Opinion

Jack the Ripper – London’s Serial Killer

September 23, 2020

Jack the Ripper was one of the Worlds’ most infamous criminals who terrorised London in 1888. He stunned the British Government of the day, as well as London society by his mysterious killings and unusually mutilated bodies of female prostitutes. It is baffling that up to this day he remains a mystery.

Over 132 years ago, precisely on a Friday early in the morning, August 1888, a London East End worker named George Cross walked to work on a dimly lit backstreet in Whitechapel, guided by a single gas street lamp as early as 3.40 a.m. Suddenly, he stumbled across a bundle. He thought it was tarpaulin that he tripped over. To his horror, he then realised the bundle across the road was the dead body of  Mary Ann Nicholl, a well-known prostitute, 42 years old, 5 foot 2 inches tall and known as  ‘Polly.’ Her brown hair seemingly had turned grey. Mary Ann  Nicholl’s throat was slashed from ear to ear, and her body ripped open ferociously by a sharp knife. A gash from her groin to the breastbone was also visible. Police too were shocked to discover her disembowelled body. Mary Ann Nicholl became his first victim, which began a reign of murder and terror by this mysterious killer.

After a week, the murderer attacked another woman named Annie Chapman, prostitute again named  ‘Dark’.  The murder was very much similar to the same pattern of killing where her head was nearly severed, stomach cut open and intestines removed.  At her post-mortem, the Coroner remarked that “No unskilled person can do this !”

The assassin slaughtered three more women during the night in the same year. First, it was Swedish-born Elizabeth Stride whose throat was slashed. A pedestrian reported the murder after seeing blood pouring out of her throat. Other than that, she had no other injuries because it was assumed the killer possibly was interrupted before he completed his grisly work.

Within forty-five minutes of Elizabeth Stride’s killing, the scoundrel attacked with a vengeance another 43-year-old prostitute named Catherine Eddows. He expurgated her ears, cheeks and eyes and a part of her inside was skillfully removed. She was found dead on her back at 1.45 am.

Deeper Craving

Deeper and deeper the rascal went into his ‘ human craving’, more and more he became bolder. Once he addressed a letter to The Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee giving his home address as ‘Hell’. In doing so he enclosed a partly cooked human kidney in the letter.

Then he wrote letters to various authorities bravely throwing challenges and seeking publicity on every occasion he committed a murder. In a letter addressed to the Chief Officer, Central News Office London in September 1888, he used red ink and signed as ‘yours truly, Jack the Ripper’.

It was the first-time authorities came to know the  murder’s name as ‘ Jack the Ripper.’ The text of his letter read:  “I keep on hearing about the Police catching me, but they cannot fix me just yet. I laugh when the Police appear to be so clever and are on the right track!  My task is to go after sex workers. I shall not end my endeavour until I rip-open all the prostitutes.  In my last job,  I did not give the woman any time to scream. How can the Police catch me?  I will love my work and want to do it again and again!”

He continued in his letter to the Chief Officer, Central News Office in London:  “You will soon hear of my funny little game. I will clip the woman’s ears off and send them to the Police just for a jollification. Wouldn’t you like it?  My knife is so fine and sharp. I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good luck” and signed as Jack the Ripper. On a postscript, he mentioned, “I suppose you do not mind exposing my trade name.”

On 9 November 1888, Jack the Ripper attacked his final victim. Mary Kelly was three-months pregnant and 23 years old. She was slaughtered in her bedroom.  A mass of raw flesh was all that was left of her. Her heart was missing from the crime scene and left on a pillow.

The horrific murders were never solved up to now and the Police could not find who ‘the Jack the Ripper’ was. Therefore, none of the gruesome murders was solved over a period of 132 years. Consequently, Whitechapel in East London has turned into a tourist attraction and visitors rush to London to see Jack the Ripper’s criminalities.

Who is he?

Who was this blood-crazed Jack the Ripper who enjoyed the brutal killings of prostitutes? There must have been a trace of vendetta within the killer against prostitutes. At that time, a barrister named John Druitt, who hailed from a rich medical family became the prime suspect. He was either insane or on his way to lunacy. In December 1988, he committed suicide by drowning in the River Thames.

Sir Melville McNaughton of the Scotland Yard at the time had suspicions on several others too. They were Michael Ostorg, a Russian doctor who ended up in a mental asylum as a homicidal lunatic; a Polish Jew named Kosminski who turned out to be insane due to ‘many years of solitary vice.’

The eldest son of King, Edward VII 

The Duke of Clarence after his death in 1892 also became a suspect. Nevertheless, at the time of two of Ripper’s murders, Duke Clarence was reported hunting in Scotland. There was another alleged story indicating the Duke of Clarence married secretly and the Whitechapel prostitutes attempted to blackmail the Royal family in order to silence them. Other suspects were women hater James Stephen and Royal doctor Sir William Gull. All those prostitutes were killed one by one.

Revival

Two centuries-old mystery surrounding Jack the Ripper was reviewed after one hundred years with the help of some crucial documents unearthed by the London Scotland Yard in 1987. In November, a bulky brown envelope received secretly by Scotland Yard from Croydon, Surrey, triggered curiosity again among the detectives. Extensive analyses out of the contents inside the envelope, the police found that the vital information was missing covering the case on Jack the Ripper’s case. Nevertheless, a letter signed by Jack the Ripper coincided with the information with the old Police records. The Scotland Yard admitted in 1987 “We have no idea, but it is still a great mystery”. Conclusively, the issue of murders smelt a rat prompting a cover-up to protect prominent figures involved in all killings of the prostitutes. Among the suspects were Duke of Clarencethe Royal Physician Sir William Gull and a wealthy lawyer Montague Druitt.

The descriptive book authored by Don Rumbelow, published by W.H. Allen, UK, gives a descriptive text on the killings of Jack the Ripper. The author poses a vital question thus: “So, who was Jack the Ripper”?  As an answer to his question, he states: “I always had the feeling that on the day of Judgement the real Jack the Ripper will come forward and call out his true name. We all, including the experts, in the meanwhile, will have to look expressionlessly at each other until then, and say “Who?” 

Picture credit: Ceylon Today newspaper, Don Rumbelow, W.H. Allen, Firefox and Wikipedia

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