Retired detective Chris Clark says he has new evidence linking the Yorkshire Ripper to the death of Bakewell woman Wendy Sewell

editorial image

The murder of Bakewell woman Wendy Sewell has been shrouded in mystery for over 40 years - but now a retired detective claims notorious serial killer Peter Sutcliffe could be responsible.

Chris Clark says he has unearthed new evidence linking the Yorkshire Ripper to a series of grisly killings over a 12-year period - including the death of Mrs Sewell in 1973.

Cruelly dubbed ‘the Bakewell Tart’ by the tabloids after a court heard she kept a diary of her lovers - Mrs Sewell was beaten with a pickaxe handle and sexually assaulted in Bakewell Cemetery.

Stephen Downing, a 17-year-old with learning difficulties, was convicted of her murder but cleared after 27 years in jail.

Nobody else has been charged with the killing.

Mr Clark, 67, a former intelligence officer, said as many as 17 unsolved killings bore hallmarks of the Ripper.

Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven others in 1981 but at the time, detectives believed the lorry driver must have committed more attacks.

Mr Clark, who is putting together a dossier of evidence which he will present to the Home Office in the hope they will reopen the cases, said he believes Sutcliffe’s work as a driver could have given him the opportunity to kill all around the country and in 1973 his work would have brought him close to Bakewell.

He said the frenzied and sexual nature of Wendy Sewell’s murder was similar to other Ripper killings.

He added: “Take the pickaxe handle out of the equation and the murder is almost identical to later Ripper victims including the removal of the clothing.”

Mr Clark said significantly, in Matlock Mercury editor Don Hale’s findings, Wendy Sewell was heard talking to a man with a “high pitched voice” on the day she was killed.

He said: “A man in an adjacent office heard her talking to a man with a high pitched voice and it is common knowledge that Peter Sutcliffe had a high pitched voice.”

But spokesman for Derbyshire Police said there was no evidence to link Sutcliffe to the murder of Mrs Sewell.

He added: “The murder was thoroughly reinvestigated in 2002 after the conviction of Stephen Downing was quashed following an appeal.

“From a police perspective the case is now closed. All possible lines of enquiry were exhausted during the re-investigation.”