28 October 30 1975
Thursday morning
1:30 am
Leeds Murdered 63 days

Wilma McCann, aged 28, was attacked by Peter Sutcliffe in the early morning hours of October 30 1975. The night of October 29th saw Wilma McCann in a familiar pattern. At around 7:30 pm, she said goodnight to her four children, leaving the oldest, at aged 9, in charge, and headed out of her council house on Scott Hall Avenue, in the Chapeltown area of Leeds, walked past the nearby Prince Phillip Playing Fields, and headed for the pubs and clubs.

Drinking whiskies and beer, she was seen in the Regent, the Scotman, the White Swan, and the Royal Oak. With a weekday closing time of 10:30 pm, she ended up at the Room At The Top, a drinking club. She left the nightclub shortly before 1:00 am October 30th, carrying a container of curry and chips, and worse for drink (blood samples taken from her body by Professor David Gee revealed that she had consumed 12-14 measures of spirits in the few hours prior to death).

Even though it was a short walk back home, Wilma McCann staggered around recklessly and in front of traffic in hopes of getting a lift home. She had flagged down a lorry heading towards the M62, but when greeted by an incoherent mixture of instructions and abuse, the driver declined to pick her up, and drove on.

Peter Sutcliffe was driving through Leeds in his lime-green Ford Capri GT after having a few pints, when he saw Wilma McCann thumbing for a lift. He pulled over and she jumped in. Just before setting off, she asked him if he "wanted business?" When he asked what she meant, she said in a scornful voice, "Bloody hell, do I have to spell it out?"

Soon they were parked near the Prince Phillip Playing Fields, approximately 100 yards from her home. She said, "Well, what are we waiting for! Let's get on with it", and said it would cost a fiver. Sutcliffe was surprised, expecting it to be a bit romantic, as he needed to be aroused and couldn't have intercourse at a split second. Wilma McCann then became abusive and threatened to leave.

Sutcliffe suggested that they do it on the grass, and she stormed off up the hill. He put his coat on the grass, while he concealed his hammer in his right hand. She then sat down on the coat, unfastened her trousers, and sneered, "Come on, get it over with." Sutcliffe replied, "Don't worry, I will." and promptly struck her several times with his hammer.

Wilma McCann's body was found at 7:41 am the following morning by milkman Alan Routledge, and his ten-year-old younger brother Paul. At first Alan thought it was an abandoned Guy, or a bundled of rags, until his brother exclaimed, "It's a body!"

Wilma McCann was found lying on her back, her trousers down by her knees, and her brassiere lifted to expose her breasts. Her strawberry blonde hair was matted with blood, and she had been stabbed in the lower abdomen, chest, and neck. Wilma McCann was the first known murder victim of the man who would soon be known as the Yorkshire Ripper.


"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 scornful tone came into her voice, which took me by surprise because she had been so pleasant. She said, 'Bloody Hell, do I have to spell it out?' She said it as though it was a challenge. My reaction was to agree 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, let's get on with it.' 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 aroused."

"At this point she opened the car door and got out. She slammed the door and shouted, 'I'm going, it's 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 noise."

"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 wouldn't 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-law's 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 clothes 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 Okenshaw."

"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."

OTHER STATEMENTS BY PETER SUTCLIFFE (Further confessions, trial testimony, conversations, etc.)

"I'd gone under the underpass and taken the A58 Wetherby turn-off and followed this round to the 14ft which continued left on a downhill slope, she was at the bottom of a road where it straightened out, on the left side walking on the grass. She was obviously hoping to get a lift, she said, 'Thanks for stopping', and was cheerful and friendly, so I set off and carried on driving and instead of carrying on round to the right, she suggested, I carried straight on. She remarked something about it being a nice car."

"I just stopped on impulse to give her a lift, as I'd just come round the bend. I'd gone there for the purpose of picking up a prostitute with the intention to kill her. I realised shortly after she had got into the car that she was a prostitute because she asked me if I wanted business, and the evil chain of events went on from there."

(Correcting aspects of his January 4/5 1981 confession): "I may have given the impression by what I've said to her and what she replied, that the intent was to have sex, but this is not the case. This kind of talk was just a preamble leading up to the true purpose of my killing her. It was my idea to get her to go up a distance up the field. To accomplish this I had to put up with all kinds of language and abuse because she couldn't see the point. I had the tackle (a hammer and a kitchen knife) with me in my pocket and, in fact, I didn't go back to the car and return to it. I hit her with the hammer, she still made loud noises and I hit her with it again, and the noises still didn't stop. I then took the knife out of my pocket and stabbed her about four times, as I've previously described."

(Statement to police, January 22 1981. Source: Bilton.)

(NOTE: Source material (details): Burn, Cross, Jones. Source material (quotes): "Statement Of Peter William Sutcliffe", Bilton. Photo source: Nicholson.)