James Maybrick: Not James the Ripper
To me James Maybrick seems to be the least viable of the possible suspects, and beginning with his age, it is not difficult to discredit Maybrick as the Jack the Ripper. In the descriptions given by multiple eyewitnesses, Jack the Ripper would have been somewhere in his thirties, and if we chose to finger Maybrick as the real Ripper we would be saying that the Ripper was around fifty during the Whitechapel murders. Maybrick also divided his time between America and London due to his cotton business, until he resigned during the depression that left him and his wife Florie in financial worry. However it seems unlikely that the Ripper would be that organized in his killings to move location from one continent to another in-between victims.
Maybrick was also an arsenic addict, which makes me wonder if this perhaps was the only addiction in his life. It is true that he was unfaithful in his marriage with his Southern belle bride, but Maybrick continued to increase his dose of arsenic “medication”—especially with the economic depression, until it eventually killed him at the age of fifty-one. There was a history of domestic violence between the Maybrick and Florie, but this was not uncommon between couples of this era. I believe that with the arsenic addiction, depression and difficulties both financially and at home, Maybrick would have had trouble committing these crimes, especially with his failing health.
Maybrick became prominent in the Ripper murders after a diary surfaced in 1992, apparently written by Jack the Ripper. Various allusions in the diary pointed to Maybrick as the author yet controversy and debate has surrounded the diary since its discovery. Those who believe Maybrick to be the Ripper have preformed tests on the entries, these tests plus reports by the “discoverer” Michael Barrett, and vague descriptions found in the diary have generated more arguments and fights continue over its authenticity. It seems to me to be very far fetched in thinking this diary just happened to surface in a bar, and within its pages laid all the answers to investigators’ questions regarding the Whitechapel murders. The doubts surrounding the diary as well as Maybrick’s age and the manner that he must have appeared during these murders should be enough to deter anyone considering him as a possible suspect.
Maybrick was a well-off man of the middle, upper class and would have stuck out in Whitechapel, and even though some descriptions portrayed Jack the Ripper as a well-dressed man, I doubt that eyewitnesses would have mistaken a fifty-year-old man to be around thirty. I suppose the reason why personally I cannot see James Maybrick as the real Ripper is his age and his health during the murders, the diary also could have been forged in a book from that era but by a person with no connection to the case, much like the Ripper letters so many attempted to pass off. James Maybrick seems to be a man many wish could take the fall for the murders, yet the diary that seems to have all the answers poses too many doubts to be certain.