JACK THE RIPPER: THE WHITECHAPEL MURDERS

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SYNOPSIS

For our first ever episode, we go big with the complete story of Jack the Ripper, one of England most notorious ever killers and infamous all over the world. With only five canonical murders, he wasn’t the most prolific serial killer in history, but his reign terrorised East London in 1888 and his identity has been a mystery ever since.

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Jack the Ripper: The Whitechapel Murders

Whitechapel, East London. Home to one of England’s most renowned, brutal and evasive serial killers of all time. Jack the Ripper. We explore these murders from the brutal beginnings to the mysterious end. This is Dark Histories, where the facts are worse than fiction.

 

1888, Victorian England

 

In 1888, England was ruled by Queen Victoria, the British Empire was in full swing and London was the largest capital city in the world. East London, however, did not reflect this periods supposed prosperity.  It was a densely populated area, where the residents lived in poverty, amongst the highest crime rates and with little future prospects. Whole families were often residing in just one room. Whitechapel, a district of East London, had the highest crime and death rates of the city. It was also home to much of the immigrant communities, leading to high racial tensions, exacerbated by high unemployment and overcrowding. There were many law abiding and hard working citizens, however, there were also many slums and ghettos full of drunken violence and crime.

 

For the poorest, housing came in the form of lodgings, or ‘bunkhouses’. These were large buildings where people could rent a bed for the night, or if they couldn’t afford that, could sleep standing up propped up by a rope. Many of the bunkhouses were crumbling and upkeep was often overlooked by the landlords and the roads and alleyways around the bunkhouses were often dark, winding and full of squalor. The East End could certainly be a pretty grim place, full of anxiety and fear, poverty and crime.

 

Many women who had found themselves on hard times, took to prostitution to fund their beds in the bunkhouses. These were women of an East End underclass who were poor, desperate and struggling. It was these working women that would become the focus of a murderer who arose in Whitechapel during four months in 1888, causing fear among England’s populace with a brutal series of murders. Jack the Ripper.

 

Though there are five canonical, or, accepted victims of Jack the Ripper, there are theories that his murders may have escalated in brutality and that some earlier attacks may be attributed to him. These attacks have been debated for years, some debunked and others still open to interpretation. Considering the violence of the time, there are many possible victims that could have been Jack’s early attacks, we will focus on just two murders prior to the canonical five, as whether or not they were Ripper killings, the first marks a landmark in the history of the Ripper case and the second is classed by many to be the likeliest non-canonical victim and still holds the subject of many heated debates.

 

3rd April, 1888 – Emma Smith

 

Emma Smith suffered a brutal attack on the night of 3rd April 1888. She survived the initial attack and finally,  through coercion from two women from her lodging house, made it to the London hospital on Whitechapel Road. She spoke to the doctors there and explained that she had been beaten and robbed by a gang of men. Emma Smith died later that morning, on the 4th April. Her story of being attacked by a gang of men is largely accepted, therefore it’s unlikely it was a Ripper attack, however, her death marks a landmark in the Ripper case being that it saw the opening of the Whitechapel murders file by the police. This file would later encompass the Ripper Killings.

 

7th August, 1888 – Martha Tabram

 

Martha Tabram was a prostitute in her late thirties. During the late hours of August 6th, she was working with her friend Mary Anne Connely. They had picked up two soldiers and then split up, presumably to “get to business”. Her body was later found in the early hours of the morning of the 7th by John Saunders Reeves who was on his way to work. She was found sprawled out on the landing of the Georges Yard buildings, arms and hands by her sides and legs open. She had been brutally stabbed thirty-nine times.

 

The soldier in this story would be the natural first suspect, however, despite a lineup, neither soldier was ever identified. Two other witnesses had passed by the scene at earlier times of the night and hot not seen Martha’s body, though this may be attributed to the darkness of the buildings themselves being that there was no lighting, it could be argued that perhaps she was not killed by the soldier at all, but rather a different client from later in the night. Further arguments state that her body was found close to the Ripper heartland and that her wounds were concentrated in much the same areas of the body of the later Ripper victims, though her throat was not cut. Several of the detectives and important police figures who worked on the Ripper case themselves, considered Martha Tabram to be the first Ripper victim, leaving it open to many still today to be the most likely non-canon attack to have been by the Ripper himself.

 

The brutality of the murder shocked East London, though this was just the beginning of what was to be a bloody and gruesome four months for Whitechapel.

 

31st August, 1888 – Mary Anne Nichols

 

Mary Anne Nichols was a small women in mid to early forties. She had lived a colourful life, had been married for twenty-four years and had had five children. After many separations, she finally left her husband for good in 1881 and began living as a prostitute. She had turned to drink and was an alcoholic, moving from workhouse to workhouse throughout London. After landing a job as a maid, she stole clothing from her employers and took flight back to the workhouses she had been so familiar with.

 

In the early hours of August 31st, she had met her fellow prostitute, Emily Holland walking through Whitechapel Street, on the corner of Osborne Road, just a stone’s throw away from the scene of earlier attack victim Emma SMith. She was apparently drunk and having some trouble supporting herself without the aid of the walls and told Emily she had had her doss money three times that day, but drank it all away. Ominously, she then told Emily that she would “soon be back”, before disappearing down Whitechapel Street and into the night.

 

At 3:45am, Mary Anne Nichols body was discovered by Charles Cross on Buck’s Row whilst he was on his way to work. Upon seeing the body, he called to his friend across the street, the two observed her and believed that she was possibly still breathing. They arranged her skirt to “allow her some decency” and agreed to tell the first police officer they saw about their discovery and continued their walk to work. On Bakers Row, they met PC Jonas Mizen and told the officer of their grim discovery. Meanwhile, however, PC John Neill had also discovered the body whilst walking his beat. He signalled to PC John Thain who joined him and the duo was soon joined by Mizen. PC Thain went to a nearby house to call on the local doctor Rees Ralph Lewellyn who returned to Mary Anne Nichols body with PC Thain, but pronounced her dead at the scene, though only by minutes.

 

Mary Anne Nicholls body was found in a busy industrial area of Whitechapel. On one side of the street were warehouses and factories and on the other, terraced houses belonging to tradesmen. Her body lay below one of the windows of the houses, though when questioned, the residents claimed to have not heard any disturbances. She had minimal possessions, a comb, white pocket handkerchief and a piece of broken mirror. Doctor Lewellyn was of no doubt that she was killed where she lay, on the street of Buck’s Row, her blood running into the gutter by her side.

 

At the inquest, her wounds were described. She had several bruises to her face and several cuts across her abdomen, along with three or four deeper cuts running down wards from her abdomen. She also had had her throat cut, causing two brutal wounds from her left ear to below her chin which had severed all tissue down to her vertebrae.

 

Mary Anne Nicholls was well known and well liked in Whitechapel, her friends knew her affectionately as Polly and were moved to tears when identifying her body. Her father, ex-husband and eldest son paid for her funeral and she was buried in a polished Elm coffin in the City of London Cemetery. The Ripper had given London a taste of what was to come, Mary Anne Nicholls was poor and had no valuables to steal. Her killing was violent and senseless and it would not be long before he would strike again.

 

8th September, 1888 – Annie Chapman

 

In the days following Mary Anne Nicholls murder, the press and local residents of Whitechapel had begun to panic, attributing the murder to that of a madman who had been able to vanish amongst the morning foot-traffic. Fear was creeping in.

 

Annie Chapman was forty-seven years old. She was petite, standing only five feet tall. She had married and had three children, though her youngest had died at the age of only twelve of meningitis.  She had separated from her husband in 1885, though reasons are uncertain, it is heavily likely that both husband and wife were deeply into drink at the time. She received an allowance from her ex-husband, though after his death in 1886 she took to prostitution to make her living. She resided at Crossinghams lodging house in Spitalfields and was seemingly in something of a stable relationship with a man named Edward Stanley who often paid for her bed in Crossinghams.

 

On the morning of the 8th September, Annie Chapman was seen several times in the kitchen of her lodging house. She was drinking beer with Frederick Stevens, another lodger, around midnight. She then appeared to go to bed, however, it is likely that she had in fact, left as she was seen later returning eating a baked potato by John Evans, the night watchman. He had been sent to collect her lodging money, which she did not have. Annie went to see Donovan,  the house manager, to explain that she had no money for her bed but told him not to worry, for “I’ll soon be back” and asked for her bed to be kept for her. John Evans watched her leave and turn towards Spitalfields market around 1:30am.

 

At 5:30am, Annie was seen talking to a man at Hanbury Street by Elizabeth long. The man had his back towards Elizabeth who stated she heard him ask Annie “will you?” tyo which Annie replied “yes”.

 

Annies body was found at 6:00am laying in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street by a resident who lived on the third floor with his family. Upon discovering the body he alerted three men on Hanbury Street and then went to Commercial Street police station. Annies attacker had used a sharp knife to cut her throat, the wound was jagged and appeared to reach right around her neck. There was blood on the ground by her head and smeared on the fence directly behind her. The murderer had then gone on to cut her abdomen clean open. Her intestines were removed and placed by her shoulder, her uterus, upper parts of her vagina and two thirds of her bladder had also been removed but no trace of these parts were left at the scene. Doctor George Bagster Phillips, upon describing Annie’s body at the inquest later, remarked that her wounds could not have been done in such a way through surgery without taking the better part of an hour. These comments would later light the fire of debate that Jack the Ripper was a skilled surgeon or butcher, or at least someone who was well trained with a knife and possessing some anatomical knowledge, though this is something which is still debated today.

 

Annies possessions were a small piece of muslin, a comb and some pills. It was later discovered that she was dying either from tuberculosis or syphilis, and had been suffering for some time prior to her murder. Her funeral was held in secrecy by her closest family, so that only her relatives attended to avoid public attention. With Annie’s death, the press had gone into overdrive reporting the murder with extreme language and gruesome imagery. They published outlandish theories and criticised the police. Panic had struck Whitechapel following the second murder. The nightmare of the Ripper had begun.

 

As panic and fear swept through East London, a new inspector was drafted in to take care fo matters on the ground, Frederick Abberline. He was well respected and one aspect of his appointment was thought to be to stabilise the public perception of the police at the time. There were many accusations, suspects and even arrests, the most famous being a man nicknamed “Leather Apron”, though he provided an alibi for the murders and released by the police. Almost three weeks passed before Jack would resurface, this time giving himself a name which would become infamous the world over for over a hundred years.

 

30th September, 1888 – Elizabeth Stride

 

Elizabeth Stride was a forty-five year old Swedish woman. She had moved to London in 1866 and by 1888, was living in the lodging houses on Flower and Dean Street in Whitechapel, working as an occasional prostitute.

 

On the night of 30th September, Elizabeth Stride was seen several times with men of varying descriptions, though it is the testimony of Israel Schwartz that is the most intriguing. He claims to have seen Elizabeth Stride at 12:45am with a man around thirty years of age, five foot five inches tall with fresh complexion, dark hair and a small brown moustache. He was dressed in an overcoat and an old felt black hat with a wide brim. The man had stopped to talk to Stride in the gateway of Dutfield’s Yard and the two began to quarrel. The man pulled her into the street and threw her onto the ground. Schwartz crossed the street, thinking he was avoiding a domestic argument and not wanting to become involved. There was a second man lighting his pipe on this side of the street and the attacker called out, apparently to this second man “Lipski”. Schwartz believed he was being followed by the second man so ran away from the scene until the second man did not follow.

 

At 1:00am, Louis Deimschutz entered Dutfield’s Yard on his pony and cart. His pony refused to enter the yard and although he could not see anything, as the yard was pitch black, Deimschutz thought that perhaps something was blocking the path. Using his whip, he probed the ground ahead of him and came into contact with a woman’s body. Assuming she was either drunk or asleep, he entered the working mans club at the back of the yard to get some help. Upon returning with Isaac Kozebrodsky and Morris Eagle, the three men discovered that she was dead. It was the body of Elizabeth Stride. She was lying on the ground, head against the wall of the yard with her throat cut. Upon arrival of the police and doctor Blackwell, the doctor noted that her body was still warm and judged that by the severity of the cut to her throat, she would have bled to death in around one minute. Judging the timings, it is very likely that Israel Schwartz was the only man to have seen jack the Ripper at the time of a murder. It is also very possible that Jack had been in the yard at the same time as Louis Deimshutz when he arrived, perhaps cutting his brutal killing short of any further mutilations.

 

The calling out of “LIpski” to the second man has caused much debate as to whether or not Jack the Ripper was Jewish, or perhaps worked with an accomplice in his murders. However, Inspector Abberline himself did not suspect the second man to be an accomplice at all and suggested that the murderer was not calling out to him, rather than to Schwartz himself, hoping he would flee. A year previous, a Jewish man named Lipski had been hung for the murder fo a woman and the name Lipski had become a common insult used towards Jewish people at the time. Indeed, upon questioning, Schwartz could not be sure to whom the man was addressing. It appears however, that despite these close calls, Jack was not finished for the night. Rather than fear of capture, he was perhaps frustrated that his work had been cut short.

 

The same night – Catherine Eddowes

 

At almost the exact same moment that the body of Elizabeth Stride was discovered in Dutfield’s Yard, Catherine Eddowes was being released from Bishopsgate police station. Catherine Eddowes was a prostitute who had been arrested earlier that night for being drunk and disorderly but had sobered up enough for the on duty police officer to release her. She left the police station with a simple farewell: “good night old cock”.

 

Catherine Eddowes was forty-six years old. She had been, if not married, in a stable relationship and had had three children prior to her arrival in 1881 to the workhouses of Flower and Dean Street. She was not known as a prostitute and was thought to have been in a relationship with a man named John Kelly. Nor was she an alcoholic, though it had been noted that she would occasionally fall to drink. Apparently the 30th September, 1888, was one such night.

 

At 1:30am PC Edward Watkins walked through Mitre Square on his beat and noticed nothing of any significance. Upon his return at 1:45am however, he saw the body of Catherine Eddowes, lying on her back in a pool of blood and with her clothes pulled up above her waist. Catherine Eddowes had had her throat cut severing her arteries, being the cause of her death, this was, however, not the full-extent of her injuries. Her intestines had been removed and placed over her right shoulder, a two foot long piece had been detached and placed on the left hand side of her body. Her earlobes had been cut off, her face mutilated, her eyelids, nose and cheeks all stabbed and sliced. Her abdomen had been cut completely open and many of her organs had been stabbed or cut through including her left kidney, which had been completely removed. All mutilations were done after her death. If Jack had been frustrated from being disturbed during his first murder, he certainly took it out on the poor woman here. Catherine Eddowes was buried in the City of London Cemetery on the 8th October, 1888.

 

Dear Boss

 

Following the night of the double murders, the police saw fit to release to the public a letter which they had received a few days prior on the 27th September. The letter was headed “Dear Boss” and has become famous in history, referred to simply as “the Dear Boss letter”. It read:

 

“Dear Boss,

 

I keep on hearing the police have caught me, but they won’t fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talked about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shan’t quit ripping them until i do get buckled. Grand work the last one 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’ll soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle after the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I can’t use it, red ink is fit enough I hope HA HA! The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back until I do some more work and then give it out straight. My knife is so nice and sharp, I want to get to work right away if I get chance. Good luck!

 

Yours truly,

Jack the Ripper

 

Don’t mind me giving the trade name.

 

P.S Wasn’t good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands, curse it no  luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now ha ha.”

 

With the release of the letter, Jack the Ripper became a household name, both in England and America. As the press and public grew louder, the streets of Whitechapel fell quiet, though it wouldn’t last long.

 

October 1888 – Calm streets

 

The press and the public now had a name for the murderer of the Whitechapel victims: Jack the Ripper. The name captured the imaginations of the locals and several hoax letters were sent to both the press and police in the following weeks.Indeed, the authenticity of the Dear boss letter itself is still debated today. The second most likely authentic correspondence from Jack to the police, came on a postcard, today named the “Saucy Jacky Postcard”. It read:

 

“I was not codding Dear old Boss when I gave you the tip. You’ll hear about Saucy Jackys work tomorrow, double event this time, number one squealed a bit couldn’t finish straight off. Had not the time to get ears for police. Thanks for keeping last letter back ‘til i got to work again,

 

Jack the Ripper”

 

The Saucy Jacky Postcard contains references to both the removal of Catherine Eddowes ears and the double murder before the details were described by the press, leading people to believe that this is a genuine correspondence, however, there are others who say that details could have been taken from the original Dear Boss letter and riffed with.

 

On October 16th, George Lusk, the president of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, was sent a small parcel. The Whitechapel Vigilance Committee was an organisation set up prior to the double murder by local business and tradesmen, their aim was to aid the police in their hunt for Jack the Ripper by supplementing police numbers in the area and raising money for a cash reward for information leading to Jack’s capture. Inside the parcel was half of a human kidney preserved in wine. There was also an accompanying letter, famously sent “From Hell”. It Read:

 

“From Hell,

 

Mr Lusk,

 

Sor, I sent you half the kidney I took from one woman and preserved it for you. The other piece I fried and ate, it was very nice. I may send you the bloody knife that took it out if you only wait a while longer,

 

Signed,

 

Catch me when you can Mr Lusk”

 

Upon medical examination, the kidney was found to be very close to the one removed from Catherine Eddowes, though the results were inconclusive. This parcel and letter is another of the letters which is still debated until this day, though the inclusion of the kidney sets it apart from other possible hoaxes.There were other letters, so many in fact, that the police became inundated with letters. The month fell quiet and no more murders led people to return about their lives as usual. October passed by without incident on the streets of Whitechapel.

 

9th November, 1888 – Mary Kelly

 

Mary Kelly was twenty-five years old. She was raised in Wales by a decent family and had a good education. She was married at the age of sixteen, though two years later her husband was killed in an explosion. She arrived in London in 1884, aged twenty-one. She was well liked around Whitechapel and seemed to be clear of most of the troubles of the area, though at times could be drunk and have a temper. She rented a room in Miller’s Court in the Spitalfields area and lived with an unemployed fish porter named joseph Barnet. Due to falling on hard times financially, she had taken to prostitution to pay the rent.

 

In October, Mary Kelly had invited a homeless prostitute to stay with them in their room and after an argument, Joseph Barnet decided that he had had enough and moved out. At 2am on the morning of November 9th, Mary kelly met a man named George Hutchinson on Flower and Dean Street and asked if she could borrow some money. He declined and Mary Kelly replied that “I must go and find some money”. George Hutchinson saw MAry approached by a man and the pair walk off together towards Mary’s room in Miller’s Court. The pair stopped outside her room and George heard her tell the man she was with “Alright my dear, come along, you will be comfortable”. The pair kissed and walked into Miller’s Court. George Hutchinson described the man as being around five foot six inches tall, thirty-five or thirty-six years old, pale complexion, a slight moustache turned up at the corners, dark hair, dark eyes and bushy eyebrows, he is, according to Hutchinson, of Jewish appearance. The man was wearing a soft felt hat pulled down over his eyes, a long dark coat trimmed in Astrican, a white collar with a black necktie fixed with a horseshoe pin, wearing dark spats over light button over boots, a massive gold chain in his waistcoat with a large seal and red stone hanging from it.

 

At 10:45am Mary Kellys landlord, John McCarthy, sent his assistant, Thomas Bowyer, to Mary Kellys room to collect overdue rent. Upon knocking and receiving no answer, he stepped around to the window, put his hand inside through a broken pane, smashed earlier during a drunken quarrel between Mary Kelly and Joseph Barnet, and pulled aside the curtain. Inside he saw blood on the bed and ran back to tell McCarthy of the scene. Both men headed back to the room and upon looking through the window himself, McCarthy confirmed that inside lay the mutilated body of Mary Kelly. McCarthy later told journalists:

 

“The sight that we saw I cannot drive away from my mind. It looked more like the work of a devil than that of a man. I had heard a great deal about the Whitechapel murders, but I declare to |God, I had never expected to see a sight such as this. The whole scene is more than I can describe. I hope I may never see a sight such as this again.”

 

Mary kelly was laying naked on her bed. Her right arm had been partially detached. All the skin from her abdomen and left leg had been removed and placed on the bedside table. All organs along with both of her breasts had been removed and placed around her body. Her uterus and kidneys along with one breast were under her head. The other breast was by her right foot. The liver was placed between her feet, the intestines were placed by the right side of her body and the spleen by the left. Her face had suffered such mutilation that she was beyond recognition, with parts of her nose, cheeks, eyebrows and ears removed. The cause of her death had been a cut through her neck that had been so deep that it went down to her vertebrae, the bones themselves notched from the blade.

 

Mary Kellys body was buried in St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Leytonstone on the morning of 19th November, 1888.

 

Though there were several murders at later dates around Whitechapel, some attributed to Jack the Ripper by the pess, the police never suspected another murder to be his handiwork. He had disappeared as he always had done after a murder. With one final, gruesome killing, he was gone. Still today, 129 years later he remains the mystery he was in 1888.

 

Suspects

 

There have been several hundred suspects as to who might have been the Ripper over the years. Was he a medical man possessing skill with a blade and anatomical knowledge? Or a perhaps a butcher or a crazed man driven insane by Syphilis? Or perhaps just an ordinary man who had frenzied, blood fuelled outbursts? The names have come and gone, adding to a long list. We’ll take a look at two of the contemporary suspects, highly suspected by the Whitechapel police at the time and two more modern suspects.

 

Jacob Levy

 

Jacob Levy had lived his whole life in the Whitechapel area. He was thirty-two years old at the time of the Whitechapel Murders in 1888, working as a butcher and lived in Middlesex Street with his wife and children. He had a history of violence and mental instability. In 1886, he was sentenced to twelve months in prison for stealing meat from another butcher. His own wife remarked about him that:

 

“He feels that if he is not restrained he will do some violence to someone. He complains about hearing strange noises, cries for no reason, feels compelled to do acts which his conscience cannot stand and has a concious of a feeling of exaltation.”

 

She also mentioned that he does not sleep at nights and wanders around aimlessly for hours. Jacob Levy was committed to City of London Lunatic asylum in 1890 and died due to complications from Syphilis in 1891, suggesting that he very likely had some liaisons with prostitutes during his life. Working as a butcher, Levy would have been both knowledgeable of anatomy and skilled with a knife, both things which were remarked upon during the murders. The police themselves heavily suspected a man who worked on Butchers Row. Inspector Robert Sagar said of this man:

 

“We watched him carefully, there was no doubt that this man was insane and after a time, his friends thought it advisable to have him removed to a private asylum. After he was removed, there was no more Ripper atrocities.”

 

One of the witnesses, a Mr Joseph Levy who saw Catherine Eddowes with a man on the night of her death, was later reported on as follows:

 

“Mr Levy is absolutely obstinate and refuses to give the slightest information, leaving one to  infer that he knows something, but that he is afraid to be called upon in the inquest.”

 

It is possible that Joseph Levy was jacob Levys cousin, at the least, he was also a butcher and worked a few doors down from jacob. Was he aware of Jacob Levys involvement, but not willing to let on, due to familial ties or close working relations?

 

Aaron Kosminski

 

Aaron Kosminski was the man believed to be, by several high ranking police officials at the time, one of the strongest suspects, however, many of their accounts do not tally with the man himself, nor indeed with each other. Dates, behaviours and mixups seem to be prevalent in all the official accounts of him as a suspect. This has lead people to question whether or not they all speak of the same man in the first place, and thus, create great doubt that he is a strong suspect at all. Regardless, with the high ranking police naming him outright, he requires some research.

 

Aaron was born in Russia or Poland and moved to London around 1881. He was twenty-four years old in 1888 and lived in Whitechapel. By the later period of the 1880’s he was thought to have been suffering from Schizophrenia, was delusional and paranoid. He believed that he was spoken to by a higher power, refused to wash and ate food dropped as litter by others due to his paranoia of being fed. He was eventually committed to Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum in 1891. In 1894 he was transferred to Levinstone Asylum where he died in 1919. During his time in the asylum, he was never known as being violent.

 

Interestingly, in 2014, Kosminski was named by author Russell Edwards as definitively the Ripper. Edwards came to his conclusions through modern DNA evidence which are documented in his book “Naming Jack the Ripper”. The book has fascinating scientific details and the DNA extraction methods are interesting, however the book’s conclusions are hotly debated and largely unaccepted as a whole. We await eagerly for the peer review of the latest DNA work, but until then he remains a suspect with a rather muddled back story.

 

Montague John Druitt

Montague John Druitt was the number one suspect of Inspector Melville Macnaghten, a police officer from Scotland yard who was involved with the Whitechapel Murders file from 1889 until 1891.

 

Druitt was a barrister and assistant schoolmaster in Blackheath. According to Macnaghten’s description, he was:

 

“A doctor of about forty-one years of age and of fairly good family, who disappeared at the time of the Miller’s Court murder and whose body was found floating in the Thames on the 31st December. The body was thought to have been in the water for a month or more. From private information, I have little doubt that his own family suspected this man of being the Whitechapel Murderer. He was said to have been sexually insane.”

 

Macnaghten believed that Druitt had killed himself due to his brain giving way to insanity after the murder of Mary Kelly on November 9th, however, there are some discrepancies with what Macnaghten states about Druitt and the facts. Firstly, he was thirty-one, not forty-one years old. He was a barrister and a schoolmaster, not a doctor and thirdly he had committed suicide by jumping into the Thames more than three weeks after the murder of Mary kelly, in all likelihood due to him losing his position in both of his jobs. Inspector Abberline himself stated about Druitt:

 

“I know all about that story, but what does it amount to? Simply this, soon after the last murder in Whitechapel the body of a young barrister was found in the Thames, but there was absolutely nothing beyond the fact that he found at the time to incriminate him.”

 

We are then left with just Macnaughton’s words and little solid evidence. Still he remains high on the list of suspects today, simply due to these suspicions of Macnaghten, which are difficult to ignore.

 

Hyam Hyams

 

Hyam Hyams was thirty-three years old in 1888. He lived at 29 Mitre Street, Whitechapel, with his wife and two children.  In December of 1888, he was arrested by police and taken to Whitechapel workhouse infirmary suffering from delirium tremens. He spent the next few years in and out of asylums, usually forcibly taken by the police after violent outbursts, until in 1889, he was taken to Colney Hatch asylum after being arrested for attacking his wife with a knife. He lived out his days there until his death in 1913. During his time at Colney Hatch, he was described as being violent, threatening, noisy and destructive, once even stabbing a member of staff in the neck with a makeshift knife.

 

Interestingly, it is the confusion and mixups of the high ranking police reports concerning earlier suspect Aaron Kosminski that place Hyam Hyams into the frame. Many of the statements made about Kosminski that miss the mark, ring true for Hyams. They stated that Kosminski was committed to Colney Hatch in the spring of 1889, only he wasn’t taken in until 1891, Hyams however, was admitted in April 1889. They claimed the suspect Kosminski to be violent against women, which didn’t seem to be true according to records, however Hyams was. Had time taken toll and names between suspects become confused?

 

There are many other suspects in the case of Jack the Ripper. Whether or not the real murderer will ever be found is just as much as a mystery as the man himself. There is a strong community of amateur researchers and people who have given their whole lives researching the Ripper murders and new details are continuously coming to light. Perhaps one day the mystery will be solved for good.

 

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