Jack the Ripper: Blood Thirsty Story of a Serial Murderer that Haunted Entire London for an Era
In the Victorian Era, murders seldom get recognized or grab the attention of the media. It takes several weeks before a murder gets publicized and investigated. However, a series of gruesome murders in 1888, definitely grabbed the attention of both the media and authorities alike. These murders were associated with a sadistic unknown murderer who went by the pseudonym, “Jack the Ripper”. He first claimed his victim on August 31st and ended his terror on 9th November, the date of his last murder.
The killer, who was also referred to as the “Leather Apron”, was famously known for killing five women and mutilating them horribly, and even cutting out their organs. This served to prove that the killer had extensive knowledge of human anatomy. However, each of the five women had one thing common between them. All of them were prostitutes.
Between August 7 and September 10, 1888, Jack the Ripper had murdered the five victims and left their bodies on the streets. The victims were reported- Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. In each instance, each of the prostitutes was found dead right after they solicited their customers. The victims were found with their throats cut open and their bodies horribly mutilated with scars and missing body parts or organs.
The first victim, Mary Ann Nichols was found dead in Bucks row. Her face was bruised and her throat was slashed twice. Her stomach was hacked open and slashed several times. Annie Chapman was found in a passageway behind 29 Hanbury street. Her head was almost severed and her stomach was torn open. Sections of her skin were laying on her shoulder along with her intestines.
Elizabeth Stride was the third victim, her body was found bleeding from a slashed throat behind 40 Berner street. It seems that the murderer was disturbed before he could impose further harm to her body.
After the body of Stride was found, just a few minutes away in the alley between Mitre Square and Duke street, Catherine Eddows’s body was found. Her body had been ripped off and her throat was slashed. Her uterus and left kidney were removed and the entrails were thrown over her shoulder. That day, Jack the Ripper had claimed two victims in one day.
The last victim, Mary Jane Kelly, was the youngest of all victims. Unlike the other victims, she was found in her room in Millers Court. Her whole body was brutally skinned and gutted, her heart placed on the table. Her insides were draped over her shoulder and her throat, nose and breasts were cut off. The scene in the room was indeed appalling.
On one occasion, the police received a package which contained half a human kidney, supposedly belonging to one of the victims. However, later forensic reports stated that the kidney did not belong to anyone of the victims. However, following this incident, the killer even sent a series of taunting letters to the police, in which he referred to himself as “Jack the Ripper”. But people are doubtful of this since they could never recover these letters.
Many experts were hired and much efforts were spent on identifying and tracking down the killer. However, each of their evidence only leads them on a wild goose chase. Soon, the public started to riot and they demanded justice for the murdered victims. The public raised an uproar for the failure to capture the murderer. Due to this, the London Police Commissioner was forced to resign.
Despite numerous investigations to track down the killer, all the trails were cold. The name and motives of the killer are still unknown. However, the police were sure of two things that might help them in identifying the killer. First of all, the killer was an expert in human anatomy, hence that narrowed down the number of people since only a limited number of people had knowledge of it. Secondly, the killer clearly hated the female species.
The local authorities had proposed many theories regarding the killer’s identity. They even suspected the Victorian painter, Walter Sickert, a Polish migrant and the grandson of Queen Victoria. But whoever be the killer, he was clearly a sadist and derived pleasure from torturing women, such as emboweling their kidneys or uterus.
The series of murdered which abruptly stopped in November 1888, definitely stood out from other violent crimes. It was marked by the sadistic butchery of innocent victims, which clearly showed that the killer was a sociopath who had a general hatred towards human beings. He clearly felt no remorse for his kills and seem to gloat after every kill. Experts revealed that the killer did not kill his victims instantly. Instead, he enjoyed mutilating them slowly.
Though the murders had stopped in the fall of 1888, the killer continues to roam freely. The public continued to demand answers. This case has resulted in several documentaries and films, yet the police have yet to capture the murderer. This can be attributed due to lack of evidence, false information and testimonies as well as the refusal of the Scotland Yard to give any useful information to the public.
Mary Jane Kelly was assumed to be the final victim of the killer and it is assumed that the killings had stopped either because the killer was imprisoned or emigrated to another country. During Victorian times, the death or the murder of young women of questionable profession was rarely reported.
No one seemed to understand that prostitutes also faced threats and attacks from their customers. The series of murders that took place in London’s East End, which was known for its shady background and illegal activities, definitely captured the attention of the media and the public alike.
In the recent years, British Investigator Trevor Marriot who had been investigating Jack the Ripper’s case revealed in 2011 that he was denied certain crucial documents by the Metropolitan Police. He stated that the evidence was extremely necessary since it may be the key to discover the identity of the killer.
In 2014, author and amateur sleuth Russell Edwards claimed to have determined the identity of Jack the Ripper by DNA results obtained from a shawl belonging to one of the victims, Catherine Eddowes. Edwards asserted the evidence pointed to Aaron Kosminski, a Polish immigrant and one of the prime suspects in the grisly murders.
Of course, there were many more who were suspected. Joseph Barnett had the strongest motive of all the Jack the Ripper’s suspects. It was rumoured that he was in love with Mary Kelly and was fed up with her line of work. He had decided to murder those prostitutes to scare away Kelly from continuing her “job”. When she did not leave prostitution, enraged, Barnett brutally murdered her.
However, he could not be arrested due to a lack of evidence, though his physical appearance and description matched several eyewitnesses reports. Montague John Druitt, an Oxford-educated man was also deemed a suspect. One London detective, Sir Melville McNaughton was convinced that the Ripper had committed suicide by throwing themselves in River Thames, as was the case with Druitt.
Druitt was an assistant schoolmaster in Blackheath in London. He was suspected due to his surgeon background. He had training in this field but he never pursued it. This was one of the strongest reasons why Mcnaughton believed him to be the murderer, apart from suspecting him to be sexually insane. He was also dismissed since the police had little evidence to convict him.
The idea that Jack the Ripper was a low-class Polish Jew was first mentioned by Assistant Police Commissioner Sir Robert Anderson in his memoirs. David Cohen was a low-class Polish Jew who was found wandering the streets of East London on 7th December 1888, rambling away in Yiddish. Sensing the man may be a danger to himself and others, police took him to Leman Street police station and later he appeared at the magistrate’s court where he was unable to answer the questions put to him.
Shortly after entering a workhouse, he became violent and had to be restrained and was then eventually transferred to a more secure unit of Colney Hatch Asylum. He remained there until his death in late 1889. Cohen remains a good suspect because he was violent, the right age, was in the area at the time and his incarceration explains why the murders came to an end.
Till date, the identity of the killer has never been discovered. Though hundreds of suspects were questioned, the police still remain doubtful as to the killer’s real identity and motive. No conclusive evidence has been found, further making the case impossible to solve. One can only hope for a miracle to solve the case.
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