Well, we’d love to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper and figure out once and for all who he was. In reality, however, there is probably very little chance that the perpetrator of these infamous 1888 crimes will ever be brought to book.
But very little chance doesn’t mean no chance. So there always remains a slim chance that a solution to the notorious killer’s identity is out there.
One of the major problems that confronts ripperologists today is that very little of the evidence that the police at the time accumulated has been either lost or destroyed. So crime historians are, in effect, playing a game of join the dots when it comes to hunting Jack the Ripper.
It’s a question of looking at what evidence we do have and then filling in the blanks, either by guesswork, or by using a surviving police or government report to see if they can give us the final piece of the jigsaw.
But, up until now, that quite simply hasn’t happened.
Much of the information and evidence that has come to light over the last fifty or so years, has been found, sometimes, by accident, in a private collection or even in storage in someone’s loft.
An example of this is the case of our Jack the Ripper Tour guide Philip Hutchinson.
In 2000, whilst holidaying in Lincolnshire, he met with Margaret Green who operates the Lincoln Ghost Walk. Later he booked her as a speaker at the Ghost Club, the World’s oldest paranormal organisation. As they sat in the bar prior to her talk Margaret happened to mention that she had recently discovered a set of photographs in a kitchen draw that her uncle, John G. Whitby, had taken around the various Jack the Ripper murder sites in the 1960’s. She asked if Philip would be interested in seeing them, to which the reply was a hasty and enthusiastic “YES!!!!”
When Philip saw the photographs, he realised that they captured views of the murder sites and other East End locations. These photographs appear in Philip’s excellent book “The Jack the Ripper Location Photographs,” signed copies of which are available from Philip on his Jack the Ripper Walk.
Similar chance finds of police documents and other memorabilia connected with the Jack the Ripper case have also helped shed more light on the mystery.
So, if you had ancestors who lived in the east End of London and there’s an old box up in the loft that no-one has looked in for years, why not take it down, blow away the dust, and go through it. At worst you might just find it contains previously unseen photographs of the East End of London, at best you might find it contains that holy grail of ripperology, the long sought piece of information that solves the mystery once and for all. But then again, just a photograph would still be nice!