Charles Hermann Confesses

In April, 1902, articles began appearing in the newspapers stating that a man had confessed to having carried out the Jack the Ripper murders in 1888.

Now, one point that should be made, is that lots and lots of people actually confessed to having been responsible for the murders, and you can almost hear the weary sigh from the police in their response to this latest confessor, that was published by several of the newspapers, including The Hull Daily Mail, which covered the story in its edition of Monday 10th April, 1905:-



“Jack the Ripper,” who spread terror in the East End of London with series of fiendish murders many years ago, is said to have confessed to his crimes in New York.

Reuter’s correspondent says:-

“A man giving name of Charles Y. Hermann has confessed to having committed a series of barbarous murders in Whitechapel, whither, he says, he went fifteen years ago.

He states that his parents were a non-commissioned officer in the British Army and a Cairo woman.

The police believe that the man is suffering from hallucinations.

Several similar “confessions” have been made, but the police authorities believe the real murderer died in a lunatic asylum.”


The Tower Hamlets Independent and East End Local Advertiser, on Saturday, 22nd April, 1905, reported that the opinion of a well-known ripper theorist had been sought in relation to Charles Y. Hermann and his confession:-


Charles Hermann is under arrest in New York on his own confession that he committed the terrible series of murders in the Whitechapel district some fifteen years ago associated with ‘Jack the Ripper.’

The officials at Scotland Yard declare it impossible that he should be the murderer, as they say the real criminal committed suicide by drowning himself in the Thames at the time.


No one can form a better judgment than Dr. Forbes Winslow, who officially investigated the cases at the time.

In an interview with a representative, he expressed himself inclined to believe that Mermann is the man.

“I was engaged,” he said, “to unravel the mystery; and should have liked to work in conjunction with the police, but when it came to the crucial point, where I really needed assistance, red-tapism stepped in and would not allow. From that time there have been no more murders of the ‘Jack the Ripper’ type in London, but several in New York.

My theory is that inasmuch as persons suffering from homicidal insanity have long intervals of perfect sanity, this man may have left this country after committing the murders, and then gone to New York.

There he may have had a recurrence of his homicidal impulses, and committed more murders.

There is no possible reason why this should not have been the case.

A photograph of Dr Forbes Winslow.
Dr Forbes Winslow


It was after the second murder that I formed my theory that they had been committed by a religious homicidal monomaniac liable to outbreaks.

Several arrests were made, but the right man was not captured.

From the first, I did not believe that the work was that of a poor man, but of an educated individual living in the West End, and after each paroxysm , he would return to the bosom of his family.

The man through all his outrages displayed a great knowledge of anatomy, and after the sixth murder it was generally agreed that he was a butcher.

It being well known that I was interesting myself in the matter, I received many threatening letters, the curious part of it being that the writing corresponded with that  found in the arches at Whitechapel.”


Dr Winslow here showed a letter, framed, containing the words:-

“This week you will hear from me. Jack the Ripper.”

“I never heard anything at the time about a suspected man committing suicide,” the doctor concluded, “and for the police to say now that he committed suicide is preposterous. I don’t attach the slightest faith to this statement.”