The Ripper on Netflix – What happened to Peter Sutcliffe and his wife Sonia

Abby Robinson
·3-min read
Photo credit: Express Newspapers - Getty Images
Photo credit: Express Newspapers - Getty Images

From Digital Spy

Netflix's The Ripper, originally named Once Upon a Time in Yorkshire, charts the gruesome crimes of Peter Sutcliffe, a lorry driver from Bingley who was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven more between the years 1975 and 1980.

Given the brutal nature of the killings, many of which involved a hammer and a knife, the press began referring to him as the "Yorkshire Ripper" on account of the parallels between himself and Jack the Ripper.

Photo credit: Keystone - Getty Images
Photo credit: Keystone - Getty Images

Sutcliffe was given 20 life sentences in 1981 and was sent to Parkhurst prison on the Isle of White.

Less than three years later, he was transferred to Broadmoor in Berkshire, a high-security psychiatric hospital, on the grounds that he was believed to be "suffering from a grave form of mental illness".

It has housed the likes of Ronnie Kray and Charles Salvador, also known as Charles Bronson.

During his time there, he admitted to further attacks, including those on Tracy Browne and Ann Rooney. But many believe that there are other women who were subjected to his savagery who have not been named.

Photo credit: Jacob SUTTON - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jacob SUTTON - Getty Images

After 32 years in Broadmoor, Sutcliffe, who had begun referring to himself as Peter Coonan, was moved to Frankland prison in Durham in 2016.

According to reports, he was no longer being treated for any mental disorder.

On November 13, 2020, Sutcliffe died in hospital at the age of 74. He had contracted Covid-19, but had refused treatment. He was also said to have underlying health conditions including diabetes, pneumonia and heart disease.

Sutcliffe had reportedly only just returned to prison a couple of weeks before his death after being taken to hospital following a suspected heart attack.

In an interview with The Mirror, his brother Mick, who spoke to Sutcliffe every week on the phone, said that he had received the ashes, which he then divided and passed on to two of the killer's friends.

"It was just white powder," he said, describing his sibling's remains. "I did not feel anything. He is gone and that is it.

"Peter wanted me to scatter them but it was too far for me to go, so I divided them up between two of his friends. They were two people who were regularly in touch with Peter and he considered them to be his friends."

Photo credit: Universal History Archive - Getty Images
Photo credit: Universal History Archive - Getty Images

Sonia Sutcliffe was married to the serial killer from 1974–1994. Some reports say that she was just 15 when she met her future husband, who was 20, in a Bradford pub. Others say that she was 16 and he was 21.

Sonia filed for divorce 13 years after he was sentenced.

It's believed that she arranged his funeral, but failed to invite any of Sutcliffe's family, including Mick.

He told The Mirror that he was only informed of the service after it had taken place.

Photo credit: Central Press - Getty Images
Photo credit: Central Press - Getty Images

"Our Peter would go absolutely barmy if he knew I didn't know," he added.

"Peter has caused so much pain. He also put our family through hell, so we needed to be at that funeral to get that closure."

Sonia, who had studied to become a teacher, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, as noted in the documentary series. She had no knowledge of her husband's crimes during his killing spree.

According to the Sunday Mirror, Sutcliffe said that she "had no idea, not a clue" and was "deeply shocked" when she discovered the truth.

Photo credit: Bettmann - Getty Images
Photo credit: Bettmann - Getty Images

It has since been reported that Sonia, who has remarried, continues to spend time at the house that she shared with Sutcliffe, and had continued to visit her former partner in prison up until a couple of years ago.

"I feel compassion for him," she reportedly told the Sunday People.

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