Amongst one of the more bizarre details of one of the largest manhunts in all of British history is the fact that a budding soap opera star was once eyed as a suspect.
Years before Bruce Jones starred in the British soap “Coronation Street,” the actor was viewed as a suspect in the “Yorkshire Ripper” case. The “Yorkshire Ripper” murdered 13 women and attempted to murder seven more in northern England from 1975 to 1980, prompting fear and hysteria in the area. The true culprit, Peter Sutcliffe, confessed in 1981, days after he was arrested.
As Netflix’s new four-part docuseries “The Ripper” details, Sutcliffe often targeted sex workers, whom he typically mutilated in a manner that mirrored the infamously elusive 19th century serial killer "Jack the Ripper," hence his nickname.
But before Sutciffe was caught, Jones was questioned as the possible killer behind the slayings. Why? Because he discovered one of Sutcliffe’s murder victims during the middle of the killing spree.
Jones and a friend had acquired an allotment of land in Manchester, which they were using to garden. He recalled in the docuseries that he was pushing a wheelbarrow when he stumbled on the body of 20-year-old Jean Jordan in 1977.
“Her hair was burnt off,” he emotionally recalled in the docuseries. “Her face was smashed in. Her breasts were cut off. She was disemboweled. She was cut in the most horrendous ways a person could cut someone.”
Jones, then 24, said he ran across the road and called the police. Because of his discovery, police looked upon him as a possible suspect, the Manchester Evening News reported last month. In the docuseries, Jones explains how that cloud of suspicion negatively impacted his life and marriage.
“I lost my first marriage, my children,” he told The Mirror in 2013. "I lost everything because of that. It actually destroyed me to learn that people can do that to a human being. I had nightmares like you wouldn’t believe.”
He believes the incident, along with a few other traumas, triggered several periods of mental health struggles. During one crisis episode, he told The Mirror he attempted a murder-suicide with a later wife.
The actor got through those struggles and went on to a successful career, best known for his role of Les Battersby in “Coronation Street,” which he played from 1997 to 2007.
Sutcliffe was ultimately convicted for the terrifying killing spree and was handed 20 concurrent life sentences.
The serial killer, who had underlying health issues, died in November in a hospital after he refused treatment for COVID-19, which he contracted behind bars, the BBC reported.
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