HELEN RYTKA


AGE DATE PLACE OUTCOME LAST ATTACK
18 January 31 1978
Tuesday night
9:25 pm
Huddersfield Murdered 10 days

Helen Rytka, an 18-year-old prostitute, was murdered by Peter Sutcliffe only ten days after the murder of Yvonne Pearson. The Yorkshire Ripper had, once again, expanded his territory to now include the red-light district of Huddersfield.

Helen Rytka and her twin sister Rita were fairly new to the prostitution trade. They had only worked for a few weeks and had evolved a way of working designed to frustrate any efforts of men that might want to harm them. Though far from foolproof, the system involved that they would each accept clients at the roughly the same time, the client would have precisely twenty minutes, and they would rendezvous back at the same place, a block of public lavatories at the market end of Great Northern Street, Huddersfield. Some of the prostitutes of Bradford and Leeds had developed a better system, working in pairs, one would take down the license number of the car that the other was going off in, and then the piece of paper would be ripped up in front of the driver when they returned.

On January 31st, Helen and Rita Rytka left their flat at around 8:30 pm to patrol their beat in the concentrated red-light area in Great Northern Street with it's railway viaduct arches and timber yard. At approximately 9:10 pm, Rita saw her sister get into a dark-coloured car on the other side of the street. Rita was shortly picked up by a man in a Datsun.

Helen Rytka arrived back first, and it was then that she was spotted by Peter Sutcliffe, who convinced her there was time for a quick one in the timber yard not far away. As he drove into the timber yard, Sutcliffe planned to use the method of attack which involved suggesting they do it in the back, and then attacking when their back was turned as they began to get in the back seat of the car. However, as soon as he turned off the engine, she undid her trousers and indicated she was ready to begin. Unexpectedly, and despite himself, Sutcliffe became aroused, and using the excuse he had to urinate, got out of the car. When he came back, she agreed to get out so they could have sex in the back of the car.

With her back to him, trying to get into the rear of the car, Sutcliffe swung his hammer, but it caught the roof of the car and only grazed Helen Rytka, who assumed he had hit her with his hand. Terrified, she said, "There is no need for that, you don't even have to pay." Sutcliffe had expected her to immediately shout for help. When she said, "What was that?" he replied, "Just a small sample of one of these,' and then he hit her hard on the head with the hammer and she crumbled to the ground and began making a loud moaning noise. He then suddenly realised that what he was doing was in full view of two taxi drivers who were parked nearby, but were oblivious to what was happening.

Sutcliffe then grabbed her by the hair and dragged to the end of the wood yard. While she had stopped moaning, she wasn't dead yet, her eyes were open and her hands were up to ward off further blows. He then got on top of her and covered her mouth with his hand while she was still struggling. He told her to keep quiet and she would be all right. As she had got him aroused moments earlier, he went ahead with the sex act "as the only means to keep her quiet". She was the only one of his many victims that he had sexual intercourse with.

After the taxi drivers had departed, Sutcliffe went and retrieved his hammer, and as Helen Rytka staggered to her feet and headed towards the car, he hit her with heavy blows to the back of the head. He then dragged her to the front of the car and proceeded to throw her belongings away. As it was obvious to Sutcliffe that Helen Rytka was still alive, he went to his car and grabbed a knife and then stabbed her several times through the heart and lungs. Before leaving, he hid her body behind a stack of timber.

When Sutcliffe returned home to Garden Lane, Heaton, Bradford, he sponged off the spattered blood that was on his shoes, and returned the knife to the kitchen drawer from where he had taken it.

When Rita returned after the allotted twenty minutes she found no sign of Helen. She stayed for a while waiting for her sister, but when it became obvious she wasn't coming, she headed back to their flat in Highfields. It would be three days before she could summon up enough courage to overcome her fear of the police and report her sister missing.

The morning after the murder, men working at Garrard's timber yard noticed a blood-stained patch in the mud, and a pair of black lace panties were pinned to the door of a shed by a lorry driver who had found them in the yard. Occurrences like this were nothing unusual at Garrard's, all sorts of things went on after dark at the timber yard.

It didn't take a police dog very long to locate Helen Rytka's body after Rita finally confessed to working as a prostitute and relayed the events of the night to the police. Ten minutes after the search of the timber yard in Great Northern Street began at 3:00 pm on Friday, February 3rd, her body had been located in a narrow space behind a pile of timber and a disused garage. She had been covered with a sheet of asbestos. Her clothes had been scattered over a wide area, one of her shoes was found twenty yards away. Her bra and black polo-neck jumper had been pushed up above her breasts, but other than her socks, all other clothing had been removed. There were three stab wounds to the chest, including indications of multiple stabs through the same wounds, and scratch marks on her chest.



EXTRACT FROM PETER SUTCLIFFE'S CONFESSION (January 4/5 1981)

"Before Yvonne was found I had committed another murder in Huddersfield, Helen Rytka. I did not know the Huddersfield red light area, but one day I had to make a delivery in Huddersfield in the afternoon, I noticed a few girls plying for trade near the Market Area. Two or three nights later I decided to pay them a visit."

"The urge inside me to kill girls was now practically uncontrollable, I drove to Huddersfield in my red Corsair one evening. When I got to the red light area I came across one or two girls walking round the street. I stopped and asked one girl if she was doing business. She said yes, but I'd have to wait, as her regular client was picking her up at any minute. She was a half caste girl. I drove off, and after going about 50 yards round the corner I saw another half caste girl. I stopped and asked her and she got in."

"She told me she shared a flat with her sister, but she was quite willing to have sex in the car. She said it would cost 5. She told me where to drive, which was only about 80 - 90 yards away in a timber yard. I drove straight into this yard and parked in an area at the end of the lane that ran between the stack of wood."

"On the way to the yard we passed the half caste girl I had tried to pick up. She told me that it was her sister. Afterwards, when I had read about it in the papers, I realised that I had seen these two Rytka sisters in Clayton where they used to live."

"I must have given her some money, but I can't recall handing it over to her, because she started to undo her jeans and started to pull them down. Then she hesitated and she said it would be better in the back of the car. I agreed thinking that it was what I wanted her to do anyway."

"We both got out, she went to the rear nearside door. I picked up a hammer from under my seat and walked round the front. By the time I got to her she had opened the rear door and was getting in. I hit her on the head with the hammer as she was practically into the car. The hammer struck the edge of the top door sill and diminished the impact with her skull to a mere tap."

"She jumped back in alarm out of the car, at the same time letting go of her jeans, which fell down around her knees, and she exclaimed, 'What was that?' To which I replied, 'Just a small sample of one of these,' and I hit a furious blow to her head which knocked her down, she just crumpled like a sack. She was making a loud moaning sound, so I hit her a few more times on the head."

"On looking up, I realised that I had done this in full view of two taxi drivers, who were no more that 35 yards away up the right hand side of the woodyard. Their cars were parked one behind the other facing me. The drivers were stood talking to each other. I dragged Helen by the hands to the end of the woodyard. I then pulled off her jeans and her knickers and her shoes or boots. She had stopped moaning, but she wasn't dead. I could see her eyes moving. She held up her hand as though to ward off any further attack from me."

"I told her not to make any more noise, and she would be all right. By this time, I was aroused sexually, so I had intercourse with her. I just undid my fly, I spread her legs out, and did it. It only took a few minutes before I ejaculated inside her. Her eyes appeared to be focusing on me when I was doing it, but she just laid there limp, she didn't put anything in to it."

"When I'd finished, I got up, and she began moaning once again and started to move as well. We were out of sight of the taxi drivers, but I knew they could quite possibly have heard the sounds. I couldn't drive away for obvious reasons, one being that she was still showing signs of life. I was worried sick that I was about to be discovered, and was furious that she could not keep quiet. I took my knife from my pocket, I think it was the one with the rosewood handle, which is probably still at home in my knifedrawer. I plunged the knife into her ribs and again into her heart, I did this five or six times. Before I did this I had taken all her clothes off, apart her jumper. I threw these over the wall."

"I dragged her by the arms to where I thought she would not be discovered, which was behind some bushes in a gap between a woodpile and a wall. There wasn't much room, I had to part lift, part pull, her in. Then I covered her up with a piece of asbestos sheet. I stayed in the woodyard for some minutes and when I looked the taxi drivers had gone. I reversed out of the yard and drove off. The operation had taken about half an hour."

"I drove straight home. I found that I had some blood on one of my fawn court shoes. I rinsed it off. I had my Levi jeans and I think I had a dark blue pullover on, but I couldn't see any blood on these. I kept the hammer, I'm not sure which one it was, but I don't think it was the walling hammer."



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

(Correcting aspects of his statement of Janauary 4/5 1981, Sutcliffe said he confused certain aspects of it with the killing of Irene Richardson): "From the outset, the one purpose I had in mind was to kill her at the first opportunity, but things were made difficult from the moment I parked the car because Helen unfastened her trousers and seemed prepared to start straight away."

"It was very awkward for me to find a way of getting her out of the car. We were there five minutes or more, while I was trying to decide which method to use to kill her. Meanwhile, against my wishes, she was in the process of arousing me sexually. I found I did not want to go through with this, so I got out of the car on the pretext of wanting to urinate."

"I didn't urinate, but I managed to persuade her to get out as well, as we'd be better off in the back of the car. As she was attempting to get in, I realised this was my chance, so I hit her from behind on the head with the hammer. Unfortunately, during the downward swing the hammer caught the top edge of the door frame and gave her a very light tap on her head. She apparently thought I had struck her with my left hand, and she said, 'There no need for that, you don't even have to pay'. I expected her to immediately shout for help as there were a couple of taxis in view about a distance of forty yards or so."

"She was obviously very scared. I then pushed her forward onto the ground and she stumbled and fell somewhere in front of the car just out of sight of the taxi drivers. I jumped on top of her and covered her mouth with my hand, it seemed like an eternity and she was struggling. I told her if she kept quiet she would be all right. As she had got me aroused less than a minute previously, I had no alternative than to go ahead with the act of sex as the only means thereby of persuading her to keep quiet, as I had already dropped the hammer several yards away. After what seemed like several more minutes, I got up and saw that the cars had gone so I started to grope around looking for the hammer. I found it, and as I was turning towards her she tried to run past between me and the car, this is when I hit her a heavy blow to the head."

"I then dragged her back in front of the car, and may have hit her again before I dragged her back. I began gathering her belongings and throwing them over a wall. She was obviously still alive then. I took the knife from the front of the car and stabbed her several times in the heart and the lungs. After this, I pulled her to a place a few yards away where I thought she wouldn't be found so quickly, when I got there I covered her with a sheet of asbestos or corrugated metal."

(Statement to police, January 26 1981. Source: Bilton.)
(NOTE: A merged version of both of the above statements was read out at Sutcliffe's trial.)



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



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