TV & Movies

A New ITV Documentary Delves Into An Unsolved Murder Mystery

The 1977 killing of a young woman has been linked to the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.

The Yorkshire Ripper
Simon Wilkinson/Shutterstock

The crimes of prolific serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, otherwise known as the Yorkshire Ripper, are the subject of ITV’s newest true crime documentary Yorkshire Ripper: The Secret Murders. In the programme, the police investigation into the murders is explored in great detail, as is the tragic murder of Carol Wilkinson — which remains unsolved to this day.

But, who was Carol Wilkinson and what happened to her and her case?

As The Sun reports, Wilkinson lived on the Ravenscliffe council estate in Bradford, West Yorkshire, where she worked as a bakery worker. On Oct. 10, 1977, the 20 year-old was on her way to work and decided to take a shortcut due to a local bus strike that had disrupted her regular journey. At roughly 10 a.m. that same day, Wilkinson was found face down in a pool of her own blood by a passerby. After being taken to the hospital, it was established that she had suffered serious head injuries. Sadly, after two days of attempting to save Wilkinson, doctors switched off her life-support machine and she was pronounced dead.

Per The Guardian, Wilkinson’s murder case became the first in British history that saw the victim be confirmed dead before their life support machine had been turned off.

During the police hunt for Wilkinson’s killer, a gardener named Anthony Steel, who was known to have learning difficulties, was questioned by detectives under severe circumstances and eventually confessed to the murder. Steel was convicted of Wilkinson’s murder in 1979. However, in 1998, he was released on licence and, after spending almost two decades behind bars, Steel’s sentence was overturned by the Court of Appeal in 2003.

The decision was made in light of evidence that found Steel was “mentally handicapped and at the borderline of abnormal suggestibility and compliability” at the time of police questioning. It was also alleged that Steel had not been given access to a solicitor. Although, police deny this claim.

The murder of Carol Wilkinson remains a mystery. Although, her killing has been linked to the so-called Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe. The Home Office Pathologist, Professor David Gee — who oversaw all the post-mortems of Sutcliffe’s victims — claimed that Wilkinson’s murder closely aligned with the killing of Yvonne Pearson, who was murdered by Sutcliffe just three months later. As per The Sun, Wilkinson also lived just five miles away from the Ripper’s home in Garden Lane, Heaton.

In 1981, Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven more between 1975 and 1980.

Yorkshire Ripper: The Secret Murders, Part 2 airs Wednesday, Feb. 23, at 9 p.m. on ITV