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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Mystery: Jack the Ripper

 


Having grown up with a father who’s a law enforcement officer, my childhood was heavily influenced by shows centered on crime and stories of those who committed acts of evil being caught. This ranged from Scooby-Doo to Forensic Files and America’s Most Wanted, all of which I greatly enjoyed.


As life went on, my fascination in these stories only grew. While I never planned on pursuing a career in law enforcement (not that I could at this point given my physical disabilities), I always loved to read about how these horrible people would slip up and get caught and what their motivations were. It has never ceased to blow my mind as to how little it takes for someone to decide that they’ll take another human’s life. That’s not even touching on unsolved crimes, which are even more fascinating in my eyes. The many questions that surround them really put into perspective the tagline to the 2007 film Zodiac. There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer.


This brings me to today’s story. Our subject today has brought many detectives and sleuths—amateur and professional—to their knees. So, if you would be so kind as to join me, let’s take a gander at one of the luckiest humans to have ever lived. This is the story of Jack the Ripper.


Who Was Jack?


Widely regarded as one of the world’s most enduring mysteries, Jack the Ripper has enticed the minds of amateur and seasoned detectives alike for 131 years. So unsurprisingly, the story behind Jack has been twisted into one that’s made him out to be something of a surgical boogeyman who taunted police with numerous letters. This picture that has been painted of Jack isn’t true whatsoever. So, before we dive into this legendary serial killer, let’s get some facts straight as it’s extremely necessary to fully understand who Jack the Ripper was as both a killer and as a person.


#1: Jack wasn’t surgically precise


Contrary to popular belief, Jack’s victims didn’t have surgically accurate or precise injuries. All of his victims died quickly as their throats were slashed. This normally led to near decapitation as Jack’s attacks were frenzied; there was no premeditation or organization involved. All of his victims were stabbed, slashed, and disemboweled in a blitz of aimless attacks that personify a crime of passion and lust. This is evident as most of the wounds that Jack inflicted were on or around sex organs, but there was never any indication or sign that he sexually assaulted any of his victims.


What Jack may have had experience in is butchery. While I will expand upon this in a little while, Jack’s crimes, as stated above, were frenzied; they had no real “goal” in mind beyond destroying as much of the victim as possible. This indicates that Jack hated his victims for one reason or another (most believe that Jack was extremely misogynistic or had a vendetta against prostitutes—more on that later though). But as for the belief he may have had experience in butchery, this belief stems from the fact that he was very much aware of where vital organs were, such as the liver and uterus. It’s believed that he took these as mementos to his crimes. Given that he knew how to disembowel his victims quite well, it isn’t too far-fetched to believe he worked, or knew someone who worked, within a butcher’s shop.


#2: Jack wasn’t clever or intelligent


This misconception stems from the fact that Jack was never caught. While it’s unknown as to whether or not Jack was in any way intelligent (be it with an above-average IQ or education) or mentally challenged, the mere fact that he wasn’t caught doesn’t immediately equate to being clever or smart.


Jack’s crimes were extremely messy, callous, and spur of the moment acts of extreme violence that were committed without any regard for how much evidence he’d leave behind. This is evident by how he’d slash the throat of his victims twice and cause blood to splatter onto nearby walls. Most killers would make sure to not cause this as it’d leave blood and other indicatives on their clothing that could in turn be used to trace them back to the scene of the crime. Lucky for Jack however, tracing DNA hadn’t been invented yet. In fact, it wouldn’t be until shortly after his “Autumn of Terror” that it would be.


Not helping matters was that the London Police Department would not only allow people to flock around the crime scene and gawk at it, but they would move the corpse away from the scene and bring it to the coroner and clean the scene before anything could be collected for investigation or preservation.


This brings us to the primary reason that Jack is perceived as being clever and intelligent. His luck. Jack’s overall crimes were a hotbed for evidence to be collected. However, due to the lack of appropriate training on the part of the London Police Department, the lack of technology available that would allow for the collection and preservation of DNA, and the callous disregard shown for the scene of the crime, Jack had enough luck that could’ve allowed him to win the lottery jackpot five times over. This isn’t exclusive to Jack himself however. There have been plenty of other cases where killers—serial or not—have gotten away scot-free thanks to police incompetence or due to their lack of appropriate training. Many of these tend to happen in small towns where violent crimes aren’t common or are outright unheard of. In Jack’s case, the Whitechapel District had murders, but they were often done by gangs. This, in turn, would lead to someone ratting others out and police taking it from there.


Jack was a one man murder machine and the only way that he would’ve ever been caught was by dumb luck. In Jack’s case, lady luck was on his side from start to finish.


#3: Jack never sent any letters


This one is a bit trickier to disprove for one reason, not the least of which being that Jack is claimed to have sent 600 or more letters. However, only three are spoken about: Dear Boss, Saucy Jack, and From Hell. Most detectives you speak to will, more than likely, say that they weren’t written by Jack. Some believe that they were written by local police officers or by reporters who wanted to keep the locals interested in the case to sell papers. The “Dear Boss” letter is the biggest talking point for the latter theory as it’s the one that coined Jack’s name; the writer having signed off as “Jack the Ripper”.


The “Saucy Jack” letter—which is in reality a postcard—is believed by some to be a legitimate letter, though the numerous hoax letters have cast a thick shadow of doubt over it on principle. Scotland Yard put a facsimile on the postcard nevertheless as its contained a few details that stood out from most other so-called “Jack Letters”.


The letter that stands out from the others and has become divisive among self-proclaimed “Ripperologists”. The legendary “From Hell” letter. The reason for the plausibility with this letter stems from two things. The first is that the grammar in the letter (which I’ll show later on) was more in line with the disorganized nature of Jack’s murders. The second was that the letter was mailed with half of a kidney which is believed to have belonged to one of Jack’s victims. However, it’s never been confirmed if the kidney did in fact belong to any of his victims and as such, it’s unknown if the letter was from Jack or not.


A fourth letter that’s gained some fame, albeit significantly less, is the “Openshaw Letter”. Like the first two above-mentioned letters, this one is normally considered to be a hoax. Still, there exist those who disagree and believe it to be a genuine letter from jolly old Jack himself. We’ll go over it later though.


#4: Jack did not commit suicide


Admittedly, this enters more speculative territory. However, Jack isn’t a major exception to the rule of how many serial killers act and, in turn, end their “careers”. In fact, much of what Jack did is normal for many of the people that you will see in this series of write ups. The only reason Jack seems like an exception is simple: he wasn’t caught. As such, we don’t know how Jack escalated into becoming the butcher that we know him as today.


As for why people believe Jack committed suicide, it stems from one simple fact: the murders stopped. This isn’t something abnormal however. There have been many cases where killers simply stop. Joseph James DeAngelo—better known as The Golden State Killer (AKA: The East Area Rapist and The Original Night Stalker)—took a long hiatus between his transition from being a serial rapist to a serial killer, and eventually stopped all together. While Jack was nowhere near the bodycount of DeAngelo, it bears mentioning that ending a “career” of murder and crime isn’t out of the ordinary. If Jack did die, it’s likely that he died of natural causes, at the hands of someone else. Otherwise, he was likely arrested for an unrelated crime or was confined to an asylum by someone.


#5: Jack only had 5 victims


Canonically at least. Many suspect that Jack murdered more than five women, but none have ever been proven as there’s zero evidence to tie him to them. Besides the Whitechapel Murders, the most popular additional murders come in the form of the Thames Torso Murders, which took place between 1887 and 1889. The modus operandi of what has been referred to as the “Embankment Murders” is significantly different from the slaughterhouse style adopted by Jack. The Embankment Killer disposed of the torsos of his victims into the Thames River without much else. Jack, on the other hand, murdered his victims where they stood and did so in a callous manner. Why the same man would adopt two diametrically different MOs is peculiar and virtually unheard of.


Nevertheless, the two year period of the Embankment killer is in-line with when Jack’s reign of terror was on-going: the autumn of 1888. Claims that it stretched into 1891 are the primary reason that Jack’s suspected of having murdered more than 5 women. Whether or not this is true has been at the center of many debates, but as it stands: it was autumn of 1888. No longer, no less.


With these five misconceptions out of the way, the waters are less murky and we better see who Jack was. So, let’s dive into them and fully understand him to the best of our ability.


The notion that one can understand Jack may seem silly at first, but it’s actually rather simple to get a firm grip on the type of person he was. Sure, we may not know who Jack was for certain, but there’s a lot that we can surmise based off of his crimes and actions. This technique, called criminal profiling, was largely created by John Douglas—who Jack Crawford was modeled after and wrote the book that the Netflix show Mindhunter is based on. A former agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Douglas—along with the late Robert Ressler and Roy Hazelwood—pioneered this technique during the 1980s and used it to profile numerous serial killers in the United States. These included Ted Bundy, Lawrence Bittaker, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Charles Manson among many, many others.


Profiling, in essence, is the technique of identifying a suspect through the actions they made a crime and in interviews. It taps into the psyche of a criminal and, as Douglas put it, requires one to be capable of understanding the individual to make them feel comfortable and open up to you.


So while Douglas didn’t have the privilege of profiling Jack, he—along with other agents—were able to surmise a lot from the descriptions of the crime scenes of Jack and deduce a fair bit about him that way.


#1: Jack likely blended into his surroundings very well, likely dressing in a way that allowed him to appear like any other person in the east end of Whitechapel. The would’ve also meant that he was likely a white male in his late 20s or mid 30s, had poor hygiene, and would’ve appeared disheveled.


#2: Given Jack’s attacks were all committed towards women, it’s likely that he was single and never married. This is something that we’ll cover more about in a few.


#3: Jack almost certainly had an extremely good understanding of the east end of Whitechapel, likely spending an extensive amount of time there—likely having spent his entire life there. This would explain his ability to flee the crime scene without being seen by anyone. Normally anyways.


#4: The final note before we get to the primary part of this section is what Jack worked as. Given his ability to disembowel his victims with skill, it’s suspected that Jack was either a butcher, mortician, or medical assistant. However, it’s entirely possible Jack outright didn’t work whatsoever and was someone who quite literally prowled the streets day in and day out.


So now we know a little about Jack as a person, rather than as a killer. But what of him as a killer; what do we know about him as one? While the crimes may have seemed like nothing more than frenzied attacks of blind rage, there’s more to them than that.


Jack’s attacks were extremely personal in nature. They were merciless crimes of passion and lust. While he may have ended the lives of his victims swiftly, that didn’t deter Jack from butchering them postmortem. Why he did this is evident if one has insight into the types of killers that commit these kinds of murders.


Passion killers generally have some sort of emotional attachment to their victim. Whether it be a significant other, parent/family member, or friend, the end result is generally the same: overkill. The murderer is generally invested in their actions and is typically very close—literally—when they commit the murder. They relish in what they’re doing because emotionally, they’re a mess. Everything is cranked up to 11. All they see is red and by the time they’re done, they panic.


But in the case of Jack, he displays a slightly different kind of passion. While his victims certainly weren’t people he was emotionally close to, he was still emotionally invested in them because he absolutely despised them. From this, we can extrapolate a few things.


First and foremost: Jack was more than likely a vitriolic misogynist. While that term may be thrown around a lot nowadays, Jack’s actions towards his victims—all of who were female—bare the (numerous) injuries of someone whose anger was directed at parts of the body that had gender-specific organs—or were sex organs. Killers tend to only target these areas if the crimes are sexual in nature (Jack’s weren’t) or if they have a vested interest in the gender of the person.


While we can’t verify if Jack did have a vested interest in female anatomy, criminals aren’t exactly clever or original. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule (the Zodiac and Ted Kaczynski come to mind), but most follow a familiar pattern depending on what type of killer they are. Jack’s pattern is one of extreme resentment towards women because in his past, he was likely abused by his mother and/or sister or rejected by numerous women because he was either poor or not very attractive.


With the idea of Jack likely having a deep seeded hatred for women, we can then look to his past; his childhood. Jack’s actions as a killer speak volumes to what his childhood was possibly like and allows us to create a thorough profile of our suspect. The abuse and trauma that many killers suffer will manifest in a variety of ways throughout their lives. Some in violent ways, some in naivé, almost childlike ways; blissfully ignorant to the socially acceptable norms of everyday life.


In Jack’s case, it was the former and it was to a degree that tells us that whatever happened to him in his early life, it had an effect on him that caused him to develop a vendetta against women.


As for what straw broke the camel’s back is an entirely different story. Given that Jack targeted prostitutes and only prostitutes, it stands to reason that his rage lay with them and only them. Something happened between Jack and a prostitute that sent him over the edge and there exist a few ideas as to what that something was.


The first is that Jack was rejected by one too many prostitutes. Whitechapel wasn’t exactly the most luxurious of locations. Rather, it was more of a slum and a sleazy area where Johns would go to have sex behind their wives’ back. Jack may have been one of those Johns, but he may have not had the money to pay for a night of fun. On the other hand, he may simply have not been appealing to the local prostitutes for one reason or another. Perhaps he had a history of being aggressive or shorting them.


The second theory and most popular is that Jack contracted Syphilis from a prostitute. Known as “The Great Imitator” thanks to its symptoms being similar to many other diseases, Syphilis is an extremely dangerous Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) that goes through four different stages. By the fourth, which can be anywhere from 3–15 years after contracting it, Syphilis will begin to affect one’s internal and vital organs. This includes the brain, which can cause violent and extremely volatile mood swings, along with paranoia. The legendary mobster Al “Scarface” Capone died of Syphilis after being let out of Alcatraz Island. He then spent his final year of life trying to fish out of a pool, showing that even the mightiest of people aren’t safe from disease.


Should Jack have contracted Syphilis from a prostitute, it stands to reason that he may either snapped after it finally got to affecting his brain. The norm when it comes to Syphilis when untreated isn’t as it was with Al Capone. Most become incredibly violent and psychotic. Even the kindest of individuals will become not unlike Jack. Knowing that he was infected thanks to a prostitute, Jack’s potential history of abuse and mockery from women finally boiled over and he took his pent up rage out on those that destroyed his life.


This is the painting that I present to you—the dearest of dear readers—of Jack the Ripper. I do this because the most common image that most have of Jack the Ripper is one of a boogeyman; a clever, sneaky, overcoat and top hat wearing, surgically precise psychopath who outwitted London police and Scotland Yard at every turn. To envision Jack in that manner as we go over his story is to paint an inaccurate picture that desecrates one of history’s most infamous unsolved crimes and one of London’s most enduring unsolved murders. With this series, I want to always paint the most accurate and thorough picture possible. With that, let’s finally get on with the show.


The Story


It’s 1888. The east end of the Whitechapel district is a stark contrast to the prestigious, wealthy city of London. Disease and homelessness run rampant. On this end: the law of the land doesn’t exist. Prostitution, alcohol, and violence are the norm. Nameless John’s will leave to get drunk and cheat on their wives without a care in the world.


To say that the east end of Whitechapel wasn’t the ideal place to live would be rather kind. It was the kind of place that most wouldn’t bat an eye if someone was stabbed; it’d seem like a dispute that went south.


That is until August 31st, 1888. It was on this Friday at 3:40 A.M. that the residents of Whitechapel would see their world change. 43-year-old Mary Ann Nichols, known to her friends as “Polly” was found in Buck’s Row (which is now Durward Street).


Nichols’ had been slaughtered. Her throat had been slashed twice, the first from left to right and the second from right to left. The would become a staple of Jack’s modus operandi and was likely done to silence the victim from making any noise. Despite being dead, Jack didn’t stop his animalistic assault. Instead, he wildly slashed Nichols, ripping open part of her abdomen in his frenzy.


However, in spite of the chaotic sight that was created, Jack himself wasn’t seen and not a sound was heard. This was the first of many aspects that gave rise to the myth that the killer was surgically precise with his technique and that he was skillful. Reality, naturally, dictates otherwise, though Jack’s tactic of slashing the throats of his victims did help; even mentally deficient clocks are right twice a day.


The murder of Nichols was by no means something novel; murders in and around Whitechapel were unfortunately common. Heck, Wikipedia has an entire article dedicated to murders that took place there. Things would change though on September 8th, 1888. 47-year-old Annie Chapman was found dead in a similarly gruesome way to Nichols; her throat was slashed and she was disemboweled in a manner that would make even the most hardened of detectives retch. Her entrails had been torn out and thrown over one of her shoulders and portions of her bladder, uterus, vagina, and ovaries were missing. The medical examiner proceeded to egregiously state that the killer had anatomical knowledge, likely not accounting for how anyone with bloodlust and a knife could hack and slash at someone before opting to take an internal organ as a memento.


17 days after the murder of Chapman, on September 25th, the first of a staggering 217 letters was written; arriving three days later to the London Central News Agency. It reads as follows:


Dear Boss,


I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they 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 shant 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 now. 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 cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till I 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


Dont mind me giving the trade name


PS Wasnt 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


This letter became known as the “Dear Boss” letter and the authenticity of it is widely regarded as being fraudulent (as we discussed earlier). In spite of that, its legacy is quite astounding; it was referenced in the 2019 video game Borderlands 3 on a gun fittingly named “The Ripper”; its flavor text reading “They Say I’m A Doctor Now”. Numerous other pieces of media had referenced this letter and the others, though one has to wonder who exactly wrote it. My guess? A journalist. You just can’t trust them. The pens, man, the pens.


Okay, enough yammering. Let us get back on track and set the mood. The paranoia and terror in Whitechapel’s east end was unfathomable. The mere idea of being outdoors at night was inconceivable, but poverty and homelessness sadly meant that was inevitable. That meant a woman of the streets was unfortunately in the line of fire of the infamous Ripper


On September 30th, 1888, two more victims were murdered. The first was 44-year-old Elizabeth Stride. Her throat had been slashed, but she had sustained no other injuries. This is likely due to the killer having been disturbed. While I can’t verify this, I’ve heard some state that a carriage was passing by and the killer began to flee; rushing in front of it and scaring the horses.


Whatever the case may be, Jack was none too pleased by this intrusion and set his eyes on 46-year-old Catherine Eddowes a mere 45 minutes later. She was described as having been gutted like a “pig in the market”  having been disemboweled and her entrails being “flung in a heap about her neck”. Her face had also been slashed, along with her throat. She was also missing a kidney and there was a cut beneath one ear—something that Jack promised. It’s likely that he had read the paper and attempted to sadistically fulfill the promise he had “made”, though it’s also possible he simply wanted to take an ear as a memento (perhaps prior to taking a kidney).


Now for something far more bizarre. In a strange twist, a message was written on a wall in chalk. It read:

The Juwes are not the men that will be blamed for nothing.


I normally wouldn’t comment on something like this as it’s not what I consider to be appropriate for this blog (especially given it can lead to a lot of arguments), but given it relates to the story, I feel obligated to at least mention it. Anti-semitism was quite rampant at this point in London’s history and as such, Jews were typically blamed for a great many problems. To make matters even more complicated, numerous Polish Jews were immigrating there and this led to even more hatred and anger.


I mention this because, spoiler alert, it’s generally believed that Jack the Ripper was a Polish Jew and it’s extremely unlikely that the message was written by Jack. Most believe that the message was already there when the murder was committed and that it was written by a Jewish individual. Whatever the case may be, the anger towards Jewish folks rose as the murders continued. Not only that, but a postcard was received the day after the double murder, this one coming to be known as “Saucy Jack”. Here’s what it said:


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. Had not got time to get ears off for police thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again.

Jack the Ripper


Although some speculate that “Saucy Jack” is in fact legitimate, the postcard was postmarked over 24 hours after the murders took place. This has, ultimately, led most to believe it was yet another fraudulent work of fiction by the oh-so coveted mainstream meteor—I mean media.


Moving on, on October 16th, another letter was sent. This one is widely considered to be the most legitimate, but even then: most are doubtful. Despite that, here is the legendary “From Hell” letter.


From hell

Mr Lusk,

Sor

I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer

signed

Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk


The first noticeable aspect to this letter—known to many as the “From Hell” letter—is the spelling. It’s a grammatical catastrophe, yet fits in extraordinarily well with the widely accepted theory that Jack was most likely illiterate. With this particular letter, there’s an error roughly once every three to four words at best. Admittedly, math isn’t my strongest suit. So, if you’re a mathematician, please redirect your anger to “Mishter Lusk” as he’s to blame and not I.


Speaking of “Mishter Lusk”, I found it extremely weird that the man who calls himself “Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk” opted to use the abbreviation at the start before (incorrectly) spelling “Mister”. The Queen would be proud.


There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the “kidne” that was mailed with the letter. There was reason to suspect that whoever had it suffered from Bright’s Disease, something that Catherine Eddowes allegedly had. So case closed right? The From Hell letter is legitimate and Jack is an illiterate psychopath. Well, not quite. Some allege that a sick, demented medical student wanted to pull a prank and took a kidney from a hospital and mailed it as a joke. Whichever side you fall on, the murder’s stopped here for a few weeks. Then, on the morning of November 8, 1888, the fifth and final canonical victim would be found; 25-year-old Mary Jane Kelly.


A young lady living in poverty, Kelly made her living like many of Jack’s other victims: through the various Johns that visited her for sex. After picking up a man described as being “Jewish” in his appearance (more on that later), Kelly went to a hotel room with the unknown John. Unbeknownst to Kelly, this man was Jack the Ripper.


Given that this was the only murder to take place indoors, Jack took his sweet time violating Mary’s body in ways that one would only think were possible in a horror story. Alas, there’s photographic evidence to prove what was done and it’s quite the read if you’re up for it. So let’s talk about it!


It’s unknown how long Jack was in the scene of the crime, but one thing’s for sure: he didn’t rush his magnum opus. He lit a fire in a fireplace and dissected Mary like a frog, removing her heart among other internal organs and placing them out to be observed by all who wished to view them. Her breasts had been sliced off; one of them rested near her right foot while the other was under her head (Mary’s uterus and a kidney were placed there too). Her throat had been slashed to the point she was nearly decapitated too—a trademark of Jack’s, though Mary’s head was all but hanging by a thread. Her forehead had been skinned, her left arm was nearly severed at the shoulder, and a hand was placed into her abdomen, which was a massive gaping wound. Topping things off was the blood.


Oh Lord, the blood.


Given the sheer extent of Mary’s injuries, it goes without saying that the level of gore present at the crime scene was something unparalleled. I have my limits on how far I’ll go to describe certain things—barring the Snuff Films write-up I did last year (which I made an exception for due to the nature of the content being something a bit lengthier than one serial killer). With Jack’s final murder, I refuse to dive headfirst into the full extent of what took place, but I’ll leave it at this: Mary had all but been drained of blood. The bed that she rested on was caked in it, the walls were covered, the floor was a vampiric child’s swimming pool, and a blood donor would be envious of the number of possible vials of blood that could have been filled. It wasn’t a crime scene or even a nightmare, it was surrealism in the real world.


With all of that said: there are some inconsistencies with Mary’s murder. For starters: the knife wound was inflicted from left-to-right as opposed to right-to-left. This has led some to suspect that this wasn’t the work of Jack, but rather someone else entirely. However, despite that relatively major inconsistency, Mary has historically been considered Jack’s final victim.


Because of that, after the grisly and abhorrent murder of Miss. Kelly, Jack’s official reign of terror ended. The chaotic scene that all but defined the Ripper as more of an animal than a human was where it all ended. In spite of that, the terror he brought lingered with brutal consequences. The people of Whitechapel walked the streets fearful that they’d be the next victim of Jack, even as the days turned into weeks without another killing.


It wasn’t long until protections were put into place for prostitutes and sex workers, one of the many results of Jack’s legacy, though easily one of the most prominent. This didn’t come about on its own accord from politicians however. Rather, it came from the anger of those in Whitechapel itself. The unrelenting fear and disdain that they held towards those who couldn’t protect them from the psychopath who’d terrorized them for not even half a year.


Yet, in spite of that short span of time, Jack’s shadow lingered over the city for years—even after Whitechapel murders themselves ended in 1891. Over a century later and Jack is now more of a pop culture icon; the fear and psychopathic elements of him having been replaced by a more slasher villain image. It’s unlikely that Jack’s true image will ever strike fear into the hearts of us ever again, but his name forever will.


Jumpin’ Jack Flash: A Media Superstar


This is going to be very brief as I don’t want to linger here for that long, but I couldn’t resist covering Jackie Boy’s obscene media presence. With countless books, films, television specials and shows, songs, websites, and video games centered on or featuring him, the London Boogeyman of 1888 became a cultural icon akin to Jason Voorhees. He’s ingrained in society as the unsolved mysteries boogeyman and it shows when you look at everything he’s appeared in, be it as the central star or as a guest. Some of these include:


1: Film


Hollywood loves a good mystery story to adapt into a feature-length film. Though surprisingly, there’s never been a fully fledged and accurate movie based on Jack. On the other hand, there’s an entire Wikipedia article dedicated to films featuring him. I’ll quickly go over a few of them.


To start things off, let’s look at the strangely popular “Jill the Ripper” theory. This theory has been at the center of two films by legendary film studio Hammer Film Productions. Both were released in 1971. In Hands of the Ripper centered on Jack’s daughter (played by Angharad Rees) who becomes a killer after seeing her dad murder her mom. The second film, entitled Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde sees the titular Doctor Jekyll become a psychopathic female—the titular Sister Hyde, who becomes Jack the Ripper. I’m surprised Ingrid Pitt didn’t star in either of these.


In 1979, writer and director Nicholas Meyer made the film Time After Time starring Malcom McDowell. The film, which was based off of an unpublished novel by Karl Alexander, centered on a man who used a time machine to go back to 1888 in order to pursue Jack the Ripper.


Time After Time was met with positive reception and even scored a few Saturn Awards. This positivity cannot be said for the other Jack-centric film that I wish to mention here: From Hell. Based on Alan Moore’s popular graphic novel, this film starred Johnny Depp and Heather Graham. It was met with generally mixed reception, with critics praising Depp’s performance and the visuals/aesthetics. However, a lot of criticism was given to the lack of faithfulness to Moore’s source material (something that would later be thrown at Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Watchmen).


There are a plethora of other films featuring, involving, or referencing Jack. With this little taste though, we can extrapolate one thing: Jack is by no means small business in the realm of cinema and we also lack a movie like 2007’s Zodiac to do him justice. What the heck, guys? What a load of nonsense; next!


#2: Literature


The number of books on Jack is jaw-dropping. It seems that everyone and their grandmother has written a book on the jolly old Westchapel monster, with more claiming to know for absolutely certain whodunit, or why Jack was really a eucalyptus tree.


One of the most famous pieces featuring Jack is Alan “I’m Not Ted Kaczynski” Moore’s From Hell, which I mentioned earlier. I’ve yet to read it, even though I’ve written this bloody write-up over the course of a year, but one day I will and when I do, I’ll write a review of it. Just give me a few more years of doing nothing but writing and whining about how the Coronavirus has ruined my non-existent relationship with a girl.


Easily one of the coolest works of media featuring Jack has to be the 1989 comic one-shot Gotham by Gaslight. Set in a steampunk Victorian-era Gotham City, the comic centers on Bruce Wayne, who’s just become Batman. At the same time, Jack the Ripper has just come to Gotham and made it his new hunting ground. Let the games begin!


There are also an astoundingly large number of books simply talking about the case or speculating on who it was. Whether that be Prince Albert, the Freemasons, or someone else entirely (like Jill the Non-Existent Ripper). Entire collections of evidence and the like have been written too, some of which I cannot fathom ever hoping to achieve. It’s truly amazing how thorough some of the research that’s gone into Jack is. It rivals the likes of the Zodiac and Ted Bundy.


Because of that level of research, there are an absolutely massive number of other books (shocker) on Jack. Whether they be introductory style books going over the basics, a part of a collection on many other serial killers or unsolved crimes, what could amount to an encyclopedia on serial killers, or just a general book that covers it. The reasons for these books could range from a passion project to desiring some good old money because, as stated earlier, literature is big business when you slap Jack’s name onto the cover. I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who’s not named “Zodiac” who could compete. Though I digress, let us continue onward.


#3: Video Games


Jack’s been the center of quite a few detective games, more than I actually expected when I did research for this write-up. In the future, I’ll cover all that I can find, but I’ll give you a brief taste of what Jack has been featured in. Sorry (not sorry).


Sherlock Holmes has frequently been paired up against the Ripper for obvious reasons. The world’s most famous detective against arguably the world’s most infamous serial killer. The 2009 video game Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper did just this. I must say though, it makes one wonder how this frequent square off would appear if Doyle did end up being Jack.


In Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, players got to take on the role of Jolly Old Jackie Boy. Featuring some really good music and a unique perspective on the madman himself, this is one of the most popular video games to feature Jack. Props to Ubisoft for giving Jack a proper maniacal portrayal in gaming!


In 2003, a game entitled Jack the Ripper was released by Galilea Games. Set in New York (naturally) in the ancient year of 1901, a New York Day reporter by the name of James Palmer begins to investigate a series of murders that are similar to those committed by the Ripper. It’s simple stuff and unfortunately, I have no idea if the game was a success or not. Given that the Wikipedia page is paltry four sentences (set across two paragraphs; three sentences in the first, the second being one sentence), I’m going to guess this game fell into obscurity.


There are other games that have featured Jack and these are but three. As said at the beginning, I’ll make sure to go over others in some sort of offshoot write-up where I dive into how big of a media icon Jack is; I’d rather not linger here for thousands of words on this. Anyways, to round this off: I think it’s fascinating to see how Jack has transcended the norm to enter the realm with grace. Whether or not we’ll ever get a game that blends the concepts of L.A. Noire and Telltale Games’ various games remains to be seen, but I’d buy that for sixty dollars + tax.


#4: Music


Knives to the left of me, serrated blades to the right, here I am: slashed in the middle with you!


Given Jack’s prominence as a cultural icon, it’s not difficult to see how it’d be appealing to include him into a song. His grisly imagery is something that one would expect hardcore metal bands to adopt and his actions speak volumes to the dangers of cunning (or in Jack’s case, ravenous) monsters that lurk in the dark. Granted, such themes are very common in music regardless as to whether or not they feature a knife-wielding maniac who wants to gut you like a pig.


However, with Jack, the thematically heavy story of a cloaked man with a knife is hard to pass up. Heck, one can argue that Jack is the progenitor of that image. Even if he isn’t, his name alone can send a chill up and down someone’s spine and because of this, he’s helped to inspire a few songs, such as Judas Priest’s The Ripper and Morrisey’s Jack the Ripper. If you want some examples, click here for a list of twelve (including the aforementioned two). There are others out there, so if you’re interested, go seek them out. Why won’t I list them? While some may consider it laziness, I don’t want to linger here for another 7,000 words going over every myopic detail; this blog is dedicated to mysteries and this is more a simple bonus section.


#5: Television


Television is often seen as the realm of a few things: soap operas, streaming, late night news, and Tucker Carlson. Little did anyone know, Jack the Ripper had lay claim to being the king of specials.


The number of television specials on Jack is obscene; the number of television shows to merely cover him even more so. Go ahead, type “Jack the Ripper TV Specials” into Google or Bing. There are a plethora of them and their content is typically the same—though some take on a very heavy bias towards a certain suspect without applying any critical thinking to the topic or person[s] they’re targeting. This ultimately leads to a lot of misinformation or, even worse, modern day yellow journalism in the form of a TV special. So it’s not really yellow journalism so much as it’s yellow television specialism.


For those unfamiliar with yellow journalism: it’s the product of William Randolph Hearst. It’s more or less the professional term for really low-grade news reporting. Go to your local supermarket or convenience store and look at the magazines; the National Enquirer, Star Magazine, The Sun, or any other low effort rag like that. They’re typically guilty of this to such a high degree that it’s amazing they haven’t been taken to court for being on the level of the Daily Mail (another garbage news outlet, though they make yellow journalism look like legitimate reporting).


Television specials centered on Jack are typically guilty of poor fact-checking and often make a great many errors. Some have said he was a doctor, others say he was at least anatomically accurate, and then there are some who argue he was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s all tiresome and can generally make one wonder if anyone still gives a damn about the case or if they just want to make something that will serve a timeslot well. Let’s all gather around, conjure up a low-effort idea, get some eyes on the boobtube and make a buck. Easiest job since I started writing high-quality articles on this blog. Hah, just kidding, let’s move on.


#6: Sports


Generally speaking, sports teams are named after animals or something very benign. Yet, there was one man out there who believed that a baseball team with a cloaked, shadowy mascot deserved to be a reality. Their name: the London Rippers.


Based out of London, Ontario in Canada, the London Rippers was an idea that I don’t think can be described as anything other than awful. Featuring a cloaked figure reminiscent of the generic depiction of Jack, this team lasted for about as long as one would if they were ejected into the Sun. Now why is that? Well gee, I wonder what it could have been for. Let’s take a gander at their logo and see what exactly stands out.


Well geez, ain’t that somethin’.


Lambasted for being quite insensitive in the way of trying to commercialize one of history’s most sadistic and brutal serial killers, the London Rippers was an idea that was treated as a catastrophic failure from primarily the angle of good taste. Presumably, the lackeys who decided to make this abhorrent baseball team were promptly fired while their bosses got another yacht or two.


While commercializing Jack, as we’ve seen, isn’t a foreign concept, it’s generally seen as one thing if the commercializing is from the realm of creative fiction. In this case however, a sports team trying to turn the infamous killer of the night into a sports team mascot led to the team’s subsequent demise with as much grace as one would expect.


#7: Gambling


Pull the lever and see what you get!


Oh man, first up: a knife. That’s awesome!


Oh wow! A second knife!


Oh baby, a third knife! You win a thousand knives!


Ah, I love gambling and I love the number seven. You see: seven is one of my lucky numbers and likewise, seven is synonymous with winning big when it comes to slot machines. Three sevens is often considered to be the jackpot (no pun intended). Slots themselves are generally themed after something, such as pirates, ancient Greece or Rome, sexiness, the mafia, or some established property (such as Metal Gear Solid or Silent Hill). Serial killers however aren’t something I expected to see. The idea of a Unabomber-themed slot machine that blows up if you get three manifestos isn’t exactly my idea of high octane luck-based adrenaline. Nor am I too interested in having to hear “the industrial revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race” every time I pull the lever.


Yet, as it turned out: I was wrong. Jack the Ripper’s pop culture status extends into the realm of slots. Big time. It’s actually rather impressive to see how many online slot websites have their own Jack-themed machines. Meanwhile, I’m left wondering if the reality I live in is the right one or if the Philadelphia Experiment somehow threw me into Schrodinger’s Reality. It is real until it is not, but it is not real until it is. That’s how it works, right? I think it is. I don’t intend on finding out though, lest I end up falling into the twelfth dimension of Hazel the Horrible.


Truth be told: I didn’t expect this to be a thing (which in hindsight was silly of me), but knowing it is: I’m going to make it a point to check for slot machines of other serial killers I’ll inevitably cover. Cue the nightmares!


#8: Jack the Musical Ripper


Wh—



Yeah, okay, enough of this. I don’t think we need anymore information to verify that Jack is everywhere. I mean, it’s honestly comical. So rather than dwell here before I get into even more crazy things tied to Jack, let’s move onto the theories.


Theories


Realistically speaking: I can’t go over every suspect as the number of them is absurd. It’d seem that nearly every person and their grandmother has been accused and suspected of being jolly old Jack. Heck, you dear reader have likely had a family member been suspected of being Jack. Perhaps you right now are suspected of Jack and you just don’t know it.


That said, there are a fair number of noteworthy suspects and theories. For the sake of brevity, I’ll be covering the ten that I believe to be the most interesting, noteworthy, or that I don’t see referenced enough when it comes to Jack.


This means that Jill the Ripper isn’t on here. I’m not sorry. That theory is ridiculous. Stop pushing it. If you’re upset by this, I would recommend leaving a comment where you lambaste me for not giving it a chance, but I can promise you that Jack was a man. Let the misandry accusations commence!


#1: The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run


The idea of Jack fleeing London is as old as Jack himself. It’s not hard to imagine why. Killers have been known to change their hunting ground for one reason or another. Jack is no different if his lack of creativity in how he operated. So, realistically, him going to the United States isn’t far fetched. But if he did, what’d he do there? Why, he became the infamous Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run of course.


More commonly referred to as the Cleveland Torso Murderer, the Mad Butcher was similar to Jack in a few superficial ways, which I’ll go over sometime in the near future. However, here’s a very quick rundown of the story.


Back in the 1930s, Cleveland, Ohio was the hunting ground for a serial killer who’d dismember his victims and lay some of their body parts around Kingsbury Run. Of the twelve killed, a mere two of the Mad Butcher’s victims were ever identified. Four were Jane Does while the other six were John Does.


Legendary detective Elliot Ness, who took down Al Capone, was at one point tasked with solving the crime. However, despite being seen as one of the greatest investigators in American history, Ness couldn’t bring anyone to justice. Though he did have one prime suspect, the man ended up confining himself to a mental asylum.


At first glance: this theory holds some water. The natural escalation for Jack would very likely lead to him murdering men, especially if you subscribe to the theory that Jack was a self-loathing homosexual.


Where the theory falls apart is when you look at the Mad Butcher’s modus operandi. Simply put: it isn’t anything like Jack’s. It’s very likely that the theory that he and Jack are one in the same is popular thanks to the false notion that Jack was surgically precise and the fact that Mad Butcher was much more careful with his murders. The idea has evolved into the theory that Jack learned how to be more careful and skillful with his technique. Although not unheard of, one has to wonder exactly how old Jack was when he committed his original murders. The gap between the Jack murders and the Mad Butcher is over forty years. Jack’s speculated to have been between 28–35. That would mean he was likely a senior citizen at best. This doesn’t necessarily disprove this theory, though some serial killers will retire after age catches up to them. With the Mad Butcher, one must consider the reality of a 65+ year-old man trying to dispose of human remains without getting a hernia. That reality makes this theory rather suspect to say the least.


#2: H.H. Holmes


One of the United States’ most infamous serial killers, Howard Henry Holmes (better known as H.H. Holmes) was extremely unique. He wasn’t someone who murdered his victims in a personal manner. Rather, he was someone who built an entire hotel fitted with rooms that were fully operational death traps to do the dirty work for him. It’s this fact that’s led some to believe that James Wan and Leigh Whannell were inspired by Holmes when writing a little known film called Saw.


The idea of Holmes being Jack stems from very alluring detail. Holmes was in London around the time of the murders. However, his methods of killing people in the United States was nothing like Jack. Holmes built a hotel filled with death traps (not unlike what the Jigsaw killer[s] did in the above-mentioned Saw films). The difference in intellect required to concoct such an elaborate hotel of traps versus taking a knife and slashing like a rabid chimpanzee on cocaine is big to say the absolute least.


Despite that, Holmes’ descendants are quite adamant that the architect of Hotel California’s midwestern counterpart was, in fact, Jolly Old Jack, Captain of the Stabby Stab Knife. Indeed, great, great granddaddy was the Ripper. While it may not be Steve Hodel claiming it this time, Holmes has some family members who are eager to pin the murders on him. Perhaps one day, I’ll go over this in a lot more detail to dissect the claims as it’s become a fairly popular theory, but for the time being, I’ll let Tyler do the talking.


HH Holmes was a con artist first murderer second. His actual murders tended to be monetary based.They also tended to be more crafty then stabbing, involving suffocation via good old car exhaust or setting on fire after using chloroform. He also was the biggest bragger of the 19th century and wouldn’t let people not think about him. He also was, you know, smart, and lived in AMERICA.


What he said, guys and girls.


The idea that Holmes was Jack isn’t as outlandish as many of the other theories we’ll be seeing, but it’s nevertheless equally as unlikely. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a killer who showcases the lack of intelligence that Jack had, but also had the diabolical cleverness that Holmes had.


#3: The Thames Torso Murders


Britain’s Thames river has had a sordid history. A hotbed for killers to dispose of their victims, the river was home to a series of torsos that are believed to have been discarded by a single man. This man has, naturally, been suspected by some to have been Jack the Ripper.


Earlier, I mentioned the Thames Torso Murders, which we will discuss at a much later date in much greater detail. For now, let’s cover the basics and the theory behind Jack having been the one behind them.


Between 1887 and 1889, four bodies were found in the Thames River. Of these four, only one was identified. None of the bodies were completely discovered. Due to the precision of the dismemberment—something vastly different from the frenzied slaughterings committed by Jack—it’s believed that the person (or persons) responsible for these four murders had some degree of medical knowledge.


In spite of that extreme discrepancy when paired up with Jack, there are still those who believe the legendary Ripper and the Thames murderer are one in the same. To some degree, it’s understandable. The timeline matches up, the location is close, and the mutilation of the body is there. However, dismemberment was never Jack’s forte; he was a frenzied animal whereas the Thames Torso Murderer either had some semblance of anatomical knowledge. It’s also been speculated that it wasn’t a serial murderer, but several killers. Whether they were copycats or it was a giant coincidence is up for debate.


#4: Lewis Carroll


A foreword: due to him being more well-known by his pen name, I will be referring to him as Lewis Carroll.


Born Charles Ludwidge Dodgson, the legendary author of Alice in Wonderland author is an enigma in his own right, and quite the history, both as a Jack suspect and as a person. The theory that he was Jack stems from a 1996 book entitled “Jack the Ripper, Light-Hearted Friend” by author Richard Wallace. The theory states that, through the usage of anagrams, Carroll confessed to the Ripper murders. These were placed in the children’s version of Alice in Wonderland, which was simply titled “Alice”, along with the first volumes of both Sylvie and Bruno, both of which were published in 1889, the year after the Ripper murders stopped. It stands to reason that, more than likely, Carroll was still in the process of writing them. Countering this, Wallace argues that hidden within the books are highly detailed descriptions of Jack’s murders.

Whether it be due to the incredibly elaborate nature of the theory or simply due to name recognition, the theory that Lewis Carroll was Jack the Ripper gained traction to become recognized as a suspect, albeit one that isn’t taken very seriously. Nevertheless, in the interest of fairness, allow me to present what Wallace meant by these “anagrams”. I’m taking these from the website Casebook: Jack the Ripper, a website that is dedicated to figuring out who Jack was and has a forum that is still very active. All credit goes to their page dedicated to Carroll.


In the aforementioned book “Nursery Alice”, there is this passage.


‘So she wondered away, through the wood, carrying the ugly little thing with her. And a great job it was to keep hold of it, it wriggled about so. But at last she found out that the proper way was to keep tight hold of itself foot and its right ear’.


Wallace states that this is the “anagram” that Carroll hid within that passage.


‘She wriggled about so! But at last Dodgson and Bayne found a way to keep hold of the fat little whore. I got a tight hold of her and slit her throat, left ear to right. It was tough, wet, disgusting, too. So weary of it, they threw up - jack the Ripper.’


I want to stress one thing before I continue: Lewis Carroll was—as Casebook states—a master at word-games. This man wrote a series that is widely regarded as one of the greatest series of all-time; a series that’s widely renowned for being a mind trip that’s sometimes stated to be second only to the works of H.P. Lovecraft. The Alice in Wonderland books, contrary to the Disney version[s] that exist, are extremely dark and warped. They showcase the psychological depths that some men fear to tread when writing.


That so-called “anagram”, while pretty interesting on its own and shows how we as humans can rearrange sentences to create alternate sentences that can invoke the fear of hidden messages within our favorite books and/or short stories, is the exact opposite of Carroll’s skill. The lack of proper grammar and punctuation is on par with what one would see in a fanfiction author’s first attempt at writing. The lack of a capital J, yet the usage of a capital R, to create  “jack the Ripper” is so laughably bad it hurts my soul. Compounding this is just before we see that Carroll supposedly describes slashing one of his supposed victim’s throats as “tough, wet, disgusting, too”. The missing “and” after “disgusting”—which contains an unnecessary comma after it—is woefully inept. One can argue that the poor grammar here is merely Wallace’s doing. If this is the case, I find it to be a terrible showcasing of a theory as it makes it look amateurish.


I digress however. My ultimate point is this: if Carroll did indeed hide anagrams within his books to confess to the murders, he wouldn’t have gone about it with such laughably pathetic grammar and punctuation. It is interesting to see that one can make these anagrams out of those sentences. However, allow me to present one of my own to show that this can be done in any sort of way.


Hot blooded; tightwad; tit! He kept it! A war of the ages! He’s owned our house. Woe, ’tis us. That life, it’s an ugly thing, for it carries with it sorrow. Old and dying they all are, the people of power, but I do joke. And at that, I gut both, aghast. Gag. Froth. Wry.


This took 80 minutes in total to create and tells us that Lewis Carroll saw into the future. In this premonition, Carroll saw a man who’s envious of the man who purchased and now owns his former abode. Enraged by this, he guts him and his wife, only for his rage to subside afterwards and to realize what he’s done. He gags, then becomes a frothing mess; enraged at himself now. Finally, he settles down. He’s become at peace with his actions—a now wry, soulless man 


I’ll admit: it isn’t exactly the greatest example. The final three words were leftovers that I couldn’t make much out of and the rest of it is very incoherent. Despite the immense shortcomings of my example, the point I’m trying to make is that you can do a lot with any given sentence. Although it is very interesting that Wallace was able to find what he did with Carroll’s passages, they’re nothing more than the findings of a man whose confirmation bias is being presented as fact.


#5: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


The legendary Sherlock Holmes author has his own history of being a suspect of the one known as Jack the Ripper—something that’s as laughable as the idea that Sherlock Holmes was a real person (something we’ll discuss sometime soon).


The idea behind this theory stems from how Doyle was a doctor and how there were hidden codes within the letters that point directly to him. I recommend visiting probway for a thorough examination of this, but within each letter that had been “sent” to the press, there were letters that, when placed together, would point directly to Doyle. That is, at least, my understanding.


Standing above all else, however, was one major factor in Doyle’s life. He was a Freemason. I could spend about five hours sitting here, clacking away at my keyboard, talking about the grandiose secret society, but I think that’s best saved for the paragraph after the next one.


Look: realistically speaking, my dear Watson, I’d say that this suspect can be cleared of any wrongdoing. We’ve already gone over Jack’s medical imprecision and his lack of intellect at the very start of this write-up and to repeat it would be redundant beyond belief. Jack’s a great many things, but a world renowned author he is not. So with that said, let us move onto the bigger fish.


#6: The Freemasons


Although Doyle was a Freemason, there are those that believe that Jack was more of a group effort. Now, the Freemasons themselves are a weird bunch. Comparable to the legendary Illuminati, the Masons—as I will call them—are a secret organization that aren’t exactly secret. Nearly anyone is capable of joining them. Despite this open secrecy, the Masons are very controversial having been accused of many things. My personal favorite is covering up the existence of Nibiru.


Now, when I say that anyone can join the Freemasons, I mean that anyone can. They have a website and all; the Freemasons of today aren’t quite the same as the Freemasons of yesteryear. Rebranding can go a long way when it comes to making sure your secret society isn’t known as the one where you get together to sacrifice goats and chickens to Satan and other dark deities for power and money.


Well, at least in the eyes of the general populace.


For those who aren’t familiar with the Freemasons however, allow me to give the briefest possible history lesson on them. They’re a secret society that dates back centuries. Many presidents of the United States were and are Freemasons (the current president at the time of this writing, Donald Trump, isn’t one). Masonry played a big part in the geography of Washington DC as a lot of the Founding Fathers were members of the Masons. No word on if this had an effect on creating the “swamp” that we’re in the process of trying to drain. I digress though; nowadays, the Freemasons are the equivalent of grown, very wealthy men forming a fraternity. It’s nowhere near as interesting as it sounds, though the historical lore and ability to say that you’re a Freemason is pretty cool.


So what exactly would the Freemasons be doing having prostitutes mutilated? Would it be a ritualistic murder or would it be for laughs as they bro it up at the local lodge?


“Bro, bro, I had the local cuckoo go gut this whore who jipped me out of a blowjob.”

“Bro, that’s so funny. I had one go slash this chick’s throat because she robbed me.”


“Bro, that’s hysterical. Yo, let’s send a letter to the press and fool those lowly peasants into thinking there’s a serial killer.”


“That’s a great idea, bro. What do we call him?”


“Jack the Ripper, in honor of Jack. Man, I miss him.”


“Yeah, bro. It’s a shame he had to leave earlier. He would’ve found this funny.”


“I do!”


“Jack! You’re back!”


“Yeah bro, I just killed my wife.”


“Wh—”


Yeah, I dunno, seems a bit weird to imagine, but I digress. The theory has a few different variables, with some speculating that Jack himself was a Freemason (like Doyle—which connects the two theories together) or that Jack was, at the very least, a member of the Masonic Order. Some also speculate they covered it up to prevent a scandal, something that I find really peculiar if you ask me given that I’m sure there have been plenty of horrible people that were members of the Freemasons.


Others have also posited that, yes, they were ritualistic in nature. In order to discuss that, one would have to get into the connection of Freemasonry and Devil Worship, something that I would love to cover in much more detail, but have never found the proper time to do so. If you want to know more, I highly recommend you go onto Bing and just type in “Freemasons Devil Worship”. Google, unfortunately, won’t yield the “proper” results.


On one final note, I want you, dear reader, to think for a moment, and I mean really think for a moment, about the Freemasons. The super secret society that literally anyone can join. I mean heck, there’s a Masonic Lodge within walking distance of where I live. Now imagine that you’re a Freemason. You’re in this super duper secret club. Ooooh, so mysterious. What’re you gonna do? Well, how about we go ahead and have someone butcher five hookers before stopping. Why? Uhh, because because. Yeah, I know I said that the Masons are into “muh devil worship”, but come on. Jack’s murders were by no means Satanic in nature. Satanic ritualistic murders are a lot more symbolic in nature. Pentagrams, symbols on walls or floors, and on the corpse, the whole nine yards.


If this was an attempt at a ritual, they failed five fucking times because they gave the knife to the most unstable person. It’s like going camping and giving the hunting rifle to the paranoid schizophrenic who’s threatened to murder you and your friends the second he got his hands on a gun. I can’t, for the life of me, fathom how anyone could see that this was any sort of attempt at a ritual, let alone something orchestrated by a supposedly super secret Luciferian society that has remained in the shadows and been successful at pulling the strings of the world’s governments.


Look, ultimately: the Freemasons are many things. Enigmatic, controversial, and a borderline fraternity—I’d say yes. A secret society that employed a crazy person—or persons—to slaughter five or more women they are not. I think it’s about time this theory’s supporters start pushing the Illuminati over the Masons.


What? I’m not a Mason, I just think there are other places to look.


˙uosɐɯǝǝɹℲ ɐ ʇou ʎllɐʇoʇ sᴉ oƃᴉʇɹǝΛ


#6: Prince Albert Victor


It isn’t a Jack the Ripper write-up without mentioning arguably the most famous of all of the suspects: Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Albert Victor.


This theory stems from the idea that Prince Albert was a homosexual. Fearing the scandal that would ensue if the news got out, Albert was all but shunned and hidden from the public’s eye; a ghost amongst the most prominent family in Britain.


Naturally, Prince Albert was enraged by this and grew resentful towards women and humanity as a whole. Thus, during the night, he would escape from his room and took on the moniker of Jack the Ripper. His brutal reign ended when the royals discovered what he’d been doing in his spare time and more or less imprisoned him without a trial.


This theory is a classic and would make for a good piece of creative fiction, but there isn’t anything to back it up. While certainly a scandalous theory, you would be hard-pressed to find much that could point the arrow in Prince Albert’s direction. Though hey, when has that ever stopped a good story from centering on the royal family? I mean, just look at Princess Diana.


On one final note: in my time of reading up on Jack the Ripper, few suspects—if any—have left as much of an impact on me as Prince Albert has. Although I, personally, don’t believe he was Jack, the theory that he was East Whitechapel’s boogeyman was in many ways the progenitor to my fascination with true crime. The thought of royalty being such a high-profile serial killer was mind boggling to me back then. If only I could tell younger me about Elizabeth Bathory.


#7: Aaron Kosminski


One of two folks on this list whose heritage is Polish and Jewish, Aaron Kosminski is a suspect who has the most realistic chance to be Jack thanks to DNA evidence. He is arguably the most popular suspect nowadays thanks to this, but does it truly mean that he is the legendary Ripper? To a fair number of people, yes. After all: DNA is quite compelling no? Well, yeah, though it isn’t infallible. DNA can be contaminated and given the length of time that has gone, it’s possible that the DNA was, in fact, contaminated a bit.


With that said: who was Aaron Kosminski? Well, as said above: he was a Polish-Jew who immigrated to London like many others. Per casebook: Aaron was quite the mentally ill individual who had a history of crime. He threatened a woman with a knife, was arrested for eating garbage (yes, really), and was likely a paranoid schizophrenic, having been prone to auditory hallucinations and loathed being fed by others (hence eating garbage). He refused to wash or bathe. It was also claimed that Aaron frequently “self-abused”, something that’s been speculated to have really meant that he masturbated quite often. However, this isn’t known for certain and it’s possible that he actually abused himself (whether he cut himself, beat himself, or something else is, naturally, unknown).


Given this clearly unstable strain of behavior, it’s quite natural that it would have escalated until Aaron became a violent individual, especially if he was schizophrenic. Most of what he exhibited is something that could have been vulnerable to escalation. Though is there anything to back it up? Well, two cops wrote that one of the best suspects for Jack was a Jewish person named “Kosminski” and another stated that it was a “low-class Jew”. So case closed, right? Well, no. There’s a major problem with this.


They didn’t specify the name beyond it being someone named “Kosminski”.


This is a major problem due to the disdain for Jews back then. Nobody cared to learn names, nor did they care in the slightest. It’s possible the officer who gave the name misheard “Kaminsky” (more on that later) and when they went to write the name, they misremembered it as “Kosminski”. To make matters worse: another officer stated that the suspect died “early”. Aaron died in 1919 at the age of 54 because of his abysmal diet (he weighed 96 pounds—or 44 kilograms—at the time of his death). That isn’t exactly “early” when you consider that’s close to two decades after the murders took place.


Now look: does this mean that Aaron Kosminski wasn’t Jack? While I would personally say yes, it excludes him, the DNA evidence is something that I cannot explain away as I’m not proficient in that field. However, I’d say that DNA from over a century ago is something you shouldn’t rely on. I’d also like to state that there is a much better suspect we’ll get to in a bit. For now, I want to diverge and save the best for last. So let us continue.


#8: Jack the Ripper (New York City)


This isn’t some sort of joke or me being silly. Believe it or not, in 1915, New York City had its own self-proclaimed Jack the Ripper. Just like the one from Whitechapel and the one from Atlanta, Georgia (yes, there was a Jack the Ripper there too and no, he isn’t a suspect as far as I’m aware), he was never caught or identified.


A little under 27 years after Whitechapel’s Jack had his Autumn of Terror, In March of 1915, 5-year-old Lenora Cohn was tasked with fetching some milk for her parents from the store. Neighbors saw Lenora leave, though upon returning and rounding the corner of the apartment complex she lived in, a muffled scream was heard.


A neighbor rushed outside and found the little girl facedown; blood seeping through her dress. She had been stabbed and mutilated with what police believe was a leather knife—the first of many unusual similarities to the Whitechapel murderer. However, unlike the British Jack, New York City’s Jack wasn’t as animalistic in his frenzy, though he was still quite brutal. Police immediately began to look for the killer, but had no luck; nobody appeared to have seen the murder.


Then the letters began. Lenora’s mother was targeted by someone who had given themselves the moniker of “Jack the Ripper”. These letters were handed over to the postal service, who looked into who had sent them. In the meantime, on April 29th, 27-year-old Edward Richman, an Austrian man, was arrested. However, he was later cleared. In spite of that, he was held in a prison cell and the letters continued.


These letters are something I’ve never been able to find much on, but Michael Newton’s Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes does have excerpts of two of them. They read as follows:


Dear Mrs. Cohn: Just a line to let you know that the person that is accused of writing letters to you is innocent. I am the fellow that wrote you the letters, and as I said before a man that keeps his ears open and mouth shut will always get along and never get caught. Some day thats if I get the chair I may confess. But as long as I am out they can never get me. Kindly give the enclosed letter to the police and tell them I wrote it. From H.-B. Richmond, Jack the Ripper.


The enclosed letter read as follows:


Why don’t you drop the case? You know that man can’t get me in 100 years from now so its no youse in sirchen for me. I am a wise guy you know but wise guys never get caught. You may think I am a fool to write you But I am writing just to show that I ain’t afraid. Mr. Richmond is innocent of the letter which you accuse him of writing to Mrs. Cohn. As I told you in one of my letters that is going to be the biggest murders to be committed in N.Y. that was ever known. Now do you see I am true.


H.-B. RICHMOND

JACK-THE-RIPPER


Wise Guy Jack’s second letter exhibits several unique traits not seen in his first letter. The first and most glaringly obvious is the grammar, which is more in-line with the “From Hell” letter. At the same time, the consistency of proper spelling—what little there is—is a strike against it. Despite that, he was right when he said that nobody would catch him in a century. So while he wasn’t capable of any semblance of grammar, Wise Guy Jack was at least right in predicting that he’d never be identified, let alone caught. So his success ratio is 50% overall. Good on you, my soulless, sadistic friend.


From here, the murders continued and panic grew at an extremely rapid rate. We’ll go over the entire case at some point next year, but mass hysteria quickly took effect and it’s likely that copycat killers sprang up, attempting to either replicate Wise Guy Jack’s MO, but either failing or purposefully putting their own twisted twist on it.


That brings us to the main point of the theory: what exactly does this theory posit? Well, that’s easy to answer: Jack fled Whitechapel, immigrated to America, and resumed his slaughter in New York City. However, while a killer’s MO can change, it seldom changes as drastically as it would here for this to work. When it comes to killers, they aren’t the most inventive people. Their creativity begins and ends at their extremely myopic comfort zone. To diverge from it is to throw detectives off from their calling sign. Attention seeking is generally a strong characteristic of many serial killers. Deviation from the norm will shift attention away from them and to the potentiality of another, also unnamed killer. With that said: Wise Guy Jack still bore some similarities that the idea of the two being the same took off in some niche circles. Ultimately though, it’s safe to say they weren’t one in the same.


New York’s Jack is an unusual case in that the timeline is short and the overall presentation is one of a copycat. Whether or not he was is entirely up to how you perceive Whitechapel’s Jack in the way of intelligence. As for whoever the American killer—or killers—may have been, it’s likely to go down in history as one of the Big Apple’s most frustrating mysteries.


#9: Spring Heeled Jack


Ah, Spring Heeled Jack. Yet another legendary Jack from London, albeit one whose name is less recognized and feared. This Jack was an incredibly bizarre case of what was most likely mass hysteria, but to say that with absolute certainty is difficult. As such, some believe that Jack the Ripper was the public menace who jumped; an edgier James Dean crossed with a bouncing Charles Starkweather.


The earliest confirmed sighting of Spring Heeled Jack was in 1837—a fair bit earlier than the first murder attributed to the Ripper. A girl by the name of Mary Stevens was attacked by a ghoulish being that ripped at her clothes and kissed her. His hands were described as feeling “cold and clammy as those from a corpse”. This cold touch would become a recurring feature with Jumping Spring Heeled Jack Flash. Anyways, Mary’s screams sent Jack fleeing into the night and attracted the attention of nearby residents, who rushed to her aid. Upon learning what had attacked her, they searched the area for the jumping menace, but found nothing.


Spring Heeled Jack had jumped away just as quickly as he’d emerged from the dark alley he dwelled in, much to the bewilderment of the residents. Meanwhile, one could almost faintly hear someone say: “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack…” wait, will Don McLean sue me if I quote his song? Ah whatever, let’s move on.


From here: Springtime For Jack’s sightings grew. Some claimed that he could leap 10 feet into the air and even bound over entire houses. For context: the average person can jump 16–20 inches (40–50 centimeters). So Spring Heeled Jackie Boy is jumping close to ten times higher than the average human—if not more.


There are several noteworthy sightings, but I’d like to save them for a proper write-up. With that said, I will look over one in particular that’s always stood out to me—that story Jane Alsop. One of the most bizarre sightings out there.


The night of February 19, 1838 was one that I don’t know, but given it’s Britain, I’d put money on it raining. Whatever it was: there was a knock at the door. Jane went to answer it and was greeted by a law enforcement officer, who informed her that they’d arrested Jack in a nearby alley. She brought a candle to aid them, but a twist worthy of M. Night Shyamalan took place. The cop revealed that he was in fact Jack and attacked her, breathing fire and clawing wildly; his eyes resembling “red balls of fire”. His hands were cold, clammy, and he sported a “large helmet”. I have no idea how exactly Jack concealed this beneath a “cloak” (one that he threw off when Jack was ready to attack), but the oddness doesn’t stop there. Nay, it is only where it began. You see, Jane claimed that Jack had “tight-fitting” clothing that resembled “white oilskin” and his hands were described as being “cold” and “clammy” like those of a corpse. He could also breathe (or vomit as Wikipedia words it) “blue and white flames”.


Yes, indeed, Jack the Springer developed the ability to breathe fire. Despite this incredible ability, he opted to only tear at her (specifically her neck and arms). Like a bad OC in a fanfic, Spring Heeled Jack’s powers grow increasingly more amazing.


I’d like to tack on a bit of personal bias here, but I would hazard a guess and say that it’s about here you can tell that something happened with the story of Spring Heeled Jack—and it’s one major reason why this theory that he was Jack the Ripper really falls apart. Where as Jack the Ripper is, by all accounts, generally agreed upon to be an animalistic monster of the night, Jack the Jumping Jackrabbit swings between being a mysterious menace who qualifies more as an obnoxious rapscallion and a demon from the hottest depths of Hell. And yet, somehow, a man by the name of Thomas Millbank was arrested for this incident. Luck was on his side though as all he was cleared of all charges. This was due to one very simple fact: he was incapable of breathing fire. Whodathunk? Not Jane as she insisted that he could spit fire like a sassy old woman.


Sightings continued of Jack-in-the-Box until they teetered off and eventually ceased almost entirely. Then, as mysteriously as they began, Spring Heeled Jack faded into modest obscurity; his name becoming synonymous with the type of mystery one would expect to hear in the realm of folklore.


That doesn’t mean the sightings ceased entirely however. Nay, Jack’s sightings are merely much rarer; one of them involves a man walking home encountered the legend and was slapped as Jack bounced over him. Said slaps were done as he “paused” to perform them. This personality shift is interesting in and of itself, but I digress. We’re here to discuss the Ripper, so let’s get into the idea that Spring Heeled Jack evolved into the terror of Whitechapel.


The idea here is that Spring Heeled Jack grew bored of his bizarre means of screwing with people and opted for something far more exciting. In this case: first degree murder. Scrapping the technical prowess of jumping into Jump Street, he grabbed a knife and went to the mean streets of the British Grove Street: Whitechapel. It’s there that he became Jack the Ripper.


Yeah, it’s a fairly weird theory. So one must ask: is there any evidence for it? The answer, dear reader, is: not really.


For starters: Spring Heeled Jack and the Ripper were both agile, were located in London, and targeted women. Alas, the core similarities end there. Where as the Ripper treated his victims like lambs to the slaughter, Spring Heeled Jack was more mischievous—a dash of would-be and successful sexual assault mixed in. One can argue that allegedly breathing fire would imply his desire to scorch a victim, but that requires testimony from the man himself and unless Jack is a ghost/demon, I’m doubtful we’d ever get any sort of confirmation on that. Nor do I think we’d ever get confirmation that Spring Heeled Jack became the Ripper.


However, I believe that Spring Heeled Jack’s legacy contributes a bit to the legend status that the Ripper has nowadays. Although the Ripper’s name is significantly more well-known than Spring Heeled’s name, they both have seen their stories become less and less fact based. In the case of Spring Heeled Jack, he’s become more of a ghoul and demon; a menacing spirit that tormented his victims like an incubus or poltergeist. I believe it’s plausible that their shared name of Jack, coupled with this theory, has helped send the Ripper into legend territory. Even more interesting is how the Ripper’s of both Whitechapel and New York City, along with Spring Heeled Jack, all caused extreme hysteria among the general populace. The only “Jack” serial killer/serial mischief maker to not cause this is Jack the Stripper. That’s a story for another month though.


Whether you believe the real-life Jumping Jack Flash to be a demon or a case of mass hysteria gone awry is up to you, though I personally believe that the odds of Spring Heeled Jack being Jack the Ripper are next to nothing. Nevertheless, the legend of the former is definitely no less perplexing because of it. If anything, it only cements it as its own beast; its own, jumpy, hydraulics-equipped beast.


On one final note: I have the intention to cover Jack and the Spring Stalk at some point next year. For the time being, let’s pivot back onto the Ripper and all jump for joy like Jackie Boy.


#10: Nathan Kaminsky


The final suspect I’ll list is one who I feel nowhere near enough people give enough thought to. Nathan Kaminsky was a Polish Jew who worked as a bootmaker and was a nobody through and through. He had no family or friends and ended up being a loner who worked a menial job to make ends meet. He resided in Whitechapel’s east end where the murders took place. At some point, Kaminsky contracted syphilis. This ended up affecting his mental health—though some believe that paranoid schizophrenia played a more prominent role in this. Whatever the case, Kaminsky snapped and thus, Jack the Ripper was born.


Towards the end of 1888, Kaminsky was confined to a mental institution where he had to frequently be restrained due to his incredibly violent outbursts and force-fed by hospital staff. Eventually, Kaminsky died and the staff were no doubt elated to be free of him.


It was within this hospital that the name “David Cohen” can be found. Said name is sometimes believed to be akin to that of John or Jane Doe; a name given to those whose real names are unknown. Given the anti-Semitism at the time though, most staffers likely couldn’t have cared less about names and gave it to those who they didn’t care one iota about. Others also suspect that the staff genuinely didn’t know Kaminsky’s identity or were suffering from overcrowding or had difficulty understanding the name and simply utilized “David Cohen” as an alias.

It’s possible that David Cohen and Nathan Kaminsky are, in fact, two separate people. It’s also possible that Melvin Kaminsky and Nathan are two separate people. After all, the former of those two is better known as Mel Brooks.


Okay, my cringe-worthy attempts at humor aside, Kaminsky’s behavior is very much in line with someone who was extremely dangerous to be around and, if you were to ask me: all of this paints a picture that fits nicely with the one of Jack himself. To make matters even more convincing: remember that claim back when we were talking about Aaron Kosminski? The one about how the suspect for Jack “died early”? Well, Nathan died in the mental institution in 1889, a mere year after the murders ceased.


Furthermore: Cohen/Kaminsky was the only mentally insane/unstable Polish Jew to be committed to a mental institution at the time the murders were ongoing (and, likewise, stopped after his confinement). He was also the only one to be registered and who fits the profile of someone like Jack the Ripper and, to repeat myself, died shortly after the Ripper’s reign of terror began.


However, convincing as Nathan may seem, there’s one very glaring issue with it when it comes to being definitive: the evidence is circumstantial. You see: circumstantial evidence is a very slippery slope to tread near. There can be a lot of seemingly promising evidence that pins someone to a crime, but a definitive answer dictates otherwise in the form of DNA or an alibi.


However, simultaneously, circumstantial evidence can set off sirens that alert people to the possibility that someone is, in fact, guilty. In the case of Nathan Kaminsky, the evidence—circumstantial as it may be—as piled up to the point that one can build a ten story apartment complex out of it. So whether or not you believe that Kaminsky truly was Jack is entirely on you.


My Take


I’ve always loved to speculate on who a boogeyman was. To give a face to a faceless horror is something unusually fun. In the case of Jack however, being definitive was always difficult—until recently. Nathan Kaminsky was someone who took me by surprise when I was introduced to him as a suspect. Although his life is mostly shrouded in mystery, the evidence to who he was and the possibilities and reasons as to why he was forgotten have given me reason to believe that he was a real person. Coupled with the fact that the timeline of events surrounding Kaminsky and I find it extremely difficult to ignore him as a suspect.


So in my eyes: Nathan Kaminsky was Jack the Ripper. I’m adamant about this.


Now with that said, I want to take a moment to discuss the obsession that surrounds Jack. I will never understand the massive appeal of the case. Yes, I get it: Jack was never caught, but there are a ton of other cases that one could look at that would have a much bigger impact if they’re solved. The Long Island Serial Killer is potentially still alive and it’s possible he’ll return to killing. The Zodiac was a man who got the last laugh and was as malicious as he was cunning (though given the Zodiac subreddit, I would be hesitant to tread there given I may end up getting harassed for not being a part of someone’s groupthink). The Lady of the Dunes is one of the most prevailing unidentified persons cases in the world and yet the obsession there is nowhere near what is given to Jack the Ripper.


I mean, let’s look at this. Jack the Ripper has hundreds of books on him, he’s had a plethora of movies, more TV specials and episodes dedicated to him than I care to count. He has songs about him, he has documentaries, he has shirts, he has memorabilia, there’s even a restaurant in Ronca, Italy named Jack the Ripper! There’s also a bowling alley in Sicilia! Yeah, there was a reason I didn’t want to linger earlier on the media and commercialization of Jack. It’s ludicrous. I mean come on man, is this not enough? It’s stupid Just how much of a commercial enterprise the name “Jack the Ripper” has become. Jack the Ripper’s become akin to Dan Cooper in so many ways, it’s honestly revolting.


I digress though. Personally, I will never ever understand how this can be given just how ungodly dull Jack’s case is. I covered this story mostly to solidify just how monotonous it is compared to the plethora of other unsolved mysteries out there. While some may take that as me raining on their parade, I genuinely don’t mean that. If you like the case, by all means, keep at it. Though I would highly advise getting in too deep with this story given it’s something that, evidently, siphons the soul out of you and turns you into a lifeless husk. Obsession is a dangerous thing and if you begin to obsess over something like this? You’ll find that even in death, Jack the Ripper can still take away your life.


Tyler’s Take


Ah Jack... I’d be lying if I said I have consistently had one suspect in my crosshairs.  When I was younger Francis Tumblety was my favorite suspect. A quack Irish doctor who supposedly didn’t like women that much. He was in London in 1888 and was arrested for quote, “homosexual acts” on November 7th.  He fled before his trial could begin. At first he seemed like a good choice, a crazed misogynistic doctor who came and went at the right time. I even remember some linguistic expert on the History Channel said the From Hell letter grammatically could have been written by an Irishmen.  


Of course when I got into psychology, Tumblety quickly fell apart. He showed no sign of violent behavior his whole life, and he was arrested two days before Mary Jane Kelly was murdered. It wasn’t him.


On the same day, I was introduced to the fella known only as David Cohen. Cohen basically being the Jewish equivalent of John Doe. By then I firmly believed the Ripper wasn’t a stereotypical genius with anatomy skills. He was a barely contained animal who acted on his own impulses. This man, who was thrown into the asylum a month after Kelly’s murder, was incredibly violent and aggressive. So much so, he had to be chained up rather frequently. He died in 1889 and his description seems to match a Polish bootmaker named Nathan Kaminsky. Kaminsky happened to live in the center of all the murders and was diagnosed with syphilis, indicating he frequented the local prostitutes. All records of Kaminsky seem to stop rather suddenly after May of 1888.  Is this theory perfect? No, there is a chance Kaminsky and Cohen were entirely different people.  


But, I feel out of all the suspects, Kaminsky is the most likely. His fellow Polish Jew Aaron Kosminski may have been mad, but he wasn’t violently mad. The recent hubbub about DNA testing is inconclusive at best, any evidence would be horrifically contaminated after over 120 years. The various rich and famous suspects, from Montague John Druitt or Walter Sickert all have somewhat strong alibis. Other suspects like Thomas Neill Cream were indeed killers, but they were poisoners, not mad butchers. Only one suspect in the entire case matches the personality a man like the Ripper must have had, Nathan Kaminsky or a man very similar. I won’t act like the case is suddenly closed, but its solid enough that I feel content with it. It might disappoint those that thought the Ripper was a great genius or a rich and powerful man, but that’s life. When you build up your heroes and villains, they ever so rarely live up to one’s imagination.


Ripperology


A bonus segment! I wanted to save this for near the end because it’s quite fun and a nice way to round out a very morbid story. This is something that, as far as I’m aware, is unique to the case of Jack. While there have been many who’ve become obsessed with unsolved serial murders (Robert Greysmith comes to mind—the man whose book was used as the basis for David Fincher’s Zodiac), the case of Jack the Ripper has inspired an entire sect of criminal investigation called “Ripperology”. The reason for this isn’t too hard to understand: such a long lasting unsolved murder attracts those who seek out the truth like it’s a buried treasure.


Websites, forums, fan clubs, and more have been dedicated to Ripperology. Their ultimate purpose is simple: find out who the legendary terror of Whitechapel was. It’s rather fascinating to see that so many people have willingly dedicated days, weeks, or even their entire life to this one case. The aforementioned Robert Greysmith comes to mind, only here: it’s a conglomeration of Robert Greysmiths.


That isn’t to say it’s a bad thing. Rather, I’d say that it’s a great thing. Seeing such enthusiasm for criminal Investigation and cold cases is something that brings a smile to my face. However, the boundary between passion and obsession shines through with Ripperology in a way I haven’t seen since, once again, Robert Greysmith.


Casebook.org is a great example in both a great way and an obsessive—or at least borderline obsessive—way. On the bright side, it’s a fantastic compilation of information on Jack. It’s neatly compiled, thorough, and well worded (though I would’ve definitely broken up some of the paragraphs).


On the flip side, the website’s forums are… interesting. Given that the website is dedicated to Jack the Ripper and only Jack, it’s rather difficult to wrap my head around the idea of some users having upwards of ten thousand posts. It’s something that brings to mind a metaphor from Watchmen creator Alan Moore.


The Dance of the Gull Catchers is the eleventh part to Moore’s own Jack the Ripper series: From Hell. In it, Moore tells of how he himself was at one point obsessed with the Ripper case. As he writes and does research for From Hell, Moore observes “Gull Catchers” (who are stand-ins for the Ripperologists) who run around with large butterfly nets in their pursuit of various details and connections. As time goes on, Moore joins them, but soon realizes that the theories being presented are ridiculous and only growing more ridiculous, a comparison by Moore being to that of a Koch snowflake, where “a finite, fixed location, event and era (London, in late 1888) can have an infinite number of nooks and crannies.”


By the end, Moore realizes that the longer the Gull Catchers pursue the truth behind Jack, the more the ground beneath them becomes muddied and any truth they may have once uncovered has been lost to a chaotic storm of theories, ideas, proposals, and conspiracies.


That isn’t to say that everyone on that forum is a crazed truth seeker whose life is dedicated to nothing Jack. However, by and large, the concept of a “Ripperologist” is where I—personally—drawn the line is. Passion and obsession can see their respective lines blurred when a century-old case ends up with its own field of study.


Much like how Jack himself has become a pop culture icon, his case has become less of an unsolved mystery and more of a legend. The idea of being the one to solve it would cement one’s name in criminal history books for centuries in the same way that Hercules is cemented as an icon of myth and legend. However, ultimately, that’s likely the only reason “Ripperology” exists. It serves in many ways to prove that Jack has truly ascended to the status of a normal cold case and has evolved into a legend like Atlantis or Blackbeard’s treasure. The answer to who Jack truly was has become more of a treasure than a desired answer. And there’s no better way to prove this than our next segment, which showcases how the boogeyman status that Jack held has shriveled up and died over time.


Jack the Ripper: Savior of Humanity?


A second bonus section, this is something I want to make note of so we can end this morbid write-up on something of an amusing note. When I was browsing 4chan’s /x/ board, I encountered a really funny conspiracy iceberg section that had me chuckling a fair bit. Someone had made up a conspiracy that posited the following: Jack the Ripper saved humanity from a world ending strain of Herpes. Personally, I think this would make for a really fun and entertaining short story, so if anyone’s willing to take up the challenge to try and make it a reality, I would love to read it.


Conclusion


The story and legend of Jack the Ripper is one-of-a-kind. No other unsolved mystery on Earth has spawned—or could even dream of—the sort of following that it has garnered is something unprecedented. In an era where information is so easily accessible, the door has opened to an array of theories and conspiracies within the realm of Jack the Ripper.


As for the killer himself, his legacy will live on in a way that only a few serial killers have ever attained. Ignoring the star status he’s gained, Jack’s level of brutality has become synonymous with many other serial killers who succeeded him and is now often used as a comparison to violence in entertainment, both as a compliment and as an insult or criticism. It’s worth noting that it’s almost exclusively Jack who’s been used for comparisons like this; the only other person I can personally think of is Ted Bundy. We’ll get to him sometime in the future.


In spite of this legacy and fame, many seasoned detectives, both professional and armchair alike, have come to one of two conclusions: the case has either been closed or is simply not worth investigating. Whether you believe that is entirely in you.


Me, personally, I found writing this to be one of the most exhausting, agonizing, and wildly frustrating things in my life. I didn’t even dare go into some of the most wild and obscure theories (something I would normally happily do) because I was beginning to get physically exhausted combing through name after name and folder of evidence after folder of evidence. It was getting to the point that I thought I’d be here until the end of next year writing something closer to a book than an actual blog article. While that would be all fine and dandy, I’m honestly happier honing my talent on a blog until I think that I could properly do a book justice. I also don’t desire to end up becoming so obsessed with this story that I end up going down the rabbit hole of obsession. I refuse to ever become Robert Greysmith, only autistic.


That brings me to the final paragraph. Who do you believe Jack the Ripper was, dear reader? As per the norm: leave a comment and tell me. I’d love to know who you believe the world’s most infamous killer is. With that said: thank you for reading. Stay safe, stay healthy and above all else: stay happy.

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