Peter Sutcliffe, Britain's most infamous serial killer, has died a painful death after refusing treatment for coronavirus.
The 74-year-old Yorkshire Ripper, who was convicted of killing 13 women and attempting to murder seven more, died yesterday morning at the University Hospital of North Durham.
He had been admitted earlier in the week after testing positive for Covid-19 at the nearby maximum-security Frankland prison.
In letters to a pen pal, Sutcliffe recently wrote about his fears of catching coronavirus but, when the end came, he seemed to accept his fate, signing "do not resuscitate" forms.
As his lungs began to fail, he refused all medication, treatment and intervention, with one source saying "it was as if he wanted to die".
Sutcliffe was jailed for life in 1981 but three years later was transferred to Broadmoor secure hospital in Berkshire after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
In 2010, the High Court rejected an appeal by Sutcliffe to seek the possibility of one day applying for parole, and in 2015 he was assessed as no longer being mentally ill and transferred to Frankland prison, where he was described as struggling to fit in.
Sutcliffe's death was last night welcomed by the families of his victims, but will deny justice to some of those he was suspected of attacking but were never convicted crimes.
West Yorkshire police had been carrying out a cold case review into a string of unsolved murders and violent attacks in the North of England around the time he was at large.
Marcella Claxton, 64, who survived a Ripper attack in May 1976 but lost her unborn child, said: "I'm happy he's gone. I've thought about what he did to me every day since. It's not the end for me. I am still injured and still get dizzy."
Richard McCann, who was 5 when his mother Wilma was murdered by Sutcliffe in 1975, said: "My mum was completely innocent and deserved to live."
He added: "It really affected me. I was ashamed of being associated with Sutcliffe and all his crimes ... There's only one person that should have felt any shame, although I doubt that he did, and that was Peter Sutcliffe."
Following McCann's comments, the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, John Robins, issued a heartfelt apology for some of the language used by senior officers during the investigation. He said comments about some of the victims being women of "loose morals" had been wholly wrong.
In a statement, he said: "Such language and attitudes may have reflected wider societal attitudes of the day but it was as wrong then as it is now ... Thankfully those attitudes are consigned to history and our approach today is wholly victim focused, putting them at the centre of everything we do."
Sutcliffe, a lorry driver from Bingley in West Yorkshire, had been responsible for several violent assaults on women before claiming his first murder victim in Leeds on October 30, 1975.
After picking up mother-of-four Wilma McCann as she hitchhiked home late at night, he bludgeoned her to death with a hammer before stabbing her in the chest and dumping her body.
Three months later he killed 42-year-old prostitute Emily Jackson, stabbing her 52 times.
Over the next five years he attacked women with terrifying regularity. Sutcliffe murdered young women late at night, in towns and cities across West Yorkshire, even venturing across the Pennines to Manchester.
The police investigation was beset with blunders, and Sutcliffe was detained and questioned nine times in connection with the inquiry, but each time was released to kill again.
He was eventually arrested in January 1981 as he picked up a prostitute in the Broomhill area of Sheffield.
In 2006, a secret report disclosed Sutcliffe had probably committed more than the 13 murders he was convicted of.