Jack The Ripper–A to Z Challenge Day #10 (The History Of Serial Killers)

                Everybody who wasn’t raised in a cave has heard of Jack The Ripper. He is without a doubt the most famous serial killer of all time. Countless references to him in newspapers, books, TV, and movies have made this guy infamous to us all. However, what do you really know about him and his crimes? If your like me then probably not that much other than he killed prostitutes in a poor part of London in the 1880’s. Below is all the information you need to understand The Ripper and the video makes the claim that he has been identified by modern forensics. The results may shock you, I know it did me. So, here’s to the most famous serial killer of them all—Jack The Ripper.



The Jack the Ripper murders occurred in the East End of London in 1888 and, although the Whitechapel Murderer was only a threat to a very small section of the community in a relatively small part of London, the crimes had a huge impact on society as a whole.

Indeed, by focusing the attention of the press and the public at large on the streets and people of one of London’s poorest and most crime-ridden quarters, Jack the Ripper, whoever he may have been, managed to expose the sordid underbelly of Victorian society and, in so doing, he helped create an awareness amongst the wealthier citizens of London of the appalling social conditions that had been allowed to develope, largely unchecked, right on the doorstep of the City of London, the wealthiest square mile on earth.




One of the problems with ascertaining the exact number of victims that Jack the Ripper had is the fact that he was never caught, so it is difficult to ascertain an exact number of victims. The generic Whitechapel Murders file – the official name for the police investigation into the crimes – contains eleven victims, and it is generally believed that five of these were the work as the killer now known as “Jack the Ripper.”

However, it should be stressed that the idea of there being a so-called “canonical five” victims is by no means certain. Indeed, many experts will tell you that there may have been as few as four victims or as many as eight victims of the ripper.




The Whitechapel murders were the focus of a huge criminal investigation that saw the Victorian police pit their wits against a lone assassin who was perpetrating his crimes in one of 19th century London’s most densely populated and crime ridden quarters. As a result of official reports and the efforts of journalists to keep abreast of the progress (or, perhaps, more accurately, lack of progress) that the police investigation was making, we are able watch that investigation unfolding.

We can analyze the methods that the police used to try and track the killer and compare them with the methods that the police would use today. We can also ask – and hopefully answer – the question why didn’t the police catch Jack the Ripper?

The Victorian police faced numerous problems as they raced against time to catch the killer before he could kill again.

A major one was the labyrinth-like layout of the area where the murders were occurring, made up as it was of lots of tiny passageways and alleyways, few of which were lit by night.

And, of course, the detectives hunting the killer were hampered by the fact that criminology and forensics were very much in their infancy.




Despite the fact that no-one was ever brought to justice or charged with the crimes, there have, over the years, been more than a hundred named suspects who may or may not have been Jack the Ripper.

Some of those suspects are fascinating, whilst others are down right ridiculous.

Aaron Kosminski, Thomas Cutbush and Montague John Druitt are suspects that fall into the first category, whilst Prince Albert Edward Victor, the Freemasons and Lewis Carroll belong firmly in the latter category.

Yet, one thing is certain. No matter how unlikely the names of those that appear on the ever expanding list of suspects might be, the on going challenge of “nailing” the ripper has helped keep this series of crimes at the forefront of criminal and social history for over 125 years.




Another intriguing aspect of the case is the number of letters that were sent to the authorities that either purported to come from the killer or else offered suggestions on how the perpetrator of the atrocities might be brought to justice.

The most famous of all these letters, and the one that gave the murderer the name that has ensured the longevity of his legend, was the missive sent to the Central News Office in late September 1888.

This was the infamous Dear Boss Letter, that bore the chilling, though accurate, signature – Jack the Ripper.

Press coverage of this letter led to a veritable avalanche of similar correspondence that resulted in the police investigation almost being brought to melt down.

Yet, the likelihood is that the person responsible for the murders was not the same person who sent this letter. Indeed, it was believed by police officers at the time, and the majority of modern day experts are unanimously in agreement, that the letter was in fact the work of a journalist.


About G.Edward Smith

A stranger in a strange land...
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