true crime

The Yorkshire Ripper confessed to murdering 13 women. His wife, Sonia, stood by him.

Peter Sutcliffe, better known as the Yorkshire Ripper, terrorised the streets of Yorkshire, England, in the 1970s.

He murdered 13 women and attempted to kill seven others, using a hammer, a screwdriver and a knife to mutilate his victims.

But throughout his reign of terror, there was another woman by Sutcliffe’s side – his wife, Sonia.

Sonia, the daughter of Czech parents, was just 16 years old when she met Sutcliffe, after defying her father’s orders and attending a disco at a local pub.

Sutcliffe was four years older. He had dropped out of school and worked in a string of menial jobs, including as a grave digger.

The pair began dating and married in 1974, a year before his first killing.

Yorkshire Ripper wife
Portrait of British serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, a.k.a. 'The Yorkshire Ripper,' on his wedding day, August 10, 1974. Image: Getty.

His horrific crimes only came to light in 1981 after a routine traffic stop. Sutcliffe was found to have a prostitute in his car. While police investigated his fake licence plate, they found a pile of weapons he'd discarded at the scene.

He was arrested and eventually confessed to being the serial killer the press had dubbed the 'Yorkshire Ripper'.

In an exclusive audio, obtained by the Sunday Mirror, Sutcliffe revealed the moment he told Sonia about his crimes.

He begged police not to tell her, so he could reveal the truth himself.

When she arrived at the police station, Sutcliffe said: "It's me, love. I'm the Yorkshire Ripper."


In the audio, he says: "I personally told Sonia what had happened after my ­arrest. I asked the police not to tell her, just to ring her and let me explain.

"She had no idea, not a clue. I never had any blood on me or anything.

"There was nothing to link me, I was taking my clothes home and taking my clothes off and doing my own washing.

"I was working all day long and she was working as a teacher so I could only do it at night. She was deeply shocked when I told her. She couldn’t believe it.

"She was absolutely gobsmacked. It was hard to tell her but I'd rather it come from me than a total stranger."

Despite the confession, Sonia stood by her husband and continued to visit him after he received 20 life sentences.

Yorkshire Ripper wife
Sonia Sutcliffe leaving the Old Bailey during the Peter Sutcliffe, Yorkshire Ripper, trial in 1981. Image: Getty.

She did not divorce Sutcliffe until 1994, and even then she continued her visits to Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire, where he was admitted after being diagnosed with schizophrenia .

She met her second husband, Michael Woodward, a hairdresser, a year later in the salon where he worked.

The couple married in 1997 but live separately, with Sonia choosing to remain in the home she shared with Sutcliffe.

According to The Sun, Sonia's sister Marianna once said: "He’s the only man in the world for her and always will be."

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