The Ripper on Netflix: Who was Wearside Jack the hoaxer and where is he now?

His lies meant Sutcliffe avoided jail nine times

In the third episode of new series “The Ripper” on Netflix, the true crime documentary looks into one of the biggest criminal hoaxes in history – that of Wearside Jack. Wearside Jack pretended to be the Yorkshire Ripper, and sent police down a rabbit hole of investigations which allowed the real killer to continue and evade justice.

But who was Wearside Jack and what was he like before the hoax case? Here is everything we know about John Samuel Humble, aka Wearside Jack, and where he is now.

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Wearside Jack

Who was Wearside Jack?

Wearside Jack was the nickname given to the man behind the Yorkshire Ripper hoax. Between 1978 and 1979 John Samuel Humble pretended to be the Yorkshire Ripper and taunted police with phone calls, letters and audio recordings. It’s one of the most notorious hoaxes in criminal history, having cost £1million to the Ripper investigation and three innocent lives.

He gained the nickname “Wearside Jack” because of his thick Sunderland accent, which is what took the Ripper investigation away from the West Yorkshire area and hindered the real arrest for around 18 months.

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The letters he sent police, via Netflix

Humble, who was an unemployed labourer living on the Ford Estate in Sunderland, was said to be motivated by a wish for notoriety, a hatred for police and an obsession with Jack the Ripper. He was born on January 8th 1956 in Sunderland, and grew up there. He was said to have had “above average” school results, but his career never progressed further than a bricklaying apprenticeship. Humble left school at 16 and worked for a few months in a hospital laundry and for a short period as a security guard.

He was known to be an avid reader, with a strange interest in Jack the Ripper. He was obsessed with crime novels, and it was in the summer of 1974 where he rented a book about the London killer from his local library. He kept the copy for a year – writing out excerpts of it to keep.

His hatred of police was also apparent. In 1975, when Humble was aged 19, he was convicted of actual bodily harm after he kicked an off-duty policeman in the head, and was sentenced to three months at a young offenders institution. Two years earlier, he had been convicted of burglary and theft.

At the time of the hoax, he was reported to have been living with his mother, sister and brother.

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The investigation into Humble was called “Project R”, via Netflix

What happened to Wearside Jack after he was found out and where is he now?

DNA samples from an envelope of one of the letters John Humble had sent to West Yorkshire Police matched his profile which on the database from an unrelated incident in 2001, where he was cautioned for being drunk and disorderly. He was arrested on 18th October 2005.

After his arrest, it has been reported he was so drunk police had to wait a full day to interview him. During his police interviews he said: “[The Ripper case] was getting on my nerves. It was on the bloody telly all the time. I shouldn’t have done it. I know that – because it’s evil. I do deserve jail.”

It was later revealed Humble had tried to tell the police anonymously that they were been hoaxed, but it had been dismissed because the police force had so many similar claims. Shortly after this ignored confession, it has been reported he had tried to take his own life.

Humble admitted to conspiring to pervert the course of justice at Leeds Crown Court and was jailed in 2006 for eight years. Humble was released in 2009 after serving four years of his sentence and was given a new identity as John Samuel Anderson.

After his release, his problems with drink didn’t end. He died on July 30th 2019, aged 63, of heart failure caused by alcohol misuse.

The Ripper is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

Related stories recommended by this writer:

The full true story of the Yorkshire Ripper hoax which cost £1million and three lives

How Bruce Jones from Coronation Street became a suspect in the Yorkshire Ripper case

• Ranked: The best true crime documentaries on Netflix, according to Rotten Tomatoes