‘It needs pulling down’: Urban explorer discovers the Bradford flat where Yorkshire Ripper murdered his fourth victim… derelict but still standing more than 40 years later
The apartment block where the Yorkshire Ripper murdered his fourth victim inside her flat is still standing despite its horrific connection to Britain’s most notorious serial killer.
New photos taken by an urban explorer show the derelict block, in Oak Avenue, Bradford, where Patricia Atkinson, 32, was killed with a claw hammer by Peter Sutcliffe in 1977.
The images show Ms Atkinson’s flat itself – number three – which is now stripped bare, with paint having fallen from the walls.
A black and white image of the room shows how it looked when Ms Atkinson lived there: floral curtains covering the windows, a dining table covered with a white cloth, a chest of drawers with a mirror on top.
The anonymous explorer who posted the images on his popular Lost Places & Forgotten Faces Facebook page said it ‘really surprises’ him that, given its horrific connection to Sutcliffe, the block remains standing.
In a post above the photos, he added: ‘It just needs pulling down and something fresh and modern built over it.’
The rest of the block is also seen in the photos and is in a severe state of disrepair – with broken windows, graffiti on the walls and what appears to be fire damage.
The block is reportedly set to be demolished in the coming months. Planning permission was previously granted in 2016 for the building to be partly destroyed and for three semi-detached homes and six apartments to be built in its place.
Sutcliffe, who died in November last year, murdered a total of 13 women and attacked several others, terrifying northern England in the late 1970s until he was caught in 1980.
The flat where the Yorkshire Ripper murdered his second victim is still standing despite its horrific connection to Britain’s most notorious serial killer. New photos taken by an urban explorer show flat and derelict block, in Oak Avenue, Bradford, where Patricia Atkinson was killed with a claw hammer by Peter Sutcliffe in 1977. A black and white image of the room shows how it looked when Ms Atkinson lived there
Ms Atkinson, who worked as a prostitute, had been out drinking in the Manningham area of Bradford when she was spotted by Sutcliffe (right) on her way home
The urban explorer said: ‘I’ve known about this location for awhile, but it’s one I’ve been putting off. I do a lot of sad and sorrowful explores, but this one is unique. Eventually, I decided to head over to Bradford and document it.
‘I didn’t really enjoy this explore to be honest. Especially when I stepped inside Flat no 3. Even though its stripped completely, just having the knowledge of what happened to Patricia there in 1977.
‘It really surprises me how this place is still standing as it just seems to be a constant reminder of a horrific part of Bradford’s history. It just needs pulling down and something fresh and modern built over it.’
He added that he then went to pay his respects to the young woman by visiting her grave at Scholemoor Cemetery in Bradford.
‘After over an hour of searching, I finally located her semi-neglected grave. I stayed there for a short while, and even though I had a couple more explores to check out in the city, I opted to go home instead,’ he said.
Ms Atkinson, who worked as a prostitute, had been out drinking in the Manningham area of Bradford when she was spotted by Sutcliffe on her way home.
He picked her up in his car and took her back to her flat in Oak Avenue. Before following her inside, he took a claw hammer from his car and hid it under his coat.
He then used it to hit Ms Atkinson four times on the back of the head.
The rest of the block is also seen in the photos and is in a severe state of disrepair – with broken windows, graffiti on the walls and what appears to be fire damage
The anonymous explorer who posted the images on his popular Lost Places & Forgotten Faces Facebook page said it ‘really surprises’ him that, given its horrific connection to Sutcliffe, the block remains standing
The images show how the building has fallen into a severe state of disrepair. Paint on the walls has fallen away, whilst the walls are covered in dirt and the windows are smashed. The urban explorer said: ‘I’ve known about this location for awhile, but it’s one I’ve been putting off. I do a lot of sad and sorrowful explores, but this one is unique. Eventually, I decided to head over to Bradford and document it’
The remains of a bathroom with cartoon fish still visible on the walls is seen above. However, the fittings have been ripped out and the wall tiles are covered in dirt. The building is set to be demolished and planning permission has been granted for homes to be built on part of the site
The building appears to have been damaged by fire, as the above image shows. Ms Atkinson, who worked as a prostitute, had been out drinking in the Manningham area of Bradford when she was spotted by Sutcliffe on her way home
He picked her up in his car and took her back to her flat in Oak Avenue. Before following her inside, he took a claw hammer from his car and hid it under his coat. Above: Another room in the abandoned block in Oak Avenue, Bradford
The murderer also stabbed her six times in the stomach with a knife before throwing and tried to do the same to her back, before throwing bed linen over the top of her body and leaving.
Ms Atkinson’s body was found by a friend the next day. A bloody foot print at the scene which matched those at the scene of one of his previous murders confirmed to police that the killer was the same man.
However, it wasn’t until 1981 – after nine further women had been killed – that the Ripper was caught. He was sentenced to life in prison.
The photos come after news last week that Sutcliffe’s medical records for the final six weeks of his life will be pored over by a coroner to decide his cause of death after he caught Covid-19 before passing away.
Ms Atkinson’s body was found by a friend the next day. A bloody foot print at the scene which matched those at the scene of one of his previous murders confirmed to police that the killer was the same man. Above: A corridor in the abandoned apartment block
The block is reportedly set to be demolished in the coming months. Planning permission was previously granted in 2016 for the building to be partly destroyed and for three semi-detached homes and six apartments to be built in its place
The 74-year-old prisoner had been suffering from increasing breathlessness and needed additional levels of oxygen in the days before his death in hospital on November 13.
He was serving a life sentence at Frankland Prison in Durham, and had been transferred to the nearby University Hospital of North Durham on November 10 before his death three days later.
Sutcliffe died alone in University Hospital of North Durham because no visitors were allowed by his bedside due to covid rules. Families of his victims celebrated his death and said the serial killer will ‘rot in hell’.
Assistant Senior Coroner for County Durham Crispin Oliver held a hearing at Crook Civic Centre on Tuesday, ahead of the final, full inquest in September.
He is still waiting for a report from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman which looks into the death of any serving prisoner.
Mr Oliver also requested hospital and medical notes on the killer – who changed his surname to Coonan in 2001. He said: ‘On the face of it, it is a natural death, but I think I shall require the medical records from October 1 to November 13, when he died.’
Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe (pictured at the time of the murders) died at the age of 74 after contracting coronavirus. Sutcliffe was pictured in public for the last time on September 26, 2015 when he was being taken from Broadmoor to Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey for eye treatment
12 of the 13 victims murdered by Sutcliffe. Victims are: (top row, left to right) Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson, Patricia Atkinson; (middle row, left to right) Jayne McDonald, Jean Jordan, Yvonne Pearson, Helen Rytka; (bottom row, left to right) Vera Millward, Josephine Whitaker, Barbara Leach, Jacqueline Hill
Mr Oliver will hold another pre-inquest review on July 7 before the full hearing takes place on September 22.
The Ripper had previously signed ‘do not resuscitate forms’ – while friends said he astonishingly believed he would ‘go to heaven’ after his death because he had become a Jehovah’s Witness.
The serial killer tested positive for coronavirus on November 5, and had previously suffered from diabetes and heart disease, known risk factors for Covid-19.
He received palliative care before he died and a post-mortem examination confirmed severe heart disease, including stenosis of three coronary arteries, with the cause of death being Covid-19.
Sutcliffe’s next-of-kin, his ex-wife, Sonia Woodward, was aware of the inquest hearing but did not attend.
Spectrum, responsible for providing healthcare to Frankland inmates, was represented at the brief hearing.
Sutcliffe was conscious and aware that he was going to die having discussed his transfer to palliative care just hours before he perished, it emerged earlier this year.
The prisoner, who changed his name by deed poll to Coonan in 2001, had previously suffered from diabetes and heart disease, known risk factors for Covid-19, the coroner said.
He had a pacemaker fitted on November 2 and there were no complications. Referring to the post-mortem, Mr Oliver said previously: ‘However, he continued to deteriorate with increasing oxygen requirements and on November 12 he was judged to be dying.
‘After full discussion with the patient, he was transferred to palliative care and he died on November 13 at 1.45am.’
On August 10 1974, Sutcliffe married Sonia (they are pictured at their wedding day). Less than a year later, the lorry driver picked up a hammer and began attacking women, two in Keighley and one in Halifax
The coroner said the post-mortem confirmed severe heart disease, including stenosis of three coronary arteries.
He added: ‘The main finding was very heavy, solid and airless lungs, highly typical of adult respiratory distress syndrome, this is a characteristic feature of individuals dying of Covid-19 infection.’
The Yorkshire Ripper had even boasted he would not catch covid in jail as victims’ families said the virus ‘has at least one happy ending’ after it claimed his life.
Sutcliffe had written regular letters to a penpal during the pandemic and just months before his death had boasted about feeling ‘much safer’ in prison than in the outside world, MailOnline revealed.
The 13 murder victims of the Yorkshire Ripper
Killed on: October 30, 1975
A sex worker and mother of four, Sutcliffe battered Wilma McCann to death with a hammer and stabbed her in the neck, chest and stomach after picking her up in Leeds. He carried on life as normal with wife Sonia, and was to tell police: ‘After that first time I developed and played up a hatred for prostitutes in order to justify within myself a reason why I had attacked and killed Wilma McCann.’ Her body was found in Prince Phillip Playing Fields.
Killed on: January 20, 1976
A part-time sex worker, Sutcliffe pretended his car wouldn’t start when he picked her up and battered her twice with a hammer as she offered to help. He the dragged her body into a yard and used a screwdriver to viciously stab her a total of 52 times in the neck, breasts, lower abdomen and back. Her body was found on Manor Street in Leeds.
Killed on: February 5, 1977
Another prostitute Sutcliffe picked up, he attacked her in Roundhay Park, Leeds, where they had stopped so she could go to the toilet. As she crouched down, the killer delivered three heavy blows to her head with a hammer, then he tore open her jacket and blouse and began to stab and slash her with his Stanley knife.
Killed on: April 23, 1977
Sutcliffe’s first victim in his home town of Bradford was another prostitute. He picked her up and took her to a flat in Oak Avenue, where he picked up a hammer and dealt four massive blows to the back of her head. He also stabbed her six times in the stomach with a knife and tried to do the same to her back, before throwing bed linen over the top of her body and leaving.
Killed on: April 23, 1977
A shop assistant who had just left school, Jayne MacDonald was the first ‘non-prostitute’ victim and it was her death that saw the hunt for the killer draw national attention. Sutcliffe spotted her in the early hours of the morning in Leeds and followed her into an adventure playground, where he struck her with a hammer on the back of the head. After she fell down, he then dragged her, face down, into the play areas and stabbed her several times in the chest and back.
Killed on: October 1, 1977
A young prostitute, Jean Jordan was the Ripper’s first victim in Manchester. He beat her 11 times with a hammer in allotments next to Southern Cemetery, dumped her body and threw her bag, containing a brand new £5 note he gave her, into nearby shrubs. Police found the bag and traced the serial number on the note back to the payroll of Yorkshire hauliers T and W H Clark, who employed Peter Sutcliffe, but when questioned he provided an alibi that he was at a party.
Killed on: January 21, 1978
A young prostitute, Sutcliffe took her to a piece of waste ground at the back of Drummond’s mill in Bradford, where his father worked. There he hit her several times with a hammer. He pulled her body behind an old sofa, stuffed horsehair down her throat before kicking her in the head and jumping down on her chest.
Killed on: January 18, 1978
A teenage prostitute, Helen Rytka was picked up and driven to a timber yard in Great Northern Street, Huddersfield by the killer. There he beat her with a hammer several times but she remained alive until he grabbed a knife and stabbed her multiple times through the heart and lungs. Before leaving, he hid her body behind a stack of timber.
Killed on: May 16, 1978
A prostitute living in a run-down council flat in Hulme, Manchester, Vera Millward was Sutcliffe’s ninth victim. He took her Manchester Royal Infirmary where he attacked her with a hammer as soon as she got out the car. After killing her with the hammer blows, he then dragged her body to a spot by a fence and began to stab her with a knife.
Killed on: April 4, 1979
A teenage building society clerk, Josephine Whitaker was approached by Sutcliffe in Savile Park, Halifax where they got chatting. He hit her from behind with a hammer and again as she lay on the ground before dragging her into the darkness after hearing voices. He then stabbed her 21 times with a screwdriver in the chest and stomach as well as in the leg. Her skull had been fractured from ear to ear.
Killed on: September 20, 1979
Barbara Leach was a university student, about to start her third and final year in social psychology. He spotted her while driving in Bradford and opened the car door to get out as she was walking towards him. He attacked her with a hammer and dragged her into a back yard, before stabbing her with the same screwdriver that he had used on Josephine Whitaker. He then placed her body in a distorted jack-knife position behind a low wall into an area where dustbins were usually kept, covering her body with an old piece of carpet and some stones.
Killed on: August 20, 1980
A civil servant who worked at the Department of Education and Science office in Pudsey, Marguerite Walls was the Ripper’s twelfth victim. After spotting her in Leeds, he attacked her with a hammer blow, yelling ‘filthy prostitute’. He then looped rope around her neck and dragged her into a garden when he would strangle her and strip her of all her clothing except her tights. He partially covered the body with grass cuttings and leaves before making his escape.
Killed on: November 17, 1980
An English student at Leeds University, Jacqueline Hill had taken the bus home from a meeting with probation service workers where she had applied to become a volunteer. Sutcliffe spotted and followed her before delivering a blow to her head as she was passing an opening. Her body was discovered on a stretch of wasteland 100 yards from where she lived. She suffered four skull fractures and cuts to her head, a stab wound to her left breast and a stab wound to her right eye.
THE YORKSHIRE RIPPER’S REIGN OF TERROR: A TIMELINE OF HIS MURDERS
Photograph of Peter Sutcliffe an English serial killer who was dubbed the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ by the press
Sutcliffe, who lived in Bradford, West Yorkshire, believed he was on a ‘mission from God’ to kill prostitutes, although not all his victims were.
His other victims, aged between 16 and 47, included two university students, a civil servant, a bank clerk and a supermarket worker.
Sutcliffe was dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper because he mutilated his victims using a screw driver, hammer and knife.
He was also convicted of seven counts of attempted murder in and around Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester.
Summer 1975: Peter Sutcliffe begins attacking women, two in Keighley and one in Halifax. All three survive and police do not link the attacks.
30 October 1975: Sutcliffe carries out his first fatal attack on Wilma McCann, a 28-year-old prostitute from the Chapeltown district of Leeds.
20 January 1976: He murders Emily Jackson, 42, from Leeds, battering her with a hammer and stabbing her with a screwdriver.
5 February 1977: He kills Irene Richardson, 28, another prostitute from Leeds.
23 April 1977: Sutcliffe strikes for the first time in his home town of Bradford, murdering 32-year-old Patricia Atkinson.
26 June 1977: The case comes to the attention of the national press after Sutcliffe murders Jayne MacDonald, a 16-year-old shop assistant. The murder, and the realisation that a serial killer is on the loose in Yorkshire, shocks the country.
The attacker is dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper by the press, and West Yorkshire Chief Constable Ronald Gregory appoints his most senior detective, Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield, to investigate the murders.
1 October 1977: Sutcliffe chooses Manchester for his next attack – on Jean Jordan, 20. He dumps her body on an allotment and throws her bag, containing a brand new £5 note he gave her, into nearby shrubs.
Police find the bag and trace the serial number on the note back to the payroll of Yorkshire hauliers T and W H Clark, who employ Peter Sutcliffe.
Sutcliffe is interviewed by police but provides an alibi placing him at a party.
21 January to 16 May 1978: Sutcliffe murders three prostitutes – Yvonne Pearson, 21, from Bradford; Helen Rytka, 18, from Huddersfield, and 40-year-old Vera Millward from Manchester.
4 April 1979: Sutcliffe kills Halifax Building Society clerk Josephine Whitaker, 19.
June 1979: A tape is sent to police by a man calling himself Jack the Ripper, who has already sent a series of hand-written letters from Sunderland. Assistant Chief Constable Oldfield mistakenly decides that these are the work of the Ripper. Wearside Jack, as he becomes known, is pinpointed to the Castletown district of Sunderland by voice experts. Detectives are told they can discount suspects who do not have a Wearside accent.
July 1979: Police interview Sutcliffe for the fifth time. Detective Constables Andrew Laptew and Graham Greenwood are suspicious but their report is filed because his voice and handwriting do not fit the letters and tape.
Officers carry out a fingertip search on an area of waste ground as part of the Ripper investigation in 1979. The probe dominated the nation’s consciousness for years
2 September 1979: Sutcliffe murders Barbara Leach, 20, in Bradford.
2 October 1979: A £1million campaign is launched to catch the Yorkshire Ripper.
20 August 1980: The Ripper claims another victim, Marguerite Walls, 47, from Leeds, followed by Jacqueline Hill, 20, a Leeds University student, on November 17.
November 1980: Detective Chief Superintendent James Hobson replaces Oldfield. Hobson downgrades the importance of the Wearside Jack tape and letters.
3 January 1981: Sutcliffe admits he is the Yorkshire Ripper after police arrest him with a prostitute. Police admit the killer does not have a Wearside accent.
22 May 1981: Sutcliffe is jailed for life at the Old Bailey. The judge recommends a minimum sentence of 30 years. He is transferred to Broadmoor secure hospital in Berkshire in 1984.
24 May 1989: Wife of Sutcliffe wins damages.
21 March 2006: John Humble, a former builder, is sentenced to eight years in prison after he admits to being the Yorkshire Ripper hoaxer known as Wearside Jack.
1 June 2006: A report which has been kept secret for nearly 25 years reveals that Sutcliffe probably committed more crimes than the 13 murders and seven attempted murders for which he was convicted.
April 2017: Sutcliffe is questioned by police officers over 17 unsolved cases that bear similarities to his past crimes. He is not being investigated over any murders and it is unknown which of the incidents police think are linked to the serial killer.
May 2017: Sutcliffe is investigated over the murders of two women in Sweden. Detectives are said to have enquired about the murders of a 31-year-old woman found dead in Gothenburg in August 1980, and a 26-year-old woman found dead in Malmo a month later. Both bodies were found on building sites.