Let me first explain: I never intended to blog about Jack the Ripper. He’s been done to death (pun). But when I began researching the political backdrop of the Ripper myth, and the emergence of two new theories as to his possible identity, I admit I was quite intrigued. As it turns out, Jack isn’t a simple story about a depraved madman prowling Victorian England’s East side. Jack was Victorian England’s Slenderman except he didn’t prey on children….maybe. He was that vague, menacing creature who hovered in the shadows of people’s nightmares, waiting for the opportunity to kill. A potential suspect in the Ripper case did indeed murder four children – his own. He also murdered two wives and may possibly have murdered the prostitutes of the utterly neglected slum of Whitechapel. However that’s if you accept this particular suspect as a possible Ripper and if you even believe that one person was responsible for the killings.
Have you ever wondered about the name Jack the Ripper? Like Slenderman it’s highly significant in the emotional reaction it elicits. There is something ominous about Slenderman. I don’t personally envision a skinny guy like Gumby. And Ripper. What could be creepier? I know the Ripper part of Jack’s name implies the manner in which he butchered at least 5 prostitutes in the Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Aldgate areas and in the City of London, England. It’s suspected that old Jack probably murdered more than 5 women, being at least 6 women and as many as 13. Since you could say that Jack butchered his victims, why wasn’t he called Jack the Butcher instead? Among a number of suspects, police considered that Jack was a butcher in one of the creepy alleys in Whitechapel. Really it makes sense. Consider that a butcher would have anatomical knowledge, as much as a surgeon or a mortician. Mind you, a fisherman would have anatomical knowledge too. And there were plenty of those in the area. Anyhoo. Jack supposedly named himself. It came from a note known as the Dear Boss Letter that was mailed to the Central News Agency: “Dear Boss……That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits……’‘ (‘Leather Apron‘ was a man named John Pizer, a suspect in the murders.) “I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled…”. Perhaps that explains why he didn’t call himself Jack the Butcher. No aprons for him although I suspect he was still attached to Mommy Dearest’s apron strings. The two murders of 30 September 1888 made a second communication in the form of a postcard especially significant. The author called himself ‘saucy Jacky...’ and spoke of the “double event…….” (presumably the two murders he committed thus far). He signed himself Jack the Ripper and almost offered an apology in the most sarcastic manner, for giving himself the nickname. Modern historians still debate about the validity of the letters and with good reason.
First of all, if the letter above is legitimate it makes little sense: check out the beautiful penmanship. If indeed the killer lived in the cruddy Whitechapel area, and he was a butcher, as was long suspected by police, he would have been illiterate. Why? Because the lower class was uneducated in England in the 1800s. Now add to that the graceful penmanship and it’s well nigh impossible to believe this letter actually belonged to Jack the Ripper. However, Jack mentioned that he would cut off the ear of his next victim, and indeed this was precisely what happened to Catherine Eddowes. But if this letter was sent 24 hours after the murder then the press would already have reported on the case and the missing ear (a la Van Gogh) would have become public information.
The Saucy Jack Postcard was written in a completely different handwriting. It stated the police were right that it was “the left kidney I was going to operate” and he promised “I will be on the job soon and will send you another bit of innerds.” If the police mentioned they received “innards” from one of the murder victims, (and they did receive a human kidney), then there isn’t any remarkable information in this letter, again due to press coverage. Although this writing was much cruder, it still wouldn’t belong to a butcher or anyone else living Whitechapel. In fact, it wouldn’t belong to anyone in the lower classes in London, England. Is the letter fraudulent? Who knows? The handwriting was compared with that used in the Lusk Letter and the resemblance between the two is slight. The Lusk Letter was received by George Lusk, head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. It is also known as the From Hell Letter. The author faked illiteracy; the word‘hospital’ is spelled correctly on the envelope but incorrectly in the letter, an oversight no doubt. (Letter is included below right).
Police claimed journalist Tom Bulling, was the author of the Saucy Jack Postcard and Dear Boss Letter but journalist Fred Best eventually confessed to being the author. Bulling was a drunken journalist who in 1888 worked for the Central News Agency. He was paid to supply crime stories for newspapers. Mr. Trevor Marriott, an expert in “Ripperology“, stated “Police got a letter that Bulling had written about the murders which he signed ‘Jack the Ripper’. It was the most ingenious piece of journalism that has kept this mystery alive for 125 years. Even now any modern-day serial killer is called a ‘Ripper’.” In other words, Jack the Ripper was a fraudulent construct, and was not the author of any of the letters.
In 1913 the Littlechild letter was sent to police. It was written by John George Littlechild, a retired Inspector with Scotland Yard. In it, he denied knowledge of a Montague Druitt (Dr. D.) in connection with the Ripper killings. Instead, he mentioned a Dr. T (Francis Tumblety). The reason he gave was that Tumblety was arrested for “unnatural offences” (homosexuality). Dr. T. did have a criminal history but crime historians believe Littlechild had mixed up Dr. T with Dr. D, because Littlechild claimed Dr. T had committed suicide by drowning himself in the Thames River, when in fact, that was Dr. D. Insofar as Dr. D. is considered, police considered him to be “sexually insane” and his own family believed him to be the murderer.
The Lives of 5 Doomed Women
As if the deaths of Jack’s five known victims weren’t hellish enough, the lives of these women were truly heartrending. The East end of Whitechapel was where the poorest of the poor lived. It was L.A.’s equivalent of Skid Row. There were far more gruesome murders in Whitechapel than old Jack’s; he just happened to strike at a significant political time in Whitechapel history. The murdered women had literally nothing left to sell except their bodies. Prostitution wasn’t their choice of lifestyle. They were forced to sell themselves for food and drink. They carried all of their belongings with them. Rather than one skirt, the women wore two or three, if they owned that many. She carried some food – all that she owned. These women were either widowed or abandoned by their husbands. The Victorian Era certainly makes a valid argument for purchasing life insurance.
During England’s economic depression, London’s east end was shunned by “decent” people. Members of the higher class conveniently ignored the poverty-stricken families who lived there, except of course, for the men who paid for the women’s services. The fixed price for a woman’s services was 5 pennies – the price of a large glass of gin.
Why did Jack target prostitutes? He stated he was “down on whores” in one of his letters but that is too simple an explanation. More likely, it was that they made easy targets. Picture a madman strolling through an elite area of the city, seeking victims. It wasn’t likely that a woman would be alone late at night on the streets. And even one murder of this sort would prove to be his death knell. The police would swarm this area straightaway, rather than after the fifth murder, that of Mary Kelly. In that event, they probably would have caught the killer before there was a second murder and there would have been no “Jack the Ripper.” Indeed, that single murder would have faded into history. And Jack certainly wasn’t expecting that the murder of a “whore”, no matter how ghastly (because there were any at the time that were equally appalling), so off to Whitechapel he went. Something interesting happened after the first murder that he wasn’t expecting.
One of the reasons the murders became so famous was that the first election to the London County Council was taking place. The Radicals believed they could win the East End if they emphasized the East End’s appalling living conditions. Naturally the Rads jumped at the chance to expose the murder and use it as part of their political campaign. The Radical Newspaper sold more papers than even the Radicals had hoped. The illustrator did a very good job of sketching a gory portrayal of Nichols’ corpse, complete with a hellish picture of the supposed Jack the Ripper. It was this maelstrom of sensationalism that gripped the public imagination and made Jack the Ripper a household name. In fact if it hadn’t been for the Rads the whole nasty incident might have gone completely overlooked.
The First Victim – Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols: Polly Nichols was the first victim. She was 44, quite homely, overweight, an alcoholic and extremely poor (even by Whitechapel standards). Abandoned by her husband, she was forced into prostitution and earned a meager living. On her last night alive she was in particularly good spirits: she wore a new hat. She had five missing teeth but she felt pretty, telling friends, “see what a jolly bonnet I’m wearing!” She was last seen alive around 2:38 a.m. on Aug. 31, 1888. She was found at 3:45 a.m., on the same date in a side street of Buck’s Row in Whitechapel. She had an 8-inch slash to her throat, which severed both major arteries on either side of her neck. Ouch. There were slashes on her stomach.
The Second Victim – Annie Chapman: The second victim was an alcoholic 47-year-old widow. Chapman partly supported herself through prostitution after her husband died. Chapman had been kicked out of her rooming house because she didn’t have the money to pay the rent. She was last seen alive at 5:30 a.m. outside an apartment at 29 Hanbury St. with a man described as “shabby genteel” on Saturday, Sept. 8, 1888. A witness heard a muffled cry of “No!” between his yard and 29 Hanbury St., then a thump against a fence. The witness had only to glance over the fence and he would have seen the Ripper. However, it wasn’t for a half-hour later that a tenant who lived at Hanbury found Chapman in the apartment block. This one was particularly gross. Chapman’s feet were pushed up toward her body, with her knees spread apart. Her throat was also slashed but in Chapman’s case, the cause of death was strangulation. Chapman was disembowelled: her intestines were removed and placed on her shoulder. You know, for safekeeping. Her uterus and bladder were supposedly missing. Nasty. The precision of the cuts suggested to police that the killer had some knowledge of anatomy. Perhaps it was a medical doctor. Removing the uterus might have been his way of “curing” Chapman of hysteria since hysteria was considered to be a “female disease” resulting in sexual frustration. Prostitutes claimed a stocky, short, mustachioed man wearing a leather apron and a cap, waving a knife, had been threatening them. Scotland Yard’s chief suspect was a poor Polish-Jewish immigrant .nicknamed Leather Apron. They arrested John Pizer as Leather Apron in order to prevent local papers from printing the information that an immigrant had been doing the killings. Pizer had no involvement in the killings and he was soon released. However, the damage was done, Jews were looked at suspiciously by East-enders, and racial tensions increased. A Dr. Baxter was the first person involved in the murder case to declare that the murderer was a doctor. After his completion of Chapman’s autopsy, Bond claimed, “this was the work of an expert.” Dr. Bond of Westminster, a police surgeon who was fully respected by authorities, rejected this claim completely. In fact he claimed the killer had “not even the skill of a butcher.”
The Double Murders
Elizabeth Stride: Stride, known as Long Liz, was 45 and had been drinking before her date with Jack. She was hustling for trade up and down Burner Street however at one point she was witnessed refusing a proposition. It’s possible she didn’t care for the amount of money the would-be client offered. She was last seen alive on Sunday, Sept. 30, 1888, by
a police officer walking his beat along Berner Street in Whitechapel at 12:35 a.m.. A half hour later, her body was found in Dutfield’s Yard, a dark alley off Berner Street. She was in the same pose as Chapman: her legs were pulled up toward her body, her knees in the air. In Stride’s case she had a handkerchief tied around her throat which was deeply cut on the left side. Stride wasn’t mutilated and police figured naughty Jack was interrupted. Apparently, this frustrated old Jack who murdered Catherine Eddowes that same night.
Catherine Eddowes: Eddowes was a 46-year-old alcoholic with a kidney disease. Surprisingly she was considered to be an intelligent, educated person. Of course, this is according to Whitechapel standards. Police arrested her for public drunkenness and released her just before 1:00 a.m. Too bad. Eddowes was last seen alive at 1:35 a.m. speaking with a mustachioed man near Mitre Square. She deliberately chose this area to prostitute herself because she knew a police officer walked by every ten minutes. However ten minutes after she was seen speaking with the man near Mitre Square, a policeman found Eddowes’ body in the square. Jack certainly worked fast. Perhaps he worked faster than usual with Eddowes because of the interruption during his “work” on Stride. Eddowes’ throat was slit, her legs were spread and her bent knees lifted off the ground. So far, Eddowes was the worst of them all: she was slashed open from her rectum to her sternum. Her intestines lay over her shoulder and under her arm. Her nose was cut off, and deep cuts were on her eyelids and cheeks. Her cut throat was the cause of death. Most of her womb and her kidney were removed and were missing. What was it with Jack and kidneys? Somehow during all of this catastrophe, no one had seen or heard anything. Maybe he used chloroform, the arrogant so-and-so.
At this time, 4,500 women across London who were not prostitutes sent a petition to the Queen begging for her intervention. They required her to close “bad houses” in East London. The feeling was that whatever happened to these women was well-deserved. They were thought to be nymphomaniacs, roaming the streets for pleasure not for coin. In other words, these women wanted “street cleaning“, not protection for the poverty-stricken prostitutes. Meh. They were probably bitching about their own husbands visiting prostitutes which wasn’t unusual (although not common) among the upper class. A proper Victorian lady didn’t approve of sex, never mind enjoy it, and she was expected to refuse sex unless she and her husband wished to have children. Needless to say, a frustrated man had to have an outlet, hence the brothels and streets were teeming with business. This wasn’t a good time for trolling for sex, however: vigilante groups descended upon several men during this time and it’s even possible they forced the real killer into the police station one night, where he was immediately released. It was after the fifth victim’s murder that a task force consisting of 15,000 constables manned the streets. There were dozens of undercover police.
The Fifth Victim – Mary Jane Kelly: Of all the murders, this one would truly stunned the world. 25-year-old Kelly was young and attractive. She was a prostitute and a heavy drinker. You can’t blame all of these women for being alcoholics. They had the worst lives imaginable. And prostitution wasn’t a reflection on their character: none of these women had other means of employment especially if they were unskilled in a trade. Poor Kelly was murdered indoors and Jack murdered her in the worst way possible. Kelly was last seen alive on Friday, Nov. 9 after 2:00 a.m., entering her apartment house, Miller Court, with a mustachioed man carrying a parcel. It was believed that inside the parcel were surgical instruments. At 10:45 a.m. that same day a rent collector entered Kelly’s apartment and found her body, not the most pleasant experience the collector ever had. I’d bet 5 pennies he went into a new line of work. Kelly was partially clothed in a nightgown, her feet pulled up toward her body, knees bent to either side and, as usual, the legs were spread. Kelly was the most mutilated of all the prostitutes: her face was gone, having been stabbed and slashed repeatedly. Her throat was slashed so deeply that even her neck vertebrae had knife marks. Her breasts and organs and entrails were beneath her head. Pieces of flesh from her stomach and thighs were on a nightstand. There were more injuries but you get the idea. How’s your own stomach btw?
Even the old Queen got into this one. She informed the Prime Minister that this murder “shows the absolute necessity for some very decided action. All the courts must be lit and our detectives improved.” That was old Vic’s take on the matter. Whoopee-doo-doo. I never did like the phony Royals. I can picture her writing the letter whilst sipping tea in one of her fourteen luxurious parlours and eating scones. Her letter resulted in Scotland Yard Chief Warren’s forced resignation. Well done, old girl. When will someone write a letter that de-thrones the utterly redundant Queen? She wasn’t concerned for these women’s safety. It was all about the politics again.
Female torsos were discovered months and years following the brutal murders, There are several victims whose injuries fit Jack’s nasty style but they aren’t included in the canonical murders (canonical being the expression for the Ripper murders). The case of one prostitute, Martha Tabram, may be a possible sixth victim. Tabram was also an alcoholic prostitute and was murdered on Aug. 7, 1888, making her Jack’s first actual victim. Tabram was found with her legs spread and 39 stab wounds were found on her abdomen and groin. She got to keep her intestines. In case she needed them later I guess.
Jack the Ripper FBI Criminal Profile
What did Jack feel in the hours before he murdered? What was going through his twisted mind? It’s possible he first met and bought these women drinks in pubs, a macabre game. They may even have left with him. That would have been part of the fun for “saucy Jack.” Here is the official FBI criminal profile of Jack the Ripper:
- between 25 and 35 years of age
- a domineering mother
- carried a knife with him
- suffered a venereal disease from a prostitute
- would have been investigated during the Ripper investigation
- seafarer Why a seafarer? Because his anatomical knowledge could have suggested he was familiar with gutting large species of fish (nasty) and he could have been a drifter (pun), picking up and leaving port whenever it suited him. Hence, it was impossible for police to catch him for the Whitechapel murders.
A number of suspects have been named for decades (and at the time of the murders). During the 21st century however, two new leads have been investigated, with the first being quite surprising.
Ripperology – Mr. Trevor Marriott
An expert in “Ripperology”, Marriott discovered 17 Ripper-like murders committed between 1863 and 1894. Marriott has fingered German merchant seaman Carl Feigenbaum as the killer in some, but not all, of these killings:
“You have to ask yourself if ‘Jack’ is an urban myth. Around 80 per cent of the stories about him have a picture of a chap on the front stalking the streets of London in a long black cape and a top hat. They were the clothes of an upper class, wealthy man. But back in 1888 if someone dressed like that had actually walked around Whitechapel in the dead of night they wouldn’t have lasted five minutes. It wasn’t just one of the most crime-riddled areas of London, it was one of the worst areas in the country. It’s a false image that has been created by the likes of Hollywood film makers.New facts have come to light, we’ve now disproved the claim that the killer removed organs from the victims at the scenes of the murders, the organs were removed later….there just isn’t a Jack the Ripper as such.”
Marriott held a one man show in England called “Jack The Ripper A 21st Century Investigation” displaying his research and evidence he states proves there wasn’t one Jack the Ripper. Marriott insists that Thomas Bulling’s infamous letters to the police claiming to be the Ripper were actually the beginning of a brilliant, yet highly misleading construct known as Jack the Ripper. It led the press to believe that Jack was one individual and in turn, the press flaunted the letters to the public, perpetuating the myth that Jack as one person. He also believes that internal organs were probably not removed from the victims during the crime since there simply wouldn’t have been enough time. The killer would have had to remove said organs in the dark within about five minutes – an impossible feat. Organ removal is a very precise, careful procedure. If “Jack” had attempted to remove any of the suggested organs, he would have butchered them as much as the rest of the body, and he wouldn’t have been able to remove them with the precision that has been suggested by historians.
Robin Napper – Forensic Investigator
Napper would disagree with Marriott. He is quite certain that Englishman Fredrick Bailey Deeming was Jack. Deeming was born in 1853 in Worcestershire England.He had a very strong relationship with Mommy Dearest, Ann Bailey. His father spent time in a mental institution. Deeming ran away from home at 16. Years later Deeming murdered his first wife and four children by cutting their throats, with the exception of a fourth child whom he strangled. He buried their bodies under the kitchen floor of their house. Two of the children were buried on either side of his wife. A third was buried at her feet. Within one month he married Emily Mather from Rainhill, England. Right away they sailed to Australia. He continued his killing spree in the suburb of Windsor in Melbourne Australia when he murdered his wife Mather. Mather was found with her head bludgeoned and her throat slashed. Just before the murder Mather and Deeming had quarrelled. He went on the run but after the murder but Deeming was caught and arrested. He hung for his crimes. A plaster mold, known as a death mask, was made of his face. A Scotland Yard museum displays it as the death mask of Jack the Ripper. However SY didn’t conduct a serious investigation into Deeming as being Jack the Ripper.
At the scene of two of the prostitute murders, a knife with the initials F.D. was found. At the time he murdered Mather, Deeming was found to be in possession of a large collection of knives. However it has been argued that Deeming may have been in jail at the time of the Ripper murders. This is possible, yet records show he wasn’t jailed until two years after the Ripper murders. There is a reasonable explanation for why Deeming still could have been a Jack candidate: Deeming used several aliases, approximately 20 in total, during his lifetime. It was nearly impossible to track his movements. This proves Deeming may well have been free during the Ripper murders. Still, a discrepancy that was noted was that Deeming was known only to have killed family members. However, his signature behaviour, the disembowelment, strangulation and cutting of the throats, were a consistent M.O. with the family murders. And Deeming may have been very stressed at the time he killed his family. He was known to have told someone around that time that he’d contracted a sexual disease from a prostitute that rendered him “a sexually ruined man” for two years. Likely he was infected with syphillis, a disease known to infect the brain. In essence, Deeming was a ticking time bomb. The FBI criminal profile of Jack the Ripper is an exact match to Fredrick Deeming. Deeming was also a seafarer. DNA is all that remains to prove beyond a doubt that Deeming was Jack the Ripper and this may be forthcoming in the following years.
If there was a single man called Jack the Ripper, he wasn’t intelligent so much as he possessed an intrinsic cunning, an ability to escape the tightening net in the Whitechapel area. That in itself wasn’t especially remarkable either. There were dozens of men a night prowling the Whitechapel area, seeking out the services of prostitutes. They were pretty much one and the same with regard to appearance. Jack certainly didn’t cloak himself in the garb of a wealthy man, being a top hat and black, red-lined cape. That concept was a media construct. The idea was to blend. If you’ll excuse me, I’m a bit hungry. I’m cooking up a kidney pie.
Man or myth? You decide.
Dr. Russell Edwards, a forensic scientist, claimed he identified Jack the Ripper through DNA testing of a woman’s shawl found at the scene of the murder of Catherine Eddowes. Edwards acquired the shawl at an auction house in Bury St Edmunds in 2007. Edwards confidently announced that Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew who fled to London in the 1880s, was Jack the Ripper. He has written a book about his scientific process entitled Naming Jack the Ripper. The book is due for release on September 9 (today).
Edwards enlisted the assistance of Dr. Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert in analyzing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes. The identification process was exceedingly simple. Louhelainen traced a descendent of Eddowes’, provided a DNA sample. Edwards and Louhelainen compared that sample with that of a British descendant of Kosminski’s sister. According to Russell, the DNA samples were a match. Cool.
The find puts to rest ruminations about the Ripper’s possible suspects. Edmunds stated, “Kosminski was not a member of the Royal Family, or an eminent surgeon or politician. Serial killers rarely are. Instead, he was a pathetic creature, a lunatic who achieved sexual satisfaction from slashing women to death in the most brutal manner. He died in Leavesden Asylum from gangrene at the age of 53.” If Kosminski was indeed the Ripper then the sudden cessation of murders makes sense, since he was institutionalized for the remainder of his life after the killings.
The evidence hasn’t been conclusively accepted by historians or geneticists worldwide. It remains to be seen if Edmunds’ theory holds up to ongoing scrutiny, something the Ripper case has done for over a century.