Who Was Jack The Ripper?

Jack the Ripper is the world’s most famous serial killer. Yet his reign of terror lasted a mere 10 weeks and was confined to a small area of the Victorian Metropolis. It is difficult today to say how many victims he actually had, though it is generally agreed that there were five. These five were Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly. The first victim, Mary Nichols, was murdered on August 31st 1888. The final victim, Mary Kelly, was murdered on 9th November 1888.

Catch Me When You Can

The killings took place in one of the most crime ridden parts of Victorian London, and all the victims were common street prostitutes. The question that has eluded dedicated researchers for over a hundred years now is who was Jack the Ripper?

Obviously today it is virtually impossible to answer this question with 100% certainty. We can look at what the detectives of the time, those who investigated the killings, had to say. But in order to even attempt to answer the question we must first ask and answer another question. What happened to Jack the Ripper to stop him killing?

If we accept that Mary Kelly was the last victim of Jack the Ripper, then we must also accept that something happened to the killer shortly after the bloodbath in Miller’s Court (the place where Mary Kelly lived and where she was murdered in the early hours of 9th November 1888).

Murderers such as this don’t stop killing. They may lie low for a while, perhaps even for many years. But the desire to kill remains and can be re-awakened at anytime, unless something happens to the murderer to stop him.

In the case of Jack the Ripper that something was doubtless one of four things.

  1. He may have died, possibly by his own hand, shortly after he killed Mary Kelly.
  2. He may have been living with his family and they either realised he was insane and incarcerated him in a lunatic asylum, or possibly even handed him over to the police.
  3. A third, though unlikely, explanation is that he moved somewhere else continued killing and the connection was never made. This is an unlikely explanation since the murders were reported all over the world, and had a similar killing spree occurred somewhere else there is little doubt that the connection would have been made.
  4. The fourth and most likely scenario, however, is that at some stage in the days or months that followed the murder of Mary Kelly the police finally got the break they’d been hoping for since the killings began, and Jack the Ripper was finally caught.

So having considered the options as to what happened to the murderer we can now turn our attentions to the question everybody wants to know the answer to. Who was Jack the Ripper?

Interestingly, many of the police officers who worked on the case later claimed that they knew the identity of the killer. Several of them even went on record to name him. Unfortunately, when they did so, many of them named different suspects! So we will look at these suspects and discuss whether or not they could have been Jack the Ripper.

The Jack The Ripper Suspects Line Up

Was Jack The Ripper A Member of The Royal Family?

Let us begin our search with one of the most popular theories concerning the ripper’s identity. Was he a member of the Royal family? The member of the Royal family whose name is often put forward as being jack the Ripper is prince Albert Edward Victor, Queen Victoria’s grandson.

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A Mixed Bag Of Suspects

Many names have been put forward for the mantle of having been Jack the Ripper. Some of a ring of truth about them, others are downright ridiculous!

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Leather Apron

In early September 1888 the police began interviewing the local prostitutes to see if they could shed any light on the killer’s identity and motives. The prostitutes began talking about a man whom they had nicknamed ‘Leather Apron’ who was apparently trying to extort money from them.

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Charles Ludwig

An extremely promising suspect came to light in September 1888 when a German barber by the name of Charles Ludwig was arrested for attacking several people with a knife.

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Police Suspects September 1888

On 19th September Sir Charles Warren wrote to the Home Office to update them on progress, or to be more precise lack progress, in the police investigation. He also mentioned three men against whom the police had suspicions.

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Thomas Cutbush

On 13th February 1894 The Sun newspaper began a series of articles in which they claimed that Jack the Ripper was a man named Thomas Cutbush who had been incarcerated in Broadmoor Asylum.

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The Cutbush Files

In November 2008 the Broadmoore files on Thomas Cutbush were opened for the first time in 100 years. Paul Begg and Richard Jones were the first to view the files.

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The Macnaghten Memoranda

As a result of The Sun’s allegations against Thomas Cutbush high ranking police officer Sir Melville Macnaghten prepared a report to refute The Sun’s claims. In the report he mentioned three men who were more likely than Cutbush to have been the murderer.

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Sir Melville Leslie Macnaghten

Sir Melville Leslie Macnaghtenwas the police officer who shaped modern thinking on the number of victims that Jack the Ripper had. he also named several possible suspects.

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Montague John Druitt

Of the three aforementioned suspects Macnaghten appears to have been the likeliest to have been a young barrister and teacher called Montague John Druitt.

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Dr Francis Tumblety

In 1913 the journalist George Sims wrote to the former Chief Inspector John Littlechild, who at the time of the Jack the Ripper crimes had been head of the Metropolitan Police’s Secret Department, asking if he had heard of a Dr. D. (evidently a reference to M. J. Druitt) in connection with the Whitechapel murders. Littlechild replied that, although he had never heard of a Dr D, “…amongst the suspects, and to my mind a very likely one, was a Dr T [who] was an American quack named Tumblety.”

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