The death last November of Peter Sutcliffe, a famous British serial killer nicknamed “the Yorkshire Ripper”, is due to the coronavirus, the forensic scientist in charge of examining him told the commission of inquiry on Wednesday.
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Peter Sutcliffe was sentenced in 1981 to life imprisonment for having killed 13 women in Yorkshire and the North West of England between 1975 and 1980 and for having tried to kill seven others.
He died on November 13, 2020 in hospital, at the age of 74, then announced a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, refusing to confirm information from some media that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
On Wednesday, medical examiner Clive Bloxham confirmed that a coronavirus infection was the cause of his death. He was testifying in the inquest into the serial killer’s death – a mandatory formality for any inmate who died behind bars.
The autopsy showed Peter Sutcliffe had “extremely heavy lungs,” a common result of the coronavirus, he explained in a video conference appearance. The killer also suffered from heart disease and diabetes, two factors making him particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, added Mr Bloxham, who does not consider the death to be suspicious.
When the pandemic broke out, Peter Sutcliffe, identified as a vulnerable prisoner, refused to isolate himself to protect himself, said prison director Lee Drummond for his part. The serial killer then tested positive for the coronavirus in early November, after a first hospital visit with a heart problem.
Mr. Sutcliffe mutilated the bodies of his victims using a hammer, screwdriver and knife, earning him his sinister nickname. He had claimed to be in charge of a “divine mission” leading him to kill prostitutes, even though not all of his victims were sex workers.
Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, he spent thirty years interned in a psychiatric hospital before being held in a prison in Durham (North East).
He had managed to elude investigators for years by benefiting from a series of police errors. He finally admitted to his crimes in 1981 after being arrested because his car had a fake license plate on it.
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