Netflix The Ripper: Everything we know about Sonia Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper’s wife

She still lives in the house they bought together


Netflix’s new true crime series, The Ripper, explores the case of the Yorkshire Ripper and how it took the police so long to find him. In the four-part series, we are slowly introduced to who the Yorkshire Ripper is and by the fourth episode we finally see Peter Sutcliffe, and his wife Sonia Sutcliffe.

Peter Sutcliffe was a prolific serial killer in the late 1970s and murdered 13 women. The docu-series focuses mainly on the victims and how the police viewed them. It also addresses why it took the police so long to catch the Ripper and looks at a hoax that occurred during the investigation as well.

It is only by the last episode that viewers truly get an understanding of who the Yorkshire Ripper really was. They cover his court trial and his subsequent prison time.

However not much is seen or heard of Sonia, but as his wife she played a very important role in Peter’s life up until his death last month. During his trial Sonia supported him and to this day still lives in their marital home.

This is everything we know about the Ripper’s wife Sonia Sutcliffe:

Who is Sonia Sutcliffe?

Sonia grew up in a council house in Bradford along with her parents who were Ukrainian and Polish–born refugees. They had fled to England from Czechoslovakia after the war.

Sonia and her elder sister Marianne, would reportedly go to the pub and discos by lying to their dad and pretending they were going to the ballet.

She was only 15 years old when she met Peter at a local pub. Peter Sutcliffe has previously said they had a similar sense of humour and he loved her from the beginning.

They apparently spent their time watching TV with each other’s families and going on walks. After two years of knowing each other Peter proposed to Sonia.

After their engagement it was reported that Peter’s brother had seen Sonia being “driven in a sports car by an Italian businessman”, which caused the couple to have an argument. Peter was then said to have “picked up a prostitute” in an attempt to cheat on Sonia with, but changed his mind at the last minute. He then claimed the sex worker swindled him out of £5.

What was her marriage to Peter Sutcliffe like?

After their argument Sonia and Peter went onto get married in 1974 on Sonia’s birthday. They had their honeymoon in Paris and then moved back into her parents’ house in order to save money for their own home.

At some point Sonia was diagnosed with schizophrenia and apparently “heard voices, suffered delusions that she was the second Christ.” By 1977 they had saved enough money for their own house and moved out. At this point Peter had already committed five murders.

During their marriage Sonia suffered three miscarriages and Peter claimed she was often “nagging”. Sonia has also been said to be obsessed with cleanliness and put plastic sheets on the sofas.

Did Sonia Sutcliffe know about what her husband was doing?

It has been reported Sonia had no idea her husband was the Yorkshire Ripper. In an interview Peter Sutcliffe said she never knew and he was never covered in blood so there was no reason for her to know.

He said: “I was never covered in blood, people used to say Sonia must know something because of all the blood, but there wasn’t any, what a load of rubbish.”

Peter Sutcliffe is said to have told Sonia in the police station he was responsible for the murders of the 13 women. He reportedly said: “It’s me, love. I’m the Yorkshire Ripper. I killed all those women.”

Sonia was reportedly shocked with his confession and said: “What on earth did you do that for, Peter? Even a sparrow has a right to live.”

via Simon Wilkinson/Shutterstock

Despite her shock, Sonia continued to support her husband during the trial.

Where is Sonia Sutcliffe now?

After Peter was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison, Sonia visited her husband at Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight and when he was moved to Broadmoor.

The couple only got divorced in 1994, 13 years after he was sentenced. Three years later she married a hairdresser called Michael Woodward.

Sonia continues to live in the home she had with Peter Sutcliffe and her husband lives in a flat 15 minutes away, after he declined to live in the house.

Her sister, Marianne, once said Peter was “the only man in the world” for Sonia and “always will be”. Sonia stopped visiting Peter in 2017 after he was moved to Frankland Jail in Durham.

She is now 70 years old and was the first person alerted to Peter’s death last month. Sonia is thought to have arranged the funeral of her ex-husband.

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

Featured image credit: Netflix and Simon Wilkinson/Shutterstock

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