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Jack the Ripper didn’t just kill with a knife, he mutilated and disemboweled victims – all females – all prostitutes – removing organs such as kidneys and uteruses and his crimes seemed to portray an abhorrence for the entire female gender.

Jack the Ripper was a serial killer in the year 1888 – his victims were women – all prostitutes – in or near the Whitechapel district of London’s East End.

Jack The Ripper
The “Nemesis of Neglect”, an image of social destitution manifested as Jack the Ripper, stalks Whitechapel in a Punch cartoon of 1888 by John Tenniel Credit: Wikipedia

While most believe that Jack The Ripper took five lives referred to as “The Canonical Five” others believe that the Ripper claimed the lives of up to 11 women.

All five killings attributed to Jack The Ripper took place within a mile of each other from August 7th to November 9, 1888.

Over a century there have been countless investigations claiming definitive evidence of the brutal killer’s identity, but his real name and motive are still unknown.

Jack the Ripper Murders

The infamous killings that began in August 1888 stood out from other violent crime of the time: Marked by sadistic butchery, they suggested a mind more sociopathic and hateful than most citizens could comprehend.

Mary Ann Nichols

On August 31, 1888, at 3:40 a.m., the body of the first victim, Mary Ann Nichols was found in Buck’s Row in Whitechapel.

The body was discovered by a man named Charles Cross who was walking along Buck’s row when he noticed a bundle towards the western end.

When the police arrived on the scene Mary Ann was found on her back, her throat was severely slashed and she was disemboweled.

After further investigation, it became evident that she had been dead for about half-hour meaning the killer was nearby when Cross saw the body.

Annie Chapman

The body of Annie Chapman was found at 29 Hanbury street, her body was discovered by a man named John Davis, who lived nearby at the 29th Hanbury Street building.

Similar to Mary Ann, Annie’s throat was cut but this time the violence escalated, the murderer took her womb.

Jack the Ripper murders.
How the first murder is depicted.

It was clear that the killer might be a doctor or someone with anatomical knowledge from the way the womb was removed.

Elizabeth Stride

After the police got the letters by Jack The Ripper about the killings, on September 30th, 1888 the body of Elizabeth Stride was found on Berner Street by a man named Louis Diemschutz.

This time there wasn’t much violence involved which led police to believe that the murder was interrupted when Louis approached.

When Elizabeth stride was examined it was determined that she was dead for 30 minuted around 1:15 A.M.

Catherine Eddowes

Shockingly 45 minutes after the body of Elizabeth Stride was found, another body was found in Mitre Square, just west of the stride murder.

A woman named Catherine Eddowes was the second victim in the same night by the Ripper. Her body was severely mutilated, including her face. Her uterus was removed as well as her left kidney.

Apron of Catherine Eddowes as a clue

After the murder of Catherine, Jack the Ripper went back towards Elizabeth Stride murder site, where he dropped one of the few solid clues in the entire case.

A piece of Catherine Eddowes apron was discovered near the scene of the crime. The apron was found by Alfred Long, in the doorway of an apartment block near Goulston street, a nearby street east of the Eddowes murder site.

A message was written in chalk near this apron which read:

“The Juwes are the men that will not be blame for nothing.”

Later a postcard was received dated October 1st and written by someone claiming to be the Ripper with similar handwriting.

I was not codding dear old Boss when I gave you the tip, you’ll hear about Saucy Jacky’s work tomorrow double event this time number one squealed a bit couldn’t finish straight off hand not the time to get ears for police, thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again.
Jack The Ripper

After the letter was received police spent a week searching every house in the East Densworth slums but found nothing. A man named George Lusk received a letter, the letter was signed “FROM HELL,” and it was delivered in a box with half a human kidney.

The kidney was believed to be Catherine Eddowes’ missing kidney, but later if was found out to be a prank by a medical student.

Mary Kelly

On November 9, 1888, the body of the fifth and final canonical victim, Mary Kelly was found at 13 Millers’ courts in her bed by her landlord assistant who was seeking rent.

The final Canonical murder was by far the most gruesome as her body was disemboweled and “virtually skinned down“. “The sight that we saw I cannot drive away from my mind, it looked more like the work of a devil than of a man” described the landlord.

These were the 5 victims of Jack the Ripper but many believe that the numbers go up to 11.

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Who was Jack The Ripper?

When aggregating eyewitness testimonies of those who believed they saw the ripper a rough outline of the killer can be visualised.

With the Vigilance Committee in the East End
One of a series of images from the Illustrated London News for October 13, 1888 carrying the overall caption, “With the Vigilance Committee in the East End”. (Public Domain)
  • It can be assumed that he was 25 to 35 years old,
  • Roughly 5’5” to 5 foot 7 inches.
  • Stocky, with a fair complexion and a moustache.
  • He was seen wearing a dark overcoat and a dark hat.

The Scotland Yard’s Violent Crime Command Team described Jack the Ripper in Appearance as “perfectly sane, frighteningly normal and yet capable of extraordinary cruelty.

Jack The Ripper Suspects

With surgical precision, the killer was believed to be a doctor or someone with anatomical knowledge. Sir Melville McNaughton, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department had a general suspicion of who the killer was. He made a list that finally narrowed down to three suspects.

Montague Johnson Druitt

McNaughton wrote in his notes “From Private information, I have little doubt but that his(Druitt) own family suspected this man of being the Whitechapel murderer; it was alleged that he was sexually insane.

Druitt was a barrister who might have had an uncle or cousin who was doctors. Around the time of his death at the age of 40, Druitt supposedly had an interest in surgery.

Montague lived with his cousin who was practicing medicine close to where the Whitechapel murders occurred. The reason he was named as a suspect is weeks before the first murder his mother went insane and in a note, he wrote that he feared he was also going insane.

After the final murder, Montague disappeared only to be found dead within four weeks of the last murder. His body was found floating in the Thames River on December 3, 1888.

Michael Ostrog

Michael Ostrog was the second suspect on McNaughten’s list because Ostrog was a Russian Doctor and a criminal. Ostrog has been in an asylum previously for homicidal tendencies.

Ostrog couldn’t provide a strong alibi for his whereabouts during the murders. However, he was not convicted as there was not enough evidence linking him to the crime.

Aaron Kosminski

The third suspect in McNaughten’s list was Aaron Kosminski, a polish and jewish resident of Whitechapel, who spent some time in an asylum in 1889 after the murders.

Kominski would reside in Asylums until his death in 1919. He was known for his hatred towards women, particularly prostitutes.

According to McNaughten, Aaron’s appearance matched descriptions provided by the police of a man in Mitre Square, which was at the night of double murder.

Recently Kosminski’s name made headlines, due to a book launched by Russel Edwards – Naming Jack the Ripper. In this book, Edwards claims that a shawl purchased at an auction contains DNA evidence proving Kosminski is the killer.

The shawl was brought under the impression that it reportedly was found at the murder scene of Catherine Eddowes.

With forensic evidence Russel Edwards thought he got the killer, “I’ve got the only piece of forensic evidence in the whole history of the case, I’ve spent 14 years working on it, and we have definitively solved the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was. Only non-believer that want to perpetuate the myth will doubt this is it now- we have unmasked him.”

It turned out that the scientist made a mistake and Russel Edward’s 14 years work had gone to waste.

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Joseph Barnett

Joseph Barnett was particularly suspicious as he lived with Mary Kelly, the final ripper victim. Barnett may have lived in 10 different locations in east London, making him well-versed in the area and capable of navigating back streets.

Barnett worked as a fish porter and it was believed that Barnett was in love with Kelly, according to an issue of the daily telegraph on November 10, 1888, Barnett referred to Mary as “his wife,” while she was in fact only a roommate.

Barnett also disagreed with Mary’s life as a prostitute and strived to make money to keep her off the streets.

Some theorize that Barnett committed the first murders to scary Kelly off the streets, which for a brief amount of time worked, but when Barnett lost his job, Kelly returned to the street to make ends meet. It was known the Barnett also disliked Kelly’s love of gin

Their financial struggles often led to fights and this reached threshold when Kelly brought two different prostitutes home, an act that Barnett found unacceptable. This led to a fight and Barnett moved out.

Only 10 days later, Kelly was found dead in her apartment. After the murders, Barnett was questioned for 4 hours but was eventually set free.

Mary Kelly was killed in her sleep, but not by an outsider she invited in, as her clothes were folded by the bed as if they were taken off in an ordinary manner.

A newspaper reported that Barnett’s friends called him Jack, and his appearance matched Jack the Ripper’s alleged appearance. The murders also stopped after Mary Kelly, which might prove he is Jack the Ripper.

James Maybrick

The final suspect is the most popular among the Ripperologists. Maybrick’s death coincided with the stopping of the Ripper Killings.

James Maybrick
James Maybrick, Cotton Merchant

As Maybrick died one year after the murders, he was an upper-class cotton merchant who resided in an estate called the “Battlecrease House” in Liverpool.

Many believed that ripper was a local man who likely wasn’t upper class. However, all the murders were committed on a weekend, if Maybrick wanted he would have the ability to travel on weekends.

What makes Maybrick the possible killer is what many consider the biggest piece of physical evidence that link him to the crimes, a Diary!

A diary reportedly discovered under the floorboards of Maybrick’s estate, the diary is signed

“I give my name that all know of me, so history do tell what love can do to a gentleman born.
Yours’s truly
Jack the Ripper”

Inside the diary was more terrifying than the cover, he wrote intimate details of the killings. To confirm the authenticity of the diary scientific tests are done that have confirmed that the diary seems to roughly match the year of Ripper Killings.

The diary was discovered by a metal dealer named Mike Barrett but how he discovered the diary was not sure? There are multiple stories of him fabricating the diary, he got a diary from his associates.

But if the diary was in fact found under the floorboards of Maybrick’s estate it is a very strong possibility that he was, in fact, Jack The Ripper.

After the diary was discovered a pocket watch was discovered a potential Ripper evidence. The watch apparently contained the scratched initials of the five canonical victims. In addition to that “I AM Jack,” J. Maybrick was written.

The scratches were analyzed and revealed that the scratches were not done in modern times but can’t be precise about the time.

Jack The Ripper Letters

On September 27th, 1888, the central news agency received a letter from the apparent killer it read:

Dear Boss
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they won’t fix me just yet. I have laughed whey look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about leather apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shan’t quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me? I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games.

I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I can’t use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope Ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the lady’s ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till you do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance.

Good Luck
Yours truly
Jack The Ripper

Don’t mind giving me the trade name, wasn’t good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands. Curse it, no luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now. Ha Ha.

From Hell letter, Jack The Ripper
Jack The ripper, From Hell Letter which turned out to be a prank by a college stand.

The letter wasn’t released to the public till October 1, 1888. Many believe that it was fabricated by a journalist. But regardless of this, when the letter came in the eyes of the public, the name stuck, and the killer from that point on went by the name Jack The Ripper.

Jack The Ripper Theories?

The infamous case remained unsolved over a century, in the meantime, people are coming up with interesting theories.

Jill The Ripper

Some believed that Jack the Ripper was actually a female, a theory that Ripperologists call Jill the Ripper.

The theory of Jack the Ripper being a female was allegedly a hunch of famed inspector Abberline, as well. The idea that all of the police were on the hunt for a man when they should have been searching for a woman, would explain the Ripper being able to slip by without suspicion.

Even though this theory sounds interesting, all the eyewitness testimony points to a man.

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Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward — The Royal conspiracy

This theory is often scoffed at but is still perpetuated due to its wild popularity. Prince Edwards was known to frequent areas where the victims were found. An activity led to him contracting syphilis which drove him to insanity. Some posit that this also resulted in Albert having a child with a local woman and queen Victoria demanded that everyone who knew of the child to be taken care of.

Prince Victor Jack The Ripper
Prince Edward

Some believe that the insanity spawned by syphilis drove him to commit the murder himself. Conspiracy theorists believe he was never discovered because Royal aids assisted in covering his identity.

However, this theory is mostly regarded as ludicrous as it would be hard for a Prince to walk around without someone noticing him? and there is no credibility to the theory.

Walter Sticker — Patricia Cornwell

This theory was posed by the successful crime novelist Patricia Cornwell, in 2001 Cronwell spent 2 million pounds in buying 32 of Sickert’s painting, letters, and even Sickert’s writing desk.

Cornwell cut up the paintings in search of clues, and she claimed that Sickert was obsessed with the Ripper, which was in fact true. Sickert referenced the Ripper in some of his paintings, even titling one “Jack The Ripper’s Bedroom.”

Cornwell claims that one painting mirrors the body position of the fifth victim, Mary Kelly. She claims another painting mimics the facial wounds of the fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes. There are also reported accounts of Sickert cosplaying as Jack the Ripper.

Cornwell also shoots down the notion that Sickert’s alibi, that he was in France at the onset of the murders. She cited sketches that place him in London in music halls at the time of at least 3 killings.

However, the biggest evidence of her case is the analysis of forensic paper expert Peter Bower. Bower identified three of Sickert’s letters and two of the Ripper’s letters as coming from a handmade paper run of only 24 possible sheets. The odds of both the Ripper and Sickert writing letters on a batch of paper that only had 24 copies in existence is relatively slim.

While the sheets are undoubtedly compelling evidence, it should be reminded that none of the letters from the Ripper was confirmed.

Is H.H. Holmes Jack The Ripper?

While many believe that serial killer H.H.Holmes, The American Ripper was Jack The Ripper. Holmes’s killing spree began in 1891 and last for 3 years until he was caught in 1894. Holmes was active in the United States and has confessed to killing 27 victims, but there is no such evidence to suggest that he is Jack the Ripper.

Was Jack The Ripper caught?

No, Jack the Ripper case still remains a mystery. For over 100 years, the mystery of Jack The Ripper has continued to fascinate, confound and infuriate the public, perhaps we may have means to solve the crime or perhaps the famous case will be yet another victim to time.

Jack The Ripper Movies

There have been a number of movies and TV series depicting the case of Jack The Riper.

From Hell(2001)

Movie casting Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm in which a clairvoyant police detective attempts to stop Jack the Ripper, a serial killer who is hunting down prostitutes and murdering them brutally one by one.

Jack the Ripper (1959 film)

It is loosely based on Leonard Matters’ theory that Jack the Ripper was an avenging doctor.

Murder by Decree

Now that you’ve read about Jack The Ripper, read more about top 5 unsolved mysteries, including Jack The Ripper.

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