Jack The Ripper Hindsight

One of the problems that we have today when investigating the Jack the Ripper crimes, is that we are looking at the murders with the gift of hindsight.

As the old saying goes, hindsight is a valuable gift, and, when it comes to the hunt for the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders it is an invaluable gift!


It is easy when looking back at a sequence of events from 1888 to ask ourselves, why wasn’t this done? or why didn’t someone see this?

Let’s for example take Louis Diemschutz.

For those who don’t know who he was, Louis Diemschutz was the man who found the body of Elizabeth Stride at one o’clock in the morning on the 30th of September, 1888.

A portrait of Louis Diemschutz.
Louis Diemschutz. Illustration By William McKay. Courtesy of Randy Williams.


The probability is that Diemschutz actually interrupted the murderer as he went about his bloody business, which is probably why Elizabeth Stride only had her throat cut, as opposed to being subjected to the horrific mutilations to which the other victims were subjected.

Now today, with the gift of hindsight, it is easy for us to look back and ask ourselves why Louis Diemschutz didn’t apprehend the killer when he came into the yard at one o’clock that morning.

But, the important point is that he didn’t realize that he was about to find the body of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims (although some people do not believe that Elizabeth Stride was a ripper victim).


In fact, when he turned his pony and hawker’s wagon into the dark of Dutfield’s Yard, he was just getting ready to go into the club and enjoy a drink before retiring for the night.

Indeed, when he first saw the dark bundle lying on the ground in the yard, he wasn’t certain what it was.

Only when he jumped down and struck a match did he realise that it was a woman, and even then, he thought that it was his wife and, for some reason, made the presumption that she was drunk.

So, he went into the adjoining club to get the other members to help her carry her indoors, and, in so doing, he gave the murderer vital seconds to get out of the yard and make his way to the City of London, where, forty-five minutes later, he had murdered Catherine Eddowes in Mitre Square.

Finding the body of Elizabeth Stride.
Louis Diemschutz Finds The Body of Elizabeth Stride.


Now, what if Diemschutz had looked around the yard instead of going into the club? What if he had realised that he had found the body of a murder victim? What if he had realised that Jack the Ripper was standing close by in the shadows of the dark yard?

All these what-ifs are easy for us to apply to his actions today.

But, Diemschutz didn’t have the gift of hindsight with which we are blessed.

Let’s be honest, the chances of any of us coming across the body of a murder victim on our way to work or on our way home from work are minuscule.

It’s not something you’d expect, and it wasn’t something that Diemschutz would have expected.

So, his actions were exactly what you’d expect as he went into a scenario, rather than what you can deduce when looking back on a scenario.


And this must be applied to all those who found themselves drawn into the case by the simple virtue of the fact that they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Charles Cross and Robert Paul, who were the first at the scene of the murder of Mary Nichols on August the 31st, 1888. Thomas Bowyer and John McCarthy, who, likewise, were the first to arrive at the scene of the murder of Mary kelly on the 9th of November, 1888.


As I said earlier, hindsight is a valuable gift, but it has no place in the hunt or the investigation into the Jack the Ripper crimes.

To fully understand the case, we must put ourselves in the seconds leading up to Diemschutz discovering the body of Elizabeth Stride, or Charles Cross encountering the body of Mary Nichols as he made his way to work in the early morning.

Only by doing this can we acquire a full understanding of the case, and, perhaps, use that understanding to try to solve what is, without doubt, history’s greatest mystery.