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Crime student held for three prostitutes' murder in Britain

world Updated: May 27, 2010 14:03 IST

A student of criminology who told a neighbour that he was "doing a PhD in murder and Jack the Ripper" was being quizzed for the brutal killing of three prostitutes in Britain.

The man was arrested from his home a red light area where a woman's head inside a rucksack was understood to have been found. Hours later, a woman's body parts were discovered in River Aire in Shipley, West Yorks, Daily Express reported on Thursday.

The 40-year-old was being questioned regarding the three prostitutes from Bradford, West Yorkshire who are missing since June last year and feared dead.

A recent killing is believed to have been caught on CCTV cameras installed to help protect prostitutes. The sex workers were worried that they were being stalked by an attacker they named "Yorkshire Ripper II".

This case was strikingly similar to that of Peter Sutcliffe's killing spree that left women across the north of England prisoners in their homes between 1975 and 1980. He mutilated the bodies of his victims using a hammer, sharpened screwdriver and a knife. He was caught and sentenced to 20 life sentences in 1981.

On Monday, the student was arrested in connection with the disappearances of Shelley Armitage, 31, and Suzanne Blamires, 36, who went within the past month. He was also being questioned regarding Susan Rushworth, 43, who vanished last June.

All three worked in Bradford's red light district which Ripper Peter Sutcliffe trawled for three of his 13 victims in the 1970s.

The arrested man had told a neighbour he was studying at university and "doing a PhD in murder and Jack the Ripper". He holds a degree in psychology and had written extensively on the internet about some of history's most notorious mass murderers. On a website, the suspect called himself a "misanthrope who bought hate into heaven".

"As he (the suspect) was taken away he had his usual, blank, cold expression on his face. There was no surprise, shock or emotion. The only thing he was bothered about was the police locking his door properly," a neighbour was quoted as saying.

The neighbour said the man had a number of locks on his door and described it as "Fort Knox".

Two of three other women being linked to the case are Bradford prostitutes who went missing in 1992 and 2001.

Yvonne Fitt, 33 was stabbed to death about two months before her corpse was found in 2002 in woods. Rebecca "Becky" Hall, 19, was found dead in an alleyway in April 1992. She died from severe head injuries sustained in a vicious beating.

The third woman, 26-year-old Gemma Simpson, was not believed to have been a prostitute. She disappeared from her Leeds home in 2000.

West Yorkshire Assistant Chief Constable Jawaid Akhtar said: "This is a very thorough and painstaking inquiry into three missing people who are sex workers, with all the necessary resources and expertise devoted to it. The families of Suzanne, Shelley and Susan are all being supported by our family liaison officers."