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September 27, 2022 4 mins

London is pitch black. It's wartime and the lights are out to confuse Nazi bombers. But in this darkness a killer as warped and as violent as Jack the Ripper is hunting for women night after night in the bomb-damaged streets. 

The women murdered by the so-called Blackout Ripper received little sympathy at the time and have been largely forgotten since. So historian Hallie Rubenhold and criminologist Alice Fiennes have gathered fresh evidence about the rich and complex lives of the women - and revealing what put them in the path of a killer. 

Bad Women: The Blackout Ripper starts with a double episode drop on Oct 11. 

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:15):
Pushkin. Gretta Heywood has come to London's Nightclumb district to
meet her boyfriend, but as cross paths with another man,
a trainee fighter pilot. He's lewd, persistent, and menacing. Are

(00:35):
you a naughty girl? She's found herself alone with him
on a side street in total darkness. This is winter
nineteen forty two, in the middle of the Second World War,
and London is blacked out for fear that any light
will attract Hitler's bombers. The man pushes Gretta into a doorway,

(00:56):
pressing closely up against her and kissing her. Come on,
you've got to let me make love to you. He
raises her skirt. Gretta protests, but the man's hands knit
around her throat. She tries to break free. You won't.
Gretta struggles to release the man's grip. You won't, but
his fingers only tighten around her neck, cutting off the

(01:18):
flow of air to her lungs and blood to her brain.
You walk. You are very an art. It is a
full fifty years after the Whitechapel murders gripped this city,
but a killer every bit as brutal, as twisted, and

(01:38):
as terrifying as Jack the Ripper is again stalking at
streets over the course of just a few days in
this chilly wartime February. He will strike night after night.
His cruelty and depravity are so shocking. His victims have
so brutalized that he will be dubbed the Blackout Ripper.

(02:01):
My reaction when I read the case file was sod
the Blackout Ripper. He's an asshole. I hate him. He's arrogant,
he doesn't deserved to live, and I hate to say
that about anyone. Whereas the women, I fell in love
with them, every single one of them. But just like
Jack's victims, many thought the women who were attacked by
the Blackout Ripper had it coming. They were asking for trouble.

(02:24):
They were particularly targeted. They were seen as both deserving
victims and also easy pickings. This is the most shocking
murders bury you've never heard of. So we've delved into
the archives and retrieved police reports, witness statements, and photos
to explain who the victims were and reconstruct what happened

(02:46):
over that bloody wartime week. You learn about all the
quirks in their life. You learn about the sadness, you
learn about the joy. It makes them real and whole
and you kind of want to meet them. I'm Hallie Rubinhold,
and with the help of fellow historians, I'll introduce you
to those women and reveal a dark side to World
War Two that's seldom taught in schools. Men had to

(03:09):
dodge advancing bullets and women had to dodge advancing men.
It was kind of pretty dark staff that's going on
at its worst. The world of the Blackout Ripper may
seem distant and long gone, but there are still women
alive to tell us what they went through. There was
a man that there's appalling creature I had ever seen
in the whole of my life, who reached out as

(03:29):
I came in, turned round my rich right back, and
luckily nobody killed me, but I might have done if
I'd gone down those steps. So come back with us
to the dive bars, jazz joints, and raucous nightclubs of
London's West End, where young women try to forget the
falling bombs. When you add the excitement and the fear,

(03:51):
you get a kind of hedonism where people are just
desperate for entertainment, for sex, for alcohol and those sorts
of things. You are a very nice girl. Are you
waiting for somebody? Step into the dark with me? For
Bad Women The Blackout Ripper starting October eleventh, wherever you

(04:11):
get your podcasts,
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