Man charged with being Yorkshire Ripper hoaxer

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The Independent Online

John Humble, 49, appeared before Leeds magistrates, accused of sending a tape which began with the now legendary taunt: "I'm Jack ... I see you're still having no luck catching me." The tape fooled detectives into focusing their inquiry on the Sunderland area, leaving Peter Sutcliffe, the actual killer, to murder three more women in west Yorkshire.

Mr Humble, of the Ford Estate in Sunderland, was charged with perverting the course of justice. Dressed in a blue sweatshirt, navy jogging bottoms and trainers, he listened as the charge was read to him. He spoke in a broad Sunderland accent as he gave his name and personal details during a five-minute hearing.

He was charged by West Yorkshire Police yesterday morning after being arrested on Tuesday, following a breakthrough in the 27-year hunt for the hoaxer.

Police in Lancashire revealed yesterday that Mr Humble may now also be questioned in connection with the unsolved murder of a prostitute in November 1975. The body of 26-year-old Joan Harrison was discovered in a garage in Preston, but the killer was never brought to justice.

Detective Inspector Joe Kellett, of Lancashire Constabulary, said: "We will liaise with our colleagues in West Yorkshire and we will be reviewing our case papers on the Joan Harrison murder. Then we will make a decision on whether to go and interview Mr Humble."

Mr Humble, a former labourer, was accused of writing three letters and recording an audio tape sent to detectives hunting the killer between 1 March 1978 and 30 June 1979.

Mr Humble was helped to his feet by the guards as the charge was read to him by a clerk at Leeds magistrates' court. No plea was entered by Mr Humble and he was remanded in custody by District Judge Christopher Darnton.