Netflix’s new true crime documentary The Ripper has highlighted how serial killer Peter Sutcliffe could have been caught two years earlier.
Sutcliffe was sentenced to life in prison in January 1981 for the murder of 13 women and attempted murder of seven others. He spent four decades behind bars before he died after contracting coronavirus in November.
Now, the new four-part documentary on Netflix has brought to light to fact that the killer could have been brought to justice years earlier, had an officer’s suspicions not been dismissed.
One moment from The Ripper features a first hand account from Detective Constable Andy Laptew, who had interviewed Sutcliffe two years before he was imprisoned.
The officer spoke to Sutcliffe at his home in Heaton, West Yorkshire in July 1979 and believed him to be the one culpable of the murder of, at the time, 10 women.
His suspicions were ignored and three more victims were killed.
Sutcliffe was found guilty two years and three more deaths later, and Laptew said that discovering he had interviewed the killer previously was a sickening experience.
‘When I heard it was Peter William Sutcliffe, it was like somebody hitting me in the chest from the inside,’ Laptew says in the documentary.
Speaking about the encounter on the series, he says: ‘I got into my car, went up to the police station, into my locker, and dug out my old notebooks.
‘I looked it up and found it: Peter William Sutcliffe, interviewed, not satisfied.’
Laptew also spoke about the ‘uncanny’ similarities between Sutcliffe and a photofit of the criminal, made after Marilyn Moore was attacked by the person believed to be the killer in 1977.
However, when voicing his worries to a senior officer, his fears were dismissed because Sutcliffe didn’t have a Geordie accent – and that’s what the police were looking for.
‘I said, “No. He’s from Bradford, he’s from around these parts, but I mean it’s an uncanny resemblance.” And he hit the roof,’ Laptew explained.
‘He started effing and jeffing and going: “Anybody effing mentions photofits to me again will be doing traffic for the rest of their service”.
‘I crawled out with my tail between my legs and that was it. Forgotten.’
It comes after the son of the Yorkshire Ripper’s first victim has said he is worried the new Netflix documentary series about him will ‘inspire new serial killers’.
A Netflix spokesperson told Metro.co.uk: ‘This is not a series about Sutcliffe but a sensitive re-examination of the crimes within the context of England in the late 1970s.
‘This was a time of radical change: a time of poverty and misogyny in which Sutcliffe’s victims were dehumanised by the media and the police, and which resulted in the perpetrator evading capture for five years. This series has at its heart the stories of the women who died.’
The Ripper is available to watch now on Netflix