TRANSCRIPT - The Yorkshire Ripper Hoax Tape, Or A Tale Of Two Jacks

Music] This podcast contains descriptions of death and violence that some listeners may find upsetting. Hello and welcome to the Six O’clock Knock the true crime podcast where we look at old cases through a modern lens and draw our own unique conclusions I’m Simon Ford a writer and broadcaster with more than 20 years in the business and I’m Jacques Morrell I spent 30 years as a major crime detective with an expectation to ask those awkward and yet obvious questions I felt a few collars in my time and whilst I’ve hung up my boots my yearning for the truth is as strong as ever so the two of us got together decided to do some sleuthing and make podcasts from our enquiries we call it the Six O’clock Knock because that's when a detective likes to pay their suspect a visit first thing in the morning when they're least expecting it this podcast is about a Six O’clock Knock that was 25 years in the making it showcases the kind of dogged police work and dedication to duty that mean criminals always need to be looking over their shoulders and it shows how advances in forensic science coupled with determination professional pride and long memories mean there is no hiding place for criminals especially those who think just because of the passage of time that they've got away with it [Music] we're going back into the story of Peter Sutcliffe the Yorkshire Ripper and one of the most bizarre and baffling aspects of that case the letters and tape recordings sent to assistant chief constable George Oldfield by a man purporting to be the Ripper as soon as Sutcliffe confessed the whole charade was exposed as a wicked hoax the senior detectives on the Yorkshire Ripper case were faced with the realization they'd pinned their hopes on a wild goose chase a wild goose chase which diverted precious resources and cost three women their lives so how was the hoaxer able to enthral the leading detectives George Oldfield and dick holland and why did they ignore other avenues of investigation in their pursuit of a phantom [Music] it started with the letters George Oldfield received the first postmarked Sunderland in march 1978. Dear Sir I’m sorry I cannot give my name for obvious reasons I am the Ripper I’ve been dubbed a maniac by the press but not by you you call me clever and I am you and your mates haven't a clue that thought were in the paper give me fits and not bit about killing myself no chance I’ve got things to do my purpose is to rid the streets of them [ __ ] my one regret is that young lassie MacDonald did not know because change routine that night up to number eight now up to seven but remember Preston 75 get about you know you are right I travel a bit you probably look for me in Sunderland don't bother I’m not daft just post a letter there on one of me trips not a bad place compared with chapel town and Manningham and other places one horse to keep off the streets because I feel it coming on again sorry about that young lassie yours respectfully Jacques the Ripper might write again later I’m not sure last one really deserved it [ __ ] getting younger each time all slot next time I hope what has failed never again too small close call last one the second was sent to the editor of the daily mirror newspaper dear sir I’ve already written to chief constable George Oldfield a man I respect concerning the recent Ripper murders I told him and I’m telling you to warn them [ __ ] I’ll strike again and soon when the heat cools off about the MacDonald lassie I didn't know she was decent and I’m sorry I changed my routine that night up to number eight now you see a seven but remember Preston 75. easy picking them up don't even have to try you think they'd learn but they don't mostly young lassies next time try an older one I hope please haven't a clue yet and I don't leave any I’m very clever and don't think I’m looking for me fingerprints because there aren't any and don't look for me up there in Sunderland because I’m not stupid just pass through the place not a bad place compared to chapel town and Manningham can't walk the streets for them [ __ ] don't forget to warn them I feel it coming on again if I get chance sorry about lassie didn't know yours respectfully Jacques the Ripper might write again after another one's gone maybe Liverpool or even Manchester again too hot here in Yorkshire bye I have given advanced warning so it's yours and their fault the writer threatened to kill an old [ __ ] in Manchester or Liverpool Oldfield thought the murder of vera millward the Ripper's ninth victim in Manchester in May 1978 was the Ripper making good on his grim promise almost a year later a third letter dated the 23rd of march 1979 confirmed this suspicion in Oldfield's mind again it was postmarked Sunderland dear officer sorry I haven't written about a year to be exact but I haven't been up north for quite a while I wasn't kidding the last time I wrote saying the hall would be older this time and maybe I’d strike in Manchester for a change you should have took aid that bit about her being in hospital funny the lady mentioned something about being in the same hospital before I stopped a [ __ ] and wears the lady won't worry about hospitals now will she I bet you wondering how come I haven't been to work for ages well I would have been if it hadn't been for your cursed coppers I had the lady just where I wanted her and I was about to strike when one of your curse and police car stopped right outside the lane he must have been a dumb copper because he didn't see anything he didn't know how close he was to catching me to tell you the truth I thought I was coloured the lady says don't worry about the coppers little did she know that bloody cop has saved her neck that was last month so I don't know when I’ll get back on the job but I know it won't be a chapel town too bloody hot there maybe Bradford's manning him might write again if up north chat the Ripper PS did he get letter I sent the daily mirror in Manchester the writer claimed Vera millward had had treatment at the Manchester royal infirmary the hospital next to where she was murdered both Oldfield and his number two dick holland were convinced this information could only have been divulged by vera to her killer what they didn't know or chose to ignore was that newspapers in Manchester had been told as much by vera's common law husband the story was out there for anyone with a mind to read it Oldfield was being taken in by the person writing those letters an investigative team was brought together in Sunderland to find the letter writer and nailed the Ripper there were other tantalizing similarities whoever wrote the letter had the same blood group as one found at one of the Ripper murder scenes June in the Pennine foothills is compensation for the bitter months of winter summer transforms the bleak landscape swathes of green cloaked the moors and the parks of Leeds in Bradford become a playground of wide lawns and leafy groves sergeant Megan Winterburn walked through the sunlight of a June morning to her job at Leeds central police station Milgarth was a seven-story brick fortress the lower floors were windowless those above them were little more than slits this brutalist block house was home to the Ripper investigation in the summer of 1979 the incident room already took up two floors one floor was the incident room itself the floor beneath was empty except for the pit props supporting the weight of the paperwork above assistant chief constable George Oldfield the senior investigating officer appeared in the doorway and summoned Winterburn I want you in my room now please something's wrong thought the young sergeant he never says please she followed Oldfield to the office he shared with dick holland and Jim Hobson the other members of the gang of three senior managers that morning the smoky room seemed particularly crowded on the desk was a cassette recorder bulky and old-fashioned even by 1979 standards the ACC said to Winterburn I just want you to listen to this Mr Oldfield pressed the switch on top of the tape recorder the atmosphere in the room was electric the voice said in a soft Geordie accent I’m Jacques I see you are still having no look in me I have the greatest respect for you George good lord you are no need to catching me now and four years ago when I started I reckon your boys are letting you down George they can't be much good sergeant Winterburn’s job was to transcribe the tape that recording and the letters before it sent the Ripper investigation heading off in a whole new direction Jacques we often say on the Six O’clock Knock that hindsight is the cruellest weapon of all if you were in George Oldfield's shoes how would you approach those letters and the I’m Jacques tape well the key word here is objectivity what any detective must not do is to let the heart rule ahead be objective don't ignore evidence but don't get blinkered this applies as much to a detective constable investigating an assault as it does to George outfield overseeing the Yorkshire Ripper case Simon just remind us of those words in the letters that refer to Oldfield right let's see the first letter said I’ve been dubbed a maniac by the press but not by you you call me clever and I am and then in the letter to the daily mirror Oldfield was described as a man I respect those comments were almost complimentary towards Oldfield weren't they was he taken in by this maybe so I guess we all secretly want to be praised don't we just don't let it go to your head let's talk about policy for a senior investigator the policy book is a crucial document that records the big decisions and the reasoning behind them what was being considered here are the letters written by the killer is the voice on the tape from the killer is the killer likely to be from Sunderland is the Sunderland aspect a deliberate attempt to divert attention so we have a lot of maybes the most crucial decision here was do we go public with this you'll remember that the first case in the Yorkshire Ripper series was committed in Bradford the woman that survived this man said he spoke with a Yorkshire accent it's generally accepted that serial offenders will begin their offending close to home Bradford so for me we don't go public it could create a lot of work what we do is create a small team dedicated to the letters and the tape part of this is to research and identify all links between families in West Yorkshire who originate from the Sunderland area it's an important project and it needs resourcing but keep it tight the problem in 1979 was that George Oldfield and his senior team were so convinced the tape was genuine they ruled out information that didn't confirm their belief it wasn't a view shared by rank and file officers like Bob Taylor who was a detective sergeant in 1979 and went on to be detective chief superintendent of West Yorkshire police I remember that got what was then the uniform branch called the task force had been drafted in and they'd ring you up and go ah you ain't got a Geordie accent right you're eliminated that was simple as that so that failure by introducing an elimination criteria that was basically it was wrong undermined the whole investigation yes and Bob Taylor told the Six O’clock Knock that the way Oldfield led the investigation stopped junior officers thinking for themselves I think what I learned from working on the cases that George Oldfield was in charge was of how not to do it there was no room for anybody to make suggestions from the lower ranks Taylor called it a failure of management and a failure of vision but elsewhere detectives were voicing misgivings about whether the tape was really the voice of the Yorkshire Ripper that distinctive accident sparked another investigation in Sunderland the industrial northeast of England around the river weir Northumbria police led the search for the man who became known as Wearside Jack but they were less convinced than their counterparts in Leeds that the voice on the tape really was the Yorkshire Ripper Detective Inspector David Zackrisson was uneasy about the tape recording he felt that the words used bore an uncanny resemblance to the infamous dear boss letter written in September 1888 by the original Jacques the Ripper to the commissioner of police in London dear boss I keep on hearing the police have caught me but it won't fix me just yet I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track the joke about the leather aprons gives me real fits I am down on [ __ ] and I shan't quit ripping them till I do get buckled great work the last job was I gave the lady no time to squeal how can they catch me now I love my work and want to start again you will soon hear of me and my funny little games good luck yours Jacques the Ripper you can see the similarities can't you the original Ripper said he was down on [ __ ] his 1970 counterpart said my purpose is to rid the streets of them [ __ ] the joke about the leather apron gave me a real fit said the 19th century writer the photo in the paper gave me fits said the letter posted in Sunderland on the 8th of march 1978. Jacques the Ripper wrote in 1888 it's no use for you to look for me in London because I’m not there and in the letter of the 13th of march 1978 its author mimics don't look for me up there in Sunderland because I’m not stupid just passing through finally the 1888 letter proclaimed I want to get to work right away if I get a chance while the voice on the tape recording said I will strike again if I get the chance it wasn't just David Zackrisson the Northumberland detective who thought the resemblance was obvious the Yorkshire post newspaper printed an article stating as much and urging caution another journalist asked George Oldfield if the person on the tape could have been putting on a Geordie accent to throw detectives off the scent this was something the black panther had done a few years before wasn't it yes indeed now there's a case for us to look into meanwhile back at Milgarth nick Oldfield dismissed all those points of view and ploughed on he wasn't even interested in seeing who borrowed books about Jacques the Ripper from libraries in Sunderland as it turned out the hoaxer had done just that borrowed a couple of books from his local library and copied parts more or less word for word the story goes that when Peter Sutcliffe was arrested and confessed to being the Yorkshire Ripper detective superintendent dick holland phoned George Oldfield by this stage the assistant chief constable was off the case we've got the bugger said holland where's he from asked Oldfield Bradford replied the detective superintendent and the line went dead George Oldfield's blinkers had been ripped off with Sutcliffe in custody the iron Jacques tape and letters were finally exposed for what they were a cruel hoax Wearside Jack could have faded into obscurity were it not for the efforts of a journalist in Sunderland who wouldn't let the story go and some determined detectives in West Yorkshire who wanted to settle the score they were spurred on by the words of Peter Sutcliffe's trial judge sentencing the Yorkshire Ripper to 20 life terms at the Old Bailey in 1981 Mr Justice Borum specifically commented on the havoc caused by the hoaxer before I leave this case I want to say this I believe the public would wish it to be said first of all the police and particularly the police of West Yorkshire for a period of five years of this man's brutal behaviour their lives must have become and I’m sure it's not an exaggeration a nightmare as far as they were concerned they were put under very great pressure indeed I’m sure every sensible member of the public feels the greatest sympathy for them for this reason if no other that the scent was falsified by a cynical I think almost inhuman hoaxer I refer to the tape and the letters I suspect I also express the hope of every member of the public that it may someday be exposed a cynical almost inhuman hoaxer while detectives were following the false trail laid by Wearside Jack Sutcliffe killed three more women Barbara Leach Marguerite Walls and Jacqueline Hill and attacked eight others so who was Wearside Jack and how was he eventually caught a lot of it was down to a young detective who worked on the latter stages of the Ripper inquiry Chris Gregg he went on to become head of West Yorkshire CID and the embarrassment of the ‘I’m Jack’ hoax wrangled throughout his career you need to remember that it took many years for West Yorkshire's failure to catch the Ripper sooner to wear off Chris Gregg was determined that the hoaxer wouldn't get away with it it was the final chapter in the torrid tale sorting it out would mean the whole shameful episode could finally be laid to rest Gregg bided his time years passed Gregg was promoted he started a new department a homicide and major inquiry team a dedicated squad of 200 detectives and eight senior investigating officers whose only job was to tackle serious crime advances in forensic science made the detection of cold cases possible in particular the discovery of deoxynucleic acid DNA allowed the police to trace suspects using tiny scraps of biological evidence in 2004 Gregg hand-picked a small team and told them we're going back into the Wearside Jack case what you have to remember is that back in the 70s a lot of physical evidence was destroyed when a case was closed so in all likelihood the I’m Jack tape and the letters no longer existed by 2004. Jacques what was the approach to evidence when you were a working detective was evidence chucked out and if so why well now that's an evocative question the retention of property and case material is managed better than it was I do remember in my home force there was a lot of property destroyed at the headquarters in a flood and property does get moved around over the years organizational changes buildings that change their use that's not an excuse it's just a fact of life when case material comes up for review there may even be a new management team who have no personal involvement with it what about in terms of policy and procedure it depends on whether the property is material in relation to a convicted case or an open case at the time of the Sutcliffe trial the rules about unused case material were different I guess that the Wearside Jack tape was kept separate from the evidential material if it had been included it should have been boxed up and retained for the duration of the sentence assuming it was retained as a separate crime the hoax there would also have been statements and reports in relation to it this kind of material should be reviewed after six years and then retained so long as they are necessary for a policing purpose the police and criminal evidence act of 1984 says that anything seized for the purpose of a criminal investigation may be retained so long as is necessary there is also an option to make a digital copy of items such as those analogue tapes so the Wearside Jack tape could have been photographed the audio transferred to a digital format and then the original destroyed yes potentially I suppose if the SIO reviewing it considered that the originals had no further forensic value well Chris Gregg wanted to ask that question was there any forensic value in the items but he had to find them first and I guess they weren't neatly stored on a shelf in the exhibits room you've got it it was a needle in a haystack they did soon find a box labelled Ripper letters and tape guess what was in it nothing precisely what was worse the press got wind of the story which now appeared under the headline West Yorkshire police loses Ripper letters it lit a fire under Gregg and his team no stone was to be left unturned then they got a lucky break the cassette box that held the original I’m Jacques tape turned up [Music] now going back to the significance of this tape to the original inquiry we assume it had been submitted for forensic work even by 1978 standards it would have been checked for fingerprints photographed and a copy made in sterile conditions did they look at it forensically though I guess not quite well when it was looked at by the later investigation incredibly they found that it contained a single hair could this be tested for DNA well yes and no the hair had no root Jacques what's the significance of that hair is an awkward one the hair shaft itself is really just protein the DNA in hair is contained in the root and any cells around the scalp when the hair is plucked that means that naturally shed hairs do not normally have sufficient DNA material on them and what there is can easily be contaminated a single plucked head hair may have sufficient cellular material attached for DNA analysis the hair in the cassette box would need to be examined under a microscope even then DNA from it would be unlikely let alone the problems with the way it had been found after 25 years or so what did Chris Gregg do he started looking for the letters again and this time by a million to one chance somebody struck gold they found the third letter in its envelope the envelope had a gummed seal which the killer had licked were there still saliva cells present yes there were could they extract DNA after a quarter of a century samples went to the lab Chris Gregg went to an anti-terrorism conference it was july 2005. the author Peter Bilton records the call made by Peter grant from the inquiry team to his boss Chris Gregg Chris you sitting down? the DNA profile worked successfully great Chris we've got a one in a billion match on the national database good god who is it he's called John Humble he was arrested for being drunk in 2001. where's he from if you ever wanted an example of the Six O’clock Knock-in action then this was it the West Yorkshire team liaised with police in Sunderland making arrangements to have local uniformed officers on duty when the team moved in the man chosen to make the arrest was Detective Sergeant Stuart Smith he'd spent months painstakingly working on the review and knew the details inside out the convoy of six police vehicles pulled up outside Humble's address 51 Flodden Road Sunderland Smith and a colleague went up to the door and knocked sharply the lights were on inside but there was no reply he looked through the front window and saw two men sitting motionless in armchairs another knock no reaction from the men inside the door wasn't locked so the officers went in John Humble and his brother henry were blind drunk paralytic forensic officers searched the squalid house it stank both men were alcoholics and there were empty cider bottles and beer cans everywhere the brothers more or less slept on the floor and spent the day drinking they'd fall unconscious and then John Humble would nip down to the local off licence for more booze his nickname was Bagman because of the rucksack he used to carry big bottles of super strength cider John Humble was half conscious when he was arrested due to the alcohol he was cuffed and put in a police car for the drive to Yorkshire by the time he was in the interview room the 39 year old had sobered up and was wondering what was going to happen next Jacques what happens when you get to the end of a long painstaking investigation and you finally get the suspect into the interview room what's the ideal outcome and what can go wrong I mean what's it really like what you're talking about here is the ultimate Six O’clock Knock it's not some high octane adrenaline fuel chase around the streets of Sunderland it's a calm and pre-planned arrest much of it will have been on a need to know basis to avoid the risk of a leak the detective sergeant involved will have drawn up an operational order the briefing of additional staff may have been made at five o'clock that morning what would they be searching for what would they do with other people in the house the what if scenarios whilst the Six O’clock Knock at Humble's house was calm and calculated the detective in charge of the arrest would have been apprehensive there would have been a sense of expectation during that quiet car journey the drive across town a strange town in the murky morning from the police station to Humble's house it would be slightly edgy no detective wants to find the house empty no detective wants to return empty-handed he or she wouldn't be able to relax until Humble is banged up once the arrest is made the procedures kick in and it's fairly routine the emotion of it all can wait that's what the pubs for later on well it took time and skill but in the end John Humble confessed yes he admitted he had pretended to be the Yorkshire Ripper the question then was why did he do it John Humble's excuse if we can call it that was that he wanted to go George Oldfield and his team into upping their game from his position as an observer Humble saw the investigators as a bunch of bungling incompetents he read the papers and he believed what he read Humble claimed the last straw was the murder of Jane MacDonald in June 1977. jane was a 16 year old shop assistant slain by the Yorkshire Ripper in his warped logic Humble devised a plan that would give Oldfield a kick in the pants his inspiration came from the original Jacques the Ripper case of 1888 he had been to the library and he had read about the case he had used the words and phrases from the infamous dear boss letter however Humble's plan backfired spectacularly instead of being galvanized into action and catching the Ripper George Oldfield set his detectives on the trail of the hoaxer believing him to be the genuine killer at one stage in desperation Humble claimed he called the West Yorkshire incident room and told them not to look for a jewellery but the detective he spoke to dismissed him as a crank Humble said he was horrified that women were still dying he realized what he done was a massive mistake I must have been mad he told the detective who interviewed him I feel crap for putting the coppers off John Humble confessed to being Wearside Jack he appeared at court on the 20th of October 2005. at a hearing in Leeds in the following January he entered a plea of not guilty to four counts of perverting the course of justice he later changed his plea to guilty the prosecution said Humble did not contact the police to acknowledge his guilt even when it was obvious his tapes and letters were diverting police resources away from the real Ripper his defence said that Humble had tried to take his own life in November 1979 by jumping off a bridge and on other occasions that he was racked by guilt which had driven him to alcoholism on the 21st of march 2006 Humble was sentenced to eight years in prison beryl leach the mother of twenty-year-old student Barbara who was murdered by Sutcliffe in September 1979 while the police were preoccupied by the I’m Jacques tape was highly critical of the sentence she maintained that Humble had blood on his hands marguerite walls and Jacqueline Hill also met their deaths at the hands of Peter Sutcliffe while George Oldfield was fixated by the Geordie connection to the exclusion of all other possibilities former detective chief superintendent Bob Taylor told the Six O’clock Knock that Humble should have got a much longer sentence I mean I firmly believe that John Humble should have been given a life sentence for perverting the course of justice because of his actions other people died and other people were injured and he misled an investigation which was a national murder home and how could you conceivably expect not to get life for that in july 2006 Humble appealed against his sentence this was rejected he was released in 2009 after serving four years and given a new identity of John Anderson he died on the 30th of july 2019 from heart failure and the effects of alcoholism aged 64. Jacques let's pull some of the threads together we've got two hoaxes here influencing murder investigations well we don't know for sure if the dear boss letter of 1888 was a hoax because Jacques the Ripper was never caught true enough that letter was addressed to the central news agency of London which forwarded it to Scotland Yard whatever your view on its authenticity the letter is regarded as the first piece of correspondence signed by one Jacques the Ripper ultimately resulting in the unidentified killer being known by this name the two-page letter was written in red ink and the police dismissed the writer as just another crank until some details emerged that could only have been known by the killer well the letter was dated the 25th of September 1888 when the body of Catherine Eddowes was found on the 30th of September investigators noticed part of her right ear had been cut off this appeared to chime with the letter writer's promise to clip the lady's ears off so the metropolitan police published handbills containing duplicates of both this letter and another known as the ‘Saucy Jackie’ postcard in the hope that a member of the public would recognize the handwriting newspapers reprinted the ‘Dear Boss…’ letter but no significant leads were forthcoming there was a rumour at the time that a journalist at the central news agency had written the letter to keep up the momentum of the story and boost newspaper sales Dr Robert Anderson head of CID in 1888 went on to say in his memoirs of 1910 that he knew the journalist's concern but didn't name him publicly for fear of legal action that sounds unlikely truth is the best defence to a libel action surely if Anderson could prove who it was he'd been on safe ground naming the author so why not do it the detective took that with him to the grave there were so many hoax letters received by Scotland Yard the press and others it's impossible to know what was definitely an authentic letter written by the white chapel killer the Saucy Jackie postcard is another example again it went to the central news agency of London postmarked the 1st of October 1888 the author claimed to be Jacques the Ripper Jacques when you're on an inquiry how common a hoax is how do you weed them out how do you spot and prioritize the genuine leads and how big is the risk that something or someone unusual might be dismissed when in fact they could be the key to the case how do you prioritize they are certainly common in high profile cases the ones that get a lot of media attention hoax letters are I suppose a coward's way out of making a false confession the hoaxer is seeking attention just the same the investigation of these letters is fairly straightforward you can only do so much with it it's the content of the letter that can cause the headache for an investigator going back to what I said earlier the big decision is whether to go public if you do you need to understand that it could create a lot of work and become a distraction but even without the distraction of the iron Jacques tape the sheer amount of information facing West Yorkshire CID was overwhelming former detective chief superintendent Bob Taylor who was a DS in the latter stages of the inquiry remembers how a lack of coordination and sense of priority held back the investigation one of the first things that you look at is offenders with a violent background and of course every time there's a murder these same people get seen that depending on how many people are can be very time consuming because you've got to find them and it wasn't really managed because the system spewed out what they referred to as actions and they were just allocated to people people operating from different incident rooms in different areas in different forces would have actions allocated to them that related to their force area but it was split because we had when I was on the margarita walls at Pudsey two incident rooms one was looking for the murderer of margarita walls and the other one was dealing with Yorkshire Ripper inquiries and literally you would get people ringing up they would say I think it's somebody in um you know a wetsuit this is why they're not leaving evidence so you know you get there what can you do with that right well we've got any scuba diver clubs and anything like that but you know it it stretches the credibility there's a guy walking around in a scuba diving suit or I think it's the gnome at the bottom of my garden so if he ever been caught there are still years of work to do because you are looking in this morass of information for the golden nugget but when that log nugget comes you've got to be able to recognize it for what it is and the threads that were going to Peter Sutcliffe weren't being pulled together [Music] so why do people carry out hoaxes John Humble's explanation was that he wanted to spur the Ripper investigation to greater efforts is that unusual what other reasons are there let's jet across the Atlantic for the curious case of the confession killer a murderer who was for a long time considered to be the united states most prolific serial murderer Henry Lee Lucas was born in Virginia in 1936 he'd had a terrible abusive upbringing and turned into an abuser himself Lucas led the life of a drifter until in 1960 he was sentenced to between 20 and 40 years imprisonment for the second degree murder of his mother a troubled woman who turned to prostitution and pimped out her own son as a child Lucas served 10 years before being released in 1970 due to prison overcrowding it wasn't long before he was back inside for trying to kidnap three school girls in 1983 when Lucas was arrested for illegal possession of a firearm he confessed to the murder of his teenage girlfriend and his 82 year old landlady the forensic evidence was inconclusive but Lucas went to prison for the firearms offense and while there claimed he was roughly treated by the guards that's when he started confessing to any and all unsolved murders 213 in all and the authorities were mighty pleased the trouble was there was often not a shred of evidence as a reward for his assistance and as encouragement for further information Lucas received preferential treatment he got steak dinners and milkshakes he was rarely handcuffed and often allowed to wander the prison at will according to one source he even knew the codes for the security doors eventually though Lucas came unstuck a journalist on the Dallas times herald did some digging and calculated that he would have had to have driven 11 000 miles in a month in his old Ford station wagon to do the killings the game was up the police who'd been duped by Lucas were discredited and law enforcement opinion began to turn against the claims that crimes had been solved however three of the convictions stuck and Lucas was sentenced to death for one of them that sentence would later be commuted to life imprisonment the so-called confession killer died of heart failure in prison in Huntsville Texas 2001. he was 64. Jacques how come the law enforcement agencies were so taken in by Lucas Lucas was clearly a fantasist he was a consummate liar but his captors had a terrible weakness that made them believe him they had a stack of unsolved cases that they needed to close and they were blinkered just like George Oldfield was blinkered during the Yorkshire Ripper investigation in the end all it took to unmask the confession killer was a quick check of his mileometer and some elementary mathematics it certainly used to be tempting for senior investigating officers faced with the pressure to get a result to clutch at straws and believe the implausible funding pressures staff abstracted from other departments badly motivated staff these are the realities when I worked in major crime the senior commander realized that a specialist team was needed we had to get results but we needed the resources and a dedicated team whether it was in 1985 when I started or 2015 when I finished any confession needs corroborative evidence the difference is that evidence doesn't need a confession killers can in certain circumstances get away with murder like all crimes it needs a bit of luck to reward the hard graft no detective worth their salt wants to be tricked to fall for a pack of lies no one wants that on their conscience it's a really interesting point Jacques in a way catching a murderer has never been easier but you've got the human element to consider it's a point I put to former detective chief superintendent Bob Taylor there's so much available technically and evidentially now to an investigation so computerization DNA all of the aspects of criminal psychology that can be brought to bear would you agree that if there was to be another fiasco on the scale of the Yorkshire Ripper it would be down to human folly and incompetence and not because of the tools at the disposal of the investigation absolutely right it would be incompetence you can't get it wrong if you follow the evidence and there's so much evidence is that what you're saying you follow the evidence then that is it you might have to prioritize some parts of it give some parts more important than others as far as a detective is concerned there is no room for hunches you have to follow the evidence so you've got to be quite strict and self-composed in how you you deal with investigations a good detective obviously needs a good leader and I’ve always said you may be the senior investigating officer one day you'll go see the chief constable and he promotes your superintendent you don't get any better ideas the day you're promoted than you did the day before so a senior officer is about managing your team so even the most inexperienced detective on a team can come up with the best idea and that is what I always look for I would encompass all the detectives on the team and uh strangely enough when you had a meeting some of the detectives were a little bit shy of speaking up in front of the rest of the group and occasionally we may go for a drink afterwards and somebody would approach me and say I’ve had this idea boss and that's where the good ideas come from they come from those young good detectives who are learning the skill bob's hit the nail on the head there I can't agree more every member of the team has a part to play and everyone's input is valuable that's why we at the Six O’clock Knock try to be forward-looking and learn the lessons of past investigations hindsight the cruellest weapon of all let's put it back in its scabbard for the time being special thanks to our readers Walter Daglish Paul Mann QC and Paul Bradshaw and thanks to detective superintendent Bob Taylor for coming out of retirement for a couple of hours I never work with him but I like to work with people like him we'll be hearing more from bob in the future thank you for joining us we hope you enjoyed this episode of the Six O’clock Knock all our episodes are available on Spreaker and wherever you get your podcasts please do like share and all those other good things that help us grow our audience we really do appreciate it so until next time it's goodbye from me and Jacques please do join us again soon for another Six O’clock Knock the Six O’clock Knock is presented by Simon Ford and Jacques Morrell and produced by Paul Bradshaw and is available on every major listening app please help us spread the word by giving us a five star review and telling your friends to subscribe. 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