Here I am at a grave containing five bodies, one being one of Peter Sutcliffe’s victims. Her body was in poor condition as it laid outside for two months. She was murdered in Bradford but she was a Leeds lass and her family wanted her buried here. Thankfully I knew from a fellow grave geek exactly where this grave was and, on the way home from the east coast, I veered off the M62 and found this Catholic church just east of the city. The cemetery reaches back quite a way from the main road and Yvonne is buried as far back as you can get, almost as though she doesn’t matter. Though five people are buried here the ground is strewn with weeds and it receives no love.
Yvonne was a 21-year-old prostitute and on Saturday 21st January 1978 she left her two children with a neighbour and walked to The Flying Dutchman pub to prepare herself to make some quick money. Though she was due in court on a charge of soliciting and expecting to go to prison she went looking for punters with money and sexual desires. Cruising around in his red Corsair was Peter Sutcliffe with a hammer secreted under his seat. Earlier that day he'd helped his parents move stuff into a new house, refused a drink and went looking for someone to kill. His dad and brother they he'd gone home to his wife Sonia but his blood was up. He’d only attacked someone 37 days before (she survived) and wanted another go.
He saw Yvonne when he braked hard to avoid a car backing into the road. He saw her flash of blonde hair and she asked if he was looking for business. She got in the car not knowing she’d be dead within twenty minutes. Sex for £5 was agreed and they drove to a patch waste ground at the back of a mill (where Sutcliffe's dad worked.) Yvonne got out of the car but before she could lie on the back seat Sutcliffe had walloped her head twice with his hammer. Suddenly another car pulled in and Sutcliffe dragged his moaning groaning victim to a discarded sofa. To stifle her groans he yanked some stuffing from the sofa and stuffed it down her throat while pinching her nose hard. After a while he released his grip to see if she’d died. She was still making a noise so he blocked her nostrils again. The car drove away and Sutcliffe - latter admitting his was seething with rage - pulled Yvonne’s trousers down, opened her top to see her breasts and then kicked her in the head repeatedly. At some point he leapt onto her chest with both feet. He arranged her clothes in his typical fashion - bra and sweater yanked up and lower clothing yanked down. He threw soil, rubble and turf on her, shoved the sofa around her and left.
When Yvonne didn’t come home the next day it was thought she might be lying low to avoid her court appearance. The police checked derelict areas and contacted other police forces but drew a blank. Weeks later someone saw an arm sticking out from under the old sofa (it had probably been pulled out by a dog.) He guessed it was a tailor’s dummy but the putrid smell made him call the police. Oddly a month-old copy of the Daily Mirror seemed to have been placed in Yvonne's arms but Sutcliffe later denied he’d returned to the body.
As I was taking photos of the grave I spotted a middle-aged man on the horizon. He was loaded down with shopping bags but had stopped to watch me as I did lots of saluting and pointing for the benefit of these photos. He was even leaning forward as though he'd forgotten his glasses. The bags looked heavy and eventually he came down the path. I let him pass through the gap to get onto the housing estate but he kept his eyes locked to the ground.
It didn’t seem odd that Yvonne was buried here at the back end of the cemetery. Her last words had been “Shall we get into the back?” [of the car] and here she was in a pauper’s grave at the back of a long cemetery in Leeds.
Yvonne is buried at the far back end of the churchyard...
The murder location...