The Still Unsolved Case of Jack the Ripper

‘A Suspicious Character’ 1888
source: Illustrated London News

On August 31, 1888, the mutilated body of Mary Ann Nichols was found in Whitechapel, London. Her death has been attributed to the notorious unidentified serial killer Jack the Ripper, who is believed to have killed and mutilated five women in the Whitechapel area of London in 1888.

The name Jack the Ripper origins from a letter distributed in London’s press. In it, an unknown person claimed to be the murderer, but until today it is not clear if the letter was written by the media to increase the people’s interest in the cases. During the time of the murders, the killer was also called ‘The Whitechapel Murderer’ or ‘Leather Apron‘.

The murders took place between August 31st and November 9th in 1888, which was a difficult year for the city of London and its citizens. The Whitechapel area was way too overcrowded, the economy faced bad times and the area transferred into a tough living place filled with violence, crime, alcoholism, racism, and prostitution.

Mary Ann Nichols was the first woman supposedly murdered by the unknown serial killer. She was, like the other four operating as a prostitute. They all were mutilated in about the same way, organs were missing and many incisions were made all over the bodies. Due to the high crime rate of this area, many murders and robberies took place, but only these five women were linked to the case of Jack the Ripper. After the last killing of Mary Jane Kelly, Leather Apron suddenly stopped, and until today the reason is unknown. Experts assume, that he died himself or was imprisoned for a different reason. The investigation took many months, about 2,000 people were interviewed and several hundreds were checked, but the police stayed unsuccessful. The people, who witnessed the victims having contact to men on the dates of their killings delivered mixed images of the murderer. The descriptions varied from shabby to upper class and from long haired to bald. Many investigators claimed the murderer was a slaughterer, but this speculation was never proven true or false. Through the time of investigations, the people’s fear increased and so they founded the ‘Whitechapel Vigilance Commitee‘, a group of volunteers looking for suspects and accomplishing independent investigations, but also without success.

Jack the Ripper’s media attention grew and by the end of 1888, the case was known world wide. The police was not willing to hand over their investigation efforts to the newspapers, which led to them making up important information on their own and increasing the sensation of the story, but also the citizen’s fears. During the investigation, the police received numerous letters considering the case, only three of them became famous, but up to this day it is not clear whether the letters were written by the killer or in reality by journalists.

Even tough the killings took place 124 years ago, the myths continue and several movies and musicals take the cruel events into the field of entertainment. There are even guided tours through London’s East End explaining every bit of the still unsolved case of Jack the Ripper.

At yovisto you might learn ‘How to Profil a Killer‘ in the Lecture of Prof. Glen D. Wilson from Gresham College, who also refers to the Jack the Ripper case.

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