Serial killers, while being some of the worst humans in existence, never fail to intrigue and fascinate us. Some of the more famous of these include: Ted Bundy, the educated maniac who murdered scores of young women in the 1970s; Jeffrey Dahmer, aka The Milwaukee Cannibal, and John Wayne Gacy, without doubt the scariest clown in human history. Over the pond in the UK they had doctor death, Harold Shipman, who could be said to be the most prolific serial killer in modern times, with a body count of around 250 people. Psycho Ed Gein didn’t kill many folks, yet his hobby of making clothes and ornaments out of body parts inspired a lot of gruesome horror movies. But today we are going to focus on one of the most intriguing serial killers of all time, in this episode of the Infographics Show, Why was Jack the Ripper never found?
We can’t start this show with an introduction to who Jack the Ripper was, because no one knows. Along with the Zodiac Killer, Mr. Ripper has become one of the biggest mysteries in the bloody world of serial homicides. But let’s have a look at what he did.
Hid handy work, which included killing and eviscerating women on the streets of London, scared the Brits witless in the late 19th century. He did most of his work in the slums of East London in the district of Whitechapel, which is why he was also called, “the Whitechapel Murderer.” Another name he was given was the “Leather Apron”. He got the name of Jack the Ripper from a letter he ostensibly wrote to police known as the “Dear Boss” letter.
So, what did Jack do? Well, the story goes that in the 1880s, East London was a place of absolute squalor. Immigrants from all over the world flooded there for work, but that didn’t always work out for them. Crowded streets were festooned with what the English might call habitual boozers, and women of ill-repute could be seen lingering on many a street corner. People blamed the immigrants for high spikes in crime and overcrowded streets. Racism was pervasive, as were fights and robberies. The police had their hands full as London was on the brink of social unrest and rioting, but the police in 1888 got the shock of their lives when a murderer came to life, and he wasn’t like any killer they’d ever seen.
It’s thought that he could have killed 11 people, but police report that they can only say he definitely killed 5 people. These are known as the “canonical five”, meaning they were part of his killer canon. Now 11 bodies isn’t such a big deal when you consider the Ted Bundy’s of the world, and while Bundy was a necrophile, the ripper had arguably even stranger proclivities. He used a knife as you might guess from his name, slashing throats and bodies, sometimes to ribbons. But he also mutilated women’s genitals, made all kinds of incisions on their bodies, and skillfully removed their internal organs. This surgery might include removing the kidneys, uterus, or generally any parts of the abdomen area. Sometimes he’d just hack away at the women’s faces so they were unrecognizable. Now, because East London was such a crap-hole in those days, police can’t be sure if lots of other murders at the time were his doing or people were just copying him. Jack the Ripper was huge in the media, and the frenzied, mostly-working-class public ate-up this wicked story with as much enthusiasm as us modern folks might lap-up horror stories in the dubious tabloid, The Daily Mail.
Police worked hard trying to find out who was responsible for the heinous crimes, interviewing thousands of people and detaining over 80 of them. Rewards would be given for any advice on this ripper, and so even regular people were out investigating this crime. East London was patrolled by cops 24/7 and amateur sleuths were not far behind them. Police were focused on people with certain occupations given that removing a uterus is not something most people can do. It’s said Jack was an expert with his blade, and so cops looked at butchers, surgeons, doctors, physicians and generally anyone who might cut up bodies for a living.
As for the letters to police, quite a few of them claimed to be written by the Ripper, but the most famous of those was the “From Hell” letter. Police believed this letter was the only one that was genuine. Postmarked, 15 October, 1888, it went like this:
I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer
Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk”
The writer appears to be barely literate, so did this count out surgeons and doctors doing the killing, or was a well-educated geezer just being rather “cheeky” in his writing style?
Over time many suspects have been put forward as to the Ripper’s identity. We’ll give you a rundown on the main ones:
The principle suspect was a verified sexually insane doctor called Montague John Druitt. He was found dead in the river Thames, and guess what, that was about a month after the last Ripper murder. The doctor was no doubt well-educated, being rather posh, but was also of what then was called “unsound mind.”
Another suspect was a Polish immigrant called Seweryn Klosowski. This wicked geezer poisoned and killed three of his wives. He was then hanged.
Or was it the wealthy trader called James Maybrick. Maybrick’s diary was apparently found in Liverpool in 1992. In the diary, this man talks about going on a murder spree, killing only women because his wife had been unfaithful to him. You are thinking, that could have been any old murder spree. But this was also in the diary. “I give my name that all know of me, so history do tell, what love can do to a gentle man born. Yours truly, Jack the Ripper.”
Police also thought a man they called a “mad Russian” could have been involved; his name was Michael Ostrog.
But everyone’s favorite conspiracy theory is that of Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward, the Duke of Clarence. This aristocrat, grandson of Queen Victoria, died in an asylum after syphilis had destroyed his mind. It’s also said he couldn’t have done the wicked deeds as he wasn’t in London at the time.
But a lot of investigators believed it was Aaron Kosminski as his mitochondrial DNA was found on one of the victim’s shawls. His occupation: barber. Now, who wouldn’t want to have a close shave from him?
German merchant sailor Carl Feigenbaum even admitted to mutilating women, and his lawyer said he was the Ripper for sure. He emigrated to America, and guess what happened there. He murdered a woman, was caught, and was subsequently fried in the USA’s infamous electric chair.
In the twentieth century, two more names were put forward, with some Ripperologists – yes, that’s a word – confident that they’d got their man. One was artist Walter Richard Sickert, whose DNA was linked to the murders. The impotent artist chose mostly to paint…you guessed it, prostitutes.
Last on the list is Francis Craig, a reporter that actually covered the murders. Oh, one special suspect we should mention was Alice in Wonderland author, Lewis Carroll (real name, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), a great writer but also a man suspected of being a pedophile. Apparently his friend said he had seen diary entries in Carroll’s diaries connecting him to the murders.
So, why did police never get him? There are a lot of folks out there that believe it was the mad prince. If it was him, police could never have made an arrest, not only because they wouldn’t have the power to take down a Royal, but because Britain was very much in those days under the spell of monarchical myth and power. A murderous prince with a penchant for pulling out women’s kidneys would have been a devastating threat to national security and a huge blemish on England’s ruling classes. If the so-called commoners were already fighting in the streets, a Ripper-Prince may have caused widespread havoc.
But we might also remember that the Ripper was a very careful murderer, one reason why many people put forward names of educated people as suspects. He left hardly any clues in a time when police often relied on nothing more than catching criminals in the act, or having bulletproof witness testimonies. There was no DNA testing, no such thing as fingerprints, no psychological profiling, no CCTV, and to top it all off, much of the public at that time hated the cops and were really unhelpful. He also killed poor people and prostitutes, and one could say these people in those days weren’t considered very important. Some Ripperologists also believe there could have been two killers as two murders sharing Ripper trademarks once occurred at the same time.
We should take into account that London was jam-packed in those days, with 4 million people living in those sometimes dingy, unlit areas of squalor. It’s a fact that in those dark satanic London streets of the past, many murders went unsolved. Cops just weren’t that skilled and were without modern technology. They were so desperate they even dressed up as women and hung about in the East End hoping the killer might strike them.
So, who do you think Jack the Ripper was? Any of you have any good theories? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called Where is Malaysia Flight 370?! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!