Vital piece of evidence police missed in search for Yorkshire Ripper
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Police missed a vital piece of evidence in the search for the Yorkshire Ripper that might have saved the lives of almost a dozen more women.
A new seven-part series lands tonight, which delves into the flawed investigation to find the serial killer:
Between 1975 and 1980, Peter Sutcliffe brutally murdered at least 13 women, and attacked another seven, before he was eventually arrested in 1981.
But according to many, the lorry driver could have been caught years earlier, had detectives followed the evidence properly.
Speaking to LADbible ahead of the release of The Long Shadow, director Lewis Arnold said discounting Marcella Claxton's story almost certainly cost lives.
The 20-year-old was attacked by Sutcliffe on her way home from a party in May 1976.
She was clubbed around the head with a hammer and knocked to the ground in Roundhay Park, but was able to escape, calling the police.
But despite Marcella providing a detailed description of Sutcliffe, which was used to put together a photofit, detectives insisted her attacker was Black and not the person they were looking for.
"The big one for me is if Marcella's photofit had not been ignored by the men in charge at that point, would it have led to a different outcome," Arnold says.
"If they taken her account seriously, and believed her and looked - particularly post Irene Richardson's death which connected her story - if they'd taken her seriously, would things have taken a different course?"
Sutcliffe - who died in 2020 - was finally caught in January 1981, at least six years after his spree began.
And while police received criticism over mistakes made towards the end of the investigation, Arnold believes the seeds of failure were sown years before.
"There were other things earlier," he says, "that could have been done differently that might have given it in a different direction. And maybe, you know, many more women might not have been attacked."
He adds: "That [Marcella's story] was something that when we finished it, I felt, having spoke to a lot of people who knew the case quite well, it was always an element that they felt had been underrepresented in all the documentaries and things post his capture. It's always an element that had been underserved in some ways.
"And I feel like Marcella has always had a rough ride in terms of representation in terms of how she's been described. And I'm hoping that we've put her truth forward in this."
The Long Shadow starts on ITV at 9pm tonight (25 September).