In 1888, Whitechapel, was gripped by fear of a brutal series of murders perpetrated by a sadistic killer that named himself Jack the Ripper. He would go on to be one of the world’s most famous, and elusive serial killers of all time. Jacks escapades took place just a single step ahead of the curve of criminal forensics, an opportune window in time aiding him in his flight from capture. Across The Channel, just a decade later, another, less well known nightmare was stalking the countryside. No less brutal in his killing spree, Vacher the Ripper, was tearing up victims in secluded forest pathways and the deserted barns of isolated, rural communities across France. The march of science, psychology and criminology had not been standing still, however, and what were only the nuclei of ideas during Jack’s reign, were emerging as full fledged methodologies, developed to pull a criminal from the shadows or a brutal murder out, from under the shroud of speculation. 

Starr, Douglas. (2011) The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story & The Birth of Forensic Science. Vintage, London, UK.

Gibson, Dirk C. (2012) Legends, Monsters, or Serial Murderers? The Real Story Behind an Ancient Crime. Praeger, CA, USA.

Renneville, Marc. (2005) La Criminolgie Perdue d’Alexandre Lacassagne (1843-1924) History of Criminology, Volume 1. Accessed online 17 February 2020:

V comme VACHER Joseph : Itinéraire et parcours de vie d’un des premiers Serial Killer Français.  Accessed online 16 February 2020:

Un Tueur en série d’autrefois. Accessed online 18 February 2020:

Smith, B. Timothy. (1999) Assistance and Repression: Rural Exodus, Vagabondage and Social Crisis in France, 1880-1914, Journal of Social History, Vol. 32, No. 4. P. 821-846. Oxford University Press, UK

Renneville, Marc. (2010) L’affaire Joseph Vacher: La fin d’un “Brevet d’impinité” pour les criminels? Droit et Cultures, 60 | 2010, p. 129 – 142. Accessed online, 18 February, 2020:

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