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Who is Jack the Ripper?

Jack the Ripper is the infamous, unidentified serial killer who terrorized London in 1888. His gruesome crimes and the mystery of his identity have captivated the public for over a century. With each victim, his legend grew, leaving a dark shadow on history. Who could he be? Unravel the enduring enigma of Jack the Ripper with us. What secrets lie hidden in the foggy streets of Victorian London?
M. Dee Dubroff
M. Dee Dubroff

Although almost a century and one quarter has passed since the horrific crimes committed by Jack the Ripper in the seamy Whitechapel section of London, the fascination with the 1888 killings of six prostitutes has never left the imaginations of writers, movie makers and crime buffs. Who is this deranged killer and why weren’t the London police ever able to capture him?

Perhaps the crime technology and criminal profiling techniques of today would have yielded many more clues as to the identity of Jack the Ripper. Certainly he left some clues behind, including a bloody leather apron. In an ultimate act of audacity, he even sent a body part of one of the victims to Scotland Yard. Whoever he is, he taunted the police of the day, making his escape swiftly and with much agility under cover of darkness.

Scotland Yard has investigated some of the most famous criminals in history, including Jack the Ripper.
Scotland Yard has investigated some of the most famous criminals in history, including Jack the Ripper.

Even at the time, it was suspected that the clue to the identity of Jack the Ripper lay in the victims he chose. But who is he? To this day, Scotland Yard does not know. They had their hands full as the mutilated body count mounted through the summer of 1888 and persisted until November of that year when the murders suddenly ceased.

There is no shortage of suspects from all backgrounds and walks of life for the police to consider. Jack the Ripper is thought to have possibly been a local butcher named Kominski who was known to possess a hatred of women and a violent streak. Other suspects include a member of the royal family, the Duke of Clarence, who was the eldest son of the future king of England, Edward VII, and a doctor named Montague Druitt, who was known for his deviant sexual proclivities. Druitt was found floating in the Thames River some seven weeks after the sixth victim was discovered.

Jack the Ripper murdered six prostitutes.
Jack the Ripper murdered six prostitutes.

The world will never know for certain the name of the killer who terrorized the streets of Whitechapel so long ago, and yet Jack the Ripper will never be forgotten. Although part of the mystique lies in the mystery shrouding his true identity, another even deeper interest lies in the unsettling realization of man’s capacity for hatred and cruelty.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who was Jack the Ripper?

One suspect, Dr. Montague Druitt, was found floating in the Thames seven weeks after the sixth murder.
One suspect, Dr. Montague Druitt, was found floating in the Thames seven weeks after the sixth murder.

Jack the Ripper is the infamous pseudonym given to the unidentified serial killer who operated in the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. The name originated from a letter by someone claiming to be the murderer that was disseminated in the media. The Ripper is known for the brutal murders and mutilations of at least five women, all of whom were prostitutes. Despite numerous investigations, the killer's identity remains one of history's greatest unsolved mysteries.

What were the characteristics of Jack the Ripper's crimes?

Jack the Ripper's crimes were characterized by extreme violence and precise surgical mutilations, suggesting a knowledge of human anatomy. The victims were typically slashed at the throat, abdomen, and genital area, with some organs being removed from the bodies. The murders took place at night, on or near weekends, within a small geographical area, which has led to speculation about the killer's occupation and lifestyle.

How many victims were attributed to Jack the Ripper?

There are five canonical victims attributed to Jack the Ripper, known as the "Whitechapel murders." These victims were Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. However, some experts suggest there could have been more victims, while others argue that some of the five might not be the work of the Ripper. The canonical five were murdered between August and November 1888.

What are some theories about Jack the Ripper's identity?

Over the years, numerous theories about Jack the Ripper's identity have been proposed, ranging from plausible to outlandish. Suspects have included doctors, butchers, royalty, and even artists. Some theories suggest the killer was a member of the upper class, while others propose he was a local resident familiar with the area. Despite extensive historical research and modern forensic analysis, no theory has been definitively proven.

Has modern technology shed any light on the Jack the Ripper case?

Modern technology, including DNA analysis and forensic techniques, has been applied to artifacts linked to the Jack the Ripper case. For instance, in 2019, researchers published a study in the "Journal of Forensic Sciences" claiming to have found DNA evidence on a shawl associated with one of the victims, which they believe points to a suspect. However, this evidence is contentious and not widely accepted due to questions about the shawl's provenance and the validity of the DNA analysis.

Please note that the URL provided in the prompt does not lead to a valid webpage, and therefore, no specific data points or statistics from that source could be included in the answers. The responses are based on widely accepted historical knowledge and recent studies on the subject.

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Discussion Comments

anon284405

No, no. The letter written by "Jack the Ripper" was a hoax. The From Hell letter is the only letter believed to be real, and did match Tumblety's hand writing displaying his odd habit of connecting the pronoun I to the words following it. The kidney was identified as most likely belonging to Liz Stride, as it had the same rare kidney disease she had. I'm from Rochester, New York. I wish there was a way to find out what house he lived in on Plymouth Avenue. Maybe something is hidden there.

anon112397

jack the ripper was definitely francis tumblety. all evidence points to him, collection of wombs in glass jars, bloodstained shirt, rings off annie chapman on his person after he died, hatred of women, from hell letter identical to his own handwriting. police chasing him after he fled and skipped his bail. I think if they'd had forensic evidence in those days, tumblety would have been caught and hanged for the killings. it's so obvious he was the killer!

anon87423

The body part was not sent by Jack the Ripper, but most likely by anonymous pranksters. That's the belief of the investigators at the time, the medical examiner who looked at it, and most credible modern historians. What makes you know differently. I have to question your source material.

cjniya

One of the most famous murderers in the history we know is Jack the Ripper. As he walked along the street in the 19th century, with his black wind coat and top hat, he became more mythic and charming than the modern Zodiac. Neither Zodiac nor Jack the Ripper kills people now. And it is believed that Jack the Ripper stopped killing since November 9th, 1888. I just wonder whether Jack the Ripper is still alive in this world. As a human being, he could not live as long as over one hundred years. But I believe that his spirit could stay. It is said that no one knows who the Jack the Ripper was and no one knows what happened to him on November 9th, 1888. What stopped him killing? Was he enough for the human bodies? Or he is the evil from Hell and after that date he just returned home?

I believe that someone knew something about him. No one could be totally individual in this world. As an old saying goes, what is done by night appears by day. Maybe some victims were killed because they knew who Jack the Ripper was. It is horrible as I think that Jack the Ripper might come back and might be the ordinary people among us. You would never know that the shy man in your company or living next door-- you even dance together and wear the same rubber wristbands in the ball-- would be the cold blood killer at night. At the thought that he was a human being, I would be scared to wake up from the deepest sleep. But that is a human being-- we could kill the creatures of our kind, we could even eat the meat of our kind and in the daily life we just try our best to rob the creatures of our kind. Sometimes the city could be more bloody than the jungle.

anon44830

Saucy Jack still provides fodder for amateur detectives who want to take a crack at solving one of history's best known serial killings. You can even take "Ripper" tours if you visit London. It's a gruesome little fascination.

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    • Scotland Yard has investigated some of the most famous criminals in history, including Jack the Ripper.
      By: Darren Baker
      Scotland Yard has investigated some of the most famous criminals in history, including Jack the Ripper.
    • Jack the Ripper murdered six prostitutes.
      By: stokkete
      Jack the Ripper murdered six prostitutes.
    • One suspect, Dr. Montague Druitt, was found floating in the Thames seven weeks after the sixth murder.
      By: TTstudio
      One suspect, Dr. Montague Druitt, was found floating in the Thames seven weeks after the sixth murder.