I’d been avoiding this American true crime docu-series as I didn’t think it looked much cop, excuse the pun, but it’s actually a really good, gripping watch about some of the most awful people you could ever possibly imagine moving into your house or flat and living with you as your roommate.

The first of the episodes concerns Dorothea Puente, a sweet-looking little old lady granny-type-figure from Sacramento, but don’t be fooled by the pinnies that she wears, lol. Underneath the mauve eyeshadow and the shampoo and set, Puente was a stone-cold serial killer.

She murdered several of the lonely, elderly tenants who rented rooms in her boarding house in the ‘Eighties and buried their remains in her back garden, like a sort of transatlantic Fred and Rose West. Why did she do it? Mainly so that she could steal their often pitiful Social Security checks, which is the way they spell it in ‘Murica.

By the way, today is Happy ‘Murica Day, isn’t it, so fire up those barbecues and illegal fireworks and have yourselves a great day, but for gosh sakes’ don’t go in the waters round Amity Island because word has it there’s been a sighting of a Great White Shark thereabouts. Hey, y’all can ask Chief Brody if you don’t believe me. He’s right over there, talking to Mayor Murray Hamilton and some square from the Oceanic Institute…

The second episode features a Korean man called K.C. Joy (kind of a misnomer, that), who murdered his roommate, the beautiful college student and former US soldier, Maribel Ramos, probably because she rejected him in love. Men sure don’t take too well to hearing the word ‘no’ sometimes, do they…?

Episode three is about a tall, dark and handsome athlete called Youssef Khater who commits multiple frauds on the people he meets; on his roommates concerning a new apartment building, on a fellow marathon runner regarding property investment, and on the entire Palestinian nation by pretending to be from Palestine in order to weasel sponsorship for his ‘marathons’ from a group of genuine people who try to maintain and improve the good name of Palestine through acts like the sponsorship of a fellow countryman in a big race, the proceeds of which go to charity. He’s Danish, by the way, in case you were wondering…

What a jerk. He’s violent and dangerous too, though, this Youssef fellow, and resorts to attempted murder when his schemes go awry, as they often do. He’s not a very good crook, methinks, hence the ‘attempted’ murders, and doesn’t always seem to think things through, the muppet.

This guy’s currently on the loose, I believe, after serving some jail time, so be warned. His modus operandi is a lot like the Tinder Swindler, the guy who fascinated us briefly earlier in the year. How fleeting is our moment of fame on Netflix. One minute you’re SQUID GAME and flying high, next minute you’re old news and we’re skipping and scrolling merrily in fine fickle fashion down to ‘New Releases…’

The next bad roommate is so awful he has the last two episodes devoted to him. He’s the loathsome Jed Creek, aka Jamison Bachman. Yes, he used aliases! His modus operandi was to use his handsome looks- another tall, dark and handsome criminal- and charm, and even his lovely dog Zachary, to worm his way into an apartment-share, without references and often without even a deposit.

Once in, he’d dig his heels in and refuse to leave, pay rent or stump up for bills. He’d become aggressive and weird as well, obviously his real nature showing through, and rearrange the furniture in the flat or take some of it into his own locked bedroom for his own use.

He seems to have targeted only women for his vile shenanigans, as another man would probably tell him to fuck off or even threaten to punch his lights out if he started in on them. What a despicable coward, seriously, to only choose women as his roommates because he could bully and terrorise them.

The fourth episode shows us Jed Creek in all his awfulness, and in the fifth the three women who had the misfortune to room with him tell us about the lengths they had to go through, both legal and psychological, to get rid of him.

In each case, the women lost the homes that meant so much to them (in one case, someone lost their beloved cats to this man), and it’s all because they were unlucky enough to have the psychopathic Jed Creek answer their hopeful ads on Craigslist.

I guess it just goes to show you that you can never be too careful about who you let in your home, and also just what a lot of crazy people are out there. This series really gives you a glimpse into the dark side of advertising for a roommate.

There are some terrific animated sequences in the programme as well, that serve as reconstructions of the crimes. It’s kind of funny, though, when you see the bad guys’ eyebrows drawing together in a ferocious scowl, ‘cause that’s how you know they’re evil, lol.

Anyway, I won’t say ‘Happy Viewing’ because this is pretty harrowing stuff you’ll be seeing, so I’ll just say Happy Fourth of July, peeps, and watch those fingers when you’re lighting your sparklers, Catherine wheels and assorted rockets. Fireworks can be dangerous…


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:



I would well believe that this was the most reported-on missing persons case ever, as it is claimed to be. Blonde-haired British Madeleine, aged nearly four, went missing from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve area of Portugal, in May 2007, making this probably the most reported-on family vacation of all time to boot.

Her two-year-old siblings, Sean and Amelie, were asleep nearby at the time. Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, both doctors and practising Roman Catholics- I don’t know what that’s got to do with anything either!- were absent from the apartment at the time.

They were having a boozy holiday dinner in a so-called ‘nearby’ tapas restaurant, but I saw the map of that restaurant in relation to the apartment where the children were sleeping, unsupervised. It may be many things, people, but I would never have deemed it to be ‘nearby.’

I’m probably not the only person who would frown on the notion of leaving kids alone while the parents go out for the night, and for doing this exact thing, the McCanns probably lost a fair amount of public sympathy.

But it seems to have been common enough practice in this resort, even though the resort provided both a babysitting service and a night creche. Why would you not just use one of these, and be safe rather than sorry? Still, it’s easy to be wise in hindsight, and it’s even easier to judge the actions of others.

The ‘Tapas Seven,’ as they are known, all friends of the McCanns’ who dined together on that fateful night, maintain that they were all running back and forth from the restaurant all night checking on the kids, but, when Kate went to do her own checks around ten o’clock, Madeleine was gone from her room, the only clue to her disappearance an open window…

That’s when everything goes a bit mad. I hope it’s not a ‘spoiler’ to say that this excellent and thorough documentary series doesn’t hold the answers to the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Madeleine has never been found, alive or dead, and people today are probably no nearer to finding out what happened to her than they were back in 2007.

What the eight episodes do is just collate all the information available on the case and dole them out to us in fifty-minute bursts. It looks extensively at the night of the disappearance, and the actions of the McCanns and the Portuguese police shortly afterwards, when, apparently, a lot of time was wasted and opportunities to find the child were botched or overlooked at first on the part of the police. There are so many theories about what might have happened to Britain’s best-known little missing person.

Did the McCanns, both doctors and Kate a qualified anaesthetist, accidentally over-sedate the child to make sure she slept while they were out for the evening, and then stage an abduction to cover it up? We see a journalist asking the McCanns if they dosed the child up on Calpol before heading out for the night, to which they reply in the negative.

One fact in favour of this ‘over-sedation’ theory seems to be the fact that Sean and Amelie, the two younger McCanns, themselves slept all the way through the furore that was the immediate aftermath of the discovery of the disappearance. On the other hand, if this theory is correct, where is the body? How was it made away with so successfully that it was never discovered?

Did an opportunistic paedophile take Madeleine, someone who perhaps knew that the kids would be alone that night while the parents dined out? Was she stolen to order by someone who really wanted a child of their own and couldn’t have one in the usual way? If this was the case, I wonder how the new ‘parents’ of a stolen child could ever hope to be happy with their new little daughter, knowing that their happiness was entirely based on another family’s misery.

Was she snatched by an international paedophile ring? Men were apparently seen hanging around the apartment and the little resort town around the time of the disappearance. They may have been something to do with it, or they may not have been. It’s as simple, and as complex, as that.

According to one of the private detectives the McCanns hired further down the road- I mean time-wise, not geographically!- there are ‘dark’ parts of the Internet where paedophiles can go and say what they’re ‘into’ and be supplied with it. That poor detective really looked like he had seen some things that he wished he could un-see, if you know what I mean, but some things, once seen… Well, you know yourself.

We hear from two men who were considered suspects by the police at one time, but no longer: Robert Murat, an English chap living in Portugal, and Sergey Malinka, a young Russian computer expert who had once done some work on a website for Murat.

We see what happens when the McCanns are named as ‘arguidos,’ or suspicious persons, themselves for a while by the Portuguese police, and how upsetting this was for the couple, because, as they said themselves, if the police thought the McCanns had done something to Madeleine, then they weren’t out looking for the ‘real’ culprit.

There were hundreds of sightings of little blonde girl children all over Europe after the disappearance, and those all had to be looked into. We hear from the double-glazing millionaire and his son who felt pity for the McCanns and involved themselves in the case, helping with some of the sightings. I didn’t care for either of these two lads. They seemed a bit, I don’t know, entitled or something, to me. Like, okay, we have money so we’ll conduct this investigation however we want. I didn’t really dig them.

We hear from Justine McGuinness, the McCanns’ first PR person, and Gonzalo Amaral, the detective who first worked on the case in Portugal and ultimately wrote a book about it. We hear from friends of the McCanns, who have nothing but sympathy for the couple, and we see loads of footage of the McCanns talking to the press, Kate clutching Madeleine’s favourite toy, Cuddle Cat, all the while.

We also hear from some people who have the temerity to suggest that other kids go missing too, but not all of them get the money and publicity thrown at them that the Madeleine McCann case was able to avail of. Hundreds of kids world-wide go missing every year. Anyone who actively looks to re-unite them with their parents is a hero in my book.

The weirdest thing of all about this baffling disappearance- well, one of them!- is that Madeleine would be eighteen years old now if she was still alive, which, hopefully, she might be. Maybe someone took her who then brought her up with kindness and care. It’s not outside the bounds of possibility.

For the public though, she’s frozen in time, like a fly in amber, as that cute little blonde four-year-old with the happy smile and that distinctive dark strip on the iris of her left eye. It’s one of the iconic images of the twenty-first century. Let’s hope that, one day, we find out the truth about what happened to her.     


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:




There’s a scene in that excellent Nazi-hunting film, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL (1978), in which Frieda Moloney, an imprisoned former concentration camp guard, screams at Laurence Olivier’s character: ‘It was thirty years ago! No-one cares any more!’ She’s talking, of course, about the Holocaust, and deriding the elderly Nazi-hunter for his continued efforts to track down Nazis and bring them to justice.

There are two schools of thought. One is that the past is the past, it’s dead and gone, let sleeping dogs lie and we should all move on from the horrific happenings of World War Two. The other is that it’s never too late to prosecute wrong-doers for their evil deeds, even if the perpetrator is currently a feeble old man who’s lived a blameless life for decades now.

John Demjanjuk is the subject of this brilliant documentary. In 1986, he was extradited from the United States to Israel to stand trial for being the notorious concentration camp guard Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka. He had been positively identified by eyewitnesses, all Holocaust survivors.

Apparently, this particular guard stood at the door of the gas chambers in Treblinka with a sword, which he used to cut off the breasts of female prisoners as he herded them roughly to their deaths.

As if death wasn’t enough, they had to be tortured first too. All that this guard was required to do was shepherd the Jewish captives to their collective deaths. The torture was his own idea, something ‘extra’ he did purely out of his ‘enthusiasm’ for his ‘work.’

Although John Demjanjuk was initially found guilty of being this Ivan the Terrible fella, it was ultimately decided that this was a case of mistaken identity, However, and it’s a giant however, he was still a former concentration camp guard, only from Sobibor, another of the death camps.

John Demanjuk, now deceased, was born a Ukrainian in 1920. He served in the Second World War, but was taken prisoner by the Nazis, after which he started working as a guard in their death camp machinery.

That happened to a huge amount of captured Ukrainians in the war. I’ve read that, as concentration camp guards, they became even more brutal than the Nazis themselves, and more dreaded, feared and hated by the Jews they guarded.

Anyway, after the war, John Demjanjuk fled to the United States with his wife and daughter. They settled in Ohio and John worked at the Ford automobile factory, becoming a US citizen in 1958 and living a life of complete anonymity until the time of the trial in Israel.

The documentary deals openly with the shocking fact that, not only were former Nazis allowed into America to live in peace and quiet after the war, but some of them were actively encouraged, especially if they could lend the United States an expert hand with, say, their space programme. And to think that America fought the Nazis in World War Two! It’s difficult to fathom.

The trial of John Demjanjuk in Israel was a complex and emotive affair. Both the prosecutor, the quiet and unassuming Michael Shaked, and Demjanjuk’s defence lawyer, the flamboyant Yoram Sheftel, a Jew, were still alive in 2019 and each contributed to the documentary.

Sheftel, a powerful personality, reveals how he received hate mail and death threats and even had acid thrown in his face for being a Jew being paid big money to defend an alleged Nazi.

Demjanjuk, a big burly smiley fella who looked like he hadn’t a care in the world, maintained his innocence all the way through the trial. Although he may not have been Ivan the Terrible, he was still a former concentration camp guard with blood on his hands, and I don’t believe he ever apologised to any Holocaust survivors for this. I have to say I didn’t care for him much. He seemed arrogant, full of himself, and confidently relaxed about the prospect of getting off.

The Holocaust survivors who took the stand in the trial and talked about how they and their families had been treated in the camps were much more sympathetic. There’s an electrifying moment when John Demjanjuk has the cheek to offer his hand in friendship to Eliahu Rosenbaum, an eye-witness to the crimes of Ivan the Terrible, but Rosenbaum explodes in righteous anger.

I won’t reveal the ins-and-outs of the verdict and the appeal and related activities, in case you want to watch this excellent five-part documentary series for yourself and, if you have an interest in the Holocaust, you really should. It contains graphic images of concentration camp victims, as you might imagine.  

I especially liked Eli Rosenbaum, formerly the Director of America’s OSI, or Office of Special Investigations- ie, Nazi Hunting- and the way he wasn’t deterred from pursuing a criminal just because the crime was decades old.

This man, who once questioned Hitler’s own pet film-maker, Leni Riefenstahl, has probably done more than anyone else in America to hunt down and prosecute former Nazis. God bless that man.

As for John Demjanjuk, deceased since 2012 at the age of ninety-one, I expect he’s where he’s meant to be right now. You may escape the hangman, but there’s no escaping the higher power who judges us all.      


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:



Wow. This story has it all. Tragic beginnings in Hitler’s Holocaust, two ridiculously wealthy and powerful self-made men dying in questionable circumstances, and the dramatic fall from grace of the beautiful, well-connected socialite who had been the right-hand woman to each of the two. I was glued to this utterly gripping ‘true crime’ documentary from start to finish.

Ghislaine Maxwell, now aged 59, is the woman in question. Her father, Robert Maxwell, most of whose family died in Auschwitz, was a sort of real-life Citizen Kane, a newspaper/publishing magnate who didn’t get to where he was in life by being a pushover. A polite way of saying that he completely lacked a working moral compass, according to some of the people who’d known him.

Ghislaine, the youngest of his nine children, was his pet, his princess, and, in later years, his social ambassador and the woman he preferred over his wife Betty to have on his arm at social functions.

Betty was, seemingly, a rather nondescript wife and mother who never stepped in to protect her children from their notoriously bullying father’s wrath. But no matter, Ghislaine was his everything, and he was hers.

Ghislaine, we’re told, lived the high life during her father’s ‘reign’ in a way we peasants couldn’t even begin to imagine. ‘Champagne lifestyle’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. Luxury yachts, private jets, holidays all over the world, clothes, jewellery, an address book stuffed with rich and powerful connections, you name it, she had it.

That particular era of her life came to an end when her almost universally loathed father was mysteriously found dead, floating in the Atlantic ocean near his yacht, the ‘Lady Ghislaine,’ in November of 1991.

Much is made in the documentary of the fact that when Ghislaine arrived at the yacht after the news of the death broke, she immediately started ‘shredding documents,’ supposedly related to Daddy’s ‘shady’ business dealings…

Maxwell’s publishing empire collapsed after his death. His name was utterly disgraced and blackened when it was discovered that he’d stolen millions of pounds from his own company’s pension funds to save himself from bankruptcy.

In the documentary, Ghislaine, a proper Daddy’s Girl if ever there was one, looks visibly shaken at his funeral in Jerusalem, but don’t worry, folks, she doesn’t remain down in the mouth for long.

She goes to live in New York and re-invents herself there, with the money from her trust fund (eighty grand a year), as a glittering socialite. Not exactly a huge leap for the woman of whom it is said in the film that, when she was greeting and air-kissing you at a party, she’d be busy looking over your shoulder for someone richer, more powerful, more influential than you. Nice lady, huh?

She hooked up with dodgy financier Jeffrey Epstein around this time. Some people maintain that she’d known him since the late ‘80s when she was introduced to him by her father in London, while most people seem to think she met him in the early ‘90s in America. It probably doesn’t really matter when she met him. What matters is what they became to each other…

Ghislaine quickly became a number of things to Epstein. Varying reports describe her as being everything from his Girl Friday, housekeeper and administrative assistant to his glamorous girlfriend, his entrée to social circles he might otherwise have been denied and his sort-of-wife.

He’s described her himself, rather unflatteringly, I think, as his ‘best friend,’ and, knowing what we now know about Epstein’s predilections for sex with teenage girls as young as fourteen, I’m not even convinced that they had a proper man-woman sexual relationship. He mightn’t have even been capable of such a thing.

It seems to be generally accepted now that Ghislaine procured underage girls for sex with Epstein and a ‘ring’ of his rich, powerful male friends. The private plane that flew girls to his idyllic island hideaway, nicknamed ‘Paedophile Island,’ was itself dubbed ‘the Lolita Express’ by the local Virgin Islanders.

Jeffrey had an insatiable sexual appetite, it seems, and at least three young girls a day were required to give him the infamous ‘massages’ that ended in sex, or in his ‘pleasuring’ himself in their presence. Eeuw, seriously.

When the girls left his fabulous 71st Street Manhattan apartment in tears, Ghislaine would explain to their ‘door-lady’ Maria Farmer, herself a victim of the pair, that they’d failed an audition to model for Victoria’s Secret, a company with which Jeffrey was connected through his billionaire mentor, Leslie Wexner.

It’s mentioned in the documentary that Ghislaine often had to hang around school gates in order to recruit these girls. She apparently targeted girls who didn’t look ‘rich,’ because rich girls had nannies and au pairs and were picked up by chauffeurs and had people who checked up on them and what-have-you. Poor or working-class girls, not so much.

This fact is extremely significant. If these girls had been rich or connected, the authorities might have worked a little harder to put Jeffrey Epstein behind bars when reports of assaults and sexual irregularities began to trickle through to them. Maria Farmer, an artist, is extremely articulate, presentable and likeable, and, in the film, her frustration with law enforcement comes through loud and clear.

Money talks, and we all know it. Money is what ‘saved’ Jeffrey Epstein from the worst effects of the first tranche of allegations against him in the ‘Noughties. It didn’t save him, however, from a lonely ‘suicide by hanging’ in a prison cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in August, 2019. There are reasons to suggest he died under questionable circumstances, but we, the reading public, are unlikely to ever be privy to the real truth.

Ghislaine languishes now in a Brooklyn prison cell, awaiting trial on charges relating to the sex trafficking of minors. The trial is set for this November and she’s denying all the charges. Her lawyers will probably try to use an immunity-for-Ghislaine clause in the Jeffrey Epstein ‘sweetheart deal’ of the late ‘Noughties to get her off.

Failing that, they’ll probably claim that she was as much a victim of Epstein’s depravity as the girls he raped. That would be so hard for the victims to bear. I feel sure they’re dreading the prospect of Ghislaine slithering off the hook like, in a way, Jeffrey Epstein did, by utilising the ultimate cop-out of suicide.

The film makes much of the fact that Ghislaine went from the arms of one uber-powerful alpha male, i.e., her dad, to another such man, Jeffrey Epstein. Does the fact that this is the kind of man she gravitates to excuse her behaviour? I doubt if the victims would think so, but it’s almost a certainty that her lawyers will bring this up at trial and try to make it count for something.

Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew are all pictured with Ghislaine and Jeffrey in the documentary, in the photos we’ve come to know so well by now. After the photo of him with the underaged Virginia Roberts Giuffre went public around the world, Prince Andrew tried to rescue his reputation in that disastrous television interview of late 2019, but even Lady Victoria Hervey, one of Ghislaine’s former friends, thinks he’d have been better off keeping his trap shut.

So, what will happen to Daddy’s Little Princess, who once said of the victims, ‘These girls, they’re nothing,’ in her trial of November, 2021? How will the story of Ghislaine Maxwell eventually pan out? Will there even be a trial?

Will her lawyers get her off on a technicality, or through a spectacular loophole that we haven’t even thought of yet? Will justice be done, or will money kick justice’s arse yet again? One thing’s for sure. We’ll all be watching…  


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:




This four-part true crime documentary mini-series was released in December 2020, and it tells the story of the serial killer known as ‘the Yorkshire Ripper.’

He was named for his Victorian counterpart, ‘Jack the Ripper,’ who became infamous for killing and horribly mutilating five (maybe more, but definitely five) prostitutes in the overcrowded and notoriously poor and crime-ridden area of Whitechapel, London in the ‘Autumn of Terror,’ otherwise known as the autumn of 1888.

The press christened both serial murderers with their ‘catchy’ nicknames, each of which sold newspapers. The true identity of Jack the Ripper was never discovered, although there was a list of suspects as long as your arm. For a long time in the mid-to-late ‘Seventies, the people of England despaired of the Yorkshire Ripper ever being brought to justice either.

The Yorkshire Ripper, who turned out to be Bradford lorry driver Peter Sutcliffe, murdered thirteen women in the West Yorkshire and Manchester areas between 1975 and his eventual capture, quite by accident, really, in early 1981.

He also attacked another ten women (at least) who survived his cowardly hammer-and-knife assaults, and, who knows, there may have been more we never knew about. Quite the charming customer, eh?

The mini-series focuses on the police investigation to catch the man dubbed ‘the Yorkshire Ripper.’ It was an investigation which spanned several years and generated so many files jam-packed with bits of paper that concrete pillars were needed to prop up the room in the police station that contained them. Nowadays, of course, it’d all be done on computers, but computers were very much in their infancy back then.

The investigation engendered more cock-ups than the police generally like to admit to, and the public were privy to most of them. Because the odious little killer’s first few victims were prostitutes, the police assumed that the murderer must be a prostitute-hater and also that the only women in danger from him were prostitutes.

This theory was sorely tested when schoolgirl Jayne MacDonald was murdered in 1977. So, the Ripper was killing ‘innocent’ women now, was he, and not just prostitutes? The police actually used the term ‘innocent women’ to describe the non-sex-worker victims, something they’ve had to quite rightly apologise for in recent years.

The public were no less derogatory themselves, though, and were quite voluble on the subject of Jayne MacDonald’s being on a whole different level to the prostitutes who were killed: ‘She weren’t in their category at all,’ said one housewife who was interviewed.

No offence is meant here to poor Jayne MacDonald and her heartbroken family. A victim is a victim is a victim. But prostitutes, and not just prostitutes, but any ‘good-time’ girl or woman who went out late at night drinking and dancing without the ‘protection’ of a man, was seen to be ‘asking for it.’ No wonder women everywhere were up in arms.

Bruce Jones, who played much-loved cabbie Les Battersby in Manchester soap opera CORONATION STREET in the Noughties, was interviewed in this Netflix documentary because he actually found one of the victims himself, something I hadn’t known until I watched this programme. Jean Jordan was found on waste ground, with one of the most important clues of the whole investigation in her handbag… a brand-new five-pound-note, given to her by her killer as the price of a quickie…

The police had only a few clues to go on: tyre marks, a boot print, this five-pound-note. Peter Sutcliffe was actually interviewed three times about the five-pound-note and a whopping nine times overall, but he managed to give the investigating officers satisfactory alibis each time.

Except, that is, for the time he was seen by Andrew Laptew, one of the officers on the case. Laptew had a ‘hinky’ feeling about Sutcliffe after visiting his Heaton home, but when he brought up Sutcliffe’s similarity to the many Ripper ‘photo-fits’ to a superior officer, he was unceremoniously shut down.

Letters and a cassette tape purporting to be from the Yorkshire Ripper proved to be no more than nails in the coffin for George Oldfield and Ronald Gregory, then Assistant Chief Constable and Chief Constable for West Yorkshire respectively.

They both put their complete trust in these items, particularly the tape in which the ‘Ripper’ talks with a Geordie, or Newcastle, accent. This led them up the blind alley of only suspecting men who spoke with a Geordie accent, leaving the real killer, Sutcliffe, free to kill three more women and attack a further two.

A million pounds was spent on an advertising campaign to catch the Ripper on the authority of Ronald Gregory. The prize exhibits were the letters (the killer’s handwriting?) and the tape (the killer’s voice?). This campaign was probably the biggest and most shocking waste of time and money in police history.

And then one night in January 1981, a couple of humble coppers on the beat spot a bloke and a prostitute up an alley together in a car which turns out to have dodgy number plates, and decide to wander over to have a shufty. The rest, of course, is history. In the heel of the hunt, it was good honest coppering ‘what done for’ the Ripper.

This is a pretty good documentary that should bring the crimes of this evil but highly ordinary little man to a new generation of crime buffs. The investigation was rough on the police, and rougher still on the women of England and the victims and their families.

Women were told by the police to stay off the streets at night. Women wanted a curfew imposed on men. The killer was a man, wasn’t he, not a woman? The police didn’t take seriously some of the women who came forward to report that they’d been attacked by a man in a similar manner to the Ripper victims. Shambles, much?

The police, Oldfield and Gregory and Co., moulded the facts to fit the theory instead of the other way around. It mightn’t have mattered so much, if women’s actual lives hadn’t been so much at stake the whole way through.

And meanwhile, everyone was so busy looking for a monster with horns and a tail that the real killer, a painfully ordinary little runt with a Jason King moustache and a job driving a lorry, was able to wreak havoc in the red light districts of Leeds and Bradford, among other places, and escape detection for nearly six years. Lessons were learned, but, sadly, too late for some…


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: