The identity of the mysterious criminal Jack the Ripper continues to be one of the greatest forensic mysteries of all time.
1888: Queen Victoria’s England is at the height of its power. London had become the first capital of the world. But alongside the columned white marble facades of Mayfair and Kensington, the sordid slums of the East End, Whitechapel, and Spitalfield suburbs persist.
Somewhere, behind the luxurious carriages carrying grave gentlemen in frock coats, a miserable world piled up, struggling hard and begging for their right to survive.
The victims of Jack the Ripper — the sadistic faceless killer — have nothing in common with the white silk-dressed heroines of period novels.
The criminal’s victims were poor prostitutes, old (with one exception), alcoholics and degenerates on the last rung of society, pensioners of a dozen brothels or night asylums, and clients of taverns and police stations.
These are the heroines of the file that we present next.
Two horrific murders shock London
At dawn on December 1, 1886, the mutilated body of a woman was found.
The newspapers picked up the news and in the following days, the case kept on the front page, the reporters launching into more and more guesses about the motive and the author of the violent crime.
The investigation carried out by the famous London police Criminal Investigation Department, belonging to Scotland Yard, however, failed to reveal even the slightest trace that would lead to a somewhat vague suspicion.
On August 7, 1888, in the same neighborhood, not too far from the scene of the previous year’s bloody drama, another body was found abandoned on the staircase of a building on George Yard.
It was also about a woman.
She was easily identified as a prostitute named Martha Turner, frequented by the military.
The medical-legal report would state dryly, among other findings, that “the victim had received 39 stab wounds”.
Today, those still studying the case believe that these two women were Jack the Ripper’s first victims.
But when the file was closed, there was a lot of discussion about this topic, and specialists and, first of all, forensic doctors, did not decide to recognize the master hand of the sinister character Jack the Ripper in these gross crimes.
Both victims had been stabbed brutally and disorderly, unlike the following who were mutilated according to a specific, precise, and rigorous ritual.
It is therefore quite possible that, along the way, the assassin has adapted his methods, as his sadistic instinct dictated. The elucidation of this aspect can only be done after the statistical processing of a large number of cases.
Mary Ann Nichols
It was a little after three o’clock in the morning on August 3rd, 1988, when a porter on duty in Spitalfields Square, wanting to cut his way short, took Buck’s Row, a sordid little street bordering a slaughterhouse.
Walking down the narrow sidewalk, in front of a store closed for renovation, he spots something, which at first he took to be an abandoned cape.
He approached and with amazement observed the body of a woman with her abdomen split open and a huge wound on her neck, which stretched from one ear to the other.
His body had not yet cooled, and the head was almost separated from the rest of the body, and the victim, lying on her back, had her clothes in disarray, torn and torn. From the abdomen, through a cut, the intestines came out.
The picture was horrifying.
Before being mutilated, the victim had been strangled, with her handkerchief wrapped around her neck. This clue later gave rise to various speculations: did the victim knows her attacker? Did the aggressor ask for the handkerchief under some pretext and use it?
The hypotheses could not be ruled out, for if the woman had shouted, it would have been impossible for the people living in the surrounding houses not to have heard.
The investigation determined that a policeman who was doing his patrol had passed that street only five minutes earlier without having noticed anything suspicious or having spotted anyone.
Then, the investigators wondered, where did the victim and the criminal come from? Not very close, namely from a house located near the scene of the crime?
Dr. Mac Donald, who studied and described the case, stated in one of his reports:
The body was mutilated to such an extent that a description of the injuries was impossible: it could only be said that it had been done deliberately, with the help of a knife 12–13 centimeters long, and with certain anatomical knowledge. The uterus and organs were removed from the abdomen by someone who knew where to find them, none of the cuts being made unnecessarily.
The victim, Mary Ann Nichols, was an elderly prostitute and alcoholic, a vagabond. She had been turned out of the night asylum in Spitalfield the night before because she had not been able to pay her fourpence, which was the cost of a bed a night.
At the time, it is well known, murders were not uncommon in the dimly lit streets of the East End, and that of Mary Ann Nichols went relatively unnoticed.
The myth of Jack the Ripper is born
The excitement — not to say psychosis — of the public will begin only when, at dawn on September 8, 1888, a new body will be discovered in the yard of a dilapidated building located at no. 29 on Hanbury Street.
The place was a very short distance from where the previous assassination had been committed.
According to the neighbors, the yard and the house, which were in an advanced state of degradation, were frequented night after night by prostitutes who attracted their clients there, to offer them in exchange for derisory sums.
The body was that of Annie Chapman, nicknamed “Brunea Annie”, a prostitute seriously ill with tuberculosis who, like Mary Ann Nichols, had been kicked out of the night asylum because she had no money to pay.
As in the previous case, the assassin had acted quickly and by surprise: not a single cry had been heard. After slitting the victim’s throat, he mutilated the body in a gruesome manner.
The first blow to the victim must have stunned her, causing her to fall on her back with her legs bent at the knees under her body.
His face, now unrecognizable, was a bleeding mass, and his throat was cut across. The abdomen was opened and the intestines were removed and meticulously placed on the right shoulder.
Hanbury Street was only a few blocks away from Buck’s Row, the scene of the previous crime.
As will be seen, all the crimes committed by Jack the Ripper will be committed in an incredibly small radius: an area of about 400 m2 that constitutes the squalid neighborhood of Spitalfield, bordered to the north by Whitechapel.
Under these conditions, the failure of the police was more than inadmissible.
Sir Charles Warren, appointed in 1886 to head Scotland Yard, was a general from the colonial army, a good administrator and organizer, but lacking in the experience and knowledge of forensics that a great metropolis required.
As for Sir Robert Anderson, the head of the CID (Criminal Investigation Department), he was on leave in Switzerland and had seen no need to bother to interrupt his rest and return to his post.
In the absence of the bosses, the subordinates were agitated. The retirements of the approximately 200 asylums and houses of tolerance were the first to be investigated. In vain.
In the face of this resounding failure, the population reacted differently.
As evening fell, people retreated to their homes, especially the women, and the side streets were carefully avoided. The district of Whitechapel, and not only it, had acquired a sad reputation, and the mysterious criminal seemed to be lurking at every street corner.
Vigilance committees were formed, and trade unionists and students volunteered to form teams that patrolled the streets of the East End every night. Other people, on the contrary, taking advantage of the created psychosis, gave free rein to their imagination, taking advantage of the circumstances.
There began to be increasingly persistent talk about a mysterious character nicknamed “Leather Apron”, created by the collective imagination of the residents of the neighborhood, who would have been the author of the abominable crimes.
This myth eventually led to the arrest of a Polish-born Jewish shoemaker named John Pizer. Fortunately for that citizen, he was able to provide the police with a truthful alibi.
Against the background of these events, the assassin will thicken the legend that had begun to weave around him, giving himself a name.
On the 12th of September, a London press agency received a missive written in red ink — “for now,” the author stated, due to the lack of blood from the last victim, which had coagulated in the meantime.
The author of the letter expressed his hatred of prostitutes and his desire to continue his revenge. In the end, he signed: “Jack the Ripper.”
Jack the Ripper had been born.
A capital under terror
Scotland Yard gave this nickname the most extraordinary publicity the letter writer could dream of. The criminal’s message was spread in the form of a poster in thousands of copies across the entire country, asking citizens that anyone who recognizes his writing should report the author to the police.
But despite all these efforts, the endeavor proved to be without any result. Moreover, Jack, the Ripper came to be known to all the inhabitants of England who could read his sinister threats:
Next time, I’m going to cut off the woman’s ears to send to the police.
The people set out with even more determination on the trail of the murderer.
Police officers and volunteers increased their patrols. In vain. Jack the Ripper will carry out his threat regardless.
Thus, on October 29, 1888, at an interval of three-quarters of an hour, he will make two victims.
That night, at about 1:00 a.m., in Bernet Street (also in Spitalfield), a Polish peddler had moved his mobile stall into the yard of the Foreign Workers’ Club, seeking shelter under the roof of a shed, when the horse, frightened safe from something
Although it was still dark, looking to see what had caused the animal to react so promptly, the man discovered the body of a woman with her throat cut.
The victim’s head had simply been severed from the torso, the cut having been made transversely, near the sixth cervical vertebra. His body was still warm.
The murderer had monstrously butchered his victim: the lower body and pelvis were missing, the arms were detached from the shoulder joints and the larynx had several cuts.
This new victim was called Elizabeth Strife. She was a forty-year-old widow and had probably met the killer on the street.
Interestingly, this victim did not fit the profile of Jack the Ripper’s favorite victims at all. What exactly led the murderer to attack Elizabeth Strife remains, to this day, a mystery.
Moreover, Jack, the Ripper showed insane daring, as at any moment he could be surprised by any of the many customers entering or leaving the club.
This must have happened since Jack the Ripper did not have enough time to practice his favorite mutilations on the victim.
Disturbed by his activity and probably not satisfying his sadistic impulse, the murderer was not slow to manifest himself again: in less than an hour, a second body was discovered in Miter Square.
This small market was located about a ten-minute walk from Berner Street, just outside the neighborhood on the edge of town.
As far as the assassin was concerned, the choice of this place showed not the least bit of prudence, but reckless audacity. A policeman whose mission was to supervise the area every quarter of an hour made his rounds exactly through that place, and passers-by could appear at any moment, coming from one of the three streets leading into the square.
However, Jack the Ripper had the odds on his side and the opportunity to indulge his bloody and sadistic instincts to the hilt. After cutting the victim’s throat, he opened his abdomen and then, proceeding identically to the other cases, removed a kidney.
The victim of these abominable practices was also a prostitute named Catherine Eddowes. On the same evening, a short time before, she had been arrested for drunkenness in public places and taken to Bishopsgate police station.
Unfortunately for her, she threw up in one of the cells and around 1:00 am the police released her, leaving her to stumble off into the night to her terrible fate.
On November 16, Jack the Ripper sent a new letter, ironically addressed to the Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, which was accompanied by a small package containing half a kidney.
The signer stated that the other half had been grilled and eaten.
Bad joke or rather the work of a demented person? The doctors who performed the autopsy on Catherine Eddowes concluded that the kidney examined belonged to that victim.
After the double murder on October 29, there followed a period of relative calm, weeks passed without the killer making any new victims.
Pressed by his superiors, Sir Henry Matthews of the Council of Ministers ended up asking Sir Charles Warren to resign.
The latter would resign on November 10, 1888, one day after a new crime, perhaps the most heinous of all, was discovered.
Mary Jane Kelly
The unfortunate’s name was Mary Jane Kelly, and she was a young woman of easy morals.
She was found lying on the bed in his home. The neck featured a gash that ran from one ear to the other and then went down along the spine. The nose and ears were cut off, as were the breasts, which had been placed on a small table near the bed.
As for the rest of the face, it was so badly mutilated that the recognition of the victim by the neighbors was practically impossible.
Through the incision in the abdomen, his heart and kidneys had been removed, these organs being placed on his left thigh. The lower part of the body (to the beginning of the thighs) and the uterus, were missing and could not be found.
On the evening of September 9, one of the victim’s neighbors, also a prostitute, saw her leaving a restaurant, accompanied by a burly man with a red mustache.
At 1:00 a.m., returning home, on Millers Court and Dorset Street, in the heart of Spitalfield, a witness saw a light at Mary Jane Kelly’s and heard her humming a song.
The second day was a celebration: with all the traditional pomp the Lord Mayor of London was enthroned. Despite the solemnity, a clerk in charge of collecting rents knocked on Mary Jane Kelly’s door.
On one side of the door was a small skylight that could be reached by climbing over the litter box. Out of curiosity, the man took a look inside the room, where the light was visible.
But the sight presented to the eyes was so terrible that the clerk uttered a howl. Otherwise, he will later declare to the prosecutor that “what I saw was rather the work of a demon than of a man.”
Mary Jane Kelly had been practically mutilated, and the walls of the room were spattered with blood, while large flaps of leather now hung from the nails that had once been used for hanging pictures.
Medical examiners estimated that it probably took Jack the Ripper about two hours to complete his heinous crime. As evidence, after the autopsy, it took over six hours to give the body a more than acceptable appearance.
And the police had meanwhile taken special measures. The streets were patrolled by groups of guards and plainclothes agents, who had the order to shoot at the first summons, in the case of a suspect who did not submit to control.
The houses of tolerance and those who patronized them were put under observation. The police were checking all information and complaints. A psychosis had gripped the people, the inhabitants of London had turned into so many amateur detectives and everyone had their theory.
Even Queen Victoria had become interested in the progress of the investigation, advancing various hypotheses and sending note after note to the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, or his subordinate, Sir Henry Matthews.
Assiduous research was also undertaken in the world of meat merchants, especially their young assistants. The unknown perpetrator had only proved to be used to wielding the knife.
The most unusual and fanciful methods have been devised.
An attempt was made to photograph the retina of the corpses, which, it was assumed by some, would have kept intact the last image recorded at the moment of death: the face of the monster. Policemen disguised as women were asked to walk the streets of Whitechapel to act as bait.
Jack the Ripper — an unusual psychological portrait
On June 1, 1889, a new macabre discovery would once again terrify the inhabitants of the English metropolis: the lower part of the body of a young woman was lying in a field on the outskirts of the city. Soon, in different places, the other missing parts of the body, minus the pelvic organs, were found.
The following month, on the 17th of July, in a small street in Whitechapel, a woman’s body lay: her throat had been cut, and there were superficial cuts on her abdomen. The approach of someone had probably prevented the assailant from continuing his sinister operation.
September 10, 1889. About lunchtime, under a railroad crossing, some children playing around were horrified by the sight before their eyes. Scared out of the way, the children started screaming, running across the field.
The first arrivals on the scene did not know what had happened, believing at first that it was an accident.
Under the bridge lay a woman with her head completely severed from her torso, her clothes in disarray, and the intestines had come out through the cuts made in the abdomen.
The series of murders in the British capital, having as a common denominator both the sex of the victims — all women — some of whom had mild morals, and how they had been killed, ends here.
Without speculating or using second-hand excuses, let’s give the floor to contemporary specialist Mac Donald with the events he has carefully studied:
The crimes of Jack the Ripper are distinguished by the fact that sexuality takes a specific, bloody, and criminal form. It is likely that Jack the Ripper cut the throats of his victims either because it made them juice, or because it led to their death, which allowed him to later indulge in the cruelties that gave him pleasure: disfigurement, dissection of abdomens, removal of intestines and mutilation of organs gender. As in many similar cases, the matter demonstrates that the murderer felt a sexual pleasure so strong that any revulsion to cruelty was annihilated, at least for the moment, or that this revulsion was very weak.
The idea of no associated cruelty explains the abdominal wounds and organ removal. The fact that he placed, in one case, the intestines on the victim’s shoulder, and that, in another, he placed the breasts on a table, indicated — in Mac Donald’s opinion — that the murderer had sufficient time to complete his deed, unhindered, and to aim to give his crime as horrible an appearance as possible for publicity.
This mental state does not arise until after the sexual impulse has passed.
While committing these monstrosities, as after their commission, Jack the Ripper never lost his temper; or, it is known from the experience of the police that a large number of criminals contribute to their discovery by the agitation, impossible to control, which they manifest.
By 1889, the police, or even the famous Scotland Yard, of course, did not have the modern means of identification, so that calmness, and perhaps chance, were enough to become Jack the Ripper’s, hopeful protectors.
But perhaps a great help was the rumor that the odious murderer was part of the Royal Household, a rumor that, of course, Scotland Yard also took into account.
Too many unanswered questions
More details emerging from this string of murders have particularly intrigued British public opinion.
For example, how did the assassin manage to gain the trust of the victims, because, especially the latter, they had to be more circumspect, living in permanent fear of a possible meeting with Jack the Ripper?
It was claimed by some that the killer was a policeman or a priest, or that he was disguising himself as such. The reality was undoubtedly much simpler: all the victims were prostitutes and because that was what their “job” demanded, they allowed themselves to be approached by clients, even those they did not know.
One thing was certain: no signs of self-defense were found on the bodies of the victims. So absolutely everything had been taken by surprise.
Another mystery: how did the murderer manage to leave the scene without ever being noticed by anyone, let alone feeling safe? Was he using the channel network, as a journalist had once suggested?
The famous writer of detective novels, Arthur Conan Doyle, who at that time had just published the first volume of the Sherlock Holmes series, could not remain indifferent. He imagined that Jack the Ripper was able to escape by being disguised as a woman.
None of these suppositions, ingenious or fantastic, however, allowed the inquiry to advance in the least.
The attitude of Scotland Yard was also curious, as soon as the heinous crimes stopped, they immediately abandoned the investigation, and all the security records were lifted in the respective neighborhoods.
A representative of the Vigilance Committee protested alongside the police. He was told briefly, without further details, that the authorities had concluded that Jack the Ripper had committed suicide!
By refusing in this way to satisfy the public’s curiosity, Scotland Yard opened the door wide to all kinds of hypotheses, which otherwise did not cease to circulate. For the fascinating question had remained unanswered. Who was Jack the Ripper?
In what guise could the killer be imagined? For the Victorian ruling class, for the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie who had their residences in the West End, it was obvious that he could not be a respectable character.
Jack the Ripper was probably a tramp or a laborer. Maybe a butcher or a butcher from the slaughterhouse, walking around with blood on his clothes without arousing the slightest suspicion.
For no one could imagine that, after killing his victims in this way, he would remain with his clothes immaculate.
Some, animated by national feelings, had a very different opinion, namely that the author of such monstrosities could not be a Briton: he could be, for example, a Jewish barber, a Russian anarchist, or a passing sailor.
The queen had also requested her ministers to search the ships calling at the docks in London.
Why was the queen involved in this business?
On the contrary, to the residents of the East End, the author could only be a neighborhood outsider, probably of aristocratic origin, a kind of Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, leading a normal and honorable life during the day, but becoming a monster thirsty for blood with the coming of night.
And it was this version, the most romantic, that prevailed in the end.
Who was Jack the Ripper?
The legend, transposed to the film, preserved the image of an imposing man, dressed in a cape and with a job on his head, with a leather suitcase in his hand, sneaking silently in the fog of London, through the poor streets.
But in the case of the legend, none of the reports offered by those who claimed to have seen Jack the Ripper matched this image. The reports were indeed very different and sometimes contradictory.
The only witness who almost certainly saw Jack the Ripper was a passer-by crossing Miter Square about ten minutes before Catherine Eddowes’ body was discovered.
The victim was talking to a modestly but tastefully dressed individual: a man belonging to the middle class.
The famous Irish writer and dramatist, George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), in a percutaneous letter sent to The Star newspaper, remarked that, in essence, the Whitechapel murders had resulted in drawing the attention of the authorities to the unusual state of the squalor of a part of the population.
The warning reached its goal and large credits were unlocked, with important sanitation and hygiene construction work being undertaken. A few poor cleft women had a far greater effect than all the efforts of the Social Democrats (of which Shaw was a part).
Through a bit of forced logic, Shaw concluded that Jack the Ripper was a genius social reformer.
Coming from George Bernard Shaw, a reputed polemicist and wit, this hypothesis contained an obvious irony.
In 1965, Tom Cullen, the author of very serious work on Jack the Ripper (Autumn of Terror), took up this idea ad letter, stating that the killer used murder as a tool for social reclamation.
Mary Jane Kelly, the key to the whole case?
In 1928, journalist Leonard Matters, in his book The Mystery of Jack the Ripper, formulated a new hypothesis.
The author, no more and no less claimed to have discovered Jack the Ripper, but in the book, he had to change his identity, out of respect for the honorable family from which he came.
The man’s name was Stanley, he was a surgeon whose son had met Mary Jane Kelly two years earlier and contracted syphilis from her. The disease progressed rapidly and the young man died insanely.
In front of his son’s catafalque, the father allegedly vowed to find Mary Jane Kelly and avenge his son.
Thus, Dr. Stanley began to wander the sordid streets of Whitechapel, asking prostitutes if he could find the one he was looking for, then killing his interlocutors so that he could not be identified.
At length, he discovered Mary Jane Kelly, and having accomplished his revenge, departed from England. He soon died in Buenos Aires, but shortly before his death, he spoke of his crimes to a fellow doctor.
An interesting and truthful story at first glance, but unfortunately it seems that Leonard Matters imagined the whole thing and that his account has no basis. At that time, syphilis did not die in two years, but twenty or thirty.
Mary Jane Kelly’s autopsy noted that she did not suffer from any venereal disease, and finally, despite painstaking research, not the slightest trace of a British doctor who died in America at that time could be discovered. South.
In 1938, William Stewart will formulate in his book Jack the Ripper. A new Theory a series of deductions a la Sherlock Holmes.
Stewart believed the killer was indeed a woman.
Who could approach another woman without scaring her? Another woman! Who could drive around with impunity in the middle of the night, with blood-stained clothes, carrying a bag of surgical instruments? A midwife! What did a midwife often do, especially when she had prostituted clients? It caused them to have abortions. What could one of these clients do? Report here! What attitude did the midwife take then? He got his revenge!
Here is a string of deductions that seem coherent, but do not explain a large number of victims.
In 1959, Donald McCormick in The Identity of Jack the Ripper stated that Jack the Ripper was a doctor belonging to the Russian army, named Dr. Alexandr Pedasenko.
His criminal activities were discovered, and Rasputin and the tsarist Ohrana police sent him to England. Returning to the environment of the Russian exiles, he would have committed a series of crimes, to discredit them.
Hardly a credible hypothesis.
If Russia had imagined this political provocation, it is obvious that its agent would have attacked the aristocratic women and certainly not the prostitutes of Whitechapel.
Other authors have admitted that Jack the Ripper was simply a madman with homicidal tendencies.
Some took an interest in assassins who were later arrested and convicted of the crimes, especially when they involved more than one woman. There was talk of Frederik Deming, who killed his two wives and four children and was hanged in 1892.
He confessed to being Jack the Ripper, no doubt hoping that this admission could eventually spare him execution. He was deprived of the chance to become famous, since, in the period 1888–1889, Deming was already in prison.
The name of Dr. Neil Cream, a Scottish physician, hanged in 1892 was also mentioned, as was that of Severin Klosowski, alias George Chapman, hanged in 1903. Both had poisoned several women.
But the psychiatrists categorically rejected their “candidacy”.
It was hard to believe that Jack the Ripper would change his method and ultimately opt for the knife instead of poison, a much more discreet weapon that didn’t leave as many marks.
A plausible scenario
In 1965, an essential hypothesis was circulated — perhaps even the key to the enigma. Daniel Farson in Jack the Ripper and Tom Cullen in Autumn of Terror revealed the identity of an individual on whom Scotland Yard had ended up focusing their suspicions.
How was this possible?
Thanks to Sir Melville Macnaghten, Director of CID from 1903 to 1913 and who, having joined Scotland Yard in 1889, shortly after the murders were committed, was in 1892 tasked with closing the file.
Before filing the file, in great secrecy, Macnaghten removed a series of personal notes from the file, notes that would remain for his descendants. Thus, the name of a young lawyer, 31 years old at the time of committing the acts, namely Montague John Druitt, has come to light.
Belonging to an excellent family and enjoying a suitable education, first at Winchester College and then at Oxford, Montague John Druitt achieved very high marks, distinguishing himself as a good cricketer.
In 1888, this perfect product of the British aristocratic universities was admitted to the bar in London. But clients were avoiding him, and in the fateful year of 1888, a disappointed and disillusioned Druitt gave up his ambitions to become a tutor at a private school in Blackheath.
This was the character Sir Melville Macnaghten considered suspect no. 1.
A priori, some details corresponded very well to the forensic profile of Jack the Ripper. Druitt lived in Blackheath, but also kept a studio flat in London in the Inner Temple, a few minute’s walks from the crime scene.
More important detail: Montague John Druitt committed suicide shortly after committing the last crime; he was last seen alive on 3 December 1888 and his body was fished out of the Thames on 31 December.
Why did he kill himself? Possibly depression, but the reason remained a mystery.
Druitt belonged to a family of doctors. His father, grandfather, uncle, and cousin were surgeons, and it is possible that he acquired some notions of anatomy from them.
The question of whether Jack the Ripper was a doctor had been much debated. Some experts believed that the mutilation of the corpses could only have been done by a professional. But others had a contrary opinion.
Did Scotland Yard have other clues to support their suspicions? Very likely. Perhaps, before he threw himself into the Thames, Montague John Druitt left letters to his family in which he acknowledged his deeds.
For now, we are dealing with a simple guess.
Alleged ties to the British royal family
In November 1970, The Criminologist published an article signed by Dr. Stowell, an octogenarian, who claimed to have once received the confidences of Sir William Gull, physician to the royal family, in the late 19th century.
According to him, Jack the Ripper was none other than the Duke of Clarence, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), and heir to the throne. The Duke would die of illness in 1892 and the crown passed to his younger brother, George V.
There has been much speculation about the mysterious French court prisoner known as the Man in the Iron Mask, who is believed to have been the twin brother of Louis XIV. The English did not remain inferior either and made Jack the Ripper the grandson of Queen Victoria and the brother of Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather.
According to Dr. Stowell, the Duke of Clarence, a notorious homosexual (historically indisputable), would have contracted syphilis in 1880, at the age of 16, from a sailor.
Towards the end, the disease acquired accents of madness, with homicidal instincts, a state that manifested itself in the fall of 1888. After the first crimes committed in the circumstances we know, he would have been discovered and discreetly admitted to a hospice.
On November 9, through a series of circumstances, he managed to escape with another border and came to London, where he assassinated Mary Jane Kelly.
Discovered shortly after, he was imprisoned again until his death four years later.
There is only one inconsistency, which we leave you to judge for yourselves: on November 9, 1888, the Duke of Clarence was in his right mind at Sandringham Castle, celebrating with the whole family the birthday of his father, the Prince of Wales.
Is there a curse of Jack the Ripper as there was an alleged curse of the pharaohs? A few days after the publication of his article, Dr. Stowell died suddenly. November 9 marks the anniversary of the assassination of Mary Jane Kelly.
A new reopening of the case took place in 1972. Michael Harrison, disproving Dr. Stowell’s thesis. Instead, Harrison claimed that Jack the Ripper was another client of Dr. William Gull: James Stephen, the son of a high magistrate and close friend of the Duke of Clarence.
Stephen allegedly lost his mind in shock a few years ago. The basis of this new thesis is not very solid either. James Stephen died in 1892, which does not connect with the sudden break in the string of murders after November 9, 1888, and does not explain those of 1889 either.
Unless they were the work of another criminal, who also remained undiscovered.
An interesting theory
In July 1983, a new book appeared in London, under the signature of the journalist Stephen Knight, Jack the Ripper, the Final Solution, a solution that this time involved not one, but three people.
Here’s Knight’s theory.
In 1884, Princess Alexandra, wife of the future Edward VII, was giving her eldest son, Albert, Duke of Clarence, drawing lessons with the help of the painter Walter Sickert.
The classes took place at the painter’s home on Cleveland Street.
Then the duke met a young woman who served as the painter’s model, named Annie Cock. Albert fell in love with the beautiful Annie and the two married in secret, the religious ceremony is performed by a Catholic priest.
The couple had a daughter, Alice, who was born in April 1885 and whom they entrusted to a young neighbor, May Jane Kelly, who would later fall victim to Jack the Ripper.
When Queen Victoria learned of Albert’s marriage, she ordered the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, to set things in motion. The Duke was taken to Buckingham Palace, with a categorical ban on going out in public.
Annie Cock was in turn forcibly taken to hospital, where the royal family physician, Sir William Gull, on grounds of state, declared her insane and sent her to an asylum to end her days.
As for little Alice, she was entrusted to Walter Sickert.
In 1888, the scandal threatened to break out suddenly, Mary Jane Kelly, who in the meantime had become a prostitute, told what she knew to good friends: Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, and Elizabeth Strife.
All four thought to blackmail the royal family.
Thus, at the highest level of the royal house, the decision was made to suppress the scandal, silencing the four women.
The executors of this dreadful order were Walter Sickert, Sir William Gull, and the duke of Clarence’s jeweler, John Netley.
The four women (plus Catherine Eddowes, killed by mistake) were lured by Sickert to his carriage, where their throats were slit by the big jar. Sir William Gull, with his knowledge of surgery, then mutilated the bodies to make them appear to be the work of a sadistic killer.
Sir William Gull died in 1890, and John Netley died in an accident in 1903, being run over by his horse. Walter Sickert raised little Alice, who later became his mistress, and they had a son, Joseph.
Thus ended that romantic story, told by Sickert to his son in 1942 at the age of 82.
If true, he would have been somewhat traumatized to suddenly find out that he was the son of Jack the Ripper and the great-grandson of King Edward VII. But the weakness of Stephen Knight’s thesis is that it relies only on Joseph Sickert’s wild story.
At the current stage of the investigation, the “candidacy” of the lawyer Montague Druitt seems the most plausible, but the question remains somewhat open.