It is 125 years since Jack the Ripper brought terror and panic to the streets of the East End of London, and interest in his killing spree continues to grow.
Yet nobody really knows anything about the person responsible for carrying out the five (or more) murders that are attributed to the World’s most famous serial killer.
We don’t know who he was.
We don’t know where he lived.
We don’t even know what his motive was.
Indeed, those few short months over which the murders were carried out in the autumn of 1888 have left us with one of history’s greatest whodunnits?
As a result of our lack of knowledge with regards the murderer’s identity and motive, numerous pundits have come forward to claim that they have found the definitive solution as to who Jack the Ripper was and, as a result, the bulging file of suspects continues to grow!
Very early on in the investigation, it was suggested that the crimes were gang-related, and much of the police effort in early September was directed towards locating the local gang members who might be responsible.
Then, around the 3rd September 1888, the local prostitute began telling the detectives about a local man who they had nicknamed “Leather Apron” who, the local streetwalkers maintained, was trying to extort money out of them.
The police identified this Leather Apron character as a man by the name of John Pizer who they traced around the 10th of September 1888 and who they quickly ruled out as a viable suspect on account of the fact that Pizer, when questioned, had cast iron alibis for the nights of the previous two murders.
Throughout the twelve or so weeks when the murders were taking place in the East End of London suspect after a suspect was being brought in by the police. Yet none of them was charged with the crimes.
Ultimately, the police investigation would prove a failure in that, officially at least, the crimes were never solved and the perpetrator was never brought to justice.
But, that hasn’t stopped amateur sleuths, and even investigative journalists, from attempting to solve the crimes, and the list of names that. over the years, have been put forward as suspects is, to say the least, impressive.
Prince Albert Edward Victor, Queen Victoria’s grandson, Lewis Carol, the author of Alice in Wonderland, barrister and school teacher Montague John Druitt, the painter Walter Sickert, the American quack doctor Francis Tumblety, and even the Royal Physician are just some of the names included on the bulging list of Jack the Ripper suspects.
And yet, the probability is that he was just an unknown local, who probably lived in the heart of the area, whose neighbours and family thought him a little odd, but otherwise harmless, and who, every so often found the urge to step out into the night and commit his murders before fading once more into the obscurity that was his everyday lot.