Probably the most famous murderer of all time is the self-styled ‘Jack the Ripper’, who had the inhabitants and police forces of Whitechapel on edge , the humble working-class district in which this ruthless character acted during that distant 1888.
In The following lines will try to learn more about the psychology of this mysterious murderer, who disappeared without a trace after murdering 5 victims, whom we will name; In addition to knowing who were the suspects who were considered to be behind the identity of Jack the Ripper, something that has not yet been fully clarified.
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The chronology of the Jack the Ripper murders
Jack the Ripper has traditionally been credited with 5 ‘canonical’ or ‘official’ victims, although serial killer scholars have blamed him for the deaths of up to 13 people.
August 31: Mary Ann Nichols, the first murdered
The Jack the Ripper murders began in late August 1888, with the first victim, Mary Ann Nichols (to friends, “Polly”), 43 years old. She this prostitute had been expelled from the boarding house where she used to spend the night , as she lacked the fourpence required for daily pay.
Determined to find a client who would provide her with accommodation, Polly Nichols wandered the streets of Whitechapel during the early hours of August 31. Her body was found around 3:40 a.m., a few yards from the London hospital, by a passing cart driver. She had been slaughtered.
September 8: Annie Chapman, second victim
A week later, Annie Chapman died, around 4:20 in the morning. Her body was in the backyard of a pension on Hanbury Street, a place chosen by prostitutes to perform their services for the privacy it offered , much more than the dark alleys where they usually practiced their profession.
Jack the Ripper’s second victim had been found with a huge gash in the abdomen and eviscerated: the guts had been painstakingly removed with the precision of a surgeon. However, her cause of death had been a deep gash across her throat, made cleanly and reaching down to her spine, nearly severing her head.
September 30: the double crime of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes
Until the end of September 1888, Jack the Ripper would not act again. This time, he would claim the lives of two victims in one night.
Elizabeth Stride’s murder occurred around midnight. One of the last witnesses to see ‘Long Liz’ alive was a Polish immigrant, who witnessed how the woman was pushed into a back alley, a few meters from where he was. Unfortunately, it was so dark that he was unable to give details about the man who was approaching her.
The body was found by a car driver who almost bumped into it: it had a cut in the throat that was still gushing blood, so he deduced that the crime must have occurred a few minutes before he found it. Scholars in the case have always believed that Jack the Ripper acted in a hurry and that, being suddenly interrupted, he was unable to finish his “job”.
However, the night was not over for the killer, so he went for his second victim. Less than an hour after Elizabeth Stride’s death, another severely mutilated corpse turned up: Catherine Eddowes. The last time she was seen alive she was chatting with a man outside a church . Ten minutes later, in a nearby plaza, a police officer made the macabre discovery.
To date, the body of Catherine Eddowes was the one with which the murderer was most angry: her throat had been slashed from left to right, in a deep cut that had destroyed the main veins in her neck. Gutted, the killer placed the intestines over her right shoulder., disfigured his eyelids, face and part of the body with hastily made cuts.
On the other hand, her kidney disappeared without being able to be found and her uterus had been removed, leaving only a stump of it inside the body.
November 9: Mary Jane Kelly
The horror and barbarism reached the highest levels with the murder of Mary Jane Kelly, the red-haired prostitute. While the bodies of her colleagues had been found in the middle of the street, Mary Jane’s body was found in a small rented room facing a small street from which one of its windows could easily enter the interior.
The youngest of Jack the Ripper’s victims was 25 years old at the time of his murder. Her body suffered serious amputations: her nose, ears and breasts were removed. However, that time, the criminal plunged into a frenzy of depravity with the girl that would lead him to leave nothing more than a mass of meat, cartilage and bones , as a fatal climax to his particular work.
It is believed that, due to the protection offered by the room in which the crime took place, protected from onlookers who could hinder his work, Jack the Ripper was able to rejoice in his most sadistic impulses and unleash murderous creativity. of the.
The killer’s personality
The 5 canonical victims of Jack the Ripper were slaughtered with a powerful cut from left to right in the throat, probably with some kind of precision instrument, such as a scalpel or even a well-sharpened machete; and all but one appeared in the middle of the street.
The crime scenes
Investigators such as the famous criminologist Robert K. Ressler stated in his book Serial Killers (2005), that the scenes of the Jack the Ripper crimes are of the type known as “disorganized” , a reflection of the prevailing chaos in the mind of the assassin. The wounds of the victims in disorganized scenarios are usually terrible, proof also of the delusions of the author, who displays the lowest impulses of him with his victims.
In addition, the place where the bodies appear is usually the same place where they have died, since disorganized assassins do not have the lucidity necessary to move or hide the body .
The weapon of the crimes
The preferred weapon of serial killers is usually the knife and, in second place, the strangulation. Both methods guarantee the perpetrator closeness to the victim and the gratification of killing using both her hands.
Ressler himself, an expert among many others, in the case of Jack the Ripper, considers that whoever the author was, must have had some kind of complex or deformation that prevented him from having sexual relations. For this reason, it is considered that the thrusts made with the scalpel would replace the thrusts that he would make with the penis if it worked for him.
The fact that at least two of the victims of Jack the Ripper appeared with two separate uteruses removed, or the same mutilation of the breasts, are other reasons to consider the possible sexual motive: these actions would serve the murderer to demonstrate his dominance over the prey of the.
Who was Jack the Ripper
Although several of the main suspects of being Jack the Ripper belonged to the upper echelons of Victorian London, professionals of the criminal mind such as the aforementioned Ressler or others, suggest that in reality it could be someone of the same social class as the murdered prostitutes. .
The most compelling reason they adduce is that a high-class person, unless dressed incognito, could not have gone unnoticed in an impoverished area such as the East End, a neighborhood of sailors, immigrants and prostitutes.
5. Prince Albert Victor Edward
For a long time he was the number 1 suspect. He is the grandson of Queen Victoria, Duke of Clarence.
The reasons in favor of his accusation suggest that his personal physician, William Gull (who was also targeted), had found manuscripts in the Prince’s chambers according to which he had died of syphilis, rather than influenza. as believed Proponents of this theory believe that the heir to the Crown liked to escape at night to unleash his most depraved sexual fantasies with prostitutes.
However, it seems we have to cross him off the list, as the Prince was away in Scotland the morning after one of the murders.
4. Sir William Gull, the personal physician to the British Royal Family
Conspiracy lovers believe that Prince Edward secretly married a prostitute named Annie Crook. According to this hypothesis, Queen Victoria, upon learning of this scandal that could endanger the reputation of the Crown, had Annie arrested and locked up in a psychiatric hospital, where they would perform a lobotomy so that she would not speak of her.
It was Mary Jane Kelly who would take care of the little girl, fruit of the love of the Prince and the prostitute. Outraged by what happened to the baby’s mother, she tried to blackmail the Crown, supported by the other four prostitutes. Faced with the threat, Queen Victoria sent Sir William Gull to finish off the witnesses.
Those who suspect that the real doctor was the real Jack the Ripper, believe that Gull was hiding in the back of a horse-drawn cart and driven by his faithful coachman, in charge of cajoling the naive prostitutes to get them up. Once inside, Gull finished them off and then left them lying in the middle of the street . Two companions of the doctor, Masons like him, erased any clue that could incriminate him.
As plausible as the doctor’s involvement in the case seems, there seems to have been a lot of manipulated evidence and inconsistencies, incriminating Sir William more on morbidity or unfounded gossip than on solid evidence.
3. Walter Sickert
It was the writer Patricia Cornwell who, after an arduous investigation, proposed the impressionist painter, Walter Sickert, as one of the possible Jack the Ripper. In her book Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper. Case Closed (2002), and thanks to advances in DNA research , impossible at the time, we come across a series of pieces of evidence that link Sickert to the case: traces of his DNA in the correspondence he sent to the Scotland Commissioner Yard or clues about the murders in his paintings.
But there are also skeptics who refute this hypothesis, since mitochondrial DNA is not conclusive evidence that means that Sickert committed the crimes. Skeptics also do not see that Sickert left hidden keysin their works about the murders that only the police or the author could know about the murders, rather they believe that the latter is something simply interpretable.
2. Aaron Kominski
In 2014, Polish-born hairdresser Aaron Kominski was another accused of being behind the Whitechapel murders. It was known that he was a sex maniac who roamed the district , he had even been in the crosshairs of the police at that time, although they could not collect the necessary evidence to arrest him.
He was considered a suspect again when, again, thanks to advances in forensic science, traces of his DNA were found on a shawl that supposedly belonged to Catherine Eddowes, the fourth murdered.
However, many doubt that said garment belonged to the prostitute, since they consider that its appearance is too luxurious to be that of someone from an impoverished life. As in Sickert’s case, mitochondrial DNA evidence does not point to a single culprit.
1. James Maybrick
In mid-2017, the memoirs of James Maybrick, an English cloth merchant, came to light. In this diary, signed by him, he confesses to the murder of five women from the Whitechapel neighborhood and another prostitute in Manchester. As if that were not enough, in the last lines he proclaims himself Jack the Ripper. Due to the amount of details provided about the crimes , the falsification is ruled out.
But Maybrick was 50 years old at the time of the events, could not see well and had movement problems; something that detractors use to erase Jack the Ripper from the list of candidates, because for those crimes someone of great strength and a firm hand was required.
Maybrick is the most recent in a long list of accused, but will we know more evidence that incriminates him or, on the contrary, will new names appear that we will have to point out as possible Jack the Ripper ? The mystery seems to prevail.
Cornwell, P. (2002) Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed. Madrid: Brosmac.
Ressler, Robert K. & Shachtman, T., (2005) Serial Killers. Barcelona: Alba Editorial Ariel.
Ressler, Robert K. & Shachtman, T., (2010) Inside the Monster: An Attempt to Understand Serial Killers. Barcelona: Alba Publisher.