Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper, also known as The Whitechapel Murderer or Leather Apron, is a serial killer who was active around Whitechapel, London in 1888.  He was never caught, therefor, nobody knows who he really was, but the name came from a letter. The letter was sent by someone who claimed to be the killer, and this letter was made known to everyone in Whitechapel and further.  It was believed that the letter was not from the killer, but written from a journalist, who was trying to make Jack the Ripper an even bigger deal and give it more attention. No one knows for sure if the letter was written by Jack, or if it really is fake.

Jack has killed over five victims, usually female prostitutes. He cut their throats, which was done first, as said by a police surgeon, and then fallowed with several mutilations of the abdominal area. It is believed that Jack may have been a surgeon, or doctor, because at least three of the victims had their internal organs removed. At first, it wasn’t thought to be a serial killer, until rumors spread around September and October 1888, when it all began.

Because the murders were all brutal and shared common wounds, it was believed it was just a single killer, who they started to call Jack, because of the first letter. Letters were soon sent out from the killer or someone claiming to be Jack.  Media outlets and Scotland Yard soon received these letters. 

George Lusk of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee received a letter, which supposed to be sent ‘From Hell’. This letter included half of a human kidney, preserved in perfect condition, supposedly from a victim, making the suspicions that it was a surgeon even more believable. This letter has been lost, along with several other items from the investigation, but luckily, they took a picture first. This letter reads:

 “From hell

Mr Lusk
I send you half the
Kidne I took from one women
prasarved it for you tother piece
I fried and ate it was very nice. I
may send you the bloody knif that
took it out if you only wate a whil

Catch me when
you Can
Mishter Lusk.”

This letter is the most popular, mainly because of the kidney accompanying it. One of the victims, Catherine Eddowes’ kidneys has been removed, and it was believed this could be her kidney.

But she was not the only victim. There are five victims that were for sure known to be killed by the same murderer. Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Mary Jane Kelly, and Catherine, of course.

But there were other murders that may or may not be victims of Jack. Around that time, there were eleven murders in Whitechapel. It was believed hugely that John Gill, a seven year old boy, had also become a victim of Jack. He was murdered so closely to the others, the only difference being that his legs had been severed.

People believe that Jack was trying to clean up Whitechapel, by murdering these prostitutes. Whitechapel was in a bad spot at the time, overcrowded. Poverty drove many women to prostitution. Racism, crime, robbery and violence were common at the time, due to these conditions.

There were two possible witnesses of Jack the Ripper. Emily Marsh, a girl who possible conversed with the author of the ‘From Hell’ letter, who at the time worked at her father’s leather shop, and John Cormack, the shop boy. A man walked in at around one in the afternoon, asking for George Lusk’s address. She told him the address, but was alarmed by this and the sight of his appearance. So she told John to fallow him to see where he went for a bit, and he did, but found nothing suspicious.

Mr. Marsh, Emily’s father, returned and saw the man on the sidewalk. No one really said anything, until the ‘From Hell’ letter was received by George Lusk the following day. Emily, her father, and John all gave full descriptions, but no one matching the description was found.

This is the description they gave:

*       around forty-five years old

*       six-feet tall

*       slimly built

*       soft felt black hat, drawn over his forehead

*       Stand-up collar,partly turned up.

*       very long, black, single-breasted overcoat

*       face was sallow with a dark beard and moustache

*       spoke with an Irish accent

Many people came to the conclusion that the man Emily spoke with was the killer.  The fact that it happened the day before the letter was received suggested it, but also the fact that in the letter, the spelling of sir was spelt SOR, written in what is described as an Irish accent. Emily did not tell a street number, and the package with the kidney and letter had no street number on it.

It is possible that the author of the ‘From Hell’ letter may have had Lusk’s address days before the Marsh encounter. Lusk received a postcard a day or two before the ‘From Hell’ letter, and the handwriting was similar to that of the author of the ‘From Hell’ letter.

This postcard read:

‘Say, Boss, you seem rare frightened ; guess I’d like to give you fits, but can’t stop time enough to let you box of toys play copper games with me, but hope to see you when I don’t hurry so much. Good-bye, Boss’

The number of suspects was over hundreds, and they couldn’t name who Jack was. Over 2000 people were interviewed, and butchers, surgeons, and doctors were suspected. In 1891, the case was closed.

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