YOUNG REPORTER

The Mystery Behind Jack The Ripper- Sukhpreet Jagdeo Gumley House Convent School

Jack the Ripper was a notorious serial killer who resided around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. Although the identity behind this notable figure was never revealed, the killer’s brutal attacks on female prostitutes led to the introduction of alternative names: “Whitechapel Murderer”, “Leather Apron”. The total number of Jack the Ripper’s victims remains unknown, however, experts state a definite number of 5 otherwise known as ‘the Canonical Five’ (Martha Tabram, Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes). These five victims were slaughtered in complete darkness, usually in the early hours of the morning and all had something in common: they were all prostitutes, they all had their throats lacerated, they suffered mutilation to their bodies and some had their organs removed before their tragic death. On the 27th of September 1888, a letter was carefully composed titled ‘Dear Boss’ before being sent to the police, from someone who claimed to be the killer. The letter consisted of the killer sarcastically laughing at the police’s efforts to reveal his identity, stating that despite their efforts, the killer’s identity would stay concealed. The author of the letter signed it off as “Jack the Ripper” which was the true origination of his name; Historians still debate whether the letter was truly written by the killer and discuss the possible suspects behind this infamous name. A big factor resulting in the escape of the killer is said to be the limitation of forensic science equipment, rather than taking a sample of blood or checking for fingerprints as would be done today, the police would wash off any traces of blood found. Another reason is the rivalry between the two police forces in the late 1800s, while the Metropolitan police investigated four of the murders that took place, the City of London police engaged and investigated in the murder of Elizabeth Stride. The lack of willingness to cooperate between these two police forces meant that they concealed key information from one another; had they not, this may have guided their investigation to reveal the killer behind the name of “Jack the Ripper”. The Metropolitan Police commissioner, fearing any racial conflict ordered a key message written at the time of Catherine Eddowes’ murder to be erased: “The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing”, rather than photographing it as evidence. This angered the City of London Police who believed that message would guide them the correct way, bringing greater rage and infuriation from both sides. Whether the disagreement between the police forces were public or not, this was a huge advantage to the killer as knowing that the chances of being caught and found guilty were improbable, would only pave the way for more violent and brutal attacks.