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The gruesome truth behind four of Britain's most notorious serial killers – and how they were finally caught

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Serial killers are among the toughest criminals for cops to catch - yet sometimes a simple slip-up can be enough to unlock a case.

Dedicated teams of officers can be chasing a killer for months or even years with no clues to go on.

Then out of nowhere, they get a stroke of luck - be it a slip-up by the killer or an unrelated brush with the law - which leads to an arrest.

Since Jack the Ripper stalked the shadowy streets of Victorian East London, there have been at least 34 serial killers in Britain.

But top criminologist Professor David Wilson has even warned there could be TWO active serial killers on the loose in the Britain at any one time, based on his detailed analysis of previous murders and unsolved killings.

To mark the launch of Serial Killer Season on Really at 9pm tonight (Monday, July 10), below we've profiled several of Britain's most notorious killers who were stopped and detailed how the law finally caught up with them.

Dennis Nilsen

Dennis Nilsen

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Loner Nilsen strangled at least 15 young men and boys whom he lured to flats he rented in London between 1978 and 1983.

He burned them on bonfires or flushed body parts down the lavatory. He was caught after a plumber was called to clear blocked drains and found human remains.

Peter Sutcliffe

Peter Sutcliffe

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The Yorkshire Ripper murdered 13 women, mostly sex workers, between October 1975 and November 1980.

Yorkshire Police spent six years trying to track the killer until Sutcliffe was caught by chance in Sheffield in January 1981 when he was stopped and found to have false number plates.

Colin Ireland

Colin Ireland

A former soldier, Ireland would target gay men in London, meeting them in clubs and then killing them in their own flats.

He was caught and jailed for life after murdering his fifth victim, Emanuel Spiteri.

As they walked through Charing Cross together they had been caught on CCTV and Ireland was identified. He was jailed in 1993 and died behind bars in 2012.

Robert Black

Robert Black

His job as a van driver allowed him to roam the UK, targeting young girls. It has been proved he killed four between 1981 and 1986, but detectives believe he murdered several more.

Black was captured in Scotland in 1990 after he was seen bundling a six-year-old into his van. He is now serving 11 life sentences.

Did you know...

More than 60 per cent of serial killers were still wetting their beds as teenagers.

44 per cent of serial killers started murdering while in their 20s, 26 per cent in their teens and 24 per cent in their 30s.

The term ‘serial killer’ was first coined by former FBI special agent Robert Ressler in 1971. The FBI definition of a serial killer is a murderer who experiences an emotional ‘cooling off’ period between crimes, which can last between days and years.

England has produced the highest number of serial killers in Europe with 28 per cent of the total, followed by Germany (27 per cent) and France with (13 per cent).

The United States has the highest number of serial killers with 76 per cent of the world total.

Serial Killer Season on Really

Discover more stories of notorious Serial Killers brought to justice with Serial Killer season, starting tonight, Monday July 10, at 9pm on Really.

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