Coronation Street star Bruce Jones lost his marriage after being investigated by police who thought he could be the Yorkshire Ripper.
The soap star, who played Wetherfield’s Les Battersby between 1997 and 2007, was treated as a suspect after he discovered the mutilated body of the Ripper’s victim, Jean Jordan, in 1977.
Serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, who died this morning aged 74 after contracting coronavirus, had brutally murdered the 20-year-old and dumped her body on an allotment in Manchester.
The mum of two, who was a sex worker, lived in Moss Side and had come across Sutcliffe in a fateful moment as he cruised for business in the red light district.
The pair haggled over a price before Jean directed her murderer to the wasteland on Princess Road, Chorlton.
It was there the Ripper struck, seizing a hammer left in one of the old nearby garages and raining down blows on Jean’s skull until she lay there lifeless.
He dragged her bloodied body into some bushes and scrambled back into the drivers seat of his red Ford Corsair before he could be spotted – but in his panic left behind a freshly minted £5 note that had come from his pay packet.
Realising his mistake as he drove off, Sutcliffe considered going back to the scene of his despicable crime, but drove on in the hope he wouldn’t be discovered.
It wasn’t until eight days after his frenzied crime that the Ripper crept back to the wasteland, finding Jean’s body well hidden and in a state of decay. He frantically searched the scene for the incriminating £5 but unable to find it, took out his rage on Jean’s remains. He stripped her of her remaining clothes and slashed at her naked body with a knife until the stench of her corpse made him vomit. In a final act of violation, he decided cut off her head “to make a big mystery of it” and to hide his trademark hammer blows from police. But the tools he used weren’t up to the job, so defeated, Sutcliffe drove home to Bradford to burn his clothes.
Later that morning, Bruce and another allotment holder discovered Jean’s brutalised body near a shed with her intestines wrapped around her waist. They called the police and Bruce was immediately suspected of being the killer – something he said had a lasting impact on his mental health and led to the breakdown of his marriage.
“He’d uncovered her, he was there that day, he’d hacked away at her,” Bruce told the Mirror in 2013.
“I lost my first marriage, my children.
“I lost everything because of that. It actually destroyed me to learn that people can do that to a human being. I had nightmares like you wouldn’t believe.”
In 2010, Bruce said he experienced “pure panic” when the cops asked him about his whereabouts.
“You start thinking, ‘Where was I? What have I done wrong?’ Your mind starts racing. It’s pure panic,” he said in The Dark Side Of Fame With Piers Morgan.
“I had nightmares for 12 months. I still do.”
The impact of finding Jean’s body was so great that Bruce experienced suicidal thoughts and struggled to cope.
His marriage to first wife Sue broke down in 1982, but his sons John and Stephen kept him going.
“If I hadn’t had them, I think I’d have ended it all,” Bruce added at the time.
He was later suspended from Corrie after getting drunk with an undercover reporter and spilling the beans on upcoming storylines, and sunk into alcoholism after two of his homes were repossessed.
Sutcliffe was eventually caught for driving with fake number plates, finally confessing to the murders of 13 women by claiming he’d heard the voice of god sending him on a mission to kill prostitutes.
He was sentenced to a whole life order in prison, spending the rest of his life behind bars and dying alone in hospital on the morning of Friday November 13 2020 after contracting coronavirus.
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