Peter Sutcliffe was allowed to carry out more murders thanks to a stranger he never met and who lived 100 miles away.
In one of criminal history’s cruellest hoaxes, John Humble tricked police into believing the serial killer was Wearside Jack, a man with a Sunderland accent.
That was despite women who survived Peter Sutcliffe’s attacks saying he sounded like a local.
At the height of the manhunt, Humble taunted the press and detectives with letters and an infamous tape, anonymously claiming he was the killer.
In the tape, which he sent to Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield in 1979, he said: “I’m Jack.
“I have the greatest respect for you, George, but Lord, you’re no nearer catching me now than four years ago when I started.”
Vast police resources were diverted to Sunderland, with £1million spent on adverts to try to help find Wearside Jack, and 40,000 Wearside men investigated.
Sutcliffe killed three more women before he was finally caught.
Wracked with guilt, Humble became an alcoholic and tried to kill himself, once jumping from a bridge.
He was jailed in 2006 for eight years for perverting the course of justice.
He died of heart disease and alcohol poisoning in 2019.