One of the Yorkshire Ripper's surviving victims and the families of those he killed have spoken out after the murderer's death, as they still suffer the effects of his horrific crime spree half a century ago.

Peter Sutcliffe died on Friday in hospital aged 74, having tested positive for Covid-19 and reportedly refusing treatment.

Convicted in 1981, he was serving a whole life term for murdering 13 women across Yorkshire and the North West between 1975 and 1980.

Seven more women survived his brutal attacks but were traumatised by their ordeals.

One of his living victims said she was still suffering from the consequences of his twisted assault 44 years on.

Marcella Claxton told Sky News: "I have to live with my injuries, 54 stitches in my head, back and front, plus I lost a baby, I was four months pregnant.

"I still get headaches, dizzy spells and black outs."

Marcella pictured next to the phone box in Leeds which she crawled to after the attack and rang for help after the attack

Marcella, aged 20 at the time, was attacked in Leeds in the early hours of Sunday, May 9 1976.

The police didn't at first link the attack to the Yorkshire Ripper's reign of terror, but they eventually connected the attack after the murder of Irene Richardson in February 1977.

Sutcliffe's first victim was mother-of-four Wilma McCann, 28, who was hit with a hammer and stabbed 15 times, in October 1975.

Her son Richard, aged just five at the time of her killing, told Sky News: "He ruined so many lives.

“He will go down as one of those figures from the twentieth century in the same league I suppose as someone like Hitler."

"It was never just a drunken fight, he went out there with tools and implements and he murdered people again and again and again and again."

“We will hear much less about him now.”

Richard McCann, the son of the Yorkshire Ripper's first victim Wilma

But he hoped the serial killer's death would bring "some kind of closure".

"I'm surprised how I feel this morning," he told BBC Breakfast. "It brings me some degree of closure, not that I wished him dead, far from it.

"Every time we hear a news story about him, and my mum's photo is often shown, it's just another reminder of what he did.

"I was convinced as a child, having had no therapy of any description, that he was out there and that he was going to kill me.

"It really affected me. I was ashamed of being associated with Sutcliffe and all his crimes and, possibly, to do with the way that lots of people in society looked down, and the police and some of the media - describing some of the women as innocent and some not so innocent.

Wilma McCann, the Yorkshire Ripper's first victim

"I'm sorry to harp on about this but I've had to live with that shame for all these years.

"There's only one person that should have felt any shame - although I doubt that he did - and that was Peter Sutcliffe."

Richard explained that in around 2010 he had decided to let go of his anger and "forgive" Sutcliffe despite his years of grief and trauma.

"I am sorry to hear he has passed away. It's not something I could have said in the past when I was consumed with anger," he added.

But another of Sutcliffe's surviving victims rarely thought about the man who left her in need of brain surgery, her husband said in 2010.

Olive Smelt was attacked by the Yorkshire Ripper as she walked home in Halifax on a summer evening in 1975.

Ripper victim Olive Smelt (right) with her daughter Julie Lowry

She was hit twice on the head with a hammer and needed brain surgery to overcome her injuries, but later made a full recovery, going on to marry and have three children.

Her husband, Harry, aged 85 when the High Court ruled Sutcliffe would spend the rest of his life behind bars, said at the time it was the correct decision for Sutcliffe's own good.

Mr Smelt said then that neither he nor his wife worried about what would have happened had Sutcliffe been released, and their priorities had changed.

Speaking in 2010, a year before Olive passed away, he said: "We don't worry about it.

"Olive is very severely disabled now and wheelchair-bound - the last thing she worries about is Peter Sutcliffe."

Peter Sutcliffe's five-year killing spree claimed the lives of 13 women

Twelve of Sutcliffe's innocent victims

They were:

  • Wilma McCann, 28, from Chapeltown, Leeds, who was killed in October 1975.
  • Emily Jackson, 42, a prostitute and mother-of-three from Morley, Leeds. Killed on January 20, 1976.
  • Irene Richardson, 28, a mother-of-two from Chapeltown, Leeds. Killed on February 6, 1977.
  • Patricia Atkinson, 32, a mother-of-three from Manningham, Bradford. Killed on April 24, 1977.
  • Jayne MacDonald, 16, a shop assistant from Leeds. Killed on June 26, 1977.
  • Jean Jordan, 21, from Manchester, who died between September 30 and October 11, 1977.
  • Yvonne Pearson, 22, from Bradford. Murdered between January 20 and March 26, 1978.
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  • Helen Rytka, 18, from Huddersfield. Murdered on January 31, 1978.
  • Vera Millward, 40, a mother-of-seven from Manchester, who was killed on May 16, 1978.
  • Josephine Whitaker, 19, a building society worker from Halifax. Killed on April 4, 1979.
  • Barbara Leach, 20, a student who was murdered while walking in Bradford on September 1, 1979.
  • Marguerite Walls, 47, a civil servant from Leeds who was murdered on August 20, 1980
  • Jacqueline Hill, 20, a student, who was found at Headingley on November 16, 1980.