Case Notes: S01E08 – The Yorkshire Ripper, part 2 of 5


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For half a decade, the Yorkshire Ripper terrorised northern England, attacking and murdering at least twenty women. In the second of this five-part miniseries, embattled police receive letters and a tape claiming to be from the murderer. Is this the breakthrough they have been looking for? En clair is a podcast about forensic linguistics, literary detection, and language mysteries from past to present. Below you will find data, audio credits, further reading, and a transcript of the podcast.

Audio credits

Kai Engel – Counting Lights (looped)
Kai Engel – Forgotten Marches
Lee Rosevere – Taking the Time (looped)
eddy – Building Tension

Credits, sources, and more

Letters and tapes


This is a strong content warning. All parts of this extended, multi-part episode contain strong language and/or descriptions of violent murders. Teachers, guardians, parents, and caregivers should listen to every part of this episode first, and then make their own judgement call about whether this content is suitable for younger or more sensitive audiences.

Case S01E08 – The Yorkshire Ripper, part two of five.

On the 26th of September, 1977, Sutcliffe and his wife, Sonia move into a detached house in Heaton, Bradford. Only five days later, Sutcliffe commits another murder. He kills Jean Jordan, a known sex worker, with hammer blows to the head and by repeatedly stabbing her. Jean Jordan’s body is found in an abandoned allotment site in Manchester. However, there has been a complication with this murder. Sutcliffe has paid her with a brand new £5 note. Sutcliffe realises, later, that a brand new note can be tracked via its serial number, and, eight days after the murder, when Jean Jordan has still not yet been discovered, he returns to the body, and attempts to find the incriminating note. He is unaware that she has put it into a secret compartment in her handbag, and unable to find the money, he decides instead to mutilate the body, including attempting to decapitate it, in an effort to make the murder look as though it is the work of someone else. The body is found the next day by police, and her handbag is found five days after that, along with the new banknote hidden inside.

A new line of inquiry begins here when the police determine that the note is one of a consignment of 5,000 that have been delivered to the Manningham, Shipley, and Bingley branches of Midland Bank. The police track down the majority of people who received these notes, including Sutcliffe. They interview him at his home on the 02nd of November, 1977, two weeks after the £5 note has been found, and pressing for further details, they interview him again on the 08th of November. The police check his footwear and some household tools, but do not examine his car or its tyres. When asked about his movements, Sutcliffe states that he was at home when the murder happened, and at a house-warming party on the day that the body was dismembered. His wife, Sonia, corroborates both alibis and at the second interview, his mother corroborates the house-warming story. This is one of the first in a long string of near-misses, where the police either interview Sutcliffe or come close to vital evidence that would have solved the case much sooner.

A month after this interview, on the 14th of December, Sutcliffe attacks Marilyn Moore, a known sex worker. Posing as a client called Dave, when she gets into his car, he hits her over the head with a hammer, causing a depressed skull fracture. He also inflicts around eight lacerations, including numerous defensive wounds on her hands and forearms before she manages to escape. The description she provides of her attacker matches Sutcliffe, but the attack is not linked to the others at this stage.

Five weeks later, in Bradford, on the 21st of January 1978, Sutcliffe murders Yvonne Pearson. He strikes her in the head multiple times with a stone, and then jumps on her chest. Based on the use of a rock rather than a hammer, and the lack of stab wounds, this attack appears to be especially opportunistic. Notably, Sutcliffe conceals her body beneath an overturned sofa on wasteland that is often used by sex workers. As a result, she is not immediately found.

Ten days later, on the 03rd of February, in Huddersfield, eighteen-year-old Helen Rytka is out with her identical twin sister, Rita. Both Helen and Rita had grown up in care, and when Rita had dropped out of college and turned to sex work, Helen had quit her job and joined her sister, as she did not want her to be on the streets alone. Both were relatively new to sex work but they soon developed a crude system of keeping each other safe by agreeing to meet up within twenty minutes after each client.

It is now around 9pm, and when Helen returns early from a previous client, she is spotted by Sutcliffe. He convinces her that there is time for them to go to the timber yard nearby, have sex, and return before her sister, Rita starts to worry about her. Helen agrees, but when they get there, he strikes her in the head with a hammer and stabs her repeatedly through the heart.

Back at their agreed meeting place, Rita waits for her sister, but as the hours pass by, she begins to wonder if Helen has gone back home to their flat. Rita goes home, and discovering that her sister is not there either, she panics. But she is too afraid of the police to report her sister’s disappearance. It takes her three days to summon the courage to go to a station and make the report. Within ten minutes of the police arriving at the timber yard, Helen Rytka’s body is found.

Three weeks after this, on the 21st of February, Sutcliffe returns to Yvonne Pearson’s body. She has not yet been discovered, and perhaps to confuse the investigation, Sutcliffe leaves a copy of that day’s The Daily Mirror – a national tabloid newspaper – underneath the right-hand side of her body. This has a prominent article in it about the Yorkshire Ripper. In the end, Yvonne Pearson’s body will not be discovered until the 26th of March, two months after her murder. This is another detail to hold onto, if you can, since this, too, will come up again, and prove crucial.


Welcome to en clair, an archive of forensic linguistics, literary detection, and language mysteries. You can find case notes about this episode, including credits, acknowledgements, and links to further reading at the blog. The web address is given at the end of this episode. And, if you get a moment, leave us a rating wherever you get your podcasts.

A breakthrough?

At this stage, over two years have passed by since the attacks and killings began. As the official records stand at this point, during those two years, nine murders and four attempted murders have been linked to the Yorkshire Ripper – an average of one major crime every four weeks. Then, if we are to believe the official list of victims, the fourteen months between the start of February 1978 and the start of April 1979 is punctuated by only one attack.

On Friday the 02nd of March, 22-year-old student, Ann Rooney is walking through Horsforth College, just outside of Leeds, when Sutcliffe attacks her from behind, striking three hammer blows to her head. For whatever reason, Sutcliffe then leaves, and Ann Rooney survives. Despite the attack bearing every characteristic of a Yorkshire Ripper attack, again the police decide not to link this crime to the series, this time on extraordinarily tenuous grounds. Their rationale is that the hammer used in this attack is different from the other attacks – despite the fact that other attacks in the series quite clearly demonstrate that the Yorkshire Ripper was indeed using a variety of hammers. For over a decade this attack will be left off of the official list until Sutcliffe finally confesses to it whilst in prison.

To return, however, to the investigation behind the scenes, whether this interlude between attacks is real, or merely an artifice of refusing to link cases, even if the police could have predicted that they were about to face over a year in which the killer seems to go almost entirely dormant, it is not likely to have changed the daily reality of the investigation. They continue to pursue hundreds of lines of inquiry, interview thousands of people, and pour tens of thousands of working hours into an expensive, exhaustive, sprawling, messy investigation. Despite this, they find themselves no closer to catching the Yorkshire Ripper now than four years earlier. The pressure is not merely mounting. It is already at danger point. In the lifetime of the investigation a number of senior and commanding officers will suffer adverse health conditions – heart attacks, alcoholism, strokes, early deaths, and so forth – arguably caused at least in part by the investigation’s relentless stress and long hours. Dozens of critical headlines and news articles are being published on a daily basis, excoriating the forces at large and individual officers in particular. There are hundreds of tense senior leadership briefings and updates taking place across the region. And commanding officers are receiving memos and phonecalls from senior Government figures who are making their displeasure – and the mounting displeasure of their superiors, well known. This is a theme we will return to later. In short, the police are desperate for a breakthrough.

To try to make some headway and encourage assistance from the public, the West Yorkshire Police Authority put out a media campaign publicising an offer of a reward. Anyone who can provide information leading to the identification of the killer can receive an award of £10,000 – that’s around £60,000 in today’s money. For further context, this was also before the explosive house-price boom. The average price of a house in London in 1978 was £14,000. In the north of England, house prices were nowhere near as high. £10,000 would be enough to buy a modest house outright. This substantial reward generates an instant influx of information from the well-meaning public. In the first days, the police receive hundreds of anonymous phone calls and over fifty anonymous letters, but whilst some of them seem worthy of follow-up, ultimately none proves fruitful.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a special inquiry team is being established. Two Detective Inspectors, four Detective Sergeants, and four Detective Constables are assigned to reviewing all the existing lines of inquiry, and reporting how far they have been followed. One of the senior officers involved in the investigation, Detective Chief Superintendent Domaille, also contacts the Police Scientific Development Branch to request assistance with the inquiry. Members from this unit, and more from the Police Research Services Unit visit the force three times throughout May of 1978 to assist with the inquiry. As part of this, they arrange for fixed vehicle observation posts to be set up in high-risk red-light areas such as Manningham in Bradford, Chapeltown in Leeds, and Moss Side in Manchester. The intention is to focus on anyone spotted in two or more of these areas.

Into the midst of this pressure cooker of boiling stress, six days after Ann Rooney’s attack, a letter arrives. It is postmarked Sunderland, 1.45pm, 08th of March 1978. It is addressed to Mr George Oldfield, Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police. The contents of the letter are thus:

Dear Sir,

I am sorry I cannot give my name for obvious reasons I am the ripper. Ive been dubbed a maniac by the press but not by you You call me clever and I am. You and your mates havent a clue That photo in the paper gave me fits and that lot about killing myself no chance Ive got things to do, My purpose to rid the streets of them sluts. my one regret his that young lassie Macdonald did not know cause changed routine that nite, Up to number 8 now you say 7 but remember Preston 75, Get about you know, you were right I travel a bit You probably look for me in Sunderland don’t bother I am not daft just posted letter there on one of my trips. Not a bad place compared with Chapeltown and Manningham and other places

Warn whores to keep of streets cause I feel it coming on again. Sorry about young lassie.

Yours respectfully

Jack the Ripper

Might write again later I not sure last one really deserved it. Whores getting younger each time. Old slut next time I hope, Huddersfield never again too small close call last one.

Five days later, a second letter, postmarked Sunderland, 10am, 13th of March 1978 is received by the Chief Editor of the Daily Mirror. Its contents are very similar:

Dear Sir,

I have already written Chief Constable, Oldfield “a man I respect” concerning the recent Ripper murders. I told him and I am telling you to warn them whores I’ll strike again and soon when heat cools off. About the Mcdonald lassie, I did nt know that she was decent and I am sorry I changed my routine that night, Up to murder 8 now You say but remember Preston 75.

Easy picken them up dont even have to try, you think theyre learn but they dont Most are young lassies, next time try older one I hope. Police haven’t a clue yet and I don’t leave any I am very clever and don’t think of looking for any fingerprints cause there arent any and dont look for me up in Sunderland cause I not stupid just passed through the place not bad place compared with Chapeltown and manningham can’t walk the streets for them whore, Dont forget warn them I feel it coming on again if I get the chance. Sorry about lassie I didn’t know.

Yours respectfully

Jack the Ripper

Might write again after another ones’ gone. Maybe Liverpool or even Manchester again, to hot here in Yorkshire, Bye.

I have given advance warning so its yours and their’s fault.

Killer insight

Initially, the existence of these letters is not publicised. The police, as in any major investigation, seek to hold back crucial information about the crimes they are investigating, and for good reason. There are niche sections of society who cannot help but try to insert themselves into dramatic, exciting situations. Sometimes these are clairvoyants, diviners, and other mystics, who claim to have vital insights if only the police will come with them to a certain scene or let them gaze upon the body or handle the murder weapon. Unsurprisingly, the police largely have no time for such individuals, but there is a complication. Some murderers enjoy taunting the police and talking directly with those in charge. It’s the sort of thrill, I imagine, of seeing how close one can dance to the fire. One good way to capture attention is to masquerade as someone who has some supernatural insight that just happens to be very accurate. Remember, though, that this is a trick as old as murder itself, and the police are wise to these sorts of schemes.

Similarly, some people like to claim to be the killer, and via these means, waste police time. It may just be that they hate the police. They may have serious mental health issues. They may be looking for whatever strange validation they get from that brilliant flash-in-the pan notoriety and hatred. To the average person, behaviour like this perhaps seems inexplicable, and yet it happens, routinely, especially in high profile cases. But it poses a problem. The police can receive dozens of so-called confessions and taunts from people claiming to be the killer during an investigation, and yet, how aggrieved would the public be if the police disregarded all those pranks, and one turned out to be the culprit, who was tauntingly giving away vital clues. It can mean that no small amount of time is wasted in striking such people from the list, and even prosecuting them as severely as possible to deter future pranksters. There is, however, a simple solution. One easy way to screen out the hoaxers, and to confirm the veracity of any real confession, is to have on hand a range of information that only the killer could know. This might be the exact nature of the injuries inflicted on the victim, or the way in which a body was arranged at the crime scene, or some known missing possession that the killer may have retained as a trophy, and so on. In fact, murderers have been convicted in the past for accidentally revealing knowledge of details that have not been made public, thereby fatally implicating themselves.

However, this “killer insight”, for want of a better name, is a neat idea on paper, but in practice, it is messy. Determining quite what the killer knows, or remembers, is somewhere between an art and a science. A deranged killer, a drunk killer, a killer on drugs, may not remember anything, or they may remember events that have never happened. Similarly, bodies are usually discovered by ordinary members of the public, and the average person who has happened across a Yorkshire Ripper victim is not only going to be interviewed by the police, they are suddenly also going to find themselves someone of substantial local prominence – an irresistible magnet for gossips and journalists. Some people, finding themselves in this position, might be possessed of discretion and consideration and respectfully keep the details to themselves. Others would not be so introspective, and would discuss their experience at length. In telling all they know about the body and the crime scene, however, they would be likely to inadvertently put a lot of information the police would otherwise want to keep secret into the public domain. Such news will then be passed on by word of mouth – a method that is practically impossible for the police to track.

Added to this, the investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper at this stage is already enormous, involving hundreds – even thousands – of officers, and officers are human beings. Plenty of them will also enjoy gossiping, and even those that don’t might find themselves tempted by a quiet payment from a media outlet looking for inside information. Just as the police can’t easily track gossip, they also can’t keep up with all the media reporting, especially across the thousands of smaller local papers and radio stations. Because of this, if some information has escaped, whether it is inaccurate gossip from innocent bystanders or good quality intelligence from paid leaks, it can be difficult for the police to judge exactly what counts as information that only the killer could know, and what is in the public domain.

How does this relate to the Yorkshire Ripper case? Well, two examples of this are to be found in the letters. The first is the correction in the current count of the number of bodies. The second is the reference to the Preston ’75 case from three years earlier. We will deal with the second point first.

Preston ’75

Although I described the Preston ’75 case earlier in this miniseries, by this point, the sheer number of victims means that you’re not likely to remember anything distinct about it, so this is a quick refresher. This case involved the murder of 26-year-old Joan Harrison, an alcoholic and drug user whose addictions had forced her into sex work. On Thursday the 20th of November 1975 she was seen walking towards Preston town centre at around 10:00pm at night. Three days later, on Sunday the 23rd of November, her body was found in a derelict garage. The pathologist who undertook the post-mortem was unable to determine the cause or time of death. At the fullest, he could only describe it as being the result of: “haemorrhage and shock caused by multiple injuries, murder by person or persons unknown”. Harrison had been sexually assaulted, extensively beaten and kicked, bitten on the left breast by someone with a clear gap in their upper front teeth, and she had a u-shaped laceration on the back of her head. However, there were no stab wounds. As I mentioned before, a test of the semen found on her body showed that it belonged to a blood group B secretor.

Initially, the police had not linked Harrison’s case with the other Yorkshire Ripper murders. Harrison had been sexually assaulted – a feature not seen in the other murders. And she had not been stabbed – a feature that was seen in the other murders. However, there were similarities. One was in the arrangement of the body when compared with the murder of Irene Richardson. Another was that this was a known sex worker. The police had therefore subsequently decided to link this case to the other killings, but they believe that this link is not known to the public. The letter’s surprising reference to this Preston ’75 case from three years earlier therefore gives the police pause for thought.

There is, however, a new development a little over two weeks after the arrival of the letters. On the 26th of March, 1978, Yvonne Pearson’s body is finally found. Again, because of the substantial differences between this murder and the others – the use of a rock, the lack of stab wounds, the way the body has been hidden, and so forth – this murder is also initially not connected to the Yorkshire Ripper series. As a result, it is not immediately picked up by the media. Two months later, though, on the 12th of May, when a range of cases are reviewed, this murder is formally linked to the series, along with the attempted murder of Marilyn Moore.

But this creates a problem – one that is only identified later on in the investigation, and that I will come back to in due time. The discovery of Yvonne Pearson’s body, and its inclusion in the Yorkshire Ripper series, now directly contradicts the letters. Remember that Yvonne Pearson was killed before the letters were sent, but only found afterwards. If the writer really were the killer, surely he would know the real number of murders, and instead of correcting the police by claiming eight kills, he would taunt them with his knowledge of nine? It’s hard to imagine that he would not have taken such a rich opportunity to brag about his superior knowledge, and to mock their incompetence.

However, there is a potential explanation. Linking a series of crimes is as much an art as it is a science. As this episode has hopefully already shown, there are many other attacks that occurred at around the same time that had similarities, and were not linked. By contrast, some attacks had key differences, and were linked, like the Yvonne Pearson case. The police themselves could have linked the wrong crimes, therefore leading to the wrong count.

Moreover, there is the phenomenon of the copycat killer who, inspired by the infamy of another criminal, emulates their MO. It would be possible to explain a murder like Yvonne Pearson’s that had key differences as the work of another murderer. In different words, though the police might try to gauge the authenticity of the letters by measuring them against what the killer knows, in reality, they themselves may not have all the facts. A discrepancy between the facts known to the police and the claims in a letter such as this one could arise not from the author being wrong because this is a hoax, but from the police being wrong because they are several steps behind.

Overall, however, the general attitude is that the letters are probably a hoax. The investigating forces have already received countless letters and calls from people claiming to be the Yorkshire Ripper – mostly very obvious pranks, but some, like this, faintly more compelling. However, with the next events, doubts about this initial conclusion start to creep in. As the letters between them state, the next victim would be older, and the attack would happen in Liverpool or Manchester. And sure enough, the police find themselves dealing with a murder that fits this description exactly.

Predictions and predicaments

On the 16th of May 1978, Sutcliffe murders 40-year-old Vera Millward, a known sex worker, in the grounds of the Manchester Royal Infirmary. He strikes her in the head with a hammer three times, and savagely stabs and slashes her repeatedly. Tyre-track evidence from the scene encourages the Greater Manchester Police to discontinue one of their lines of inquiry involving a certain type of vehicle and some of the first fractures between the different police forces become apparent as West Yorkshire Police disagree with this decision.

In the midst of this ongoing information chaos, Sutcliffe is interviewed again, on the 13th of August, three months after murdering Vera Millward. He has been sighted in two of the high-priority areas where the police have been recording numberplates. The interviewing officer knows that Sutcliffe has already been interviewed before about the £5 note, but assumes that the sightings of him in these areas can be explained away by his work as a driver. Three months later, he is interviewed by the same officer again, but again, he is not arrested, nor even seriously suspected.

A week later, at the end of November, the West Yorkshire Police Authority increase the reward money for information leading to the killer’s arrest from £10,000 to £20,000 – that is, up to around £120,000 in today’s money. The offer generates an enormous response from the public, which in turn is converted into thousands more pieces of paperwork, and those join the mountains of information already suffocating the investigation from the inside out.

The words of Wearside Jack

For four months, there is a lull. No attacks. No substantial developments. And then on the 23rd of March, 1979, almost exactly a year after the previous ones, another letter arrives for George Oldfield, the Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police:

Dear Officer

Sorry I havn’t written, about a year to be exact, but I hav’nt been up north for quite a while. I was’nt kidding last time I wrote saying the whore would be older this time and maybe I’d strike in Manchester for a change, you should have took heed. That bit about her being in hospital, funny the lady mentioned something about being in hospital before I stopped her whoring ways. The lady won’t worry about hospitals now will she. I bet you be wondering how come I hav’nt been to work for ages, well I would have been if it hadnt been for your cursered coppers I had the lady just where I wanted her and was about to strike when one of you cursing police cars stopped right outside the lane, he must have been a dumb copper cause he didnt say anything, he didnt know how close he was to catching me. Tell you the truth I thought I was collared, the lady said don’t worry about the coppers, little did she know that bloody copper saved her neck. That was last month, so I don’t know when I will get back on the job but I know it wont be Chapeltown too bloody hot there maybe Bradfords Manningham. Might write again if up north.

Jack the Ripper

PS Did you get letter I sent to Daily Mirror in Manchester.

This letter has a drastic impact on reducing the doubts about the authenticity of the earlier letters, and investigators now begin to seriously believe that the author could be responsible for the murders. This time, they have several strands of evidence to support their perspective. Firstly, they analyse the saliva on the envelope of this third letter and discover that the person who licked it has a rare blood group, known as a type B secretor. Only 6% of the total population match this. Likewise, the previous analysis of the semen from the Jean Harrison murder – that is, the Preston ’75 case alluded to in the earlier two letters – is of the same rare blood group. When this combines with the reference to the Preston ’75 murder in the first two letters, and their claim about choosing an older victim in Manchester or Liverpool next, which then actually transpires, this all puts a very different complexion on the letters. Perhaps this is the lead that the police are so desperate for.

Not quite two weeks later, however, there is another twist. Sutcliffe kills again, but this time, it’s different. He murders Josephine Whitaker, a building society clerk, striking her in the head twice with a hammer, and then stabbing her twenty-five times. This case turns another tide. Nineteen-year-old Josephine Whitaker was in a residential area in Halifax, nowhere near any red-light districts. She was not a sex worker, and there was no chance of her being mistaken for a sex worker. She is seen as a respectable middle-class young woman, going about her business, in a safe place, but seemingly to the country’s astonishment, these factors have not prevented her from being murdered. As the news reaches the front pages, the public reaction is instant and apocalyptic. Suddenly, the murderer is not just targeting socially ostracised fringe groups that larger society cares little about. Now, the killer is in the suburbs. Instead of the previous pattern of victim-blaming, where people would demand to know why the attacked woman was in the “wrong place” (that is, in a red-light district) or doing the “wrong thing” (being a sex worker) or being unaccompanied or being out late wearing the wrong clothes and so on, the focus of the headlines instead is on the monstrosity and depravity of the murderer.

We could talk for an hour here just about the attitudes that drove all of this, but that wouldn’t get us through this case, so we shall carry on. Such is the level of public backlash that the Major Incident Room at Millgarth Police Station grinds to a standstill, and the entire team of officers are reassigned just to handle the Whitaker case – a notable exception, again, from the other cases, and a timely reminder of just what the reaction might have been to the attack on fourteen-year-old Tracy Browne at her farm gate.

As if this isn’t enough, there are two more twists in quick succession, though the impact of each will only become clear with time.

Firstly, a month after Whitaker’s murder, on the 01st of May 1979, quietly, in the murder logs held by the police, an entry appears that approves the practice of eliminating suspects whose handwriting does not match that of the three Sunderland letters. In different words, if a suspect is interviewed, the officers are encouraged to take a handwriting sample from them, and a failure to match the Sunderland letter is taken as proof that they are not the murderer. This means that by this stage, someone with sufficient authority in the police force has determined so conclusively that the letters are real, that they are now using them as proof with the power to eliminate suspects, rather than simply as evidence to suggest possible guilt or innocence.

And six weeks after this, on the 18th of June 1979, George Oldfield, the Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, receives a fourth and final envelope. In it, there is a cassette tape. On that tape, there is an audio recording, in which the speaker addresses Oldfield directly:

Wearside Jack tape here. Transcript provided below:

Key: (1) Pausally delimited utterance number; // break in the recording caused by electrical switching; [7.0 secs] the durations of longer pauses)

(1) I’m Jack (2) I see you are still having no luck catching me (3) I have the greatest respect for you George (4) but Lord (5) you are no nearer catching me now (6) than four years ago when I started (7) I reckon your boys are letting you down George (8) they can’t be much good (9) can they? [7.0 secs] (10) the only time they came near catching me (11) was a few months back in Chapeltown (12) when I was disturbed (13) even then it was a uniformed copper (14) not a detective (15) I warned you in March that I’d strike again (16) sorry it wasn’t Bradford (17) I did promise you that (18) but I couldn’t get there [6.8 secs] (19) I’m not quite sure when I’ll strike again (20) but it will be definitely (21) sometime this year (22) maybe September October (23) even sooner if I get the chance [6.6 secs] (24) I’m not sure where (25) maybe Manchester (26) I like it there (27) there’s plenty of them knocking about (28) they never learn do they George? (29) I bet you’ve warned them (30) but they never listen [11.9 secs] // (31) at the rate I’m going (32) I should be in the book of records (33) I think it’s eleven up to now isn’t it? (34) well I’ll keep on going (35) for quite a while yet [5.0 secs] (36) I can’t see myself being nicked (37) just yet (38) even if you do get near (39) I’ll probably top myself first [5.6 secs] (40) well it’s been nice chatting to you George (41) yours Jack the Ripper (42) no good looking for fingerprints (43) you should know by now (44) it’s clean as a whistle (45) see you soon (46) bye // (47) hope you like the catchy tune (48) at the end // (49) ha ha // [22 seconds of “Thank You For Being A Friend” by Andrew Gold]

The saliva on the envelope is found to contain the same type B secretor blood group, linking it with the previous letters, and again with the Preston ’75 murder which is officially part of the Yorkshire Ripper series. By now, as the murder log update already suggests, senior officers are convinced that the tape and the three letters have indeed come from the killer.

Get me a linguist! Or… two.

Finally, finally, we reach the stage where this case becomes truly relevant to en clair, a podcast that is, after all, about language. In their desperation, the police do something that has, to this point, almost never been done before: they call in the linguists. And we’ll get into just how well that all goes in the next episode.

End of part two of five


This episode of en clair was researched and fact-checked by Rebecca Jagodziński. And it was scripted, narrated, and produced by me, Dr Claire Hardaker. However this work wouldn’t exist in its current form without the prior effort of many others. You can find acknowledgements and references for those people at the blog. Also there you can find data, links, articles, pictures, older cases, and more besides.

The address for the blog is And you can follow the podcast on Twitter at _enclair. If you like, you can follow Rebecca on Twitter at RjJagodzinski, and you can follow me on Twitter at DrClaireH.