More than a hundred years ago, a series of murders occurred in the Whitechapel district of London, England. The name given to the man who brutally killed these women is “Jack the Ripper”, from an alleged letter written to detectives during the height of the killing spree. Five (possibly more) women were found slaughtered like animals, not much more than a mile from one another, on separate dreary London nights. Although the number of Jack the Ripper victims is highly debated, ranging from four to seven, five is accepted by the majority of Ripperologists. These five women are known as the canonical murders: Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols, murdered Friday, August 31, 1888, Annie Chapman, murdered Saturday, September 8, 1888, Elizabeth Stride, murdered Sunday, September 30, 1888, Catharine Eddowes, also murdered that same date, and Mary Jane (Marie Jeanette) Kelly, murdered Friday, November 9, 1888. All of the victims are described as poverty stricken prostitutes, however Catherine Eddowes, in fact, was not a prostitute. Each of the victims’ bodies had numerous stab wounds, and each woman’s throat was slit, thus giving the appropriate name “Jack the Ripper” to the unknown suspect. The press made use of these tragedies by printing newspapers with headlines, pictures, and horrid details of the murders. People, especially women, would not go out late at night without an accomplice, in fear of being added to the list of Ripper victims. The city of London, England endured a short period of sheer terror
More than a hundred years later, this case still remains unsolved. It has haunted many Victorian scholars, detectives, and Jack the Ripper enthusiasts for years. Lack of forensic abilities and lack of evidence left at the crime contributes to the unsolvable nature of the crime. Contributing to the difficulty of the case, much of the recorded evidence written down by detectives at the time of the murders has been lost, making the case an even more romantic and intriguing puzzle waiting to be solved. However, much of the evidence that still remains points to one suspect distinctively. The name of this man is Montague John Druitt, or as I like to call him, Jack the Ripper. Montague John Druitt was born in 1857 in Wimborne, Dorset to a prominent and successful surgeon, William, and Ann Harvey-Druitt. Druitt’s family is said to have been wealthy at the time. Druitt was the second homosexual son to the two. Druitt enjoyed a large family life with one older brother, William, two younger brothers, and three younger sisters, Edith, Ethel, and Georgiana (Sanctuaryfans). While at school and college, Druitt was s successful debater and sportsman (fives and cricket), and an unsuccessful actor ( Begg, 111). In 1880, Druitt graduated from Winchester College with a degree in Classics. “Immediately after graduation, Druitt began teaching at a boarding school in Blackheath. In 1882, Druitt decided to focus on a law career, and was admitted into the Inner Temple on May 17” (TheDorsetPage). Druitt was described as most as being very rational, an eloquent orator, and socially accepted.
He was later employed as a schoolmaster at Mr. Valentine’s School in Blackheath in 1880. However, he was dismissed by Mr. Valentine on November 30th, 1888 for, “…being in serious trouble at the school” ( Begg, 111). Montague John Druitt was last seen alive on December 3rd 1888, and shortly after, on December 31st 1888, his body was found floating in the Thames.
The body was discovered by Henry Winslade and examined by PC George Moulson who speculated that it had been immersed for 3 weeks to a month. In 1885 Montague John Druitt’s father passed away of a heart attack at the age of 65. He left Montague 500 pounds inheritance. His mother’s health began deteriorating in July 1888, and after a suicide attempt, she was permanently hospitalized in a number of private asylums and clinics until her death. It is said that mental illness ran in Druitt’s family. Druitt’s grandmother and aunt had committed suicide and own sister was to do so, although many years later. The date of his mother’s death is significant since the Ripper murders began in August 1888, and her mental state may have acted as a catalyst for Montague John Druitt’s decent into murder, and eventually suicide (Casebook).
When Druitt’s body was found in the Thames stones were discovered in the pockets of his overcoat. “He had left a letter for Mr. Valentine, alluding to suicide, and a paper addressed to his brother with words to the effect that, ‘Since Friday I felt that I was going to be like mother, and it would be best for all concerned if I were to die’. The inquest on 2 January 1889, found ‘suicide whilst of unsound mind’, which permitted burial in consecrated ground, Wimborne cemetery” (Begg, 111). Did the burden of the murders begin to pressure Druitt’s conscious, and that is why he committed suicide? According to the Macnaghten Memoranda, the literature which first described Montague John Druitt as a suspect in the Ripper murders, “It will be noted that the mutilations increased in each case, and, seemingly, the appetite only became sharpened by indulgence. It seems, then, highly improbably that the murdered would have suddenly stopped in November ’88…A much more rational theory is that the murderer’s brain gave way altogether after his awful glut in Miller’s court, and that he immediately committed suicide, or as a possible alternative, was found to be so hopelessly mad by his relations, that he was by them confined in some asylum” (Jack-The-Ripper-Tour). Druitt committed suicide at an estimated 3 weeks after the last of the five conical murders. This would lead one to assume that the reason the murders stopped so suddenly was because Jack the Ripper had committed suicide, making Montague John Druitt the most plausible suspect.
Most of the suspicions aimed towards Druitt stem from the Macnaghten Memoranda written by Sir Melville Macnaghten. Macnaghten joined the Metropolitan Police as Assistant Chief Constable, second in command of the Criminal Investigation Department (C.I.D.) at Scotland Yard in June 1889 (Metropolitan Police). “Druitt came to notice in 1959 when Daniel Farson discovered the Aberconway version of Macnaghten’s Memoranda, naming him as the probable Ripper and describing him as:
“Me M.J. Druitt, a doctor of about 41 years of age and of good family, who disappeared at the time of the Miller’s Court murder, and whose body was found floating in the Thames on 31 Dec: i.e. 7 weeks after the said murder. The body was said to have been in the water for a month, or more – on it was found a season ticket between Blackheath and London. From private information I have little doubt but that his own family suspected this man of being the Whitechapel murderer; it was alleged that he was sexually insane” (Begg, 112).
Macnaghten’s Memoranda must not be taken too gravely, however. The entire report is according to Sir Melville’s memory and hearsay. However, “Druitt’s acceptance as a Ripper suspect must lie in the belief that Macnaghten had more information than he wanted others to know – information which he claims he destroyed so as not to cause an uproar” (TheDorsetPage).
According to the Holmes Typology Report (Part 1) there are two personality types of serial killers: Disorganized asocial offenders and organized nonsocial offenders. Montague John Druitt corresponds almost flawlessly into the organized nonsocial offender’s category. The Typology Report states that this type of serial killer has a high IQ (possibly college educated), is socially adequate, and is geographically/occupationally mobile. Druitt was a college graduate and was said to have been rational and logical. He also had many friends, and ran in circles with the upper class. Thanks to his skill and love of the game of cricket, he was extremely mobile, going to cricket tournaments out of town often. The report also states that this type of serial killer has good hygiene, does not keep a hiding place, usually stays in contact with the police to play games, may dismember the body, and leaves little physical evidence. Montague John Druitt was a well kept man who had no hiding place (that we know of). Also, there was a letter sent to Mr. Lusk containing the kidney of one of the victims of the Ripper murders. “Throat cutting attended the murders of Nichols, Chapman, Stride, Eddowes, and Kelly, the five canonical victims. In all except the cases of Stride there was abdominal mutilation. In the case of Chapman the uterus was taken away by the killer; Eddowes’ uterus and kidney were taken; and in Kelly’s case, evidence suggests, the heart” (Metropolitan Police). There was never any solid evidence left at any of the crime scenes.
Serial killers are also identified by certain characteristics, according to the Criminal Profiling Research Cite. “Serial murderers kill three or more victims, each on separate occasions. Unlike mass and spree types, serial killers usually select a certain type of victim who fulfills a role in the killer’s fantasies. There are cooling-off periods between a serial murders, which are usually better planned than mass or spree killings” (CriminalProfiling). Montague John Druitt murdered five (possibly more) women in the fall season in London. All three of the murders occurred on separate occasions and in separate locations. All of the victims, with the exception of Eddowes, were prostitutes in the Whitechapel district of East End London. However, Jack the Ripper could have very well mistaken her for one. Serial killers are also generally white males, aged 25-34, with at least average intelligence and charming personalities. Montague John was 31 years of age and obtained both of these qualities.
The Criminal Profiling Research site also states that serial killers tend to select vulnerable victims of some specific type who gratify their need to control people. All of the victims (dismissing Eddowes) were prostitutes who are considered vulnerable because they are willing to go into dark secluded places with strange men. Serial killers also prefer to kill with hands-on methods such as strangulation and stabbing. They are obsessed with sadistic fantasies involving domination and control of their victims. Since Montague John Druitt was allegedly sexually insane this would fit his characteristic type perfectly. There are four subtypes of serial killers, one in which being the mission-oriented type. Montague John Druitt was the mission oriented type, who seeks to kill a specific group of people who he believes are unworthy to live and without whom the world would be a better place. He is not psychotic; in fact, his everyday acquaintances frequently will describe him as a fine and upstanding citizen (CriminalProfiling).
A person’s childhood is also a contributing factor to their personality as a serial killer. Studies show that the most important figure in a child’s life is their mother. Druitt’s mother was deemed mentally unstable and eventually committed suicide, shortly after which the Whitechapel murders began. Druitt is a perfect candidate for the role as Jack the Ripper. “Many of the pre-crime stressors that seem to precipitate murderous actions are the same as those that happen to lots of people every day – the loss of a job, the breakup of a relationship, money problems. Normal people cope with the help of a normal pattern of development. The potential murderer, however, turns inward and focuses on his own problems to the exclusion of all else, and on fantasies as the solution to the problem, because his mental coping mechanisms are faulty” (CriminalProfiling). Abruptly after the loss of Montague John Druitt’s mother and father’s deaths, and the loss of his job, the murders began. Druitt’s fantasies began taking over his mind and the potential victim turned into a real one. Druitt began to think that he was invincible and will never be caught. He experienced the thrill of a vicious murder, and enjoyed it. The kill was a complete thrill. Druitt continues seeking out women to act out his fantasies on. The crimes become more and more violent, eventually ending with the bloody and gruesome murder of Mary Jane Kelly. With the recent struggles he endured and the realization of what he has been committing, Druitt snaps. Montague John Druitt commits suicide and drowns himself in the Thames.
All evidence points to Montague John Druitt as the true identity of Jack the Ripper. Although the world may possibly never know who the true murderer is, Druitt will remain the most plausible suspect. Because of the horrendous murders that occurred that fall in East End London, the town will continue to be haunted until the true identity is revealed.
Fletcher, Matthew. “Montague John Druitt.” Casebook. 23 Apr. 2008 <http://www.casebook.org/dissertations/druitt-art.html>.
“Genrealized Characteristics of Serial Murderers.” Criminal Profiling Research Site. 24 Apr. 2008 <http://www.criminalprofiling.ch/character.html>.
Holmes, R. “The Holmes Typology (Part1).” Phychology. 1996. 24 Apr. 2008 <http://psychology.concordia.ca/fac/Laurence/forensic/holmes1.pdf>.
Paul, Begg, Martin Fido, and Keith Skinner. The Jack the Ripper a to Z. London: Headline Book PLC, 1991.
“The Enduring Mystery of Jack the Ripper.” Metropolitan Police. 24 Apr. 2008 <http://www.met.police.uk/history/ripper.htm>.
“The Man Who May Have Been Jack the Ripper.” The Dorset Page. 24 Apr. 2008 <http://www.thedorsetpage.com/history/Jack_the_Ripper/jack_the_ripper.htm>.
“Was This Man Jack the Ripper?” Jack the Ripper Tour. 24 Apr. 2008 <www.jack-the-ripper-tour.com/jack-the-ripper-suspect-montague-john-druitt.htm>.