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Criminal Profiling: Peter Sutcliffe

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 2175 words Published: 16th May 2017

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Criminal Profiling: Peter Sutcliff

One other aspect we can all discuss which is relatively new, is the work of psychologists in helping the police in catching a killer, it is known as criminal profiling or offender profiling, which can be traced back to 1888 when ‘Thomas Bond gave a detailed description on Jack the Ripper’ (Cross) it was later used by the FBI in America. Following the case of The Yorkshire Ripper it began to be used in Britain by the police force in other cases of catching other criminals and serial killers.

The Yorkshire Rippers profile could have looked similar to the points below;

1, Has local knowledge of where the crimes are committed

2, Lives within the vicinities of the crime scenes

3, is likely to be somewhat of a loner

4, Could be married or living alone

5, if married, may spend time away from home on a regular basis

6, is disorganised

7, Sadistic

8, Religious

9, has a grudge against prostitutes

10, Is probably in a job, but of no skill

Discuss the various theories of crime in relation to your chosen criminal

In order to complete this discussion the chosen criminal shall be Peter William Sutcliff aka The Yorkshire Ripper, who during the time span of July 1975 and January 1981, claimed the lives of thirteen women, and attacked seven more. Most of Sutcliff’s victims were prostitutes and he committed the crimes within the vicinities of Leeds and the North of England. He used a variety of methods to kill and attack his victims, and an array of weapons.

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The methods used to kill and attack his victims included stabbing, strangulation, and bashing and the weapons he used consisted of an array of knives, a hammer, a hacksaw and a Ball-pein hammer, which later became his signature. Peter William Sutcliff was the first born of six children to Kathleen a quiet and solid catholic woman and John a man whom had an appetite for life ‘Murder case book vol 1’. It was his mother Kathleen that provided stability and security and gave him round the clock care following his birth due to the fact he was a small and weak baby. Peter grew up to be fond of his mother, more so than his father and it is reported that ‘he would hide behind her skirt on many occasion (murder case book vol 1).

During his school years Peter was bullied by other children and would regularly play truant, his grades were of a poor standard and he left school at the age of fifteen without qualifications, he embarked on a variety of jobs, all of which he was unable to hold down due to the constant lateness of his arrival at work, one job which Peter had, and had held for three years was a post as a grave digger at Bingley Cemetery, during his early adult life he was regarded as being somewhat of a loner, deep and introvert ( murder case book vol 1) and would be the subject of ridicule by his family. Peter took an interest in body building at this time and would spend hours alone training, at this time he also met his future wife Sonia in a local pub when he was with his work colleagues, they had a ???? relationship which lasted for eight years before finally ????

In 1974. In 1969 John, Peter’s father discovered that Kathleen his wife was having an affair with a local policeman and he arranged for the whole family to confront her about it, Peter was devastated; it was later that year that he carried out an attack on a prostitute in Bradford following a row with her about a £10 note. He hit her on the head with a stone in a sock while out in the red light district, of which he was a frequent visitor t. In 1971 Sonia his then girlfriend had a mental breakdown and at this time she reported to her psychiatrist that she had “heard the voice of God” Wicked beyond belief, she was diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia, following her recovery she and Peter went on to marry in 1974, in less than a year of marriage Peter had carried out an attack on a woman, only to attack other women a short time later, and in October of 1975 claimed the life of his victim, a person identified as Wilma McCann aged twenty-eight, in Leeds, she became the first in the long reign of terror that Peter William Sutcliff held.

In order to discuss the various theories of crime that could account for Sutcliff’s behaviour one will examine the various theories which have evolved over the the past twelve decades beginning with the works of Cesare Comboso 1876, he was an Italian biologist who had an interest in crime (class notes) he reported that following this study , of similar facial features in criminals such as cold-glassy blood shot eyes, thick curly hair, strong jaws, long ears and thin lips, Lombrosos findings had no scientific evidence in support of his theories, he used correlation to identify his subjects in his study therefore we must dismiss this as being inconclusive, another theory of crime was also put forward using the same basis as Lombrosos by William Sheldon in 1949, who identified three body types, endomorphic, mesomorphic and ectromorphic, his study was based on 400 men in rehabilitation, the majority were found to be of a mesomorphic type, muscular, tough and strong. From both of these theories we are able to reflect the appearance of Sutcliff with cold glassy eyes and thick curly hair. Sutcliff also had a mesomorphic body shape; therefore we must keep an open mind of these particular theories. Possible explanation of the two studies could be chromosomes, some men in prisons have been found to have an extra Y in making them XYY but according to Jacob’s (class notes) it could be associated with them being more aggressive. There has been no scientific evidence to prove that there is a criminal gene but that is not to say that one does not exists.

Another theory put forward in order to explain crime was (Eysneck & Eysneck 1970) ‘the criminal is a neurotic extrovert (someone who scores high on both N & E) N is linked to crime through anxiety, the high E score is stimulus-hungry, engaging in thrill enhancing behaviour and is more difficult to ?????. The EPL questionnaires Eysneck & Eysneck used also found that high P scorers also were established as being aggressive, uncaring, troublesome, inhumane, insensitive to others needs and feelings, tend not to experience guilt, prefer strange and unusual things and appear foolhardy! Although we have no knowledge of a questionnaire being completed by Sutcliff, one could give incidents that have occurred and situations that have taken place to reflect yet again with this theory.

In September 1969 Sutcliff was arrested and charged with going equipped for theft ‘with a hammer’, while working in the cemetery he was reported by a work mate to have a macabre sense of humour, ‘he would lie down on a slab pretending to be a corpse with a shroud over him and make groaning noises’ (Murder case book ) also he would boast to workmate that he had stolen various items of jewellery from corpses ( wicked beyond belief) also following the job he was given at T&WH Clark as a lorry driver, he posed for a publicity poster and wrote his own strange epitaph to accompany it, it read “In this truck is a man whose ?????? ????? if unleashed would rock the nation, whose dynamic energy would overpower those around him. Better let him sleep? (Wicked beyond belief), and finally the crimes he committed such as stabbing a victim with a screw driver in her vagina and then going home to his wife as if nothing had ever happened.

Another explanation to describe Sutcliff’s behaviour is frauds tripartite derision of the personality, the most primitive part which consists of basic biological impulses or drives, the source of psychic energy or libido which operates on the pleasure principle, ???????// and to avoid pain regardless of external circumstances it is known as the ID, followed by the ego which is the rational part or controlling self it operates on the reality principle, holding back the impulses of the ID until they can be satisfied in society in socially approved was, and finally the superego which represents the ???????? of the values and morals of society, it is the conscience that controls the expression of the ID’s impulses through moral scruples , thus being Sutcliff’s need to attack and kill his victims and gaining satisfaction and sexual gratification in doing so while being marries to Sonia and showing concern by ‘ collecting her from work in order for her to be safe, in case she would be attacked by The Ripper’ (wicked beyond belief) he was never looked upon by his wife as being nothing but a normal and caring husband, he showed no guilt or remorse for his actions and following the arrest for his crimes ( all of which his wife was oblivious to) gave her an account of his actions and told her that he would ‘pretend to be mentally ill and get 10 years in a loony bin’ (wicked beyond belief).

Another theory can be attachment as a cause, Bowbly (1963 and 1973) his maternal deprivation hypothesis was used to explain the harmful effects of growing up in institutions, according to Bowbly short term deprivation produces distress. Deprivation produces long-term development retardation such as affectionless psychopath. Gross ( ) Given that Peter was the first born and he was cared for by his mother throughout his early life, the suggestion that a child needs a constant primary care-giver for the first two and a half to three years of his life to become stable and able to thrive to not conditional in this instance ‘Mothers love in infancy is as important for mental health as vitamins and proteins for physical health. Bowbly (1951).

One other theory of crime that can be a large deciding outcome of a conviction can be the state of one’s mind when the crime was committed, such as schizophrenia, Paranoid schizophrenia is an illness that affects the thought process of the brain, so the suffer may not be able to think logically, often there are hallucinations, which may be in the way of voices, visions, and the sensation of being touched, delusions are also common, schizophrenia can happen following an episode of stress, breakdown or disastrous life changing event (mental health volunteer notes). In the case against Sutcliff ( there was a conflict between Dr Hugo Milme, Dr Malcolm McCulloch and Dr Terrence Kay psychiatrist who diagnosed him and the Attorney General Sir Michael Havers, who believed that Sutcliff was not suffering from schizophrenia, but was telling lies). He claimed that from the age of 20 years old he had been following instructions from God, he had heard his voice, and it told him to clean the streets of prostitutes, (Murder case book Vol 1).

In order to establish the differences between a person suffering from a mental illness and a psychopath (see handout 1) are they mad or just bad. We must take on board as much information about the individual we are dealing with, which did not appear to be the case for Sutcliff. Although Sutcliff is now incarcerated in Brood moor Mental Institution, he was originally incarcerated in Parkhurst Prison, but following an attack by another inmate in March 1984 when he lost sight in one eye and needed countless stitches, his original testimony to appear mad finally became a reality.

In order to conclude this discussion one must look at various events which happened to Sutcliff, of which might account for his behaviour and give an insight as to why he committed the crimes he did. As Peter was close to his mother her embarking on an affair with a policeman left him devastated, could it be that he associated this with the attack he first made in 1969 on a prostitute in Bradford following the row over money or was it the fact that the man in question was a policeman, Peter as a child was brought up as a catholic who’s views on sex might have been the cause for him to attack prostitutes, what made his family ridicule him, his relationship with his siblings could that have had an effect on him, always lonely, possible jealousy of no longer having his mother all to himself, the fact he was bullied in school could all of these given him drive and ambition and he wanted to prove something, give himself status. Why was it that although he was warned and it was reported by his wife Sonia that they had a normal sex life, what made him leave traces of semen on their bodies and expose them but not have intercourse with them, but not engaging in intercourse could be seen as possibly something that means procreation, he had no children of his own. No reason for this has been reported, maybe they didn’t want them or were unable to have them or was he a psychopath and given the fact that he had seen Sonia suffering with schizophrenia gave him the excuse and reasoning for his behaviour should he ever be caught. Whatever the case Peter William Sutcliff, aka The Yorkshire Ripper was indeed wicked beyond belief.


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