Was the Yorkshire Ripper behind St Albans assault?

Article about Marie's attack in the Herts Advertiser in April 1972

Article about Marie's attack in the Herts Advertiser in April 1972 - Credit: Archant

The Yorkshire Ripper could be behind a brutal assault on a young woman who was left for dead in St Albans in the 1970s according to a retired police constable.

Chris Clark

Chris Clark - Credit: Archant

For more than 40 years mystery has surrounded the attempted murder of 22-year-old Marie Burke who was found lying in a layby on Hemel Hempstead Road.

But Chris Clarke, who is investigating a number of unsolved cases, is convinced it is the work of notorious serial killer Peter Sutcliffe.

The 68-year-old claims, like several of the criminal’s other victims, this was a “frenzied” attack whereby Marie was struck on the head by a blunt instrument and her body covered over by her coat.

Chris, of County Durham, said: “It was an unusual facet to do that after attacking someone so fiercely. It is a ritualistic thing. I thought I must be on the right track.”

Marie was trying to hitchhike her way from Liverpool to London and was seen on April 18, 1972, thumbing a lift on the M1 at Hendon and then Leverstock Green.

Later that evening she was discovered on the A414 by a retired police officer and was rushed to St Albans City Hospital with serious head injuries.

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While police combed the area trying to find a lorry driver who was spotted at the scene, the ex-cop maintains this man was simply in the “wrong place at the wrong time”.

“If you look back to that era and at the unsolved cases I’m looking to unravel there weren’t a number of serial killers going around so you have to narrow it down,” he said.

Sutcliffe was convicted of 13 murders and seven attempted murders in 1981 but Chris thinks there are possibly many more, including Jackie Ansell-Lamb and Barbara Mayo who were murdered while hitchhiking and their bodies also covered with coats.

He added: “I’m very certain it [Marie’s attack] is connected to Barbara and Jackie and I’m quite certain all three are concerned in some way to Peter Sutcliffe.”

Marie survived her ordeal and five years after the attack is known to have contacted police enquiring about the progress of the case. Chris is gathering evidence so he can present it to the Home Office in the hope they will reopen an investigation into Sutcliffe who is currently serving 20 life prison sentences in Broadmoor Hospital.

Anyone with any information or who knows of Marie’s whereabouts can email Chris at sirhcclark@btinternet.com.