Here I am at the grave of Jean Jordan who was a 20-year-old prostitute who was murdered by Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. I found this grave in Manchesterís largest cemetery thanks to a plot number. About 500m away and visible from the grave are the allotments where she was murdered. He had already killed five women and was on a roll.
Jean lived with her partner and their two children in a rundown part of Manchester. On the evening of Saturday 1st October 1977 her partner Alan had gone out with his friends and she left to earn some quick money. Driving around Manchester was Peter Sutcliffe in his new Ford Corsair car. Heíd been working on it on the driveway out his home in Heaton and was testing it out. He was crawling round the red-light district of† Moss Side looking for a prostitute to murder. He knew exactly what he was doing and had driven an hour to the city from Bradford as it was fresh terrain. Over the Pennines where the police and prostitutes were become more wary. He hadnít killed anyone for 82 days and had a hammer under his seat. Later heíd say he only went to Manchester as he'd read in a magazine that a priest there had been chastising prostitutes in his parish.
After 9pm he spotted some prostitutes in Moss Side and considered Jean to be "slim and not bad-looking." She was just about to slip into another car but changed her mind and got into the Corsair deeming her life would be over within less than an hour. She told Sutcliffe to drive toward Southern Cemetery and up Wintermans Road to the estate where Iím stood. Wintermans Road is a loose square shape surrounding an estate and youíd only drive around here if you lived, knew someone here, used the allotments or needed privacy. Iím afraid I couldnít get into the allotments where the murder happened. Thereís a fence and sign saying ďNo key no accessĒ that prevented me getting into them to see the spot where Jeanís body was found.
In 1977 the fence wasnít there, the allotments weren't as well developed and there was a slice of scrap land used by courting couples and prostitutes. Jean had been here before to earn £5 for quick sex. She told Sutcliffe him that her uncle owned one of the greenhouses, got out of the car and walked toward it. Sutcliffe followed yielding a hammer. To reach the door of the greenhouse they had to mount a low fence and as Jean was climbing over it Sutcliffe struck her on the back of the head with the hammer (he and his wife Sonia hadnít been in the Garden Lane house for long and the previous owner had left the hammer behind.) Jean collapsed moaning audibly. He hammered her another ten times but while he was bent over her a carís headlights came on and an engine started. He didn't get time to masturbate over his grisly handiwork and started dragging her toward some bushes as another car arrived. He covered Jeanís body with a wood door, grabbed his hammer and set off for the hourís drive home.
On the M62 he realised heíd paid Jean with a new £5 traceable note which had been in his weekly pay packet (provided by a bank in Shipley.) He probably came off the motorway and considered going back to get the note. To return to the scene and then drive back home could take two hours so he decided to leave it. Jeanís body may have been found by now anyway. It lay undiscovered for the coming days and he was surprised when the murder wasnít top of the television news. He realised he'd hidden Jean well and he could return to retrieve the £5 note.
Nine days passed. Perhaps Sutcliffe was disappointed the Ripper had not made the news again. The £5 note plagued his mind daily (but it neednít have done as too much time had passed to narrow down its source.) Unable to wait he drove back to the allotments. Oddly he went on a Sunday evening after a housewarming party at his new home. He dropped his parents off at their home and got on the M62 which was quiet. Forty five minutes later he was frantically rummaging through Jean's clothes (now crawling with maggots.) It was her handbag he wanted but couldn't find it (it was 189 feet away and had probably been rifled through the police said.) He started frantically stripping Jean's clothes off and tossing them aside. The corpse was mocking him so he began slashing it at it with a knife (some wounds were 8" deep.) When Jean's stomach blew open he vomited at the smell. He found part of a glass pane and used it to cut up Jean. Heíd disembowelled previous victims but now raging he decided to cut Jeanís head off and take it away (hiding his tell-tale Ripper signature of hammer blow wounds.) Police later said Jeanís body suffered more damage than any of the other 12 murder victims.
He failed to cut the head off. He used the glass and then a hacksaw blade from his car but both were so ineffective so he gave up. Furious he kicked the corpse a few times and drove home enraged. Hours later at 10:30am two allotment holders found Jeanís body, one being Bruce Jones (who later played Les Battersby in Coronation Street.) As Jeanís naked body was lying face they first thought this was a tailor's dummy. When they saw a coil of intestine was around her waist the thought this may be a sick joke - that someone had exhumed a new grave and mutilated the corpse. You can see Bruce Jones talking about this grisly discovery here...
He was taken to the police station and held for twelve hours, the police knowing that the person who found a murder victim is often the murderer. He still has nightmares about it. Later the police found the £5 Sutcliffe had frantically searched for - still in Jeanís handbag tucked in a small side pocket. Sutcliffe would be interviewed twice about the murder but the housewarming party meant his family provided a stable alibi and he continued to kill another seven women over the next four years.
Here're some photographs of me by Jeanís grave. It was just grass before this simple cross was erected. As I stood there I looked across at the allotments where Jean had been murdered. Surely mourners at the funeral had the same thought as me - that it would have been wiser to have buried her in another section of the huge cemetery - or in a different cemetery. I wondered who maintained the grave. Jean's sons moved to New Zealand and Canada so perhaps it's Jean partner Alan who, when she didn't turn up at home, thought she's gone on one of her trips back to Scotland to see her family. I did a hearty salute and then went round to the allotments. The main gate was locked. There was a woman digging one of the gardens preventing me from throwing myself over the fence to take more detailed photos. The main path was there though and it was just off that where Jean was murdered. Two people packing a car shot me odd looks as I took a few photos and I soon left.
The entrance to the allotments...
The allotments in 2019...