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Interview with Jack the Ripper

Interview with Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper - History's Most Famous Unsolved Crime

I know. Now that I have learned to conduct these supernatural interviews with infamous dead people, you are expecting to read an interview with that mutilating monster of a serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Well, I lied. I am unable to interview Jack. Do I hear you asking, "why"?

Because the serial killer who murdered and mutilated five or six or maybe as many as thirteen prostitutes in the East End of London in 1888 was never found. No one was ever arrested or tried for the murders. It is 122 years later and we are still fascinated with the mystery - who was Jack the Ripper?

Although I cannot conduct an interview with a killer who is unknown, I can do the next best thing and interview the London police officials and others who were most closely involved with the case. You can read the evidence I discovered and decide for yourself.


Martha Tabram may have been the first victim

Martha Tabram may have been the first victim

Top row: Elizabeth Stride   . . . Annie Chapman Bottom row: Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols,  Mary Jane Kelly,  Catharine Eddowes

Top row: Elizabeth Stride . . . Annie Chapman Bottom row: Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols, Mary Jane Kelly, Catharine Eddowes

Interview with Police in the Case of Jack the Ripper

"Jack the Ripper" is the name given to the unknown killer because of correspondence at the time from someone who claimed to be the killer signed with that name. This unknown person didn’t claim to be Jack the Killer or Jack the Murderer. He chose the more dramatic appellation, “Jack the Ripper” . Perhaps he was a fan of ancient history and his hero was Vlad Dracula the Impaler.

But while the murders were taking place, the serial killer was known as the”Whitechapel Murderer” or "Leather Apron". All the murders took place within a one-mile area and involved the districts of Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Aldgate and the city of London.

Leather aprons were found at the scene of two of the crimes, but the police soon discovered they belonged to residents who worked in the Spitalfields slaughter houses who hung their leather aprons out to dry each night.

There is some dispute concerning how many victims Jack the Ripper claimed. Some historians believe he may have killed as many as thirteen prostitutes during his violent career. It is generally accepted, however, that there were at least five victims and possibly six.

Victims of Jack the Ripper

Martha Tabram, murdered Tuesday, August 7, 1888 may have been his first victim. The following are the five Ripper's victims that most experts have confirmed:

  • Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols, murdered on Bucks' Row, Friday, August 31, 1888.
  • Annie Chapman, murdered at 29 Hanbury Street, Saturday, September 8, 1888.
  • Elizabeth Stride, murdered on Berner Street, Sunday, September 30, 1888.
  • Catharine Eddowes, murdered in Mitre Square, Sunday, September 30, 1888. This was a double feature - two in one day.
  • Mary Jane (Marie Jeanette) Kelly, murdered at #13 Miller's Court, Friday, November 9, 1888
"London News" 1888

"London News" 1888

Why has Jack the Ripper remained so unforgettable for over 100 years? He wasn’t the first serial killer. But he was the first at a time when the general population had become literate, and newspapers were available. Every day you could read about his activities and the actions taken by police. It was the press coverage that made the Ripper and these horrible murders something new to read about. If television interviewer, Larry King, were around at that time, he would have interviewed the Ripper in a New York minute. Come to think of it, Larry was around, but he didn’t know Jack’s identity.

Jack the Ripper was not your everyday sort of sexual serial killer. He wanted the whole world to take notice of him by leaving most of his horribly slashed and mutilated victims out in plain sight. And because he was never caught, it is the mystery surrounding him that intrigues us and creates a puzzle we are tempted to solve.

Jack the Ripper Documentary Part One

What was Jack’s MO or Modus Operandi

All six known victims were prostitutes and four were killed outdoors. They varied in age (25 to 47) and appearance, and most were thought to be drunk at the time they were killed. Apparently, the Ripper grabbed his victims by their throats and strangled them until they were unconscious if not dead. No bruising on the back of the heads indicates that he lowered the bodies to the ground rather than throwing or letting them fall.

Then Jack simply cut their throats as they lay on the ground after he strangled them. This method prevented him from becoming blood stained. If his victims were already dead before their throats were cut, too much blood would not be spilled.

No sign of intercourse nor evidence of masturbation was ever detected. Usually Jack took a piece of the victim's viscera. The taking of a "trophy" is a common practice by modern sexual serial killers. The opinion of most of the surgeons who examined the bodies was that the killer had to have some degree of anatomical knowledge to do what he did. In one case he removed a kidney from the front of the body rather than from the side, and did not damage any nearby organs while doing so. In another case he removed the sexual organs with one clean stroke of the knife. Given the circumstances of the crimes (outside, often in near total darkness, keeping one eye out for the approach of others, and under extremely tight time constraints), the Ripper almost certainly would have had some experience in wielding his knife.

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Most promising of hundreds of Jack the Ripper suspects

Most promising of hundreds of Jack the Ripper suspects

Jack the Ripper Documentary Part Two

What did Jack the Ripper look like?

Was there any written record of Jack's appearance? Before you ask, I did interview all five of his reported victims – all of whom were in realty bad mutilated shape, besides being dead, you know. All were unanimous that he was of medium height and build, and wore a soft hat pulled low over his face to hide his features. He also appeared to have a full mustache but his chin was clean shaven.

I wondered why couldn’t any of them give a more detailed description of Jack? Then I realized they were being discreet. The Ripper must have asked his prostitute victims to turn around and lean against a wall or building and, as they awaited him, he strangled them from behind.

I did locate one Ripper description however which was published in a French newspaper, 'Gazette De Lausanne' on November 16, 1888. Translated from French it read:

'The police came for the first time, to receive a detailed record of the likely perpetrator of the Whitechapel crimes. It was a groom who knew (Mary Jane) Kelly who saw her return home at two hours of the morning with this individual. He is a man five feet, seven inches high, thirty-four or thirty-five years old, with an olive complexion and a black mustache curled up at the two ends. He had a soft felt hat, wore a long double coat of Astrakhan, a white collar with black tie and a horseshoe shaped pin, black leggings and button up boots and in his left waistcoat pocket a massive gold chain with a stamp in red stone. The eyes were black, very thick eyebrows, and his chin was clean-shaven.'

Sir Melville Macnaghten, Chief Constable, Scotland Yard 1853-1921

Sir Melville Macnaghten, Chief Constable, Scotland Yard 1853-1921

Montague John Druitt, Attorney and Teacher 1857-1888

Montague John Druitt, Attorney and Teacher 1857-1888

Jack the Ripper Documentary Part Three

Books about Jack the Ripper

Interviews with Police Officials

I have unearthed – no pun intended – the first senior police official to interview - Sir Melville Macnaghten, Chief Constable.

me – How are you Sir Melville?

Sir M. – Not in the best of health, as you can see.

me – Sorry. I have learned that in 1894, you wrote a confidential report in which you named three top suspects. Who were they?

Sir M. – My chief suspect was Montague John Druitt, a 31-year old barrister (attorney) who became a school teacher. His relatives describe him as ‘sexually insane.’ He never confessed and committed suicide by drowning himself in the Thames in December 1888 one month after Mary Kelly was killed.

Note: Druitt left behind a suicide note that has remained secret and if it contained a confession, no one except the police knew it. Macnaghten once commented that his greatest regret was that he had "become a detective officer six months after Jack the Ripper committed suicide.’’

me –The plot thickens. Who was your second suspect?

Sir M.Aaron Kosminiski. This was confirmed by the two officers in charge of the case: Chief Inspector Donald Swanson and Sir Robert Anderson. In his memoirs, Anderson wrote that the Ripper was Kosminiski, a poor Polish Jew who lived in Whitechapel and was confined to an insane asylum after the crimes and died soon after.

me - I have read reports that question Kosminiski’s guilt.

Sir M. – It’s true that the suspect was placed in an asylum but he proved to be a docile and harmless lunatic who had hallucinations and would only eat food from the gutter. He did not die soon after being committed but lived until 1919. Some researchers tried to explain the discrepancies by saying that the name, Kosminiski, was confused with another insane suspect who really was dangerous.

me – And your third suspect?

Sir M.Michael Ostrog, a Russian-born thief and con man with multiple aliases (Dr. Alexander Pedachenko and Vassily Konavalov). He was a medical doctor who was believed to be about 55 years old in 1888. He had been detained in asylums on several occasions, but he was investigated and there was nothing to indicate that he was anything more than a raving maniac. He was traced back to Russia in 1891 and caught mutilating a woman he had killed.

me – Thank you, Sir M. I will now interview Inspector Abberline and Chief Inspector Littlechild. Gentlemen, who was the suspect you believed to be Jack the Ripper?

Inspector Frederick Abberline – I always thought Severin Klosowski alias George Chapman might be Jack the Ripper. He had a notorious rap sheet as a multiple wife poisoner. But other officers rejected him as a suspect.

Jack the Ripper Documentary Part Four

Chief Inspector John Littlechild  –  I was in charge of the Secret Department in Scotland Yard at the time and I wrote a letter in 1913 to a crime journalist named G. R. Sims. In the letter I stated “… amongst the suspects and to my mind a very likely one, was a Dr. T. He was an American quack doctor named Dr. FrancisTumblety, 56 years old. He was arrested in November, 1888 for offenses of gross indecency.”

me – I have read that Tumblety was a legitimate suspect who paid a fortune for bail and fled to the United States.

Littlechild – That is true and Scotland Yard detectives came to the colonies to investigate him further. But he did not confess and they could find no proof that he was Jack the Ripper.

Jack the Ripper Documentary Part Five

Dear Boss letter

Dear Boss letter

Saucy Jacky postcard

Saucy Jacky postcard

Jack the Ripper Documentary Part Six

Jack the Ripper Letters

The police and newspapers received hundreds of letters that claimed to have been written by the killer. Most of these were hoaxes but three of them were believed to be authentic from Jack: the 'Dear Boss' letter, the 'Saucy Jacky' postcard and the 'From Hell' letter.

The 'Dear Boss' letter:

‘Dear Boss,
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn't you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife's so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck. Yours truly, Jack the Ripper. Dont mind me giving the trade name

PS Wasn't good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I'm a doctor now. ha ha.'

The 'SaucyJacky' postcard:

‘I was not codding dear old Boss when I gave you the tip, you'll hear about Saucy Jacky's work tomorrow double event this time number one squealed a bit couldn't finish straight off. ha not the time to get ears for police. thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again. Jack the Ripper’

;From Hell' letter

;From Hell' letter

Jack the Ripper film

Although Jack may have written the letter and postcard, there is no evidence he did and the police were convinced that they were the work of a journalist. A recently discovered document states that a journalist from the Central News agency, Tom Bulling, was the writer.

But there was one other letter that the genuine Jack the Ripper may have written. In mid-October, 1888, a small package was sent to George Lusk, who was head of a Vigilance Committee in Whitechapel. Inside was half a human kidney and a letter from someone claiming to be the killer, and that the grisly contents were part of the kidney he removed from the victim, Catherine Eddowes. It is impossible to know for sure if the Ripper really did send it. However, Eddowes did suffer from Bright's disease and the description of the kidney matched what a Bright's disease kidney would look like.

‘From hell.
Mr Lusk, Sor, I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman and 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

signed Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk’

Jack may have inspired Hannibal Lecter ('Silence of the Lambs' film) with this missive.

Senior police officials

Senior police officials

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1859-1930

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1859-1930

Lewis Carroll 1832-1898

Lewis Carroll 1832-1898

Why weren't the police more successful in their hunt for the Ripper?

Keep in mind this was 1888 before forensic science including finger printing or DNA testing existed. The only way to prove someone committed a murder was to catch him or her in the act, or get the suspect to confess.

Another complication - not one, but two police forces carried out investigations. The Metropolitan Police, known as Scotland Yard, was responsible for crimes committed in all the boroughs of London except the City of London proper. The single square mile in the heart of London known as the City of London had its own police force.

But wait, there's more!

Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes books, was convinced that Jack the Ripper was really Jill the Ripper - a desperate midwife. I confess, the word, 'desperate,' is mine. Doyle actually used the words, 'berserk midwife'. In fact, his first Sherlock Holmes story, "A Study in Scarlet," was inspired by the Ripper's crimes.

A more famous Jack the Ripper suspect is Lewis Carroll, author of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." The argument for Carroll's guilt was that this beloved author left clues to his identity as the Ripper in anagrams found in several of his lesser-known stories. This absurd theory can be dismissed since anagrams can be created for almost anything.

Here is an example: the anagram for Princess Diana is 'end is a car spin'.

Prince Albert Victor 1864-1892

Prince Albert Victor 1864-1892

Sir William Gull 1816-1890

Sir William Gull 1816-1890

You ain't heard nothin' yet.

Now I would like to present one of the most interesting tales I read about the identity of Jack the Ripper. In 1970, a new theory was published in which the grandson of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale (nicknamed Eddy), was involved. Eddy was the eldest son of the future King Edwad VII.

It seems that Eddy met a beautiful, young, illiterate shop girl, Annie Elizabeth Crook. One year later, Annie had a daughter by Eddy named Alice Margaret. Eddy and Annie then married in a church wedding ceremony. Soon Queen Victoria learned of the affair and ordered her Prime Minister to break up the liaison. At the time there was growing unrest toward the British monarchy and now her simple-minded grandson, heir to the throne, had married a commoner and fathered a child. If word of that got out, the monarchy was in danger.

Pay attention now because the story gets even more convoluted. Lord Salisbury, the P.M., entrusted this delicate mission to Sir William Gull, the 72-year old Physician Extraordinary to Her Majesty. Gull and his henchmen kidnapped Annie and the Prince. Eddy was returned to the court and Sir William performed an operation on Annie that left her insane. The baby was given to a friend of Annie's named Mary Jane Kelly. Is that name familiar?

Subsequently, Mary told the royal secret to a number of her Whitechapel prostitute friends - Nichols, Chapman and Stride. They devised a blackmail scheme which prompted Sir Willam and his henchmen to commit the Jack the Ripper murders. Voila, the witnesses were eliminated.

Could this be a true story or a fairy tale?

© Copyright BJ Rakow 2011. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So"

Sources: Evans, Stewart P. and Keith Skinner. “The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Source book.” Robinson, 2001.

Begg, Paul. “Jack the Ripper: The Facts.” Robson Books, 2004.

Begg, Pau, Martin Fido and Keith Skinnder. “The Jack the Ripper A-Z.” Headline, 1996. Rev. 2007.

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This film, 'From Hell,' depicts a different version of Jack the Ripper but I included it for all the Johnny Depp fans.

Now You Decide.


drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on June 16, 2013:

If Jack the Ripper had a specific temptation in the case of Annie Chapman, christine, we may never ever really know. She could have been selected for a specific reason, or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

christine on June 15, 2013:

what was jack the rippers temptation in annie chapmans case?

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on April 25, 2013:

You are too kind, Mary, and your hub is NOT humble. I have linked it above. There are so many theories about the Ripper I could have easily written another 3500 words. Thanks for the visit, the gracious adjectives and the up vote, m'dear.

Mary Craig from New York on April 25, 2013:

Brilliant drbj, my hub pales in comparison. The royal family theory really does sound plausible. They say there are still sealed documents that only the police have seen hmm...

Definitely linking this great hub to my humble hub!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on October 26, 2012:

Not only are you normal, Dovercourtbelle, you are also famous - through marriage. What an interesting piece of Ripper history. Thank you for sharing that tidbit with me and my readers. Cheers, m'dear.

Dovercourtbelle on October 23, 2012: