Mystery has surrounded the murder of schoolteacher Barbara Mayo, whose body was discovered in woods near Glapwell, for more than 40 years.
But now new research from a retired detective claims that notorious serial killer Peter Sutcliffe could be responsible for her death in 1970.
Chris Clark says he has unearthed new evidence linking the Yorkshire Ripper to a series of grisly killings over a 12-year period - including the deaths of Barbara Mayo, who was brutally raped, battered and strangled and her body dumped just eight miles from Mansfield.
The 24-year-old had been hitch-hiking to Catterick, North Yorkshire, from her home in London to fetch her boyfriend’s car.
Following an investigation into numerous leads the murder hunt was scaled down but never stopped and in 2008 Derbyshire police promised the search for her killer would not end until someone was convicted.
Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven others in 1981 but at the time, detectives believed the lorry driver must have committed more attacks.
Mr Clark, 67, a former intelligence officer, said as many as 17 unsolved killings bore hallmarks of the Ripper.
Mr Clark, who served with Norfolk Police, said: “I began researching unsolved crimes about three years ago. This year I started looking at Peter Sutcliffe and saw many murders seemed to have a common thread running through them.”
Mr Clark is putting together a dossier of evidence which he will present to the Home Office in the hope they will reopen the cases. He said he was motivated by a desire to bring closure to the families of victims.
However, a Derbyshire police said they were not looking in to links between Miss Mayo’s death and Sutcliffe.