telegraph article I had read made no mention of an Irish suspect . The description of the stocky bearded Irishman identical to Billy Tracey with rings tatoos and scars was not known to me for 18 more months when I read about their number one suspect in a book written by David Yallop , after Sutcliffes trial.
The existance of the gap in the Rippers teeth came to me later still. Tracey has a gap in the same place.
At that time, Tracey never indicated to me that he visited England since he claimed he voluntarily left it in 1976. Although he constantly talked about his life of crime in England he left me in no doubt that he had never gone back. I had no evidence that he ever visited the U.K.and the Ripper discovery had shattered me. Two weeks after my trip to Manchester I searched his room in my house and tucked away in a drawer I found a business card with the name” MJT photography” with an address in Skerton road Moss Side in Manchester. On the back was written in his writing “13th August 10 days.” This was solid evidence that Billy Tracey had been to the North of England within days of the last Ripper murder of Barbara Leech in Bradford. It placed this man , a foreigner, who had been deported trom England 4 times and who had no business there, in the murder zone at the time of the murders. In all the time he worked for me he never mentioned the North of England or Manchester. It was always London. This evidence meant a lot to me for all these reasons. In all probability MJT photography was a massage parlour or a cover name for a prostitute.
I later found that he stopped in a house in Cecil Street Moss Side the day he murdered Mrs Millward.