Yorkshire Ripper dead: Remembering Halifax's Josephine Whitaker, Peter Sutcliffe's tenth victim

Josephine Whitaker was the tenth victim of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, who has died in prison today.

By Ian Hirst
Friday, 13th November 2020, 12:47 pm
Updated Friday, 13th November 2020, 12:50 pm

Josephine Whitaker, was killed at Savile Park at midnight on April 4 1979.

Aged only 19 she was the Yorkshire Ripper's tenth victim.

The teenager had been to visit her grandparents in Huddersfield Road, Halifax, and was making her way home across Savile Park moor to Ivy Street when Peter Sutcliffe struck.

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Josephine Whitaker, 19, was Peter Sutcliffe's tenth vicitm

Her body was discovered by a passer-by at 6.30am the following day.

She was 300 yards away from home.

In the media frenzy that followed her death her mother and step father Haydn Hiley, maintained a dignified silence.

It wasn't until April 1999 that her mum broke her silence over her daughter's killing.

Mrs Avril Hiley spoke to the Evening Courier to pay tribute to their daughter.

In anticipation of documentaries coming out and bad publicity Mrs Hiley wanted to redress the balance and refresh people's memories of Josephine.

Speaking to the Evening Courier in 1999 she talked openly about the events in April 1979

"I tend to think more when I am doing things like ironing, when you make a cup of tea, you put it on the side and you drift away.

"You wonder what she would have doing, would she have been married?"

For the previous two years the family had been constantly pursued to take part in films and documentaries but they stonewalled refused them.

"I didn't think it was going to serve any useful purpose," said Mrs Hiley in the Evening Courier.

"To resurrect it now in a documentary or docusoap does not serve any purpose."

Sutcliffe, 74, had tested positive for Covid-19 and was suffering from underlying health conditions.

He murdered 13 women across Yorkshire and north-west England between 1975 and 1980.

Sutcliffe was convicted of the crimes in 1981.

He spent three decades at Broadmoor Hospital before being moved to HMP Frankland in County Durham in 2016.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “HMP Frankland prisoner Peter Coonan (born Sutcliffe) died in hospital on November 13. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed.”

Sutcliffe had reportedly suffered from a range of conditions before his death including heart trouble, diabetes and obesity.