Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper is the pseudonym given to the serial killer active in the Whitechapel area of London, England in the second half of 1888. The name is taken from a letter by someone claiming to be the killer, published at the time of the killings. Although many theories have been advanced, Jack the Ripper's identity has not yet been determined, and may never be.

The mythology surrounding the Ripper murders has become a complex muddle of genuine historical research, freewheeling conspiracy theory and folklore invention. The lack of an identity for the killer has allowed subsequent amateur sleuths to point their fingers at a large variety of candidates.

Table of contents
1 Victims
2 Media
3 Suspects
4 Further theories about the Ripper
5 The Ripper in culture
6 Further reading
7 External link

Victims

The total number and names of the Ripper's victims are the subject of much debate, but one historical view is that Jack killed the following five prostitutes (or presumed prostitute in Eddowes' case) in London's East End:

  • Mary Ann Nichols, (maiden name Mary Ann Walker, nicknamed "Polly"), born on August 26, 1845 and killed on August 31, 1888.

  • Annie Chapman, (maiden name Eliza Ann Smith, nicknamed "Dark Annie"), born in September, 1841 and killed on September 8, 1888.

  • Elizabeth Stride, (maiden name Elisabeth Gustafsdotter, nicknamed "Long Liz"), born in Sweden on November 27, 1843 and killed on September 30, 1888.

  • Catherine Eddowes, (used the aliases "Kate Kelly" and "Mary Ann Kelly" -- the last name was undoubtedly chosen to convince people she was married to her boyfriend John Kelly), born on April 14, 1842 and killed on September 30, 1888.

  • Mary Jane Kelly, (claimed her true name was "Marie Jeanette Kelly," sometimes went by "Mary Ann Kelly," nicknamed "Ginger") reportedly born in Ireland c. 1863 (approximate date) and killed on November 9, 1888.

Possible victims

Those five form the so-called canonical victims of the Ripper. But victims of other contemporary and somewhat similar attacks and/or murders have also been suggested as additions to the list. Those victims are generally poorly documented. They include:

  • "Fairy Fay", reportedly a nickname for an unnamed murder victim found on December 26, 1887. The reason of death was given as "a stake thrust through her abdomen ".

  • Annie Millwood, born c. 1850 (approximate date) she was reportedly the victim of an attack on February 25, 1888 resulting in her hospitalisation for "numerous stabs in the legs and lower part of the body". She was released from hospital but died from apparently natural causes on March 31, 1888.

  • Ada Wilson, reportedly the victim of an attack on March 28, 1888 resulting in two stabs in the neck. She survived the attack.

  • Emma Elizabeth Smith, born c. 1843 (approximate date). Reportedly the victim of an attack on April 3, 1888. She survived the attack but fell in to a coma and died on April 5, 1888. Her death was reportedly caused by a blunt object which had been inserted in her vagina.

  • Martha Tabram, (maiden name Martha White, name misspelled as Martha Tabran, used the alias Emma Turner), born on May 10, 1849 and killed on August 7, 1888. She had a total of 39 stab wounds. Five on the left lung, two on the right lung, one on the heart, five on the liver, two on the spleen and six on the stomach.

  • "The Whitehall Mystery", term coined for the torso of a woman found beheaded and with severed hands on October 3, 1888.

  • Annie Farmer, born on 1848 she reportedly was the victim of an attack on November 21, 1888. She survived with only a light, though bleeding, cut on her throat. The wound was superficial and apparently caused by a blunt knife. Police suspected that the wound was self-inflicted and ceased to investigate her case.

  • Rose Mylett, (true name probably Catherine Mylett, but was also known as Catherine Millett, Elizabeth "Drunken Lizzie" Davis, "Fair" Alice Downey or simply "Fair Clara"), born on 1862 and killed on December 20, 1888. She was reportedly strangled "by a cord drawn tightly round the neck".

  • Elizabeth Jackson, a prostitute whose various body parts where collected from the River Thames between May 31, 1889 and June 25, 1889. Reportedly identified by scars she had had previous to her disappearance and apparent murder.

  • Alice McKenzie (nick-named "Clay Pipe" Alice and used the alias Alice Bryant), born c. 1849 (approximate date) and killed on July 17, 1889. The reason of death was reportedly the "severance of the left carotid artery" but several minor bruises and cuts were found on the body.

  • "The Pinchin Street Murder", a term coined after the founding of a torso similar in condition to "The Whitehall Mystery" , though the hands were not severed, on September 10, 1889. An unconfirmed speculation of the time was that the body belonged to Lydia Hart, a prostitute who had disappeared.

  • Frances Coles, (also known as Frances Coleman, Frances Hawkins and nick-named 'Carrotty Nell'), born in 1865 and killed on February 13, 1891. Minor wounds on the back of the head suggest that she was thrown violently to the ground and then her throat was cut. Otherwise there were no mutilations to the body.

  • Carrie Brown, (nick-named "Old Shakespeare" because of her habit of reciting sonnets by William Shakespeare while drunk), born c. 1835 and killed on April 24, 1891. She was reportedly strangled and then her body was mutilated but the details of the mutilations are uncertain. Though compared at the time and connected to the murders of the Whitechapel killer, this murder was performed in Manhattan, New York, New York, USA.

Some "ripperologists" would prefer to remove one or more names from the list of canonical victims, typically Stride (who had no mutilations beyond the cut throat, and, if one witness can be believed, was attacked in public) and/or Kelly (who was younger than other victims, murdered indoors, and her mutilations were more severe than the others'). From the other people who have been suggested as possible Ripper victims, only Martha Tabram (killed on August 7, 1888) is mentioned to a degree more often than others.

The major difficulty in identifying a list of who was and was not a Ripper victim is the large number of horrific knife attacks against women in working class areas during that time period. Most experts point to deep throat slashes, mutilations to the victim's genital area, removal of internal organs and progressive facial mutilations as the distinctive features of this killer.

Even within the five generally accepted victims above the particulars of each case changed somewhat. For example, Nichols and Stride were not missing any organs, Chapman's uterus was taken, Eddowes had both her uterus and a kidney carried away, and Kelly had only her heart taken from the crime scene, although many of her internal organs were removed and left in her room.

Media

The Ripper murders mark an important watershed in modern British life. Although not the first serial killer, Jack the Ripper was the first to create a world-wide media frenzy around his killings. This, combined with the fact that no one was ever convicted of the murders, created a haunting mythology that cast a shadow over later serial killers.

It is believed by some that the killer's nickname was invented by newspapermen to make a more interesting story that could sell more papers. The moniker first appeared in a letter ostensibly written by the murderer but which most experts now believe was a hoax by a journalist. This practice then became a standard all over the world with examples such as the American Boston Strangler, the Green River Killer, the Axeman of New Orleans, the Beltway Sniper, the Hillside Strangler, and the Zodiac Killer, as well as the obviously derivative British Yorkshire Ripper almost a hundred years later.

Suspects

Many theories about the identity of Jack the Ripper have been advanced. None is completely convincing, and some can hardly be taken seriously at all. Among the many names advanced by various people as possible suspects have been:

  • Joseph Barnett (1858 - 1926), fish porter. He was Mary Jane Kelly's lover from April 8, 1887 to October 30, 1888 when they quarreled and broke up. He visited her daily afterwards, reportedly trying to reconcile with her. There are suspicions that he was denied. He was proposed as a suspect for her murder as a scorned lover, though others attribute the other murders to him as well. Her accounts to him seem to be the only mention of her life before meeting him and his accounts about her constitute most of what is known of her. The validity of both has been questioned.

  • William Henry Bury (1859 - April, 1889). Having recently relocated to Scotland from London, he murdered his wife Ellen Elliot, a former prostitute, on February 10, 1889. He first strangled his wife and then inflicted deep wounds to the abdomen of her deceased body. The method of the murder has been found similar to those of Martha Tabram and Mary Ann Nichols. Reporting the murder to the local police he failed to convince them that he was innocent of the crime and had only found the body. He was hanged in Dundee, Scotland for the murder of his wife.

  • Lewis Carroll (true name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, January 27, 1832 - January 14, 1898). In 1996 author Richard Wallace published a book entitled 'Jack the Ripper, Light-Hearted Friend'. The book expressed his theory that Lewis Carroll and his colleague Thomas Vere Bayne were responsible for the Jack the Ripper murders. This theory was based primarily on a number of anagrams derived from passages in Carroll's work. More specifically the passages were derived from The Nursery 'Alice', an adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for younger readers and from the first volume of Sylvie and Bruno. Carroll had both works first published in 1889 and was probably still working on them during the period of the canonical murders. Wallace claimed that both books contained hidden but detailed descriptions of the murders. This theory gained enough attention to make Carroll a late but notable addition to the list of suspects. However a number of arguments raised by both Carroll's recent biographers and fellow "Ripperologists" have pointed that this theory can hardly be taken seriously. Among them was Karoline Leach, who on March 29, 1999 published her book 'In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: A New Understanding of Lewis Carroll', an examination of what is known and what has been theorized on Carroll's life. In a lecture Leach gave about Wallace's theory, she has three main arguments to offer against it. She firstly pointed that the same method of anagrams can be applied to any number of works written in the Latin alphabet and using the English language without proving any intention by the original author. Leach demonstrated her point by applying it to passages of Alan Alexander Milne's Winnie the Pooh. Secondly she pointed that Carroll's whereabouts during the murders Wallace attributed to him are actually well known. On April 3, 1888 when Emma Elizabeth Smith was attacked in London, Carroll was in Oxford and was temporarily unable to walk due to health problems. On August 31, 1888 when Mary Ann Nichols was killed, Carroll was vacationing in Eastbourne, East Sussex along with Isa Bowman, an actress and personal friend of his. They were reportedly still there on September 8, 1888 when Annie Chapman was killed and even on September 30, 1888 when Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were killed. Thomas Vere Bayne was complaining during the summer of 1888 about feeling a great pain on his back and being barely able to move. He was however reportedly traveling in France from September 1 to October 5, 1888. On November 9, 1888 when Mary Jane Kelly was killed, both Carroll and Bayne were reportedly in Oxford. For these two elderly gentlemen to have been the Ripper, one would have to suppose that they were faking their health problems and had secretly traveled to London on at least five separate occasions. There seem to be little to no evidence in support of this supposition. Lastly she points that Carroll seems to have had some interest in the Jack the Ripper case as well. A passage of his personal diary written on August 26, 1891 reports that earlier that day he had been discussing with Dr. Dabbs, an acquaintance of his, about "his very ingenious theory about 'Jack the Ripper'". It is unknown what this theory reported but Carroll at least seems to have considered it ingenious. There is no indication from this passage that Carroll considered himself personally involved in the case. For most "Ripperologists" Carroll remains a well-known but rather unlikely suspect.

  • Dr. Thomas Neil Cream (May, 1850 - November 15, 1892), doctor secretly specialising in abortions. Born in Scotland, educated in London, active in Canada and later in Chicago, Illinois, USA. On 1881 he was found to be responsible for the death by poisoning of several of his patients of both sexes. Originally there was no suspicion of murder in these cases but Thomas himself demanded an examination of the bodies. This was apparently an attempt to draw attention to himself. Imprisoned in the Illinois State Penitentiary, located in Joliet, Illinois, he was released on July 31, 1891 on good behavior. Relocating to London he resumed his murderous activities and was arrested. He was hanged on November 15, 1892. His last words were reported being "I am Jack...", interpreted to mean Jack the Ripper. He was reportedly still imprisoned at the time of the murders but theorists suspect that he could have bribed officials and left the prison before his official release or that he left a Look-alike to serve the prison term in his place.

  • Frederick Bailey Deeming (July 30?, 1842 - May 23, 1892), sailor. Living in Sydney, Australia with his wife Marie and their four children, on December 15, 1887 he was brought to court on charges of bankruptcy. Sentenced to fourteen days of imprisonment he was apparently released on December 29, 1887. To avoid those seeking payment for his debts, he escaped with his family to Cape Town, South Africa. Soon upon arrival he was brought to the attention of the local police on charges of fraud. He sent his family to England and headed to the recently founded Johannesburg. From there he seems to disappear. There is no reliable account of his activities or his whereabouts between March, 1888 and October, 1889 covering the period of the murders. He resurfaces in Kingston upon Hull, England at the end of this period under the alias of Harry Lawson, one of many he would use till the end of his life. Well into a career as a professional con man, he apparently attempted to reconcile with his estranged wife. They moved together with their children to a rented house in Rainhill in July, 1891. The reconciliation ended with the murder of his wife and children on August 11, 1891 by cutting their throats while they slept. Having introduced himself to the locals as a bachelor and his family as his visiting sister and nephews, it proved easy to explain their absence. He wooed Emily Mathers, the daughter of the house's owner and they married on September 22, 1891. The newlyweds left by ship from Southampton, England on November 2, 1891 and arrived in Victoria (Australia) on December 15, 1891. He murdered Emily on December 24, 1891, buried her under their rented house and left. Her body was soon found resulting in an investigation and the finding of the other bodies in England. This led to his arrest on March 11, 1892 and his trial and execution by hanging. The public of Australia was convinced he was the Ripper. He is said to have been an acquaintance of Catherine Eddowes and to have maintained correspondence with her but this remains uncertain.

  • Montague John Druitt (August 15, 1857 - December 1? 1888), Having received a degree as a lawyer he occasionally practiced his occupation while he was more permanently employed as a private school teacher from 1881 till November 21, 1888. He was also known as a sportsman and was an amateur Cricket (sport) player. Under unknown circumstances he last attended the school on November 19, 1888 and was officially dismissed two days later. Then he apparently disappears. His body was found floating in the River Thames on December 31, 1888. The examination suggested his body was kept at the bottom of the river for at least a month by stones placed in his pockets. The police concluded that he committed suicide by drowning under a state of depression although he was known as a good swimmer. His disappearance and death shortly after the fifth and last canonical murder had some of the investigators of the time suggest he was the Ripper, putting an end to the series of murders. More recently scholars have expressed doubts if he committed suicide or was himself murdered.

  • George Hutchinson, labourer. On November 12, 1888 he reached the London police to make a statement claiming that he spent several of the early hours of November 9, 1888 outside of the window of Mary Jane Kelly. He gave a very detailed description of a suspect passing by, despite the darkness of that night. His statement was suspected by the police to be dubious. Modern scholars have suggested he was the Ripper himself trying to confuse the police.

  • James Kelly. Having murdered his wife in 1883 by stabbing her in the neck he was convicted of the crime. Considered insane he was transferred to a mental asylum from which he escaped in 1888. Considered a dangerous lunatic the police searched for him unsuccessfully during the period of the murders but he had apparently disappeared with no trace. He unexpectedly re-appeared in 1927 turning himself in. He died in 1929. His whereabouts and activities at the time of the murders remain unknown.

  • Severin Antoniovich Klosowski (alias George Chapman, December 14, 1865 - April 7, 1903), junior surgeon and later barber. Born in Nargornak, Poland he acted as an assistant and later a junior surgeon from December, 1880 till February, 1887. Then he immigrated to England. When he settled in London is unknown but there he found employment as an assistant hairdresser and later opened his own barbershop. Though he relocated his shop several times he is believed to be in Whitechapel at the time of the murders. He is mentioned being present in London in April, 1891 but he seems to have established his new residence in Jersey City, New Jersey, USA either shortly before or shortly after that time. In which side of the Atlantic Ocean he was at the time of Carrie Brown's murder is a matter of debate. Already he had started a series of short-lived common law marriages. On December 25, 1897 Mary Spink, his wife at the time died of poisoning. She was followed by Bessie Taylor (d. February 14, 1901) and Maud Marsh (d. October 22, 1902). The subsequent deaths of all three "wives" after sudden sicknesses with nearly identical symptoms finally drew attention to him. An examination of the bodies found them having ingested large doses of Antimony mixed with the medicine their attentive "husband" was providing. He was arrested, put on trial and executed by hanging. His perceived misogyny, his surgical knowledge and his presence at Whitechapel during the canonical murders and presumably near New York at the time of Carrie Brown's murder immediately produced the theory that he was Jack the Ripper, although he is known as a poisoner and not a mutilator.

  • Aaron Kosminski (1864/1865 - 1919). Member of London's Jewish population. He was transferred to a mental hospital in February, 1891. He was suggested as a suspect to fit with the presumption of the time that the killer was Jewish. Though insane, Aaron is not known to have had violent tendencies. His inclusion in the list of suspects has been seen by a number of more recent scholars as more a result of Anti-Semitism at the time of the murders rather than his connection to the case.

  • James Maybrick, (October 24, 1838 - May 11, 1889), Liverpool cotton merchant. His trading activities required him to travel regularly. In 1871 he settled in Norfolk, Virginia to establish a branch office of his company. In 1874 while still there he contracted malaria. The medication provided to him contained arsenic, a substance to which he became addicted for the rest of his life. In 1880 he decided to return to the company's offices in England. Boarding a ship in New York on March 12, 1880 he arrived in Liverpool six days later. During the journey he was introduced to Florence Elizabeth Chandler and almost immediately they started planning their marriage to each other. The marriage was delayed till July 27, 1881. It resulted in the birth of a son James Chandler Maybrick and later a daughter Gladys Evelyn Maybrick. But James still divided his time between the American and the English offices of the company. This apparently put a strain to the marriage. There are some indications that both James and Florence started affairs outside their marriage. In James case a second wife is mentioned as Sarah Ann Robertson without him receiving a divorce first. James' health collapsed suddenly starting on April 27, 1889 resulting in his death on May 11, 1889. The circumstances of death were found suspicious and examination of the body indicated an overdose of arsenic as the cause of death. Whether the overdose was self-administered or whether Florence added quantities of arsenic in his food in addition to his regular doses remains uncertain. But Florence was convicted and sent to prison. A re-examination of her case resulted in her release in 1904. Supporting herself through various occupations, she died on October 23, 1941. The case was celebrated at the time but mostly forgotten following Florence's death. In 1992 accounts presented as James' diaries surfaced alleging that he was the Ripper. This started an on-going debate whether they are accurate accounts, the accounts of a man fixated on the Ripper or clever forgeries created at a later date. But as a result of the diaries James' reputation has turned from that of a suspected murder victim to that of a suspected murderer.

  • Michael Ostrog (1833 - 1904?), professional con man. Used numerous aliases and disguises. He was mentioned as a suspect from one of the original investigators of the case. Researchers of his life have failed to find evidence of any more serious criminal activities than fraud and theft. He is last mentioned alive in 1904.

  • Dr. Alexander Pedachenko (about 1857 - 1908). Supposedly an agent of the Secret Police of Imperial Russia, he was sent to commit the murders in order to discredit the English authorities. Later unable to stop himself from committing further murders, he was arrested and ended his days in a mental asylum. Evidence of his connection to the Ripper case was then uncovered. At least that is our account for this suspect found in 1928. Actually there is no evidence for Alexander's existence. More recent scholars have seen this as more of a Conspiracy theory than a factual account.

  • Walter Sickert.

  • Dr. Robert D´Onston Stephenson. Known to be interested in the occult and black magic, he took an early and strong interest in the case. He is the author of many articles and letters concerning the case. His interest was enough at the time for him to be added to the list of suspects. Although he was examined as such, today he tends to be seen as the first amateur "Ripperologist".

  • Francis Thompson, (December 18, 1859 - 1907), poet. Perceived as devoted to Catholicism and member of the Aesthetic movement. On 1889 he wrote the short story "Finis Coronat Opus" (Latin: "End Crowning Work"). It features a young poet sacrificing women to the pagan gods, seeking hell's inspiration for his poetry in order to gain the fame he desires. He is alternatively seen as a religious fanatic or a madman committing the actions described in his story. There seems to be no indication that he committed these acts in reality.

  • "Dr." Francis Tumblety (c. 1833 - 1903). Seemingly uneducated or self-educated American, he earned a small fortune posing as an expert doctor throughout the USA and Canada and occasionally traveling across Europe as well. Perceived as a misogynyst, he was connected to the deaths of some of his patients though it is uncertain if this was deliberate or not. Francis was in England in 1888. Though he was reported to have been arrested on November 7, 1888 "on charges of gross indecency", he was charged by the police as a suspect for the case on November 12, 1888. He was released on bail on November 16, 1888. Awaiting a trial, he instead fled the country for France on November 24, 1888. He is the only man to be formally charged for the murders although he never appeared in his trial. It has been suggested that he could have been released in time for the murder of Mary Jane Kelly and be arrested again after it. Whether he was a killer or an adventurer regarded with unjust suspicion is a matter of debate.

  • James Kenneth Stephen (February 25, 1859 - February 3, 1892), poet and tutor to Prince Albert Victor ("Eddy"), Duke of Clarence and Avondale. Perceived as a misogynyst he suffered from serious physical and mental problems after an accident occurring during the winter of 1886/1887. His poems are seen as having a sense of morbidity in them. But there is nothing to indicate that this came from personal experience as a murderer. He was brought to the attention of "Ripperologists" mainly through his connection to Prince Eddy.

  • Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence. A theory considered preposterous by reputable historians, and discounted by most Ripperologists, the first reference to it appears to be in 1962, when Phillippe Jullien author of Edouard VII, a biography of Eddy's father, made a passing reference to rumors suggesting that Prince Eddy and the Duke of Bedford were responsible for the murders. Which Duke of Bedford was supposed to be Eddy's colleague at the time of the murders was left uncertain. At the time of the murders the active Duke was sixty-nine-year old Francis Charles Hastings Russell, 9th Duke of Bedford (1819 - 1891). He would be shortly succeeded by George William Francis Sackville Russell, 10th Duke of Bedford (1852-1893) and then by Herbrand Arthur Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford (1858-1940), both in their thirties at the time. Jullien did not mention his sources of those rumors. His own book is believed to be the first recording them.

Further theories about the Ripper

In 1970, Dr. Thomas Eldon Alexander Stowell published his article A Solution. Though Eddy was not named in the article itself, Stowell clearly presented him as being Jack the Ripper. Stowell claimed that Eddy actually died of syphilis and that the official report of his death by pneumonia should be dismissed. Stowell further claimed that syphilis had driven Eddy insane. In this state of mind he had perpetrated the five canonical Jack the Ripper murders. Following Mary Jane Kelly's murder he was finally restrained by his own family and so was unable to continue the series of murders. Stowell claimed that his sources for the article were accounts written in private by Sir William Withey Gull. The article was published shortly before Stowell's own death on November 8, 1970. His papers were reportedly burned by his family. It has been suggested that Stowell could have served directly or indirectly as Jullien's source.

In any case the article attracted enough attention to place Eddy among the most notable Ripper suspects. However, later "Ripperologists" have noted several problems with this theory. William Withey Gull died on January 29, 1890 and so could not have been Stowell's source concerning Eddy's death. But even if he was the source concerning the murders, records of Prince Eddy's activities and whereabouts at the time of the five canonical murders do not confirm his presence in London. Mary Ann Nichols was murdered on August 31, 1888. From August 29 to September 7, 1888 Eddy was reportedly in Grosmont, North Yorkshire. Annie Chapman was murdered on September 8, 1888. From September 7 to September 10, 1888 Eddy was reportedly in York, also in North Yorkshire. Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were both killed during the early hours of September 30, 1888. From September 27 to September 30, 1888 Eddy was reportedly in Abergeldie, Scotland. Later on the date of the murders Eddy is stated to be still in Abergeldie and having dinner with Queen Victoria, who was his grandmother, visiting members of the German Imperial family and William Ewart Gladstone, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Mary Jane Kelly was murdered on November 9, 1888. From November 2 to November 12, 1888, Eddy was reportedly in Sandringham Norfolk. However defenders of this theory have suggested that Eddy could have been secretly traveling to London and then returning to his recorded whereabouts or alternatively that the official records had been forged.

In 1978, Frank Spiering published his book Prince Jack further supporting this theory. Spiering claimed to have found a copy of Gull's private notes in the library of the New York Academy of Medicine. Supposedly the notes included a confession by Eddy himself under a state of hypnosis. Spiering also suggested that Eddy died due to an overdose of morphine administered to him under directions of Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, another Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and possibly his own father, the later King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. The New York Academy of Medicine has since denied possessing the records Spiering mentioned. Consequently Spiering's writings have been widely dismissed as a combination of Stowell's previous theory with Spiering's own fictions. Spiering himself has been accused of being more interested in sensationalism rather than genuine historical research. However the theory had already gained enough support to not be clearly dismissed.

Meanwhile another theory had surfaced implicating in the Jack the Ripper murders not only Prince Eddy but the Royal family and a number of notable figures associated with it. This theory first came into public attention thanks to the BBC documentary series Jack the Ripper. The series contained five episodes, aired weekly between July 20 and August 17, 1973.

The series contained testimonies by Joseph Sickert, an obscure London artist and alleged illegitimate son of noted painter Walter Richard Sickert. Walter is known to have been an acquaintance of Eddy. Princess Alexandra, Eddy's mother who like Walter was from Denmark, had introduced the two men in the hope that Walter would teach Eddy about London social life.

Joseph Sickert was also the main source used by author Stephen Knight (September 26, 1951 - July, 1985) in his work Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, first published in 1976.

Sickert's claims have also been dismissed by historians and Ripperologists. However Knight's Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution was successful enough at its time and has been constantly in print ever since. Through its success, this theory has become a popular one and can often be found mentioned in discussions of the case.

Joseph Sickert's account makes the following claims:

Prince Eddy was not homosexual as is often stated, but rather bisexual. Walter Sickert had introduced him to a Annie Elizabeth Crook, a shop girl. (Records of the time report her as daughter of William and Sarah Crook).

Eddy and Annie proceeded to have an affair that resulted in a pregnancy. Eddy decided to marry his lover in a secret ceremony despite the fact she was Catholic. The sole witnesses to the ceremony were Walter Sickert and Mary Jane Kelly, as friends of Eddy and Annie respectively. Their child was born as Alice Margaret Crook. (Records of the time confirm Alice's birth to have happened between April and July, 1885 but not the identity of her father).

Eddy had his wife and daughter settled in an apartment in Cleveland Street and contacted them as often as he could. In 1888, the existence of an illegitimate great-grandchild came to Queen Victoria's attention. She informed Lord Salisbury of the matter. Queen and Prime Minister were supposedly both afraid that knowledge of the existence of Alice as a Catholic heir to the throne would result in a revolution. (This claim fails to consider that such a marriage would have been invalid under British law, and any child of such a marriage would not have been in line for the throne. Also according to the Act of Settlement (1701) only Protestant descendants of the Royal family, who have not, furthermore, married a Catholic, can succeed to the English Crown. Members of the Royal family who convert to Catholicism or marry Catholics simply lose their rights of succession to the throne).

Lord Salisbury proceeded to order a raid on the apartment. Eddy was placed in the custody of his family while Annie was placed in the custody of Sir William Withey Gull. The latter supposedly conducted experiments on her, sending her insane. She would die in 1920 after spending more that thirty years in a mental institution. (However there seem to be records of the time which mention her living with her mother and daughter following the Jack the Ripper murders).

Alice was supposedly in the care of Mary Jane Kelly during and after the raid. Kelly at first was content to hide the child, but then she decided to blackmail the government along with her friends Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman and Elizabeth Stride. Lord Salisbury supposedly assigned Gull to deal with the threat they posed. The murders were supposedly performed by Gull with the assistance of coachman John Netley and Sir Robert Anderson (1841 - November 15, 1918) who was among the officials in charge of the case. Catherine Eddowes' murder was supposedly a case of mistaken identity. She was known to have used the alias Mary Ann Kelly which was also used by Mary Jane Kelly. (Knight substituted Anderson for Walter Sickert. "Ripperologists" tend to point that the Ripper victims were not known to be acquainted to each other and reports of their activities and whereabouts during the year of their death don't seem to suggest a connection).

Alice survived the events of the case and would live well into old age. She later became Walter Sickert's mistress and therefore Joseph's mother.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle advanced theories involving a female murderer dubbed Jill the Ripper. Supporters of this theory believe that the female murderer worked or posed as a midwife. She could be seen with bloody clothes without attracting unwanted attention and suspicion, and she would be more easily trusted by the victims than a man. A suspect suggested as fitting this profile is Mary Pearcey, who in October, 1890 stabbed and cut the throats of her lover's wife and child.

Others have doubted that the murders were the work of a single killer, either male or female and have proposed that the murders were the work of a conspiracy by members of the British royalty or the Freemasons, or both (see above).

Crime novelist Patricia Cornwell has been a recent advocate for the theory that painter Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper, which most ripperologists consider unlikely for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that evidence indicates he was in France when the majority of the killings happened.

The Ripper in culture

Jack the Ripper has featured in a number of films, novels and plays, either as the central character or in a more peripheral role. Among the films which take him as a subject are A Study in Terror (1965) and Murder By Decree (1978), both of which feature Sherlock Holmes attempting to find the murderer; and the Hammer Horror Hands of the Ripper (1971), in which the Ripper's daughter grows up to become a murderer after she sees her father murder her mother.

Novels featuring the Ripper include The Lodger (1913) by Marie Belloc Lowndes, which was in 1927 the subject of an Alfred Hitchcock-directed film, and Ritual in the Dark (1960) by Colin Henry Wilson. The graphic novel From Hell (1999), by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, is a fictional account incorporating many factual elements of the Ripper murders. In 2001, the Hughes Brothers made the book into a film (From Hell) starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham. An earlier graphic novel, Gotham By Gaslight the first of the Elseworlds series published by DC Comics featured a Victorian Age version of the superhero, Batman, hunting the killer who has come to Gotham City.

The Ripper features briefly at the end of Frank Wedekind's play Die Büchse der Pandora (1904), in which he murders Lulu, the central character. This play was later turned into the film Pandora's Box (1928, directed by G. W. Pabst) and the opera Lulu (by Alban Berg), both of which also end with this murder.

Further reading

  • The Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Philip Sugden, ISBN 0786702761, is widely held to be one of the best on the topic.
  • The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook by Stewart Evans and Keith Skinner, ISBN 0786707682, is a solid reference devoted to known facts instead of theories. Evans also has other books on the topic, including one advancing his own suspect.

External link

  • Casebook: Jack the Ripper dismisses many of the theories of Jack the Ripper's identity and has numerous articles covering many aspects of the case.

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