Jack the Ripper… arguably the most notorious serial killer of all time, and perhaps one of the most celebrated cult figures in history. Scarcely does the mere mention of ones name evoke such fear and imagery.
Victorian London… the flicker of gas lamps… the cover of fog and the blackness of night.
The tawdry and impoverished victims of his ghoulishly sadistic delight.
The individual or monster responsible for the horrifying and ghastly murders that were committed in late 19th century London, remains unknown to this day. For over one hundred years, professional and amateur sleuths alike have tried to piece together this unsolved mystery. Yet, the true identity of the killer is still shrouded in mystery.
The legend of Jack the Ripper and his evil deeds, are both terrifying and fascinating, making it easily one of the most storied whodunits of all time.
The Legend of Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper is a pseudonym given to a serial killer who lurked in the impoverished districts of London’s east end in the autumn of 1888. The nickname was derived from a letter written at the time of the killings by someone who claimed to be the murderer. Although there have been many suspects in the case and theories discussed, the actual identity of the killer and the motives behind the grisly crimes are unknown even to this day.
Jack the Ripper preyed upon destitute prostitutes in the slums in and around Whitechapel, London. It is unclear as to what fueled his savage bloodlust, but the murders were both methodical and calculating. The precise number of Ripper victims is not definite, but it is generally accepted that he killed five women, all of them prostitutes. His victim’s throats were cut, often followed by abdominal mutilations, including organ removal in some cases. Based upon the precision of his cuts, it’s assumed by many the the Ripper had anatomical or surgical knowledge.
Jack the Ripper, or “Leather Apron” as he was sometimes referred to, was bent on making a name for himself by leaving his grisly handiwork in plain sight. All of his victims were killed where they were found, and often horribly mutilated. The nature of the crimes, and the Ripper’s ability to escape the scene undetected, made for quite the Victorian era media frenzy. The Ripper had successfully cast a veil of terror over an entire city and achieved worldwide infamy by word of his devilish deeds.
Although there was a series of eleven Whitechapel murders that spanned from April 1888 to February 1891, it is believed that the Ripper’s reign of terror began on August 31st, 1888 with the murder of Mary Ann Nichols, and ended with the ferocious slaying of Mary Jane Kelly on November 9th, 1888. There are many theories concerning what prompted the killer to cease his actions. Some believe it was due to the Ripper’s sudden death, incarceration or admittance to an insane asylum. Others feel his killing spree was precisely charted out and he had eventually completed his course.
Thousands of people were interviewed, hundreds were investigated and eighty people detained, during and after the time of the murders. The trail of the Ripper had been closely followed by multiple police forces, including Scotland Yard, as well as a citizen formed vigilante committee. Among the highly suspect were: butchers, slaughterers, surgeons and physicians; this being due to their knowledge of anatomy. In the end, everyone interviewed provided a sufficient alibis, thus no one was ever officially accused or convicted.
Much of the evidence in the case of Jack the Ripper was lost over the years, along with many of the facts pertaining to the murders being more based upon opinion than anything else. The legend of Jack the Ripper is therefore a combination of historical evidence, documented research and folklore. It is because of this, that the story of the Ripper has become something much more than an unsolved series of crimes. Over the years, Jack the Ripper has become an almost supernatural figure, and perhaps the most romanticized killer of all time.