A Sunderland man who tricked police into thinking he was the Yorkshire Ripper has died.
John Humble, dubbed Wearside Jack, sent letters and voice recording to officers who were investigating the Ripper's murders across Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester in the 1970s and early 1980s.
He told police leading the inquiry: "I see you are still having no luck catching me".
As officers tried to find him, the real Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, killed another three women.
It took 30 years to bring Humble to justice.
He was found dead in his flat last month aged 63.
One pal said: “He used to say ‘Do you know who I am?’. He was destroyed by what he’d done.
“He spent most days drinking from morning till night in a bar and at home. It was Lambrusco and Carling mainly.
“He was on benefits because he was in no state to work.
“The guilt he felt was life destroying. The man we knew was a gentle giant who would help anyone out.”
The death certificate said Humble died of heart disease and “chronic alcohol misuse”.
Humble, who was from Sunderland , was 23 in June 1979 when he sent the tape to West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield, who was leading the inquiry.
He was convinced the man on the recording was the killer.
At a press conference, stunned journalists listened as the tape was played.
The voice said: “I’m Jack. I see you are still having no luck catching me.
“I have the greatest respect for you George, but Lord!, you are no nearer catching me now than four years ago when I started. I reckon your boys are letting you down, George. They can’t be much good can they?
“At the rate I’m going I should be in the book of records... I’ll keep on going for quite a while yet. I can’t see meself being nicked just yet...
“Well, it’s been nice chatting to you, George. Yours, Jack the Ripper.”
A £1m publicity campaign to find the man with the Wearside accent was launched and 40,000 men were questioned.
Softly spoken Yorkshireman Sutcliffe, of Bradford, was quizzed but released several times – partly because he didn’t sound like Wearside Jack.
When Humble realised police were taking him seriously, he phoned to tell them it was a con. But they didn’t believe him.
Days later, in September 1979, Sutcliffe bludgeoned to death student Barbara Leach, 20, in Bradford.
The Ripper killed civil servant Marguerite Walls, 47, in Leeds in 1980.
His 13th and final known victim, student Jacqueline Hill, 20, was murdered later that year in Leeds.
Her mum Doreen said that Jacqueline would not have been murdered if it had not been for the Ripper hoaxer.
Humble had evaded justice for nearly 30 years when in 2005 a cold case review by West Yorkshire police matched his DNA – taken after he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in 1991 – to a sample taken from one of the letters.
He was jailed for eight years for perverting the course of justice.
Sutcliffe, finally caught in 1981, wrote to Humble to tell him he had “blood on his hands” for the last three murders.
After Humble was released in 2009, he was moved to South Shields and given a new identity, John Samuel Anderson.
It is understood he died in July.
Neighbours said that three weeks ago an ambulance and police arrived at the rented flat where flies hovered in the window.
Lydia Lindsey, 73, from Sunderland , who knew Humble, said: “John was a nice lad, he made a mistake in his life.”
Ian McCabe, 59, who had known Humble since school, said he often spoke of his regret over the Wearside Jack hoax.
He added: “I think that is why he drank, to forget.”