The hunt for Jack the Ripper | Sunday Observer

The hunt for Jack the Ripper

10 December, 2017
“Londoners were shocked. Experts believe that James Maybrick was in fact the most wanted murderer, as people often have a “concealed” personality within
“Londoners were shocked. Experts believe that James Maybrick was in fact the most wanted murderer, as people often have a “concealed” personality within

Hundreds of tourists still flock to Whitechapel, London to see the crime scene locations of history’s most famous serial killer. Almost 130 years later the blood stained mystery of Jack the Ripper, continues to fuel media frenzy. How could five sordid murders that took place within a short span of about 12 weeks leave behind such a deep stain on criminal history? It is the most widely reported killing spree of the 19th Century, although there are other chilling homicides since then. The East End of London in 1888 was a crowded and impoverished area to live in, a den of vice and villainy. During this period there was an increase of Jewish and Irish refugees, who came to London. Drunk men wandering near taverns and seductive prostitutes doing carnal favours. Some records show there were almost 60 brothels operating in the East End. This abyss of immorality was dimly lit and difficult to be patrolled by the local Police.

The Killer

The killer was initially known as the “Whitechapel Murderer” and later as ‘Leather Apron’ – this reference is uncertain, but could resonate with a butcher’s apron. During the massive manhunt that was undertaken by Scotland Yard, the Central News Office received a startling letter supposedly written by the murderer himself and signed Jack the Ripper. Criminal analysts believe that the term Ripper which was related to the ghastly manner in which he cut away his female victims, creating fear among the young women of East End, Subsequently a second letter was sent to the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, where a piece of human kidney was enclosed. Some speculate whether this was sent by the Ripper or was a prank. It intensified the paranoia that prevailed and increased pressure on the London CID, headed by Robert Anderson.


Although there were 11 murders during this timeline Scotland Yard could connect only five of the crimes to the Ripper. These five women Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly were all prostitutes. Maybe they were drunk and walking the lonely alleys, where the Ripper was able to attack them. All five of his victims had a similar ‘wound pattern’, which included two deep slashes to the throat, the abdomen being slit open and often some organs being taken out. There were also jagged cuts on their vagina. In the case of Mary Nichols her uterus was removed. Mary Jane Kelly had her face mutilated and her heart removed. The Whitechapel murder file contained four other names Rose Mylet, Alice McKenzie, Frances Coles and a headless body simply identified as the Pinchin Street torso. Some believe that these murders were by another killer.

Criminal Profile

Back in London the Police headed by Inspector Edmund Reid had questioned 2,000 men and detained 80 suspects. It was during this manhunt that Sir Warren, Police Commissioner made provision for the use of Police scent dogs, for the very first time. So indirectly the case was the platform for the Police K-9 Dog units in law enforcement history. It was believed that the Ripper was a Surgeon or a Butcher as he was skilled in using a sharp blade and making precision cuts. Charles Allen, a butcher was a suspect, but he could not be prosecuted due to lack of evidence against him.

The CID noted that the suspect was often subject to bouts of ‘erotic mania’ and was a man who lived alone. We could opine that The Ripper was a misogynist (one who hates women). The deep mutilations can also indicate Satyriasis – excessive sexual desire in a man, a neurotic condition. There were however no signs of physical sexual activity with the victims of the Ripper. Yet he derived pleasure in cutting them. The case remained unsolved. It was a case study for forensic students in many universities.

New Evidence

A few years ago an old home in Liverpool was being subject to repair. It was the old residence of a rich cotton merchant James Maybrick. Underneath the wooden floor boards they found a blue diary dated 1889. After reading the contents there was another bout of media frenzy: the writer had made a confession to being the elusive Ripper. Londoners were shocked. Experts believe that James Maybrick was in fact the most wanted murderer, as people often have a “concealed” personality within. Other argued that the killer was his brother Michael Maybrick- both men were Freemasons, an organization that wields great influence in many spheres. Perhaps the 2 brothers stalked and hunted the women as a team, confusing Police. The black mystery of Jack the Ripper remains the topmost crime thriller with haunting refrains even a century later.