'Thinking of you Mum, more than ever': Son of Yorkshire Ripper's first victim Wilma McCann pays tribute to mother-of-four as ITV drama The Long Shadow about hunt for depraved serial killer Peter Sutcliffe is aired

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  • Reading time:4 min(s) read

  • McCann was murdered just 100 yards away from home on October 30 1975

The son the Yorkshire Ripper’s first victim Wilma McCann tonight paid tribute to his mother, who is he is thinking of ‘more than ever’, as an ITV drama recalling the hunt for depraved serial killer Peter Sutcliffe is aired.

The tragic final days of Wilma, 28, and Sutcliffe’s second victim Emily Jackson, 42, will be re-told in The Long Shadow across seven episodes. 

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. 

Tweeting just minutes before the programme aired, Richard McCann said: ‘Not sure why I feel so nervous about the airing of the ITV drama The Long Shadow starting in a few minutes. 

‘Thinking of you mum more than I ever have for years as people get to see you showing love for your children.’

The tragic final days of Wilma McCann, 28, and Sutcliffe's second victim Emily Jackson, 42, will be re-told tonight in ITV's The Long Shadow which is airing across seven episodes

The tragic final days of Wilma McCann, 28, and Sutcliffe’s second victim Emily Jackson, 42, will be re-told tonight in ITV’s The Long Shadow which is airing across seven episodes

Sutcliffe would go on to kill a further 11 women and attack several others

Sutcliffe would go on to kill a further 11 women and attack several others

Tweeting just minutes before the programme aired, Richard McCann said: 'Thinking of you mum more than I ever have for years as people get to see you showing love for your children'

Tweeting just minutes before the programme aired, Richard McCann said: ‘Thinking of you mum more than I ever have for years as people get to see you showing love for your children’

Wilma, who was a mother-of-four, was brutally murdered just 100 yards away from her house on October 30 1975, after Sutcliffe hit her with a hammer and stabbed her 15 times in the chest, neck and abdomen. 

The young woman, from Scott Hall in Leeds, will be portrayed by Gemma Laurie, while Sutcliffe’s second victim will be depicted by Katherine Kelly.

The murder of Wilma, who was a sex worker, came after Sutcliffe had attacked three women that same year.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.’




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