The Yorkshire Ripper admitted: “I should be hanged,” moments after being jailed for 13 murders.
Det Con Alan Foster, one of the police who brought Peter Sutcliffe to justice, replied: “Yes, you should.”
They had crossed paths in a passage under the Old Bailey, where Sutcliffe had stood trial in May 1981.
DC Foster, 71, died four years ago and his widow Christine recalled his words this week.
Christine says Alan and many colleagues in the Ripper Squad can finally rest in peace after Sutcliffe died last Friday.
She said: “They worked and worked.
“We never saw Alan, the only way I knew he’d been home was because of an indentation on the pillow at the side of me.
“He would get in after I’d gone to bed and go before I got up.
“He couldn’t get away from it.
“All he would do was talk about the case to anybody who would listen.”
Sutcliffe dominated their lives even after he was jailed.
Alan, with the West Yorkshire force, uncovered 47 violent incidents with potential links to the Bradford lorry driver.
It is feared Sutcliffe may have killed another 22 women in addition to the 13 he was convicted of battering to death from 1975 to 1980.
Christine, 73, said: “After retirement Alan became obsessed with Sutcliffe.
“He knew what a monster he was and said ‘he must, never, ever, be released’.”
He was exhibits officer at Sutcliffe’s trial and kept evidence he’d been told to burn after the verdict including home-made leggings with an open crotch, which Sutcliffe wore under his jeans the night he was arrested in Sheffield in January 1981.
He kept items with DNA, including nail clippings, hoping they’d help pin other crimes on him.
Alan returned them in 2003.
Sutcliffe, in HMP Frankland, Co Durham, died aged 74, after refusing treatment for Covid-19.
Christine, from Leeds, said: “It’s such a shame Alan never saw this day.
“It is now judgment day for [Sutcliffe].
“He was a monster.”