Who was this maniac who mutilated and murdered a number of women in London's East End? The bogeyman? Hardly!
All signs point to Jack the Ripper but who is he? Is he a myth or a real person or multiple people? Are the tales just pseudohistory or folklore? And why the name Jack the Ripper? This is what I found.
London, Whitechapel in the late 1880s.
The story says that "the first modern day serial killer" coined the name Jack the Ripper for himself in a letter written in 1888 known as the "Dear Boss letter." It was sent to the Central News Agency and subsequently turned over to the Metropolitan Police Department a few days later. It is also believed that any number of people could have been Jack the Ripper including one theory stating Jack was really Jill because it was believed at one point that Rosyln D'Onston was the Ripper (Jill the Ripper).
The true identity of Jack the Ripper (Whitechapel Jack) has not ever been 100% determined but recent DNA testing is pointing to a deranged Polish barber named Aaron Kosminkski.
Still others refuse this because Kosminkski did not fit the physical description of the Ripper.
Other possibilities besides Aaron Kosminkski, strange, Polish-Jew hairdresser in Whitechapel, are Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward, The Duke of Clarence, Francis Tumblety, American quack doctor born in Ireland, Rosyln (Robert) D'Onston, writer, George Chapman, a Polish surgeon/medical professional, Montague John Druitt, a school teacher, Walter Sickert, an eccentric, German, Impressionist painter, and Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), the great English writer. What?
Over the decades at least 200 suspects have been named. You have to remember that evaluating a crime scene during that time period was a lot different than crime scene evaluation methods we used today. With today's methods, I am sure his identify would have been discovered with ease.
There were allegedly five brutal murders committed by Jack the Ripper between April 3, 1888 and February 13, 1891. The canonical five victims (as they are called) are Mary Ann Nichols killed August 31, 1888; Annie Chapman killed September 8, 1888; Elizabeth Stride killed September 30, 1888; Catherine Eddowes killed September 30, 1888; and Mary Jane Kelly killed November 9, 1888.
Scotland Yard theorizes the idea that there were four other women murdered by Jack the Ripper just before April 3, 1888 and another on April 9, 1888 which would bring the total up to 9 murders. Others believe the number of victims is over 11.
So the true identity of this serial killing lunatic of London's East End remains unknown.
He taunted the authorities with his handwritten letters and catch me if you can attitude.
He was never caught and there was much relief when the murders stopped in 1891 until another letter surfaced in 1896 which started the panic all over again. Luckily the murders did not start again.
Oddly enough, one good thing did come of this. The Ripper-killings brought attention to the poverty, disease, and famine in the East End and a few changes were made.
I hope at some point in time the identity of this obviously incurable mentally-deranged person will be known but if not, I do love a good mystery!
Great links for more info.
Going to London? Take a Ripper tour.
Jack the Ripper Museum.
Find a grave, Jack's victims.
Independent news UK