|14||August 27 1975|
Tracy Browne was aged 14 when on Wednesday, August 27 1975 she was attacked with a hammer by Peter Sutcliffe on a lonely farm road at around 10:30 pm. Tracy and her twin sister, Mandy, had been in Silsden, near Keighley (where Anna Rogulskyj had been attacked). They were to be home at 10:30 pm and Mandy had left for their home, about a mile outside of Silsden, earlier than Tracy did.
As Tracy made her way home, she stopped briefly and saw a man in his late twenties or earlier thirties walking up the lane towards her. After he stopped briefly to look at her, he then walked on, but was clearly taking his time as Tracy soon caught up to him. He mentioned, and she agreed, that there was "nothing doing" in Sildsen. They continued to walk together and had conversation, with the man occasionally dropping back to blow his nose, or tie up his shoelace.Tracy Browne got a good look at the man during their walk together and would describe him as having a dark Afro-style crinkly hair and beard, wearing a knitted V-neck cardigan over a light blue open-necked shirt, with dark brown trousers and brown suede shoes. When they reached the gateway to her family's farm he had hung back yet again, and then suddenly she was brutally attacked from behind. "He hit me five times on the head," Tracy said in a Mail On Sunday article, "I heard him grunt like Jimmy Connors serving, each time he struck. I kept saying to him 'Please don't'." Tracy Browne survived the attack when Peter Sutcliffe was disturbed by an approaching car. Before leaving the scene he threw her over a fence. Covered in blood, she managed to make her way to a caravan about 400 yards from the scene of the attack. Neuro surgeons worked for four to save her life and had to remove a sliver of bone from Tracy Browne's brain. Tracy Browne recovered, and was able to give a detailed Photofit (see The Photofits) of her attacker, which bore a strong resemblance to Peter Sutcliffe. He was described as having a moustache and beard, staring eyes, and a thin face. Her description of the attacker was confirmed by a witness who came forward and provided a photofit of a dark-haired, beard man, who had been noticed in the neighbourhood that night, and had been seen standing near what was described as a white Ford car (Sutcliffe, at the time, owned a lime green Ford Carpi).
Found near the scene of the attack was a distinctive hippy-style bracelet of wooden beads and a paper handkerchief (the police said the attacker suffered from hay fever, which Peter Sutcliffe did). The Photofit was used in local "wanted" posters after the attack.
Detective Chief Superintendent James Hobson, later in charge of the Ripper Investigation, was in charge of the investigation to find the attacker, and two hundred officers were involved in the hunt, but no progress was made in finding the attacker. James Hobson never linked the attack to the Ripper series. Chief Constable Ronald Gregory explained, in a Mail On Sunday article, why, at the time, the attack was not linked to the Ripper murders: "Tracy was not a prostitute; we thought at the time she was hit with a piece of wood; and all the other attacks were in city areas." Forensic and medical evidence, however, suggested that Tracy was hit with a hammer or similar instrument.
As the Ripper Investigation progressed, Tracy Browne became convinced that the man who attacked her was the same man. After seeing a Ripper Photofit, she went with her mother to the Keighley police station, but a young constable laughed at their suggest that the man who attacked her was the Ripper. Her mother even called her her uncle, Mr. Monty Featherman, a local magistrate and personal friend of Chief Superintendent Hobson, but no progress was made to link her attack with the Ripper series. In the article in the Mail On Sunday, her father, Mr. Anthony Browne said: "If they had taken my daughter's account seriously - and released the Photofit - some of the Ripper's victims would be alive." Tracy Browne's Photofit was never re-issued.
The attack was later finally and firmly linked with the Ripper in the review carried out by Mr. Colin Sampson, who later suceeded Mr. Gregory as the West Yorkshire Chief Constable. Sutcliffe was not questioned about the attack on her until after his conviction and he refused to take responsibility for the attack, and challenged the officers to prove it. Finally, in 1992, Sutcliffe did admit to being responsible for the attack on Tracy Browne and on a Bradford Irish student to Chief Constable Keith Hellawell.