DEWSBURY, England -- Police hunting 'the Yorkshire Ripper' said Sunday a suspect will appear in court Monday and the attacks by Britain's worst mass murderer that have killed 13 women in five years 'may well have been concluded.'
The suspect, a married man in his 30s, from Bradford, Yorkshire, was detained Friday night in the Yorkshire industrial town of Sheffield for the relatively minor offence of possessing stolen automobile license plates. Police would not reveal his name before he appears in court.
'We are very hopeful that the man will appear in court tomorrow,' Supt. Frank Morritt told UPI. 'And we are hopeful that the Yorkshire Ripper series of attacks may well have been concluded.'
The man was still being questioned and had not yet been charged, Morritt said.
British police are traditionally reserved in their remarks on a suspect and are bound by laws of contempt from commenting on a case when charges are imminent.
The man, expected to face 'serious charges,' was arrested without a struggle about 11 p.m. Friday night in Sheffield by two policemen on an anti-vice patrol, West Yorkshire chief constable Ronald Gregory told a press conference. He said the suspect was with a woman in a parked Rover car.
Asked by a reporter if the ripper inquiry was being scaled down, Gregory said 'you are right.'
Thousands of men have been questioned in the hunt for the psychopathic killer who has prowled several northern England towns since 1975. Early victims were all prostitutes but more recent attacks appeared indiscriminate. The ripper last struck in Leeds in November, killing 20-year-old college student Jacqueline Hill as she took a short-cut back to her dormitory.
Like Jack the Ripper, who haunted London's East end in Victorian times and killed six prostitutes, but was never caught, the Yorkshire Ripper has sent police several letters, written in a spidery hand, taunting them for not catching him.
The ripper first struck in Leeds in October 1975 but he has also killed in Bradford and Manchester. Nine of his victims, aged between 16 and 42, were prostitutes, battered to death with a blunt object.
Just over a year ago the killer triggered an intensified hunt when he mailed detectives a taped message saying in the flat accent of northeastern England, 'At the rate I'm going, I should be in the book of records ... well, I'll keep on going for quite a while yet.'