Jack the Ripper

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Jack the Ripper ( dt. Jack the slitter ) is the pseudonym of a serial killer , the murder of at least five prostitutes in the fall of 1888 in London's East End are attributed. The murderer was never caught and his possible identity is still a matter of speculation today. Thus, by criminologists , historians , too, but lay numerous individuals suspected. The events of Jack the Ripper turned into a jumble of scientific and historical research, conspiracy theories, and popular narratives. The newspapers from all over the world, which were particularly popular at the time of the murders, continuously devoted extensive reports to the alleged perpetrator, the murders, the investigations and the failures of the police.


The name Jack the Ripper comes from the so-called Dear Boss letter, which was delivered to the Central News Agency in London on September 27, 1888, the authenticity of which is, however, disputed. The author of the letter posed as the murderer. It has often been claimed that the name Jack the Ripper was brought into the world through the newspapers. In addition to this probably best-known name, the alleged serial killer was also called Leather Apron (leather apron ) and The Whitechapel Murderer (murderer of Whitechapel).


In England there was an explosive population growth in the middle of the 19th century due to immigration and a high birth rate. In London this led to environmental problems such as the Great Stench in 1858. While around 1850 many Irish fled to England due to the Great Famine in Ireland , from 1882 onwards large numbers of immigrants came from Eastern Europe and Russia who were against the pogroms against the Jews in their homeland settled in the same area of ​​London, the East End of London. The area around the harbor , especially what is now the London Borough of Tower Hamlets , was completely overpopulated. Jobs and housing were rare. Many women made their living through casual prostitution . Life took place on the street, in pubs and in poor shelters, so-called common lodging houses . Poverty, alcohol and theft were part of everyday life. In October 1888, the Metropolitan Police Service suspected there were around 1,200 prostitutes and 62 brothels in Whitechapel alone .

The Whitechapel murders


The Whitechapel murders are a series of eleven murders that occurred between April 3, 1888 and February 13, 1891 in Whitechapel and the adjacent neighborhoods of Poplar , Spitalfields and the City of London . Despite the commonplace nature of crime against women, they stood out especially for their cruelty. It is certain that nine of the eleven women murdered were prostitutes. The vast majority of experts and researchers see five murders, also known as the "Canonical Five", as the act of a single person. Whether the remaining six people were also victims of this murderer or whether one or more other perpetrators were involved in the murders is controversial.

The crime scenes of the first seven Whitechapel murders

Early murders

On April 3, 1888, Emma Elizabeth Smith was found seriously injured on Osborn Street, Whitechapel. Smith had been kidnapped and raped with a blunt object stuck in her vagina that had also torn her perineum . She said she was attacked by two or three men. Two days later, she died as a result of her injuries.

Martha Tabram was murdered with 39 stitches on August 7, 1888. Because of the temporal proximity to the murders of the "Canonical Five" and the brutality of this act, Tabram is often counted among the victims of Jack the Ripper.

Canonical five

The Whitechapel murders, which were committed between August 31 and November 9, 1888, are referred to as the "Canon Five". The majority of experts assume that these were committed by the same person.

On August 31, 1888 to 3:40 Mary Ann Nichols in Buck's Row (now Durward Street) in Whitechapel found dead. Her throat was cut. Incisions were made in the groin area to open the abdomen and expose her intestines .

The body of Annie Chapman was born on September 8, 1888 in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street , discovered Spitalfields. Her throat was cut with two cuts. The abdomen was fully opened and eviscerated. The intestines were placed over the right shoulder. Later it turned out that part of the abdominal wall and the entire uterus were missing.

Elizabeth Stride was murdered on September 30, 1888 on the night of the so-called double event (German "double event "). Her body was found at 1:00 a.m. in Dutfield's Yard on Berner Street (now Henriques Street) in Whitechapel. Unlike Mary Ann Nichols and Annie Chapman, Stride was not mutilated any further except for the severing of the throat. Some sources believe that Stride was not among the victims of Jack the Ripper due to the lack of opening of the abdomen. However, the time and place as well as the characteristics of the victim coincide with the other murders. Sources suspecting that Jack the Ripper was the killer believe that the killer was disturbed by the arrival of the waiter at an adjacent restaurant with a cart.

Only 44 minutes later , the body of Catherine Eddowes was found in Miter Square , City of London, about a kilometer away . Her body was mutilated similarly to Annie Chapman's. Half of the uterus and the left kidney were missing from the open abdomen . In addition to the cut throat, the face was also mutilated. After that, the Ripper probably fled to Whitechapel again, as part of Eddowes' apron was later found on Goulston Street. Assuming that both were killed by one person, the murderer of Catharine Eddowes is likely to have accomplished what he could not do with Elizabeth Stride due to the disturbance.

At 10:45 am on November 9, 1888, the body of Mary Jane Kelly was discovered in her room at 13 Miller's Court on Dorset Street . As with all of the Canonical Five, the throat was cut. The face was badly mutilated, and the chest and abdomen were cut open. Many internal organs had been removed and were scattered around the room. Muscle meat was removed from various parts of the body. The heart was missing and was either taken away by the perpetrator or burned in the furnace on site. The murder of Mary Jane Kelly differs from the other victims in that Kelly was much younger and she was not murdered in public but in her private accommodation. Because of this, some experts believe Mary Jane Kelly was not killed by Jack the Ripper. The majority of researchers, however, see her as the victim of Jack the Rippers. Time and social class fit into the picture. The fact that the mutilations got worse from murder to murder speaks for it. Because of the extensive reporting and investigations by the police and vigilante groups , the killer may have felt compelled to exercise caution and murder Mary Jane Kelly in a protected room, out of the public eye.

Later murders

Mary Jane Kelly is widely considered to be the last victim of Jack the Ripper. The sudden end of the series of murders is explained by the fact that the killer died, was detained for other reasons, was admitted to a mental institution or left the country. However, a few researchers also see the last four of the Whitechapel murders as acts of the Ripper.

On December 20, 1888, the strangled Rose Mylett's body was found in a back yard on High Street, Poplar. In the absence of any signs of combat, the police initially assumed that they had inflicted their fatal injuries on themselves or committed suicide while they were drunk. After the investigation, however, it was determined that it was a murder.

Alice McKenzie , also known as Clay Pipe Alice (Eng. " Clay pipe Alice ") or Alice Bryant, was killed on July 17, 1889. The cause of death was the severing of the carotid artery . There were also stab wounds in the abdominal wall.

The so-called Pinchin Street torso was discovered on September 10, 1889 in Pinchin Street, Whitechapel, under a railway bridge. No other body parts were found. The identity of the victim is unknown, the age has been estimated to be 30 to 40 years. There are conflicting assumptions about the cause of death. The police did not believe the cause of death was bleeding or a throat cut because of the blood that was left in the body. The coroners, however, spoke of bleeding as the cause of death due to the lack of blood in adipose tissue and blood vessels. As early as October 1888, a similarly mutilated torso was found in the government district of Whitehall . The Pinchin Street Torso differs from the other Whitechapel murders because of its completely different modus operandi .

On February 13, 1891, a woman's body was found under a railway overpass in Whitechapel, later identified as Frances Cole . Apart from the severed throat, no other serious injuries were found. Shortly afterwards, James Thomas Sadler, who was seen with Frances Cole shortly before the murder, was arrested and interrogated in connection with this murder. He was suspected of being Jack the Ripper for a while, but was released on March 3, 1891 for lack of evidence.

More murders and violent attacks

In individual cases, murders and assaults are also assigned to Jack the Ripper, which are not counted among the Whitechapel murders, as they were sometimes committed at other times and places, sometimes outside the city of London, or have other circumstances.

Fairy Fay (Eng. " Fairy Tale Fairy") is the pseudonym of a presumed corpse who is said to have been found on December 26, 1887 in Whitechapel and which was allegedly rammed a stake in the abdomen. However, no body finds or murders were recorded around Boxing Day of that year, so most experts doubt that Fairy Fay even existed.

Annie Millwood was born about 1850. She is reportedly a victim of an attack on February 25, 1888, which caused her to be hospitalized for "numerous stitches in the legs and lower part of the body." She was discharged from the hospital but died of natural causes on March 31, 1888. Because of the close chronological connection between her injuries and her death, however, in view of the medical possibilities at the time, it can be assumed that she succumbed to the consequences of her injuries.

Ada Wilson was reportedly a victim of an attack on March 28, 1888, in which she was stabbed twice in the neck. She survived the attack.

The Whitehall Mystery , drawing in the Illustrated Police News , October 1888

On October 2, 1888, a woman's torso was found in the basement of Scotland Yard headquarters in the government district of Whitehall . A leg belonging to the body was buried near the torso, and an arm of the body was pulled from the Thames in the Pimlico district . No other limbs or head were found and the identity of the corpse was not established. The body known as the Whitehall Mystery shares similarities with the Pinchin Street torso found in Whitechapel a year later. It is generally assumed that this is another perpetrator who murdered at the same time as Jack the Ripper, who is also referred to in the literature as the torso killer .

The body of seven year old John Gill was found on December 29, 1888 in Bradford , West Yorkshire . His legs were broken and his abdomen opened, the intestines exposed. The corpse was also missing an ear and a heart. The boy's injuries were thus very similar to Mary Jane Kelly's injuries, which led to the suspicion that Jack the Ripper could have killed John Gill. A person close to the boy was suspected and interrogated, but released for lack of evidence. The crime was never solved.

Carrie Brown was nicknamed Old Shakespeare . Apparently she was in the habit of reciting Shakespeare's sonnets when she was drunk . She was born about 1835 and was killed on April 24, 1891 in Manhattan , New York City . Carrie Brown was strangled with clothes and then mutilated with a knife. Her body was found with a large tear in the groin area and superficial cuts on her legs and back. An ovary was found on her bed . However, no organs were taken away. It is unknown whether the ovary was deliberately removed or fell out of the torn body. When the murder was compared to what had happened in Whitechapel at this time, the London police ruled out any connection.


During the time of the Ripper's murders, investigative techniques and knowledge were much lower than they are today. Many forensic techniques were unknown or not available at the time. The concept and motivations of serial killers were poorly understood and known. The police at the time assumed the murderer's sexual motives and were unfamiliar with this type of crime. Based on the investigation files received, it is easy to understand how the police worked at that time. In the case of the Whitechapel murders, police in large groups went to the houses surrounding the crime scenes and interviewed over 2,000 people, over 300 of whom were linked to the murders and 80 were arrested.

Initially, the Whitechapel Police Department was responsible for the investigation. After the murder of Mary Ann Nichols, inspectors were dispatched from the Metropolitan Police Service headquarters , including Frederick Abberline . Since Scotland Yard had no powers in the City of London, after the body of Catharine Eddowes was found, the City of London Police officers were called in . Eventually, Police Commissioner Charles Warren appointed Donald Swanson to head the investigation because the head of the crime investigation division, Robert Anderson , was abroad at the time.

After parts of the population of the East End were dissatisfied with the police work, they founded the Citizen Police Whitechapel Vigilance Committee under the direction of George Lusk . This went on patrol of its own accord and hired private investigators to observe suspicious people, and they also petitioned the government several times to obtain information about the police investigation.

The police initially turned their attention to interrogating and checking the alibis of butchers, surgeons and doctors whom they initially suspected because of the killer’s actions.

Goulston Street graffito

After the known double-incident murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catharine Eddowes on the night of September 30, 1888, Constable Alfred Long was found in a stairwell in the building at 108-119 Goulston Street, about 500 meters from Miter Square and 800 meters from Berner Street, a blood-smeared piece of an apron. It was later found out that this piece belonged to the apron Catharine Eddowes had worn on the night of the crime. A graffito had been made in white chalk on the wall above the part of the apron .

According to Constable Long, the text read “ The Jews are the men that will not be blamed for nothing ” (German: “ The Jews are the people who are not accused for no reason ”). Constable Daniel Halse from the City of London Police, who later came to the site, claims to have read: “ The Jews are not the men that will be blamed for nothing ” (German: “ The Jews are not the people who are blamed for nothing . "). A third statement comes from city surveyor William Foster, who stated that the text was “ The Jews are not the men to be blamed for nothing .” (German: “ The Jews are not the people who are accused for no reason ”). The version by Alfred Long, which was passed on to the Home Office by Police Chief Charles Warren, was decisive for the investigation .

After the murder of Mary Ann Nichols compacted in the East End quickly rumors that the murder of a Jew, the Leather Apron (German leather apron was called), said to have been committed, which anti-Semitic rallies moved to it. Superintendent Thomas Arnold therefore ordered, with the permission of Charles Warren, to remove the graffito on the spot to prevent possible riots. It was therefore no longer possible to capture the graffito photographically. In his report of November 9, 1888, Arnold wrote:

Entering the Goulston Street Graffiti at the Interior Ministry by Charles Warren

“I beg to report that on the morning of the 30th Sept. last, my attention was called to some writing on the wall of the entrance to some dwellings at no. 108 Goulston Street, Whitechapel which consisted of the following words: "The Juwes are [not] the men that will not be blamed for nothing", and knowing in consequence of suspicion having fallen upon a Jew named 'John Pizer' alias' Leather Apron 'having committed a murder in Hanbury Street a short time previously, a strong feeling existed against the Jews generally, and as the Building upon which the writing was found was situated in the midst of a locality inhabited principally by that Sect, I was apprehensive that if the writing were left it would be the means of causing a riot and therefore considered it desirable that it should be removed having in view the fact that it was in such a position that it would have been rubbed by persons passing in & out of the Building. "

“Please report that on the morning of September 30th, the last, my attention was drawn to a sign on the wall of the entrance to the dwellings at 108 Goulston Street, Whitechapel, which consisted of the following words:“ The Jews are [not] the people who are not accused for no reason ”. I knew there was a strong feeling against Jews in general because of the suspicion of a Jew named 'John Pizer', called 'Leather Apron', who was accused of the recent murder on Hanbury Street. Since the building on which the label was located was in the middle of the locality that is mainly inhabited by this sect, I was concerned that if the label was left it could be responsible for an uprising, so I considered that it was desirable to remove it due to the fact that it was in a place that could be easily seen by people going in and out. "

- Thomas Arnold : Archives of the Home Office

Whether the graffito is connected to the murders or happened to be there was and is controversial. While the chief of the Whitechapel Police Station, Walter Dew, was convinced that the label was irrelevant to the investigation, they saw Robert Anderson and Charles Warren as the work of the killer. Historian Philip Sugden sees three possibilities:

  1. The graffito is not the work of the murderer, he accidentally left the part of the apron lying there.
  2. The graffito comes from the murderer, who is Jewish and portrays himself and all Jews as guilty.
  3. The graffito comes from the murderer and he wants to use it to draw suspicion on the Jews and lead the police on the wrong track.

The author Martin Fido sees a double negative in the label and reads the graffito as "The Jews take no responsibility for anything" and concludes that the text was written by a person who may have felt betrayed by a Jewish trader in the area .

Stephen Knight, journalist and author, claims that Juwes is not related to Jews, but refers to the murderers of Hiram Abif named Jubela, Jubelo and Jubelum, who came from a Masonic allegory, and that the murderer who also applied the graffito was im Order of the Freemasons acted. However, there is no evidence that the term jewels was ever brought in connection with the Masonic legendary figures except for Knight. However, this hypothesis has been used in various fictional adaptations, such as the graphic novel From Hell .

Another interpretation of the text was published in the Pall Mall Gazette on December 1, 1888 . The journalist Robert D'Onston Stephenson concluded from the sentence structure, the incorrect spelling of the term Jews and the double use of a certain article that it could have been a French. In his opinion, juwes resemble the French juives . Stephenson excluded Francophone Belgians and Swiss because, according to him, their peculiarities made such an act impossible, while in France the murders of prostitutes had been practiced for a long time.

Finally, the investigator and author Travor Marriott claimed that the piece of apron was not necessarily left by the murderer, Catharine Eddowes herself could have torn it off her apron, used it as a hygiene towel and thrown it away at the place where it was found. However, the majority of researchers and experts consider this assumption to be unbelievable.

Perpetrator profile

Robert Anderson, head of the crime investigation department at Scotland Yard, wondered in late October 1888 whether the killer must have had anatomical and surgical skills to expose and remove organs. That is why he asked the surgeon Thomas Bond, who finally made the first known profile of the murderer on the Canon Five. Bond's profile is based on his examination of the body of Mary Jane Kelly and the case files of the other four victims.

“All five murders no doubt were committed by the same hand. In the first four the throats appear to have been cut from left to right, in the last case owing to the extensive mutilation it is impossible to say in what direction the fatal cut was made, but arterial blood was found on the wall in splashes close to where the woman's head must have been lying. All the circumstances surrounding the murders lead me to form the opinion that the women must have been lying down when murdered and in every case the throat was first cut. "

“All five murders were undoubtedly committed by the same person. In the first four cases, the throats appeared to have been cut from left to right. In the latter case, because of the profound mutilations, it is impossible to make a statement about the direction in which the fatal cut was made, but arterial blood spatters were found on the wall near the point where the head of the Woman must have been lying.
All the circumstances surrounding the murders led me to form my opinion that the women must have been lying down when they were murdered and that in each case the throat was cut first. "

- Thomas Bond

Bond also assumes that the killer does not necessarily have to have knowledge of anatomy and surgery, nor knowledge of a butcher. Rather, the perpetrator was a loner with "temporary outbreaks of destructive and sexual delusion". Due to the nature of the mutilations, an abnormal sex drive is assumed. According to Bond, it can also be assumed that “the destructive drive” developed from a “vengeful or brooding state of mind”. Alternatively, a religious delusion is also conceivable as a trigger.

It cannot be proven that there was sexual contact between the murderer and the victims. However, some psychologists believe that stabbing the victim and displaying the mutilated corpses in sexually degrading poses may have given the perpetrator some sexual pleasure. Others, however, consider such hypotheses to be untenable speculation.

The profiler John E. Douglas sees Jack the Ripper as a person between the ages of 30 and 40 with an irrational, anti-social or moody demeanor who must have lived near the crime scene.

In fact, little is known about the perpetrator. It was widely believed that he had a detailed knowledge of the anatomy of the human body. On closer inspection of his actions, however, this was not a necessary requirement. The ripper was repeatedly referred to as a Jew or a foreigner. Due to the fact that the districts in which the murders took place were inhabited by large numbers of immigrants and people of Jewish faith, this is a possibility, but it is much more likely that prejudices are to be assumed in the case of suspicions in this regard, as there are strong anti-Jewish and racist tendencies were present in the population (see The Goulston Street Graffito ). Christian Heermann wrote in his book "The Strangler of Notting Hill - Great London Crime":

“An Englishman as the perpetrator? Totally impossible! You had the choice - either a Polish Jew or maybe a Russian, if you couldn't present any colored person as a ripper. All pronouncements were tailored precisely to the Puritan society and at the same time served to better understand the great politics in which race issues played an important role. "

On the basis of contemporary witness statements, experts from the Metropolitan Police designed a phantom picture of Jack the Rippers and a description of the person in 2006. Accordingly, he was around 25–35 years old, had a mustache and a relatively high hairline. He would therefore have been about 1.65–1.70 m tall.


The police files relating to the suspects are incomplete, almost all of the files relating to them have been lost. However, through the internal police Macnaghten memorandum, which was drawn up on February 23, 1894 by Melville Macnaghten , three suspects are known by name, as well as an exchange of letters between a police officer and a journalist. None of them were ever charged with the East End murders:

Aaron Kosminski was a Polish immigrant who lived in Whitechapel. Kosminski was mentally ill and was eventually admitted to a psychiatric institution; he has been one of the prime suspects for the Ripper murders since the late 19th century. On September 7, 2014, the author Russell Edwards publishedthe results of a genetic analysis carried out by Jari Louhelainenin the British daily Daily Mail . According to his interpretation, the genetic material that he had obtained from sperm and blood traces of a kerchief, a kerchief that had been brought into connection with the murder of Catherine Eddowes , agreed with genetic material samples, the maternal of direct descendants of Catherine Eddowes and Aaron Kosminskis originate. Several DNA experts, among them the father of the genetic fingerprint , Alec John Jeffreys , expressed serious doubts about the informative value of these genetic analyzes. Jari Louhelainen also admitted himself to have made methodological mistakes. It was also criticized that the findings were not published in any scientific journal, but in a daily newspaper. In March 2019, Jari Louhelainen finally published his findings in a specialist journal and again argued that the DNA traces could be linked to Kosminski. In a commentary article in the journal Science , however, DNA experts immediately criticized the methodology of the study again. Accordingly, thecomparison of DNA samples basedon the sequencing of mitochondrial DNA is onlysuitablefor excluding the relationship of two people, but not for the detection of relationship.

Montague John Druitt was a 31 year old lawyer and teacher. He was considered homosexual, which means that he can be largely excluded as a suspect. In December 1888, he committed suicide . His body was found in the Thames .

Michael Ostrog was a Russian doctor and former convict. In London he worked as a thief and farm catcher and appeared under a variety of pseudonyms . It is believed that he was 55 years old in 1888. He has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital several times for attempted manslaughter.

Francis Tumblety , a 56 year old Irish man, worked as a quack . During a stay in London in November 1888 he was charged with obscene acts and imprisoned. After paying heavy bail for his release, he fled England to the United States that same month and went into hiding. Here he was apparently wanted by the English police for the Ripper murders. Tumblety was initially just one of many suspects at the time of the murders, but was favored by Chief Inspector John George Littlechild. Littlechild mentioned his suspicions in this regard in a letter dated September 23, 1913 to the crime journalist and writer George R. Sims .

The so-called Macnaghten Memorandum of February 23, 1894 in the Melville Macnaghten Montague Druitt, Aaron Kosminski and Michael Ostrog suspected.

Another suspect was George Chapman, alias Severin Antonowitsch Kłosowski , who had emigrated from Poland to Great Britain . Chapman was sentenced to death in 1903 for one of three poisonings he committed and executed in Wandsworth Prison .

Since the 1970s, the hypothesis has been raised that the German-born painter Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper. In 2002, the well-known US crime writer Patricia Cornwell published an extensive book in which she tried to prove that Sickert was responsible for the serial murders in Whitechapel and many other murders. She justified her claims, among other things, with comparisons of mitochondrial DNA and interpretations of Sickert's pictures and sketches. However, the Sickert theory is rejected by most experts as well as Scotland Yard.

Due to an obviously falsified diary, the name of a James Maybrick from Liverpool was discussed in 1993 ; in the meantime, experts see the thesis that Maybrick was the ripper as untenable, especially due to an analysis of the chemical composition of the ink used, which turned out to be modern. Then the “finder” of the diary admitted under oath that he had written it himself. However, he later retracted this statement.

In 2006, Australian scientists used the so-called Cell-Track-ID method to examine DNA samples that were taken from the rubberized backs of letters sent to the police and the newspapers. a. concluded that the perpetrator may have been a woman. The investigating police officer, Inspector Frederick Abberline, suspected Mary Pearcey during the time of the murders , who similarly killed her lover's wife and was hanged for it shortly after the Jack the Ripper murders. In 2012, Ripper researcher and former attorney John Morris revisited the theory that the killer was a woman. Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Ann Williams allegedly committed the murders out of anger over her own infertility. As evidence of this, Morris cites that none of the victims was sexually abused and three buttons from a woman's boot were found in Catherine Eddowes ' pool of blood . A newspaper report also stated that the personal belongings of the second victim, Annie Chapman , had been deposited “in a typically feminine manner” at the feet of the corpse. The most important clue, however, is that Mary Jane Kelly is said to have expected a child from Lizzie's husband. With her death in November 1888, the series of murders also ended. Lizzie had a nervous breakdown shortly afterwards. However, until her death in 1912, she was never interrogated by the police.

In addition to those officially suspected by the London police, a large number of other people were suspected by writers, historians and amateurs. Among these were prominent figures such as Sir William Gull , Prince Albert Victor , the mathematician and poet Lewis Carroll ( Alice in Wonderland ), the doctor and philanthropist Thomas John Barnardo, and other contemporary celebrities. Joseph Carey Merrick , who is known around town as an elephant man , was also popularly accused. Due to his disabilities, however, he could be excluded as a perpetrator, he would not have been physically capable of the acts. There are also some conspiracy theories: the most popular is the one weaving a riveting saga about a secret child of Queen Victoria's grandson and about the Freemasons . The presumptive heir to the throne, Prince Albert Victor, eldest son of the future King Edward VII and Duke of Clarence, was in fact suspected by Scotland Yard as a perpetrator for some time , among other things because he was known to be a regular brothel visitor.

On April 9, 2016, the ZDF-Info broadcaster broadcast a documentary entitled Jack the Ripper - Myth on Trial , in which the Swedish journalist Christer Holmgren stated that the perpetrator must be a certain Charles Allen Lechmere (1849–1920), who also called himself Charles Allen Cross. Holmgren had researched the Ripper case for more than 30 years. He alleged that Lechmere lived in the murder area and that the crime scenes were either on his direct way to work at a slaughterhouse on Broad Street or near his mother's house, whom he occasionally visited; his activity as a meat seller could also serve as a plausible explanation for blood stains on his clothes. When the body of Mary Ann Nichols was found, Lechmere was the first to be present under the name of Charles Cross, according to police files. According to Holmgren, he was alone with the victim at the scene of the crime for about nine minutes and committed the crime during this time. He was then surprised by a passer-by, whom he said he had just discovered the dead woman. At the time of the crime in 1888, Lechmere had never been considered a suspect.


"Dear Boss" letter
"From Hell" letter

During the course of the ripper murders, the police and newspapers received thousands of letters related to this case.

Some came from people who would have good intentions to offer advice on how to catch the killer. Most of it was deemed useless.

Probably more interesting were hundreds of confession letters claiming that they were written by the murderer himself. The vast majority of these letters were viewed as jokes. Many experts believe that none of them were personally authored by the ripper. With the help of a new method for determining DNA samples, Australian scientists succeeded in proving that most letters are forgeries. Some of the letters considered possibly genuine by the police then or now are the following three known:

  • The letter "Dear Boss" ( German dear or dear boss or master) is dated September 25, 1888. It was postmarked September 27, 1888 and was received by the Central News Agency that same day. On September 29, 1888, it was forwarded to Scotland Yard . In the letter, the sender promised that he would "cut the lady's ears off " (original clip the lady's ears off ). At first he was considered a joke. However, when Catharine Eddowes was found with a partially cut ear on September 30, 1888, the letter received more attention. The police published the letter on October 1, 1888 in the hopes that someone would recognize the handwriting. These efforts were unsuccessful. The name "Jack the Ripper" was first used in this letter and gained worldwide fame after its publication. Most of the letters that followed mimicked the style of the published letter. After the murders, police officers alleged the letter was a joke by a local journalist .
  • The postcard "Saucy Jack" (German cheeky or impudent boy ) was canceled on October 1, 1888 and was received by the Central News Agency on the same day. It was handwritten and resembled the "Dear Boss" letter. In the postcard it is mentioned with the sentence: "double event this time" (German double event this time ) that two victims (Elizabeth Stride and Catharine Eddowes) were killed one after the other in a short time. It was alleged that the card was mailed before the murders were published. It was believed that it was unlikely that anyone could already have knowledge of the new crimes. Ultimately, however, the postcard was published more than 24 hours after the crime. A lot of time therefore passed in which many details became known to the journalists and residents of the area. Police officers later claimed they identified a particular journalist as the sender of this postcard and the earlier "Dear Boss" letter, but his name was never published.
  • The letter "From Hell" (German from Hell ) is also known as the "Lusk" letter . He was branded on October 15, 1888, was at George Lusk in Whitechapel Vigilance Committee (German Wachsamkeitsausschuss ) on 16 October 1888. Lusk opened a small box and saw half a human kidney. It was later said to have been preserved in ethyl alcohol . At Catharine Eddowes a kidney had been removed from the murderer and a doctor determined that the kidney sent was "very similar to the one removed from Catharine Eddowes" ( original "very similar to the one removed from Catharine Eddowes"). This statement was inconclusive. The sender claimed to have fried and eaten the missing half of the kidney. There is some disagreement about the kidney. Some sources assume it belonged to Catharine Eddowes. Others claim the letter was just a macabre joke.

Some sources cite another letter dated September 17, 1888, which used the name Jack the Ripper as the first message. Experts believe it is a modern forgery that was inserted into police records in the 20th century, long after the murders. The reasons given for forgery were that the letter bore neither an official stamp from the police with the date of receipt nor the initials of the investigator, who must have examined the letter for its potential evidential value. In addition, the letter was not mentioned in any police records during this period. In addition, some of those who saw the letter claim that it was written with a ballpoint pen that was not invented until 50 years after the Ripper murders.

Role of the media

Cover of Puck magazine on September 21, 1889

The Ripper murders mark a crucial turning point in modern British life. Jack the Ripper wasn't the first serial killer, but he was the first whose killings sparked a worldwide media hype.

Legal reforms in 1855 enabled inexpensive newspapers to be printed in large numbers. Popular magazines such as the Illustrated Police News (dt. Illustrated Police News ) bestowed the Ripper a hitherto unprecedented level of awareness. The Whitechapel murders were also widely reported internationally.

Due to the media and the fact that no one was ever charged for the murders, a legendary hunt for the perpetrator was held. Even in later times, serial killers were influenced by the well-known legends of Jack the Ripper. Conversely, the extreme medialization of the Ripper case also influenced the (supposed) knowledge about the perpetrator and the crime.

Some believe the killer's nickname was invented by newspaper vendors to make the story more interesting and to sell more newspapers. This later became common practice in the media, as evidenced by the examples of the Boston Strangler , Green River Killer , Axeman of New Orleans , Beltway Sniper , Hillside Stranglers and the Zodiac Killer, as well as the British examples of the Yorkshire Ripper and nearly 100 years later the unnamed perpetrator of the “Thames Nude Murders” (German Thames nude murders ) in the 1960s. The press even dubbed the perpetrator of the “Thames Nude Murders” Jack the Stripper .

The poor in the east end of London had long been ignored by affluent society. However, the murders turned public attention to the living conditions of the victims and the lower class in general. Because of this heightened awareness, the social reformers of that time succeeded in getting the upper class to listen and act.

Processing in film, music, literature and computer games

The popularity and mystification of the case and the unexplained identity of Jack the Ripper led to a fictitious processing of the material in various media in the years and decades that followed. In the film Sherlock Holmes' Greatest Case of 1965, The Thames Murder in 1979. Michael Caine starred in the 1988 Golden Globe Award- winning miniseries Jack the Ripper, Inspector Frederick Abberline. Jack the Ripper - The Harlot of London from 1976, in which Klaus Kinski plays the fictional doctor Dennis Orlof, who transforms into Jack the Ripper at night, can also be classified into the field of horror films , as well as Ripper - Letters from Hell from 2001. From Hell (2001) with Johnny Depp as Abberline, however, is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore . In the DC Universe , the immortal super villain Vandal Savage was Jack the Ripper.

In addition to the cinematic implementation of the material, Jack the Ripper was also referred to in two television series. In Whitechapel from 2009, a serial killer imitates Jack the Ripper's approach, including finding the bodies at the known locations. In the series Ripper Street , which has aired since 2012, the action begins six months after the murders of the Canon Five, when prostitutes are suddenly found dead again. The murders bear the signature of Jack the Ripper. In addition to these series, Jack the Ripper is also addressed in individual episodes of other series such as Raumschiff Enterprise , Babylon 5 , The Simpsons , Smallville , Vampire Diaries , Grimm or Forever . Various documentaries from the History Channel , the BBC and other production companies also deal with the subject. In the Japanese manga series Black Butler , Jack the Ripper also plays a major role, the last victim (in the series) was named Mary Kelly as in reality. In the anime / manga series Detective Conan , Jack the Ripper is also hunted by Conan Edogawa in a 3D computer game ( Detective Conan the Phantom of Baker Street ).

Jack the Ripper can also be found on the theater stage, so there are several musicals, as well as an appearance at the end of the play Die Büchse der Pandora by Frank Wedekind and the opera Lulu by Alban Berg based on it . Well-known music groups such as Die Ärzte , Motörhead , Judas Priest , Iced Earth or the singer Nick Cave dedicated one of their songs to Jack the Ripper, while the deathcore / death metal band Whitechapel was named after the district of London where most of the murders were committed. On their debut album The Somatic Defilement , they dedicated almost all of the songs to Jack the Ripper.

In addition to the graphic novel From Hell , various works have appeared in the field of fiction . In addition to the pseudo-documentary book Who Was Jack the Ripper - Portrait of a Killer by Patricia Cornwell , Jack the Ripper was also discussed in the novels Die Blutlinie by Cody McFadyen and Horus by Wolfgang Hohlbein . Among the radio plays, among other things, the production of Southwestern radio Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel murders from 1996 should be highlighted. In the radio play Jack the Ripper - The Story of a Murderer from 2001, published by Lübbe-Audio , the story is set from the perspective of Walter Sickert alias Jack the Ripper. The return of Jack the Ripper to the present is the subject of two radio plays in the Ghostbusters John Sinclair series. The mystery radio play series Die Schwarze Sonne by Günter Merlau also integrates the murders of Jack the Ripper into one of its storylines.

In addition, the figure was also used in various computer games . The popularity of the serial killer seems to have inspired the developers of a C64 game for the joking title Jack the Nipper as early as 1986, which was even followed a year later with Jack the Nipper II - Coconut Capers . In 1992 the adventure Waxworks ( Amiga / PC ) appeared, in which one of the four storylines takes place in historical London and the final battle against the serial killer has to be fought. In the PC game Sherlock Holmes chases Jack the Ripper from 2009, the murders of the Canon Five are set in the Sherlock Holmes universe by Arthur Conan Doyle . In the game Assassin's Creed Syndicate you can unlock and play a DLC with Jack the Ripper. In the radio play Revelation 23, Episode 21, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself is suspected of having been Jack the Ripper.


  • Paul Begg: Jack the Ripper. The Definitive History. Pearson Education, London 2003, ISBN 0-582-50631-X .
  • Paul Begg: Jack the Ripper. The facts . Robson, London 2006, ISBN 1-86105-687-7 .
  • Paul Begg, Martin Fido , Keith Skinner: The Complete Jack the Ripper A To Z. John Blake, London 2010, ISBN 978-0-586-07179-3 .
  • Andrew Cook: Jack the Ripper. Amberley Publishing. Stroud 2009, ISBN 978-1-84868-327-3 .
  • Patricia Cornwell : Who Was Jack the Ripper? Portrait of a killer . Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-455-09365-5 .
  • Lewis-Perry Curtis: Jack the Ripper & The London Press. Yale University Press, Yale 2001, ISBN 0-300-08872-8 .
  • John J. Eddleston: Jack the Ripper. To Encyclopedia. Metro Books, London 2002, ISBN 1-84358-046-2 .
  • Stewart P. Evans, Donald Rumbelow : Jack the Ripper. Scotland Yard Investigates. Sutton Publishing, Stroud 2006, ISBN 0-7509-4228-2 .
  • Stewart P. Evans, Keith Skinner: The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook. An Illustrated Encyclopedia . Constable and Robinson, London 2002, ISBN 1-84119-452-2 .
  • Stewart P. Evans, Keith Skinner: Jack the Ripper. Letters from Hell. Sutton Publishing, Stroud 2001, ISBN 0-7509-2549-3 .
  • Martin Fido: The Crimes, Detection and Death of Jack the Ripper. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London 1987, ISBN 0-297-79136-2 .
  • Shirley Harrison: The Journal of Jack the Ripper. The strange circumstances of the discovery. The evidence of authenticity . Bastei-Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1994, ISBN 3-404-71500-4 .
  • Karyo Magellan: By Ear and Eyes - The Whitechapel Murders, Jack the Ripper and the Murder of Mary Jane Kelly . Longshot, Derby 2005, ISBN 0-9550240-0-5 .
  • Trevor Marriott: Jack the Ripper. The 21st Century Investigation. John Blake, London 2005, ISBN 1-84454-103-7 .
  • Dennis Meikle: Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies . Reynolds and Heam, Richmond upon Thames 2002, ISBN 1-903111-32-3 .
  • Robin Odell: Ripperology. A Study of the World's First Serial Killer and a Literary Phenomenon . Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio 2006, ISBN 0-87338-861-5 .
  • Hendrik Püstow, Thomas Schachner: Jack the Ripper. Anatomy of a legend . Militzke, Leipzig 2006, ISBN 3-86189-753-9 .
  • Miriam Rivett, Mark Whitehead: Jack the Ripper . Pocket Essentials, Harpenden 2006, ISBN 1-904048-69-2 .
  • Donald Rumbelow: The Complete Jack the Ripper. Fully Revised and Updated. Penguin, London 2004, ISBN 0-14-017395-1 .
  • Philip Sugden : The Complete History of Jack the Ripper . Carrol and Graf, London 2002, ISBN 0-7867-0276-1 .
  • Judith Walkowitz: City of Dreadful Delight. Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London . Virago Press, London 2000, ISBN 0-226-87146-0 .
  • Philippe R. Welté: Jack l'Éventreur le Secret de Mary Jane K. Alban, Paris 2006, ISBN 2-911751-33-7 .
  • Alex Werner (Ed.): Jack the Ripper and the East End London. Chatto and Windus, London 2008, ISBN 978-0-7011-8247-2 .
  • Paul Woods, Gavin Baddeley : Saucy Jack. The Elusive Ripper. Ian Allan Publishing, Hersham 2009, ISBN 978-0-7110-3410-5 .

Web links

Commons : Jack the Ripper  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Anne J. Kershen. The Immigrant Community of Whitechapel at the Time of the Jack the Ripper Murders , in Werner, pp. 65-97; Laura Vaughan. Mapping the East End Labyrinth , in Werner, p. 225.
  2. ^ Police report of October 25, 1888, MEPO 3/141. Quotes u. a. in Evans and Skinner, Sourcebook page 283 and Rumbelow page 12.
  3. Constable Long's testimony of October 11, 1888. U. a. cited in Evans and Skinner, Sourcebook, pp. 213 and 233; Marriott page 148 f. and Rumbelow page 61
  4. Testimony of Constable Halse from October 11, 1888. U. a. cited in Evans and Skinner, Sourcebook, pp. 214-215, 234 and Marriott, pp. 150-151.
  5. Quoted in Evans and Skinner, Letters from Hell, p. 25.
  6. ^ Letter from Charles Warren to Godfrey Lushington, Permanent Secretary of the Home Office, dated November 6, 1888, HO 144/221 / A49301C, et al. a. quoted in Evans and Skinner, Sourcebook, pp. 183 f.
  7. The word 'not' has been removed
  8. ^ Report by Superintendent Arnold dated November 6, 1888, HO 144/221 / A49301C, cited u. a. Evans and Skinner, Letters from Hell, pages 24-25 and Evans and Skinner, Sourcebook, pp. 185-188.
  9. Memoirs of Walter Dew. I Caught Crippen. Quoted in Fido, p. 51.
  10. ^ Sugden, p. 254.
  11. ^ Sugden, p. 255.
  12. Fido, p. 52.
  13. Stephen Knight. Jack the Ripper. The final solution. George G. Harrap, London 1976, ISBN 0-245-52724-9 .
  14. Begg, p. 200.
  15. Pall Mall Gazette, December 1, 1888. Copy of article in English at Casebook.org, accessed September 13, 2014.
  16. ^ Marriott p. 165.
  17. ^ Marriott p. 164.
  18. ^ Letter from Thomas Bond to Robert Anderson dated November 10, 1888, HO 144/221 / A49301C. Quotes u. a. in Evans and Skinner, Sourcebook, pp. 360-362 and Rumbelow, pp. 145-147.
  19. a b Robert D. Keppel; Joseph G. Weis; Katherine M. Brown; Kirsten Welch. The Jack the Ripper murders: a modus operandi and signature analysis of the 1888–1891 Whitechapel murders. In: Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling Volume 2; Issue 1 of January 21, 2005, pp. 1–21.
  20. a b Wood and Baddeley, pp. 31 and 111.
  21. John E. Douglas , Mark Olshaker. The Cases That Haunt Us. Simon and Schuster, New York City 2001, ISBN 0-7432-1239-8 , pp. 79-80.
  22. ^ Christian Heermann: The Strangler of Notting Hill - Great London criminal cases ; Berlin: Verlag Das Neue Berlin, 1983, p. 106.
  23. https://www.welt.de/wissenschaft/article96089/Jack-the-Ripper-beaengstigend-normal-und-aeusserst-grausam.html
  24. ^ A b The Enduring Mystery of Jack the Ripper , Metropolitan Police
  25. a b c d Was Jack the Ripper a hairdresser? , Spiegel Online , July 15, 2006.
  26. Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error' , The Independent of October 19, 2014.
  27. Jari Louhelainen and David Miller: Forensic Investigation of a Shawl Linked to the "Jack the Ripper" Murders. In: Journal of Forensic Sciences. Online advance publication of March 12, 2019, doi: 10.1111 / 1556-4029.14038
  28. Does a new genetic analysis finally reveal the identity of Jack the Ripper? On: sciencemag.org from March 15, 2019
  29. a b Was Jack the Ripper a woman? , 20 minutes
  30. http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/1868.html
  31. nachrichten.t-online.de
  32. ^ British author claims Jack the Ripper was a woman. In: The Courier-Mail Online. The Daily Telegraph , May 10, 2012, accessed March 1, 2013 .
  33. Jack the Ripper - Myth Put to the Test . Advertisement for the ZDFinfo broadcast on April 9, 2016. Accessed on June 20, 2019.
  34. Collection of international newspaper reports at: jacktheripper.de, accessed on September 12, 2014.
  35. The Juwes are not the men That Will be Blamed for nothing ( Memento from October 9, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). About the agony of the profiler in the Jack the Ripper movie. Analysis by Stefan Höltgen in F.LM - texts on the film . Retrieved March 15, 2010.
  36. Vandal Savage. comicvine.gamespot.com, 2016, accessed November 28, 2016 .