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Who Was Jack the Ripper ?

The Whitechapel Murders Mystery

Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper's first victims

Jack the Ripper's mystery began August 31, 1888, when is discovered in the London district of Whitechapel the murdered body of a woman. The victim, aged 43, is Mary Ann Nichols. Prostitute, she does not belong to any brothel. The autopsy reveals that she was stabbed to the throat and stomach but was not raped. A few days earlier, another prostitute, Martha Tabram, was killed in Whitechapel using the same modus operandi. The police investigation had just started that another body is discovered on September 8th. This is Annie Chapman's corpse. Again, the victim, 47, is a prostitute. But this time, the savagery of the murderer guided his actions. The intestines were carefully placed on the left shoulder while the uterus, vagina and bladder were stolen. For this new autopsy, the medical examiner says that the Whitechapel murderer must have anatomy notions.

John Pizer: the first suspect in the Whitechapel murders

Inspector Frederick George Abberline, in charge of the investigation, bears his first suspicions in the direction of a jewish bootmaker, John Pizer, but he has an alibi. Thenceforth, who can be driven to frequent the slums of the East End in order to kill prostitutes, often sick and penniless, in the most violent way of ways ? Is it the same man ? The inspector is not the only one to ask these questions. The journalists are also on the spot and seek to unmask the Whitechapel murderer dubbed Jack the Ripper. They take advantage of their tribunes to ridicule the London police whose investigation barely moves.

Two more victims

Jack the Ripper signature

On September 30th, two more murdered victims were found and attributed to the London Ripper. The first, that of Elizabeth Stride, a 45-year-old prostitute, bears no trace of any mutilation. Perhaps the Whitechapel murderer was disturbed in his task and had to stop to fall back on another girl in the streets? The second victim, discovered near Mitre Square, turns out to be that of another prostitute, Catherine Eddowes. The staging is startling: the belly was opened from the chest to the genitals, the intestines were placed on the right shoulder, one ear and the tip of the nose were sliced, the lips were cut in half and the gums were incised. In addition, the uterus and left kidney were stolen. The police are convinced of one thing: they are facing the actions of the murderer of Annie Chapman, an expert in anatomy. The confirmation is quickly brought to them when they start receiving letters signed by a certain Jack the Ripper. It is impossible for investigators to determine the true identity of the sender. The pressure on Scotland Yard is such that its director, Charles Warren, resigns.

Jack the Ripper's last victim

On November 9, Mary Jane Kelly, the last known victim of the London Ripper, is found murdered on her bed. She too is a prostitute and has suffered post-mortem mutilations. Her throat was severed, her nose and ears were cut, her face was lacerated and her belly was opened. Police find her uterus, her kidneys and one of her breasts placed under her head. Her other breast and liver were placed near her feet. Finally, pieces of her thighs and belly lie on the bedside table while her heart and genitals were stolen. Never had such a horrible picture been discovered.

Jack the Ripper suspects and theories

In the absence of clues and evidence, the case is closed in 1892. Weak suspicions arose in the direction of a Jewish hairdresser, Aaron Kominski, a lawyer, Montague John Druitt, and a convict, Michel Ostrog. Investigator Abberline defends the thesis of organ trafficking. Writers, like Arthur Conan Doyle who suspects a woman, are passionate about this series of unresolved crimes that are the Whitechapel murders and use them as an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Throughout the 20th century, investigative books emerged and advanced new names as to Jack the Ripper's identity, all of them more or less credible, such as that of Prince Albert Victor of Wales. Recent publications on the subject have benefited from new sources and new methods of investigation.

Walter Sickert the London Ripper ?

Portrait of a Killer by Patricia Cornwell

One of the latest theory backed by great media coverage is that of best-selling crime writer Patricia Cornwell. According to her, the man dubbed Jack the Ripper would be no other than the famous British Impressionist painter Walter Sickert. Sexually frustrated by the malformation of his penis, Walter Sickert would have raged in London's hackneyed neighborhoods and alluded to his evil and murderous deeds in some of his works. In 2002, with the introduction of genetics in her investigation, Patricia Cornwell claims the right to print on the front cover of her book Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper the mention "Case Closed", a subtitle contested by many other specialists.