How mother-of-four Wilma McCann and married Emily Jackson were the first two women to be murdered by the Yorkshire Ripper… as ITV drama The Long Shadow airing TONIGHT depicts their final moments

  • Post category:news
  • Reading time:6 min(s) read

  • Wilma McCann, 28, and Emily Jackson, 42 were murdered in 1975 and 1976
  • They are portrayed in The Long Shadow by Gemma Laurie and Katherine Kelly

The first was a mother-of-four and the second was a woman who had felt forced to take to sex work to ease Christmas-time financial pressures. 

Wilma McCann, 28, and Emily Jackson, 42 were the first two victims of Peter Sutcliffe, the monster who became known as the Yorkshire Ripper. 

Tonight, their tragic final days are re-told in ITV drama The Long Shadow, which is airing across seven episodes. 

Wilma is portrayed by Gemma Laurie, whilst Katherine Kelly depicts Emily.   

The women were murdered in Leeds three months apart in late 1975 and early 1976. Sutcliffe would go on to kill a further 11 women and attack several others.  

Wilma McCann was the first of Peter Sutcliffe's victims - she was a 28-year-old mother-of-four from Scott Hall Avenue in Leeds
New ITV drama The Long Shadow focuses on the Ripper's victims. Above: Gemma Laurie as Wilma McCann

Wilma McCann was the first of Peter Sutcliffe’s victims – she was a 28-year-old mother-of-four from Scott Hall Avenue in Leeds. She is portrayed in the new ITV drama by Gemma Laurie

Peter Sutcliffe murdered 13 women between 1975 and 1980. He also attempted to take the lives of several more

Peter Sutcliffe murdered 13 women between 1975 and 1980. He also attempted to take the lives of several more

The murder of Wilma on October 30, 1975, came after Sutcliffe had attacked three women that same year. 

READ MORE: The Yorkshire Ripper Files: A forensic look at the 13 victims slaughtered by Peter Sutcliffe in his five-year reign of terror – ahead of new ITV drama The Long Shadow 

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The women – Anna Rogulskyj, Olive Smelt and Tracy Browne – had all miraculously escaped with their lives.

Wilma, a sex worker, was attacked just 100 yards away from her house on October 30, 1975.

Sutcliffe hit her with a hammer and stabbed her 15 times in the chest, neck and abdomen. Her body was found in Prince Philip Playing fields.

On the night of October 29, McCann had said goodnight to her children and then headed out drinking.

She was seen at four pubs – including the Regent and White Sawn – drinking whiskies an beer.

Later in the evening, she ended up at a drinking club, where she continued consuming alcohol.

Having left the club very drunk after 1am, she staggered around looking for a lift home and was seen by Sutcliffe, who stopped his car and picked her up.

He parked his car near Prince Philip Playing fields and, after suggesting that they have sex on the grass, attacked and killed her.

The first episode of The Long Shadow opens with Wilma’s children waking up to find their mother gone.

Viewers then see the moment her body is discovered. 

Emily Jackson was from Morley in Leeds. The 42-year-old died after being stabbed 52 times
She is portrayed in The Long Shadow by Katherine Kelly

Emily Jackson was from Morley in Leeds. The 42-year-old died after being stabbed 52 times. She is portrayed in The Long Shadow by Katherine Kelly 

Detective Chief Superintendent Dennis Hoban – aware that women of ‘loose morals’ may not inspire public sympathy – is seen opting to direct public attention to Wilma’s role as a mother.

However, it would ultimately be more than five years before Wilma’s killer was caught.  

Sutcliffe then carried on life as normal with his wife Sonia.

He would go on to tell police: ‘After that first time I developed and played up a hatred for prostitutes in order to justify within myself a reason why I had attacked and killed Wilma McCann.’

Speaking in 2020, Wilma’s son Richard criticised the way police had described his mother and some of Sutcliffe’s other victims.

‘My mum was more than just a “good time girl” or a “woman of loose morals”, as she was described by the police,’ he said in a video.

‘I hate the things that they said about some of the women, including my mum.

‘It’s like they seem to forget the person behind that black and white mugshot that I hated for years.’

Wilma McCann's children. From left to right: Richard (then five), Sonje (then seven), Angela (three), and Donna (four)

Wilma McCann’s children. From left to right: Richard (then five), Sonje (then seven), Angela (three), and Donna (four)

The sex worker was attacked and brutally murdered just 100 yards away from her house on October 30, 1975. Sutcliffe hit her with a hammer and stabbed her 15 times in the chest, neck and abdomen. Her body was found in Prince Philip Playing fields. Above: The site where Wilma's body was found

The sex worker was attacked and brutally murdered just 100 yards away from her house on October 30, 1975. Sutcliffe hit her with a hammer and stabbed her 15 times in the chest, neck and abdomen. Her body was found in Prince Philip Playing fields. Above: The site where Wilma’s body was found

Police search for Wilma McCann, the Yorkshire Ripper's first victim

Police search for Wilma McCann, the Yorkshire Ripper’s first victim

Sutcliffe struck again on January 20, 1976.   

Emily was from Morley in Leeds. The 42-year-old died after being stabbed 52 times.

The first episode of the Long Shadow shows how she was desperate to make enough money for her and her husband Sydney to see through the New Year. 

Seeing no other option, she opts to take up part-time sex work. The episode ends with the moment that Emily got into Sutcliffe’s car.  

Sutcliffe had picked her up outside the Gaiety pub on Roundhay Road, where she was soliciting for business.

After Emily had told him an encounter would cost £5, he drove on Roundhay Road to a derelict patch of land.

He then stopped his car and pretended it wouldn’t start.

As she tried to help him by holding her lighter while he looked under the bonnet, he battered her twice with a hammer.

He then dragged her body into a yard and used a screwdriver to viciously stab her.

Her body was found on nearby Manor Street by a workman on the morning of January 21.

Derelict buildings on Manor Street, Leeds, where the body of Emily Jackson was found

Derelict buildings on Manor Street, Leeds, where the body of Emily Jackson was found

Sutcliffe would later tell police: ‘At that time I had a feeling of satisfaction and justification for what I’d done.

‘I found that I didn’t have any blood on my clothes which I could see, so I had no need to dispose of them.’

Sutcliffe’s next murders came in 1977, when he took the lives of four women: Irene Richardson, Patricia Atkinson, 16-year-old Jayne MacDonald and Jean Jordan. 

The following year, he murdered Yvonne Pearson, Helen Rytka and Vera Millward.  

And, as police shifted their attention in the wrong direction to Sunderland after the interventions of the now-notorious hoaxer who became known as Wearside Jack, Sutcliffe’s killing spree carried on.

Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe is portrayed in The Long Shadow by Mark Stobbart (pictured above on set last September)
Sutcliffe

Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe is portrayed in The Long Shadow by Mark Stobbart (pictured left on set last September). Right: Sutcliffe

In 1979 he took the lives of Josephine Whitaker and Barbara Leach. The following year, the final two Ripper victims met their fates.

Civil servant Marguerite Walls and 20-year-old Jacqueline Hill were both murdered in Leeds. 

Sutcliffe was finally caught in January 1981, when he was stopped while driving with false number plates. 

In The Long Shadow, he is portrayed by Mark Stobbart but does not make an appearance until the final two episodes 




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