Archive for April, 2008

Five Victims

Posted in Victims on April 25, 2008 by tsmith512

Mary Ann Nichols

The first Ripper victim, discovered on the morning of August 31st, 1888. She was born in 1845. She married a man named William who worked with a printer and had five children with him. The two separated in 1881. She got a job as a servant in May of 1888, but was discharged for stealing. She was evicted from a lodging house in August and killed on the 31st.

Annie Chapman

The second Ripper victim. She was killed on September 8th, 1888. In 1869, she married a coachman named John. They had two children and later separated. He paid her a semi-regular alimony, but when he stopped, she turned to prostitution in an attempt to make ends meet. Her murder was more violent that Mary Ann Nichols, with her throat slashed, several internal organs removed, and her body was positioned. This is also where the leather apron was found, which led to the suspicion of a butcher being responsible.

Elizabeth Stride

The third generally accepted Ripper victim. She was the first in what is known as the “double-event.” Born in Sweden, she moved to London in 1866. She married John Thomas Stride in 1869. She was discovered dead very early in the morning of September 30th, 1888, about 1am. It is believed that Mr. Diemschutz disturbed Jack in the middle of mutilating her for two reasons: she was not mutilated to the extent of the others and hours later, the next victim was found:

Catherine Eddowes

The fourth Ripper victim, the second of the “double-event,” murdered only hours after Elizabeth Stride. Born in 1842 in Wolverhampton. She lived for a time with John Kelly and worked with him in the hops fields and worked as a prostitute as well. She was also murdered on the morning of September 30th, within hours of Stride’s murder. Her throat was slit and she was disemboweled as well.

Mary Jane Kelly

Mary Kelly is the fifth and final generally accepted Ripper victim, and her murder was by far the most brutal. She was born in 1863 and moved to Wales during her early childhood. She married a collier in 1879, who died in an explosion two or three years later. At this point, she became a prostitute. She came to a brothel in London in 1884. She was killed at about 4am where she lived. She was horribly mutilated, disemboweled, and some of her belongings were burned in the fireplace. Additionally, her heart was missing.


James Maybrick

Posted in Solution on April 25, 2008 by tsmith512

James Maybrick: Jack the Ripper!

“My dear God my mind is in a fog. The whore is now with her maker and he is welcome to her. There was no pleasure as I squeezed […] what a joke it would be if I could gorge an eye out and leave it by the whores body for all to see. To see. Ha ha” (Maybrick 289).

Naming a suspect for the Jack the Ripper murders is a dicey task at best because of the mass of contradictory, unverified, and cursory information on the subject. One hundred ten years of studying and debating have raised and dismissed suspects from the most likely men of the time to the most absurd theory of a writer who jumbled a confession into a nonsensical poem. However, due to the volume of incriminating information about him, circumstantial evidence, peer-reviewed theories, and the discovery of an incriminating diary and engraved pocket watch, the most plausible suspect is James Maybrick.

James Maybrick has several notable incidents from his background that would lead to suspicion. First, from a young age, he experienced death. Though he had six brothers, two did not live to adulthood: one who he was named for died at the age of four months, and his brother Alfred died at the age of four. Next, James’s marriage to Florence, who was later charged with poisoning him, is well established; however there are several documents which indicate a previous marriage to a Sarah Ann. “She lived for a while on Bromley Street, near Whitechapel, and on Mark Lane, across the road from Whitechapel. In all probability, James Maybrick’s association with Sarah Ann led to familiarity with the area where the Ripper murders occurred” (Background of the Maybrick Family). Additionally, “due to his numerous holding within the cotton industry, […], James Maybrick did have an intimate knowledge of the East End of London and a readily available place to stay there in the apartment of his brother” (Russo).

He married Florence in 1881 in London. While married to her, they traveled multiple times between England and the United States for his cotton business, but eventually he retired and settled in Liverpool. While married to Florence, they had two children and both of them had affairs with other people. James’s health declined leading up to 1889, and he died in May of that year. Despite lack of evidence to support the claim, Florence was charged with poisoning him. “By any standard, [the trial against Florence] was a horrible travesty of justice” (Background of the Maybrick Family). She was sentenced to hang, but after fifteen years of appeals, hard labor, confinement, and illness, she was released. Despite all these coincidences and reasonable suspicions, Maybrick’s story was not tied to the Ripper case until the discovery of his diary in 1992. This is likely because he spent very little time residing in London around the time of the murders.

In 1992, a Mr. Mike Barrett brought forth a diary. “The writing, which is signed ‘Jack the Ripper,’ purports to be the Ripper’s record of his murderous plans and activities from c. April 1888 until he senses his approaching death in May of 1889” (Begg, Fido and Skinner 300). Unfortunately, the diary’s journeys to Mr. Barrett are very convoluted and have lead to many scholars doubting the diary’s authenticity. Mr. Barrett received the book “from a drinking-companion, a print-worker called Anthony Devereux,” who told him nothing but that the diary was authentic and died shortly after (Begg, Fido and Skinner 300). The diary represented the most important piece of evidence ever found relating to the Ripper case, so investigations immediately commenced to validate or cry foul on the diary.

Many studies have been conducted on the diary to validate it. Two such studies are based on technicalities like ink and paper. The first was performed at the Staffordshire University in 2004 to validate the authenticity of the ink used in the book. “In this report, [they concentrated on] the examination of inks from dated documents [of the time]” (Platt). The uneven distribution of the ink suggests that the writer used a pot and nib, rather than a fountain pen, which was not patented until the 1880’s, so it is unlikely that a fountain pen would be common. When the inks of the dated documents and the diary were bombarded with light of specific wavelengths, the different inks fluoresced similarly. In conclusion of the report, the “properties of the ink on the diary [yielded] no significant data on the ink itself and are consistent with it having been written either at the purported date or at a more recent date” (Platt). Essentially, the diary was not written before the murders, but there was no evidence in the ink that tells us the diary must have been created more recently. Despite this somewhat discouraging conclusion, it must be noted that significant care would have to be taken to use a period-appropriate pen, ink, and paper to make the diary if it were forged. Another study was conducted by Jennifer Pegg concerning the paper of the diary, “the paper contained no optical brighteners and is made of a majority of cotton fibers, this is in keeping with the ‘Diary’s’ alleged age” (Pegg). These two studies do not offer a strong voice in either direction, but neither of them were able to invalidate the possibility that the diary was real, so further research continued.

Of course, it is important to look at the contents of the diary and link it to other writings we have. Graphology is the study of one’s character based on his or her handwriting: not what words are written, but how they are written. Anna Koren, the graphologist to the Israeli Minister of Justice stated gave the following characteristics for the author of the diary: “unstable, inner-conflicts, inferiority, hypochondriac, brutal, a distorted image of his masculinity, deep-rooted loneliness, exhibitionism, a tendency for his behavior to be repeated in cycles,’ [and when asked if such writing could be contrived, she “forcefully” responded]: ‘Impossible’” (Jakubowski and Braund 214). This is a rather exciting result because these characteristics are in line with modern-day profiles of a serial killer and many are consistent with what we know of James Maybrick. However, as promising as the diary looks, other pieces of evidence would prove very useful.

While researcher and investigative writer Shirley Harrison was following the history of the diary, she met a man who purchased a watch at an English jeweler. After examining it closely, he noted that it bore the signature “J. Maybrick.” Shirley Harrison noted that, “the letters ‘K’ and ‘M’ were identical with the letters in the known signature on Maybrick’s wedding certificate. Across the centre, even less distinct were the words: ‘I am Jack.’ Around the edge were five sets of initials—those of the five women murdered in Whitechapel” (Harrison 256). Obviously, this artifact would have to be tested as well. “Dr. S. Turgoose, of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology’s Corrosion and Protection Centre examined the scratchings with a scanning electron microscope, and gave his opinion that they are compatible with being made in 1888-9” (Begg, Fido and Skinner). The watch, combined with the diary, start to build a stronger case against Maybrick. The evidence was finally beginning to fall together.

Many scholars still do not believe that the diary and the pocket watch are authentic, but there are other supporting coincidences that must be considered as well. A photograph of Mary Kelly’s murder scene and body was given to a researcher for a computer enhancement of what appeared to be writing on the wall above Mary Kelly’s bed. “Enlarged, this writing becomes more clearly identifiable as an F and an M – the initials of Maybrick’s wife” (Jakubowski and Braund 217). Mary Kelly was similar in age and appearance to Florence Maybrick, which, combined with the initials on the wall, has lead to the hypothesis that “Maybrick was envisioning the murder of his wife while horribly mutilating Kelly” (Russo). Additionally, a previously unpublished “Dear Boss” letter was uncovered, which is signed “The Ripper,” and refers to the writer being on his way to the Innerliethen tweed factories, an area where Liverpool cotton merchants went frequently. The handwriting of this letter is “curiously similar to that of a letter written by Maybrick aboard the SS Baltic in 1881” (Jakubowski and Braund 214). Also, researchers discovered “from private, unpublished papers, that James Maybrick’s favourite pet name for himself was ‘Sir Jim’. There was no way that a forger could, at any time, have known this, yet whoever wrote the Diary is acutely aware of the inner conflict” (Jakubowski and Braund) and used the nickname many times throughout the diary to refer to himself in the third person. Finally, the Diary mentions an empty tin box that Catherine Eddowes was carrying. “It appears as ‘one Tin Match Box, empty’ in the police list [which was never published in full] until Donald Rumbelow and Martin Fido mentioned it in their respective books published in 1987” (Jakubowski and Braund). For this detail to be included in the diary, either the murderer had to write it, or someone after 1987 did so.

However, with all these coincidences and substantial evidence stacked against him, it appears as if James Maybrick truly was Jack the Ripper.

Works Cited
“Background of the Maybrick Family.” 19 Apr 2008 <;.
Begg, Paul, Martin Fido and Keith Skinner. Jack the Ripper: A to Z. London, England: Headline Book Publishing, 1994.
Harrison, Shirley. The Diary of Jack the Ripper. New York, NY: Smith Gryphon Ltd., 1994.
Jakubowski, Maxim and Nathan Braund. The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper. London, England: Robinson Publishing Ltd., 1999.
Maybrick, James. “Transcript of the Diary.” Ripper, The Diary of Jack the. Shirley Harrison. New York, NY: Smith Gryphon Ltd., 1993. Photo Insert and 287-318.
Pegg, Jennifer. “The Maybrick Diary Paper.” 1993. Disserations. 21 April 2008 <;.
Platt, Andrew. “Platt Diary Report.” March 2005. Dissertations. 21 April 2008 <;.
Russo, Stan. The Jack the Ripper Suspects. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. , 2004.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25, 2008 by madelinefisher

Mary Ann Nichols

She was born in 1845. She was married to a printer’s machinist with whom she had 5 children. She became separated from William (the printer’s machinist) in 1881, and in 1884 William gained custody of the children. She then moved in with Drew, a blacksmith and then a year later that came to a close due to an argument. In June of 1886, she was present at her son’s funeral and saw William (the last time they had contact). In May of 1888 she found a job as a domestic servant but then got fired 2 months later for stealing. She then started living with another prostitute and then was evicted in August of 1888. She was killed 2 days later. On the 31st she was found dead with her throat slit and no blood on her clothes or breasts. There were some other cuts on her lower torso. She was buried a week later.

Annie Chapman

Born in 1841, she was the son of a soldier who became a domestic servant. In 1869 she married John, a coachman. They had a few children and were separated in about 1885ish. In the following year, her allowance from her husband stopped coming, and she was living on the streets of Whitechapel. She died on September 8 of 1888. She was found dead in a back yard with a slit throat and several other cuts on the abdomen.

Catherine Eddows

Born in 1842 (probably), really there is not much information about her early life, though her husband left her in 1880 due to alcohol issues.  She then moves in with John Kelley in 1881.  They would work in the hops fields collecting hops during the hops season, and the rest of the year she would sell herself as a prostitute.  Her throat was slit, and some significantly brutal slashes all over her body. disembowelment occurred.  The murder happened approximately an hour after the death of Liz stride.

Mary Jane Kelly

Mary was born in Ireland, probably.  Her early life is the least documented.  In 1879, she married Davies.  She later gets an invite to France from a client, but does not like it so comes back and moves to the east end.  She met a man in May of 1887 and the next day they decided to live together.  October 30th 1888, the man moved out because another prostitute had begun living with them. She then died on November 9th. This was the most brutal murder.  Her throat was slit along with significant destruction of much of her flesh.  The organs were also taken out similarly to Catherine Eddowes, only much worse .

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25, 2008 by madelinefisher

 Montague John Druitt

Druitt was educated at Oxford to be a lawyer. he died by drowning, most likely a suicide on December 21, 1888.  his death was so soon after Kelley’s murder and he had access to “private information” about the case, he has been named a suspect.

James Maybrick

James Maybrick was a cotton merchant and was poisoned by his wife. his diary suggestedly contained a confession for the murders, it is widely considered to be a hoax.

Joseph Barnett

Barnett was Kelley’s lover.  Mary did not want to get back together with him, which led to speculation that he killed her and used the Ripper’s mode of killing to cover it. But he didn’t kill the other four girls that led up to the final murder.

Thomas Neill Cream

Cream was a convicted serial killer and he was executed in 1892.  He poisoned his victims. his last words were said to have been “I am Jack…”  This, however, is speculation.

 James Kenneth Stephen

Stephen was a poet who had obvious misogynistic tendancies and served as a tutor to Prince Albert.  Because of his connection to Prince Albert and therefore the Royal Conspiracy Theory, Stephen has been implicated in the killings.

Rosyln D’Onston Stephenson

Stephenson was a journalist who came to Whitechapel just before the murders started and left just after they ended.  He inserted himself into the investigation, writing letters and newspaper articles about it.  His short-term proximity to the murders and his interest in the crimes have made him a leading suspect in recent years.

Prince Albert Victor

He has been implicated as central to the theory that the Ripper crimes were part of a royal conspiracy. He had relations with prostitutes and had syphilis. He was out of town during some of the murders. From Hell is based on the royal conspiracy, it is discounted by most Ripperologists.

Jack the Ripper is…

Posted in Solution on April 24, 2008 by kimberjtrl

      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.


Works Cited


      Fletcher, Matthew. “Montague John Druitt.” Casebook. 23 Apr. 2008 <;.

“Genrealized Characteristics of Serial Murderers.” Criminal Profiling Research Site. 24 Apr. 2008 <;.

Holmes, R. “The Holmes Typology (Part1).” Phychology. 1996. 24 Apr. 2008 <;.

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 <;.

“The Man Who May Have Been Jack the Ripper.” The Dorset Page. 24 Apr. 2008 <;.

“Was This Man Jack the Ripper?” Jack the Ripper Tour. 24 Apr. 2008 <>.

The Original Jack the Ripper Club: Must Kill One Prostitute to Join

Posted in Solution on April 24, 2008 by katelinm

The five canonical victims of Jack the Ripper had no known connection between them during their lives. The only similarities between them stem from where they lived, their involvement with prostitution, and their violent deaths. The five women were killed within twelve weeks of each other in seemingly similar ways causing a panic throughout London about a murderer on the loose. However, there were differences in the murders that lead to the possibility of multiple murderers to the extent that all five of the murders could have conceivably been committed by five different people. The two victims that have the most similarity in their murders are Polly Nichols and Annie Chapman and seeing as how they were the first two of the canonical victims it is very likely that they were killed by the same person. The differences in the bodies of Catherine Eddowes, and especially Mary Kelly, make it hard to believe that they were killed by the same person who killed the others or even each other. Liz Stride presents an interesting case with her possibly incomplete murder. This possibility makes it hard to determine if she was killed by the same person as Polly Nichols and Annie Chapman, or by someone else entirely. The area of Whitechapel in the East End of London was full of poorly lit, winding passageways that allowed the killer to move around undetected and the circumstances of the people living there made it even easier for victims to be found. The murders of women in the area brought light to the conditions of Whitechapel. This helped outsiders realize the horrible living conditions of the area, but when the murders first began they may have also caused residents to wonder if they could get away with murder as well.

Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols was found murdered on August 31, 1888, lying on her back in the street (Begg 111). She was 42 years old when she died, had dark hair, and was around 5’2” (Casebook). She was first discovered by Charles Cross and Robert Paul around 3:30 am on Buck’s Row while they were on their way to work. A few minutes later PC Neil arrived on the scene. He saw that her clothes had been raised up to her stomach and that “blood had oozed from her throat” (Begg 112). The post-mortem was performed by Dr. Llewellyn who noted the deep cuts in Nichols throat that reached to the vertebrae and the “extensive injuries to the abdomen” (Begg 114). The abdominal injuries were very violently done by a knife in a downward motion (Sugden 41). The abdominal injuries and deep cuts in the throat are the two main aspects of the murders that tie together the canonical victims with the exception of Liz Stride. Bruises were also found on Nichols’ face and neck that Dr. Llewellyn thought must have been done at the same time (Begg 115). This hints at some form of strangulation by the murderer. A majority of Nichols’ blood had drained out of her veins and Dr. Llewellyn thought that the murder might have only taken four or five minutes (Begg 115). He also thought that the murderer must have had some anatomical knowledge because he seemed to have attacked all the vital parts (Sugden 41).

Annie Chapman was 45 years old when she died and was around five feet tall with dark wavy hair (Casebook). She was murdered on September 8, 1888. Her body was discovered by John Davis in Hanbury Street. He “‘saw a female lying down, her clothing up to her knees, and her face covered in blood…What was lying beside her I cannot describe-it was a part of her body’” (Begg 187). Dr. Phillips, who performed the post-mortem, described the positioning of the body as “lying in the yard on her back…the left arm was across the left breast, and the legs were drawn up, the feet resting on the ground, and the knees turned outwards” (Sugden 87). He believed that she had been strangled due to signs of asphyxia on her face, lips, and hands. Her throat was cut to the spine and there were severe abdominal mutilations. Parts of her abdominal wall were lying over both shoulders along with some of the small intestines lying over the right shoulder (Begg 193). Dr. Phillips also believed that the murderer must have had some anatomical knowledge because he felt that it would have taken him close to an hour to perform the murder as a professional surgeon (Begg 193). He also felt that the evidence to support the killer’s anatomical knowledge wasn’t obvious because the killer would have had to rush through the murder (Sugden 92). Inspector Abberline discussed Chapman’s murder with Superintendent West and Inspector Helson of J Division where Nichols’ body was found. They all agreed that the same man who had killed Polly Nichols had killed Annie Chapman (Begg 193).

Elizabeth Stride was 45 years old when she was murdered. She was 5’5” and had dark curly hair (Casebook). She was found on September 30, 1888, by Louis Diemschutz when he was pulling into George Yard and his horse began to shy away from something on the ground. When he went to investigate he discovered Stride’s freshly killed body (Begg 216). She was lying on her back with her right arm over her stomach. During the post-mortem the cause of death was determined to be the severance of the left carotid artery. However, there was an absence of post-mortem mutilation. This leads to two conclusions; Liz Stride was not killed by Jack the Ripper or the killer left the scene before he could finish (Begg 217). There were no signs of strangulation on Stride’s body, but there were discolorations found on her shoulders. These were determined to be pressure marks caused by two hands pressing down on the shoulders (Sugden 199).

A few hours later that night, the body of Catherine Eddowes was discovered by PC Watkins in a dark corner of Mitre Square (Begg 242). Eddowes was 46 years old when she died, had dark hair, and was five feet tall (Casebook). Dr. Frederick George Brown, the police surgeon, described her body when he arrived on the scene. According to him she was lying on her back with the clothes drawn up above the abdomen with the left leg lying straight and the right leg bent (Sugden 178). Eddowes’ throat was cut to the bone and had more extreme mutilation than any of the previous victims. Her face was extensively mutilated with cuts on her eyes, nose, lips, and cheeks. In particular, the tip of her nose had been cut out and there were inverted v cuts located under each eye. Her abdomen was also mutilated. The intestines were pulled out and placed over the right shoulder. The left kidney and portions of the womb were missing from the body. (Begg 243). Additionally the liver was slit and there were stab wounds on the thighs and the groin (Sugden 242). Dr. Brown thought that the killer must have had a good deal of anatomical knowledge to be able to locate and remove organs in the abdominal cavity. He also said that this knowledge is similar to knowledge that a person who cuts up animals on a regular basis would have (Begg 243).

Mary Kelly is the fifth canonical victim of Jack the Ripper and was only 25 years old when she died. She was taller than the other victims at 5’7” and had light colored hair (Casebook). She was discovered in her room in Miller’s Court on the morning of November 9, 1888, by Thomas Bowyer when he went to collect rent from her (Begg 299). Dr. Thomas Bond’s post-mortem notes describe Kelly’s position on the bed. She was lying on her back with her left arm lying across her abdomen. Her legs were spread apart and were bent at different angles. Mary Kelly was mutilated beyond recognition. Her neck was cut to the bone, her face was shredded, her breasts were cut off, the surfaces of the abdomen and thighs were removed, and several of her organs were spread around the room (Begg 301).

The similarities between the murdered women led the police to assume at the time that the murders had all been done by the same person. Serial killers were unheard of at the time and the police were unequipped to deal with crimes of this nature. The coincidence of the timing, location, and violence of the murders led to a natural assumption that one person had killed all of the women. However, as technology has progressed and crimes of this nature have become more prevalent re-evaluations of the victims make it harder to assume that the murders were committed by the same person. Polly Nichols and Annie Chapman were similar enough in style that it is acceptable for them to have been killed by the same person. The next three victims are harder to be sure about. Liz Stride suffered a similar fatal slash to her throat, but was not mutilated any further and did not appear to be strangled. Since Louis Diemschutz appeared to have scared off the killer though, it is possible there was no time to commit the mutilations to the abdomen. Also, the murderer would not have been able to predict Stride’s reaction and may have had to hold her on the ground rather than previously strangling her. This puts Stride’s murder on the fence of being absolutely committed by the same Ripper who had killed Annie Chapman and Polly Nichols.

The murders of Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly appear to be far too different to have been killed by the original Ripper. Most police forces now believe that murderers kill their victims practically the same way every time. The extent to which Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly were mutilated is too different from the other victims to have been done by the same person. In Catherine Eddowes’ case the previous victims did not have cuts on their faces and the patterns that were made on Eddowes’ face make it an even more distinguishable crime. Several aspects of the murders changed when it came to Mary Kelly. First of all, hers was the only murder that took place indoors. This is a very drastic departure from the previous murders in the streets of Whitechapel. The mutilations performed on Kelly were also unlike any of the other victims. Her abdomen was mutilated, but was also practically emptied by the killer. The injuries done to the rest of her body were highly extreme. The violence of Kelly’s murder was more severe than any of the other victims. This and the location of her death make it hard to believe that Kelly was killed by a stranger, as it is assumed that Jack the Ripper was to his victims. The five canonical victims of Jack the Ripper were probably not all killed by the same person.

The conditions of Whitechapel made it surprisingly easy for murder to occur. The police were unable to do much to catch murderers at the time, but it was also “the conditions under which people lived-in the teeming yet socially isolated slums of the cities…made the sudden, unexplained death or disappearance of a human being an event that would by no means automatically come to the attention of the police” (Altick 283). In 1883, novelist George Robert Sims travelled through the East End and released a series of articles debating the causes of the conditions of the East End. He determined that “overpopulation…meant that the East End labor market was flooded, which kept wages down to a bare minimum, while inadequate housing for the laborers and their families had brought about the forced co-mingling of working-class families with the criminal element” (Paley 16). Charles Booth’s poverty maps of London released in the decade after Sims had done his studies showed the East End of London colored primarily in black and two shades of blue. This was a range from the vicious, semi-criminal lowest class to the poor who live off of eighteen to twenty-one shillings a week (Paley 19). The area was a display of despair and desperation of the people who lived there. There were always people in the streets due to lack of shelter and not many police officers were present because it was not an important part of society.

In spite of the conditions murder was actually uncommon in Whitechapel when the Jack the Ripper murders occurred. There was plenty of violence in Whitechapel and it had a reputation as being a dangerous place, but there were very few murders. In 1887, there were eight reported homicides in London, but none of them took place in Whitechapel (Paley 70). A series of murders was not only a new occurrence, but also a highly shocking one. The murders became a spectacle and were covered heavily by the media. Murder was found to be fascinating by Victorian society and it therefore “provided an inexhaustible source of material for the mass-circulation journalism that developed in the course of the Victorian Era” (Altick 288). Sensationalism was popular and the media strived to uncover whatever they could about the murders. The flooding of information about the murders, regardless of truth, caused problems for the police and worsened the panic in the area. It is safe to assume that every person in Whitechapel knew what was going on with the murders and the inability of the police to catch the culprit. This opens up the possibility that people then realized that they could get away with murder. There was enough panic in the streets that any murder would probably be attributed to Jack the Ripper if the throat was violently slashed.

This comes back to the issue of if it can be determined that the victims were all killed by the same person. There were disturbing similarities between the murders. Not only were all of their throats cut similarly, but the positioning of their bodies after the murder was similar. They were all found lying on their backs with their legs spread apart and slightly bent in some way, with the exception of Liz Stride. The different degrees of violence displayed by the murders though make it hard to believe they were all done by the same person. The attention that was given to these events makes it possible for people to have copied aspects of the murders to place the blame on Jack the Ripper.

It was bad enough for the residents of Whitechapel to imagine one killer on the loose that multiple murderers would have caused even more of a panic. The five canonical victims are the ones that the police believed were a part of the Ripper murders. Aside from this there is no guarantee that the murders were all committed by the same person calling into question the very existence of Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper was transformed from the shadow of a killer to a warning about the fall of future society and a critique of Victorian society. As time passed the idea of Jack the Ripper vastly overshadowed the actual man, or most likely men, that committed these murders. Even if the identity of Jack the Ripper was finally discovered the motives of the man would still be unknown and would probably forever remain so. The mystery of Jack the Ripper will never be fully solved and the lasting effects of the murders on society will never let the Ripper die.

Works Cited

Altick, Richard D. Victorian Studies in Scarlet. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1970.

Begg, Paul. Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History. London: Pearson Educated Limited, 2004.

“Generally Accepted (Canonical) Victims.” Casebook: Jack the Ripper. 20

April 2008 <>.

Paley, Bruce. Jack the Ripper: The Simple Truth. London: Headline Book Publishing, 1996.

Sugden, Philip. The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. New York: Carroll and Graf, 2002.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2008 by leighannejoyce

Leigh Anne Joyce     

First Seminar 

Lavaughn Towell

April 19, 2008

Who dun it?

            “Jack the Ripper.”  There are few names that have transcended through time and space that continue to intrigue and shock us even after so many years. But who exactly was Jack the Ripper. Many people today are still so captivated by his story that they dedicate their entire lives to trying to solve the mystery that went cold so many years ago. They have gone so far as to create a profile of man whose identity remains unknown even to this day and to grasp for new and even more absurd suspects just to give this murder some closure.

Jack the Ripper was described as a “man of shabby genteel appearance…wearing a dark coat.” He was also known to have a dark complexion and a “foreign appearance”, which usually meant he was Jewish. He was also described as a little over 5 feet tall. He was thought to wear a dark felt hat, and to have a beard and a moustache. However, other eyewitnesses disagree with this fact. Police Constable William Smith described him as clean- shaven.  His age varies any where from 28 to 37 years old. He was also reported by all the witness to be respectably dressed. He also had a medium build. (A-to-Z, 195-196).

            It is obvious, even with a basic knowledge of the crimes, that Jack the Ripper was a serial killer.  According to, “they are white males, aged 25 – 34, of at least average intelligence, and often with charming personalities. Many were illegitimate and experienced abuse as children. They tend to select vulnerable victims of some specific type who gratify their need to control people. They prefer to kill with hands-on methods such as strangulation and stabbing. They are often preoccupied with sadistic fantasies involving domination and control of their victims.” The majority also have the means, motive, and the opportunity to commit their crimes. This summary, while not directed towards the Ripper specifically, seems to fit the image the police of the time created of the murderer. But who in Victorian Era London could have done the horrific crimes? That’s where Sir Melville Macnaghten comes in.

            On February 23, 1894, Macnaghten “wrote his influential and ultimately highly misleading memorandum…to refute newspaper reports that a disturbed young man named Thomas Cutbush had been identified by Scotland Yard as Jack the Ripper” (Roland, 164).  In one part of the memorandum, he “mention[s] the cases of three men, any one of whom would have been more likely to than Cutbush to have committed this series of murders” (Roland, 166). However, more than one version of the document exists, the Aberconway version and the Scotland Yard version. The Aberconway version, according to Paul Begg, is far more descriptive, containing many “personal comment[s]” (Begg, 317). Both documents though contain “errors that suggest that Macnaghten was relying on his memory” (Begg, 317). However, one item that remains constant through both versions of the memorandum is the names of the suspects, Druitt, Kosminski, and Ostrog.

             Montague John Druitt was “Macnaghten’s own preferred candidate” though it is unclear why he was chosen (Begg, 318). There is no hard evidence that Druitt was the murderer even though there are some facts that can be used against him.

            M.J. Druitt was born into a well to do family which unfortunately carried the curse of “failing health” (The Facts, 322). His mothers side of the family was wracked with mental instability and it is beloved that he inherited the trait which could have caused him to “become depressed and suicidal as a result of any significant disappointment” (The Facts, 325).  Unluckily for him, on November 30, 1888, he was fired from his job as a teacher. Almost a month later, his body was pulled from the Thames River. Among his possessions was a suicide note which read, “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” (A to Z, 109).  It seems to many that the only reason Druitt was named in the first place was the fact that his death coincided with the end of the murders. But is that the only thing he has in common with Jack?

            Druitt’s family was in agreement with Macnaghten that he was indeed, the Ripper. Both his age and his clean, presentable appearance matched what people believed the ripper to look like. There is also the fact that Druitt had no connection with the east end. It is possible that he could “have walked through Whitechapel on his way to visit his mother after her committal to the Brooke Asylum in Clapton in July 1888” (Sugden, 393). But even if that theory was correct, it would have put Druitt in Whitechapel in the summer, not during the time of the murders.

            During the time that all of the murders took place, Druitt had rock solid alibis and there is and was no possible way to connect him to Whitechapel or the murdered women, leaving the police with a  lack of not only motive, but means and opportunity as well.

            The second suspect listed by Macnaghten is a man by the name of Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew who “lived in [‘the very’] heart of the district where the murders were committed” (mammoth, 98). He was only mentioned in the memorandum because he was “Swanson and Anderson’s chief suspect” (Roland 129). According to the memorandum, he had “become insane owing to many years indulgence in solitary vices” (Begg 320). According to The Jack the Ripper A-Z he had a long history of mental problems as well as a strong hatred towards women and had spent most of his life in asylums. He described his own movements as “altogether controlled by and instinct that informs his mind” and was described by his doctors at Colney Hatch to be “unoccupied” and “incoherent” (A-to-Z, 229). By April of 1894 he had become “demented and incoherent” and was transferred to Leavesden Asylum for Imbeciles (A-to-Z, 229). According to Paul Roland, “he was a docile imbecile for most of his life” up until closer to the end (Roland, 129).  For this reason it is highly unlikely that he could have been capable of committing the murders. Macnaghtens writings contain many inaccuracies about Kosminski and the main conclusion is that even though he had the opportunity, he had not the means or the motive to kill the 5 women.

            However, it is a well accepted fact that Kosminski had a strong hatred for women, “especially of the prostitute class” (A-to-Z 230). Unfortunately, throughout all the books, there is no record I have found to support this theory. It is thought that he “took up a knife and threatened the life of his sister” (A-to-Z, 228) There is no other mention of this incident in any other book is used for research that I could find so it is easy to argue that it never really happened.

            The last suspect mentioned by Macnaghten is  Michael Ostrog, who was a “habitual thief and a compulsive liar” yet again, there is very little evidence to suggest that he was Jack the Ripper (Roland, 130) Ostrog was a Russian immigrant who, for many years, associated himself with a life of crime. He spent many years in several different workhouses and was declared insane in September of 1887. Less than half a year later, he was released and left to wander around Whitechapel during the height of the murders. On October 26 1888, he missed a meeting at the police station and was “listed as dangerous. Yet he had exhibited no signs of violence” other than trying to commit suicide (Roland 131) It is highly probable that Ostrog was “in Paris, where he was sentenced to two years imprisonment for theft” (A-to-Z, 331) . While it is true that he fit the profile of the Ripper, he was never charged and he eventually disappeared in 1904. While he did have the opportunity and possibly a motive due to his insanity, did he have the means? There is little if any evidence of Ostrog even having a basic knowledge of the human anatomy and without that, it would be very difficult to do what the Ripper did.

            But what if there was someone that the police had overlooked? According to Paul Roland, there is such a man, Jacob Levy. He states that, “the one tool that we have today which was not available to the police in 1888, and that is the… science of psychological profiling. The first rule of profiling is that a serial killer will almost always begin his criminal career close to home.” If you take that fact and other facts that are supplied by FBI criminal profilers, Roland believes that the “finger points at a suspect no one…has seriously considered before” (Roland, 198).

            Jacob Levy was a crazy Jewish butcher who lived in the very middle of the “killing ground” with his wife and children. Levy had obtained syphilis from prostitutes earlier in his life which lead to paranoia and violent fits. Being a butcher, he also had a very basic knowledge of anatomy and “would have been untroubled handling, and perhaps even hoarding, human body parts as macabre trophies.” He also would have to ability to walk around the streets of Whitechapel covered in blood due to the fact that dozens of butchers and slaughtermen walked around town in the early hours of the morning.  “He looked disarmingly normal and as such would have melted into the crowd.” (Roland 199-201)

            It is fact that Jacob Levy matched the psychological and physical description of Jack the Ripper. He was the right height, 5’3”, and the right age, around 32 during the time of the murders. Also, all of the victims were found in walking distance of Levy’s home. His wife once admitted that “he does not sleep at nights and wanders around aimlessly for hours.” It also noted in his file at an asylum, “[he] fears that if he is not restrained he will do some violence to someone.” The last clue that leads Roland to believe that Levy is Jack is the fact that in the year Levy died, the “Scotland Yard officially closed the files on the Whitechapel murders.” (Roland 201)

            So did Levy or any of the other suspects actually commit the atrocious murders? Depending on who you listen to, what books you read, and who you choose to believe, it is possible to make a legitimate case against almost anyone. If you squint your eyes and tilt your head to the left you can make yourself see whatever you want to. In spite of this, there is no actual evidence to incriminate anyone in the murders of the five prostitutes in the Whitechapel district in London. There is no proof, only the ideas of people who feel the need to have an answer. Life isn’t about finding answers. I think the moral of the story, whether there actually is one or not, is to be thankful for the time that we have because you never know when Jack the Ripper is going come around again!










Works Cited

Begg, Paul. Jack the Ripper: the Definitive History. Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited, 2005. 

Begg, Paul. Jack the Ripper: the Facts. London: Robson Books, 2004. 

Begg, Paul, Martin Fido,  and Keith Skinner. The Jack the Ripper a-Z. London: Headline Book, 1996. 

Jakubowski, Maxim, and Nathan Braund, eds. The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf, 1999. 

Ressler, Robert K., and Tom Scachtman. “Generalized Characteristics of Serial Murderers.” Criminal Profiling Research. 21 Apr. 2008 <;.

Roland, Paul. The Crimes of Jack the Ripper. Edison, NJ: Chartwell Books, INC., 2007. 

Sugden, Philip. The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf, 2002.