.. bered in such a disgusting manner that anyone who saw her vowed that they would never forget the savagery. Perhaps because the murderer had the privacy of a room, he performed the most mutilations on this victim (Ryder 1). He cut her throat, cut out her heart and other organs and flayed her legs to the bone. A reward was set up after this murder to pay any informant who could reveal the identity of Jack the Ripper, but nobody came forward.
The police never found the murder weapon or a clue that could help to positively identify the killer. They did have a number of leads and suspects. Writers are continuing to add to that list of suspects even today. Numerous witnesses came forward to describe companions of the various victims the nights that they were killed. One of the first suspects was a man known to the locals as ” Leather Apron” (Sugden 73).
He was a Jewish slipper maker who allegedly threatened prostitutes and tried to get them to pay him money, like a modern pimp would do. He denied that he did this but was known to carry a sharp knife. He was released because he had convincing alibis for the dates of the murders. Charles Ludwig, a German hairdresser was also a suspect because of his bizarre behavior and he also carried razor knives. But he was later exonerated because he was in jail when some of the murders occurred. Oswald Puckridge, who was called the “mad butcher”, also had to be removed from the suspect list because he was confined in an asylum when the later murders took place (Begg 56).
Many local people felt that a Jew was responsible for the killings. They feared that the murders were some kind of ritualistic religious sacrifice. Ignorance of Jewish culture made them an easy scapegoat (Knight 123). On the night of the double murder, a piece cut from the apron worn by the victim of the Mitre Street mutilation was found by a policeman in Whitechapel. It was beneath a sign drawn in chalk, which said, ” The Jews are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.” (Ryder 1). Chief Inspector Warren had the writing washed off the wall before dawn the next day. Even though it was a valuable piece of evidence, he feared that this could incite a riot against the Jews in the area.
The press followed every new development in the cases. When the police were not always forthcoming with information, the press would elaborate by interviewing witnesses and publishing rumors. Soon, letters claiming to be from the murderer started arriving. The first two that were taken seriously were written by the same man and sent to the Central News Agency (Ryder 1). “Jack the Ripper” signed them.
This was the first time the name was used. Because of their content and knowledge of detail, many people believed these letters to be written by the murderer. Another letter was written to Mr. Lusk, the chairman of the vigilantes who helped patrol the neighborhood. The letter was bloodstained and arrived with part of a human kidney in a box. The kidney was proven to be human and very likely from Catherine Eddowes.
Therefore, this was definitely considered to be legitimate (Stitson 1). However, all efforts to find out who sent the letters failed. The list of suspects continued to grow, but no one suspect could be conclusively proven to have committed the crimes. When the murders ceased, many officials felt that the killer had committed suicide or had been locked up in an asylum. Modern profiles of serial killers suggest that this is unlikely (Abrahamsen 36).
One of the suspects did kill him self shortly after the last murder. His name was Montague John Druitt. He was a doctor and a lawyer and had a family history of mental illness. No conclusive proof has been discovered that he was Jack the Ripper but he is generally accepted to be the prime suspect. Even today, more suspects are being suggested because Scotland Yard documents that has been sealed for a hundred years are now becoming available.
The question remains. Why was Jack the Ripper never caught? Many in the East End felt that the police were providing a cover-up for some suspect from the distinguished upper classes. In fact, some have even suggested that the crowned prince Albert Victor should have been regarded as a suspect. His motive has been suggested to be that he had contracted syphilis from a whore (Howells 173). This is still believed despite the fact that he had alibis for the dates of the murders. The real reason that Jack the Ripper has never been caught seems to be primarily due to the fact that the investigative techniques employed in the 1880s were not up to the task of finding a serial murderer.
Investigations of murders were geared to the motive and the background of the killer and victim. To catch a very cunning murderer with no apparent motive was very difficult in that era. Without a weapon, finger print analysis and forensic evidence, it was virtually impossible at the time for the police to find the right suspect (Abrahamsen 47). The high crime rate and overpopulation of Whitechapel and the large foreign population complicated the police efforts and allowed the murderer to slip away unpunished. In all this psychopath only killed five people but the murders were so grisly they will always be remembered.
WORKS CONSULTED Abrahamsen, David, M.D. Murder and Madness. New York: Donald I. Fine, 1992. Begg, Paul.
Jack the Ripper the Uncensored Facts. Great Britain: Robson Books Ltd, 1988. Jack. Enter The Sinister World of Jack the Ripper. 1997, http://accomodata.co.uk/jack.htm.
Stitson, Jessica. Jack the Ripper. March18,1998. http://Simmons.edu/~stitson/index1.html Howells, Martin and Keith Skinner. The Ripper Legacy. Middlesex: Sidgewick & Jackson, 1987. Knight, Stephen.
Jack the Ripper: the Final Solution. Chicago: Academy Chicago, 1986. Ryder, Stephen and Piper, John. Casebook: Jack the Ripper. 1998 http://www.casecook.org/casebook.html Sugden, Philip. The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1995.