The infamous Whitechapel murders of 1888 are the coldest cold case in history. Ripperologists (as they are called) have been trying for years to solve the case to no avail. Crime fiction writer Patricia Cornwell even spent millions of dollars in an effort to prove that artist Walter Sickert was actually Jack the Ripper, but most people who have read her book – myself included – believe that’s bullshit. Sickert was a typical woman-hating son of a bitch, but that doesn’t make him the most notorious serial killer of all time. (Jean Overton Fuller, writer of Sickert And The Ripper Crimes, obviously thinks that Sickert is guilty as well. For more on the Cornwell-Sickert angle, visit this site.)

Why exactly are the five murders of London prostitutes so well-known throughout the world? Well, newspapers published lurid accounts of the murders as they unfolded, tantalizing the reading public with the gory details not only of the killings themselves, but the letters that allegedly were sent to police by the killer. (Most of these turned out to be hoaxes from attention-seeking individuals, who were apparently mentally ill to desire that kind of notoriety.) The name given to the killer – evidently by a member of the press – also helped to thrust the still unknown murderer into the annals of true crime forever, which is why to this day, ‘Saucy Jacky’, as one postcard called him (it was thought to be from the killer himself but has since been called out as the work of a journalist), remains the most elusive criminal figure the world has ever heard of.

Several people have been suspected of the Whitechapel murders and a few of them have even been conclusively lined by a few sleuths to the more than a century old killings. One of these is Polish Jew Aaron Kosminski, who died of gangrene in a London asylum in 1919. There are claims that a witness saw Kosminski with one of the victims but refused to testify against a fellow Jew. British writer Russell Edwards published a book titled Naming Jack The Ripper in which he claims that Kosminski really is the killer – he has the DNA evidence to back up his claims! Supposedly, a shawl taken from victim Catherine Eddowes, in one family’s possession for decades, was offered to Edwards to test for DNA in an effort to discover who Eddowes’ killer was. (For more on this claim, visit link #2.)

A partial list of the many suspects of the Whitechapel murders – which numbered in the hundreds due to amateur sleuths adding their two cents’ worth, though most of these ‘suspects’ could not be linked to the killings at all – is as follows:

  1. Prince Albert Victor
  2. Joseph Barnett
  3. W. H. Bury
  4. Lewis Carroll
  5. Dr. T. Neill Cream
  6. Frederick Deeming
  7. Montague John Druitt
  8. Hyam Hyams
  9. James Kelly
  10. Severin Klosowski (George Chapman)

  11. Jacob Levy
  12. James Maybrick
  13. Michael Ostrog
  14. The Royal Conspiracy
  15. James Kenneth Stephen
  16. R. D’Onston Stephenson
  17. Alois Szemeredy
  18. Francis Thompson
  19. Francis Tumblety
  20. Dr. John Williams

Who was Jack the Ripper and why did he (or she) kill these women in such a grisly manner? Only the killer himself – or herself  though I seriously doubt that Jack was a woman, whom many call Jill the Ripper – knows the answers, and he – or she – can no longer speak.

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