The events that took place in Whitechapel, during the autumn months of 1888 need little introduction, as there are few people who are not aware of at least some of the associated theories which have attached themselves to these events, as a direct result of the lucrative industry that has sprung up around, what after all, are the violent deaths of at least five (perhaps more), unfortunate women.
Hundreds upon hundreds of theories, by ever increasing numbers of writers and investigators have pitched in over the years, adding ever more lurid and incredulous twists and turns, which are guaranteed to attract an ever-willing audience of curious readers, whenever, and wherever they emerge.
I am of the opinion, that in order to get anywhere near the truth about Jack The Ripper, one has to look not directly at the murders and the methods used, or even the alleged perpetrator, (although they give a clear picture of the desired intention) as they were only a part of what was a much bigger picture.
The ‘Jack The Ripper Myth’, which is what it is, did not even begin in the Autumn of 1888, it’s conception was some forty years earlier, and was planned meticulously out of necessity, was very successful in it’s operation, and the template that was created then, is still being used today, with similar results.
Jack the Ripper was not a sexually-driven maniac, nor was he working alone, he was however, never going to be apprehended for his crimes and he was amply rewarded for the role he played, however that role is interpreted.
Publishing any article about Jack the Ripper is always going to be a thankless task, as for some people, any ‘solution’ which points towards closure, will be open to attack from those whose reputation, and even income in many cases, depends on any other theory than theirs, being thoroughly discredited.
A RIPPING YARN….
“We reach. We grasp. And what is left at the end? A shadow.” – Sherlock Holmes
If there is one name that is synonymous with every imagined horror it would be possible to conjure up, from within the annals of British criminal history at least, that name would undoubtably be ‘Jack the Ripper.’
In fact, you would find it difficult to find a more recognisable name, whenever or wherever unsolved crimes of this type are discussed around the world.
A large part of the enduring fascination with this series of brutal Victorian murders is that the culprit was never apprehended, which of course has led to literally hundreds of theories over the last hundred years which claim to reveal the real identity of the ever-elusive and shadowy Ripper.
The latest Ripper ‘Exclusive‘, in the Daily Mail of all places – is one which centres around the DNA ‘evidence’ supposedly found on a ‘Shawl’ that was allegedly spirited away from the Catherine Eddowes murder scene, by a Metropolitan policeman, acting Sergeant Amos Simpson, who should not have even been in the area, to give to his wife as a present.
It should come as no surprise that I am not even going to publish a link to that Daily Mail article, as I have no desire to waste any more time than is absolutely necessary on a theory that I do not consider worthy of inclusion in this or any other article about the events that occurred in Whitechapel in 1888.
It should also be noted, that the Mail article was published the day before the announcement of another royal pregnancy, which may prove significant, as well as firmly placing the blame on an East European Immigrant, which of course fits in quite nicely with the paper’s agenda to stir up racial tensions in this country by any means.
But I digress.
The last Ripper theory prior to the aforementioned Daily Mail article that was presented, was by the current go-to historian of the ‘Alt Media’, John Hamer, and since outlined in his book ‘The Falsification of History – Our Distorted Reality’ (2012).
He surmised that Jack the Ripper was Randolph Spencer Churchill, the father of Winston Churchill, and who carried out the murders according to Masonic rituals.
Hamer’s version, however convincingly it appears to be narrated, seems to be exclusively based upon the contents of Detective Inspector Frederick Aubergine’s [alleged] diaries, and was previously described in great detail in the book “The Ripper and The Royals”, written by Melvyn Fairclough, and was first published in 1991.
Randolph Churchill being named as a Ripper suspect at this late stage, is an odd choice, as his name has already been linked on at least two occasions, and on both those occasions, by a theory that has been almost universally discredited.
The Churchill link appears to have originally sprung from a version of a tale that was published in the 1924 autobiography of journalist Frank Harris, ‘My Life and Loves’, which recounted a story, told to him by Randolph’s friend and political colleague Louis Jennings.
The tale centred around a drunken party, where fellow students had put a very drunk Randolph Churchill into bed with an “Old Hag”.
Upon waking up the next morning, he was understandably horrified at the situation he found himself in, and threw some money at the woman before fleeing.
He immediately sought out a local doctor, who treated him with ‘disinfectant’.
The story then went on to say, that eventually: “a little, round, very red pimple appeared … On his peccant member.”
Another doctor supposedly treated him with mercury and warned him off alcohol.
This has sometimes been quoted (incorrectly) as the incident whereupon Randolph Churchill had allegedly contracted Syphilis from a ‘Prostitute’, which may have in turn, been the source of another story that Randolph Churchill had then developed a bitter hatred of prostitutes and therefore was an ideal Ripper suspect – should yet another one be required.
Louis Jennings had passed away by the time Harris retold the tale, so was clearly not in a position to deny it, plus Harris also had a personal axe to grind after Randolph had verbally attacked the Tory party and several of it’s members in 1893. The story told in Harris’s memoir had therefore, never once been corroborated, and by 1924, Harris had also fallen out with Winston Churchill, for whom he had been a literary agent.
Harris also appears to have had an unhealthy preoccupation with venereal disease, having made the same assertion about Oscar Wilde and Guy De Maupassant, which were later shown to be incorrect on both counts.
Even as late as 1992, Nick Warren, the Editor of Ripperana, a quarterly magazine still being published, claimed that unsubstantiated stories of Lord Randolph Churchill being a Ripper suspect were known about many years before Thomas Stowell published his own Ripper article in 1970, which also incriminated Prince Albert Victor ‘Eddy’ in the murders.
Stowell himself, had entered the Ripper arena just a few days before his death because of the article he had written, that was published in the November 1970 issue of The Criminologist.
In that article, he appeared to indicate that he either had, or had seen evidence implicating Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, the Grandson of Queen Victoria, in the notorious Ripper murders which occurred some eighty-years previously.
During an appearance on the BBC current affairs programme ’24 Hours’ on the 2nd of November, Stowell even “appeared to accept tacitly” that the Duke was in fact the Killer.
However, a mere three days later, on the 5th of November 1970, Stowell wrote a letter to The Times, a part of which contained the line: “I have at no time associated His Royal Highness, the late Duke of Clarence, with the Whitechapel murderer.”
The letter was published on the 9th of November, the day following Stowell’s death.
Curiously, the very same week, Stowell’s son reported that he had burned all his father’s papers, saying “I read just sufficient to make certain that there was nothing of importance.”
Stowell’s article, however, had by then re-awakened the public’s interest in the Ripper murders, and the alleged connection of Prince Albert Victor to the murders, which was then eagerly adopted and developed further by other researchers and writers.
Although he was never considered as a suspect at the time of the murders, Eddy had started appearing as a suspect as early as 1955 when Frank Spiering, who’s book ‘Prince Jack’ named Eddy as the Ripper.
Despite the author himself describing his book as “mainly a reconstruction of what I feel did happen,” the theory was further elaborated on when Phillippe Jullien published his book, ‘Edouard VII,’ nearly a decade later, in 1962.
That book alleged that “The Prince and the Duke of Bedford” were rumoured to be responsible for the murders, although no evidence has been found to substantiate this claim.
What is available, however, are the court records which reveal that Prince Eddy was not even in London on the important murder dates:
29th August – 7th September 1888: The Prince was staying with Viscount Downe at Danby Lodge, Grosmont, Yorkshire.
(Polly Nichols murdered 31 August.)
7th – 10th September 1888: The Prince was at the Cavalry Barracks in York”
(Annie Chapman murdered on the 8th of September.)
27th – 30th September: The Prince was at Abergeldie, Scotland, where Queen Victoria recorded in her journal that he lunched with her on 30 September”
(Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes murdered between 1.00 and 2.00 a.m, on the 30th of September.)
1st November: Arrived in London from York.
2nd – 12th November: The Prince was at Sandringham”
(Mary Kelly was murdered on the 9th of November)”
It may well be the case, and has been argued as such, that the court records were deliberately altered at the time or at a later date, in order to give Eddy an unshakeable alibi, – which of course nobody would dare to question – but again, obtaining evidence of this would be almost impossible.
Also, Prince Eddy, who was not known for his sparkling intelligence, simply did not possess the medical knowledge to be a credible Ripper suspect, even though some have even suggested that his experience of ‘Hunting‘ on the Royal Estates would gave him the required skills.
Many of the newer Ripper theories, appear to have used the hand-written diaries of Inspector Frederick Abberline as their source, which although they are an interesting and amusing read, are now widely considered to be fake, and a hoax which may have originated from the late Joseph ‘Sickert’ (Gorman) who died on the 9th of January 2003.
Joe Gorman himself, had become well-known for claiming to be the grandson of the English impressionist painter Walter Sickert, (although he later changed his story to one of being the son) and was the source of the ‘Royal/Masonic’ connection to the Ripper murders, alleging that the murders were carried out by Queen Victoria’s Surgeon, Dr William Withey Gull.
Gorman had also been approached by BBC researchers in 1973 who were working on a documentary about the murders, which had become popular again following Stowell’s article – and had been directed to Gorman by a Scotland Yard Detective who told them that ‘Sickert’, knew about a secret marriage between Eddy and a poor Catholic girl named Alice Mary Crook.
JACK THE RIPPER (The BBC Production) was screened as a six-part series between July 13th – 17th August 1973, and the odd combination of fictional detectives and the conclusion it reached, caused many viewers to question it’s accuracy.
Joseph Gorman had even appeared in the final episode to verify that the story he had told, was the ‘only solution.’
Sometime later that year, Gorman had a request from a local newspaper journalist Stephen Knight, who wanted to interview him about his story.
Gorman, who had by then, even adopted a new name, ‘HRH Joseph Sickert’ to match his fabricated identity; over a number of interviews with Knight, relayed the same story that he had told the BBC researchers – that his Grandmother, a shop girl by the name of Annie Crook, had married Prince Albert Victor in secret and had given birth to a daughter, Alice (Joseph’s mother).
Mary Jane Kelly, a friend of Crook’s knew about this clandestine marriage, as did several of her friends who were also prostitutes, and hatched a plot to blackmail the British Government.
To avert a scandal that may have brought down the monarchy, the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, had then enlisted the Royal Physician Sir William Gull, to embark on a killing spree with two fellow Freemasons to rid the Royal family of the ‘troublesome’ women.
Alice Crook, having already been smuggled out of England to France, later became Walter Sickert’s mistress. Walter Sickert always knew the truth behind the Ripper murders, Joseph claimed, but had not been involved in them in any way.
Joseph Gorman, who also claimed some time later, that he regularly had tea with the Queen – if nothing else – appears to have possessed a very fertile imagination.
He had certainly convinced Stephen Knight, however, who, following the interviews he conducted with Gorman, made attempts to further confirm the story, and what he found must have convinced him that the story that had been told to him, appeared completely plausible.
Against Gorman’s express wishes, it should be noted, Stephen Knight proceeded to turn the story of what he now believed was a monstrous Royal cover-up, into a book, with which he hoped would prove, a ‘Royal Conspiracy’ did in fact, exist.
This ‘Royal Conspiracy’, which appears to have become the template for the majority of every Ripper theory since, wasn’t even seriously considered, until the publication of Knight’s finished work, ‘Jack the Ripper, The Final Solution’ in 1976.
A book which was based almost entirely on Joseph Gorman’s ‘recollections’, and hinged around a ‘Royal/Masonic Conspiracy’ and the story that the murders were committed by ‘the highest powers in the land.’
Even Knight admitted at one point that Gorman was ‘vague and unreliable’, with his testimony, but he appeared to have become completely fascinated with the whole story.
The handwriting in the diaries where the stories originated, was not Abberline’s, and it has also been noted, that whoever was responsible for writing the diaries, had somehow managed to get Abberline’s initials the wrong way round.
In a signature, F.G. For Frederick George, was written as G.F.
A simple error, I agree, but an error nonetheless, and one that from which, no explanation has ever been offered.
The whereabouts of the diaries now, are unsurprisingly, ‘unknown’, but Ripper expert Paul Begg believes that Gorman may have destroyed them at some point.
Furthermore, Joseph Gorman himself, admitted that he had invented the whole story, when he gave an interview which appeared in The Sunday Times, on June the 18th 1978.
Joseph said of his version of the story: “It was a hoax; I made it all up,” and it was “a whopping fib,” a pure invention. All the evidence confirms this”: Those parts of Mr. Sickert’s story which can be further scrutinised, have been shown … to be untrue.
Stephen Knight, however, still steadfastly believed that Joseph only admitted he was lying, because his book had revealed the real truth about his father.
And the Royal connection, still pops ups regularly whenever the Ripper crimes are discussed.
Well-known American crime writer, Patricia Cornwell, has surmised that impressionist artist Walter Sickert was the killer, and has spent a small fortune attempting to prove her theory, which she based around DNA evidence discovered on his paintings, (one of which was allegedly destroyed in the process) and the personal possessions of Sickert, which she had spent more than £2 Million acquiring.
Before Cornwell published her theory, however, Jean Overton Fuller, in her 1990 book ‘Sickert and the Ripper Crimes’, had also maintained that Sickert was Jack the Ripper.
Cornwell’s book ‘Jack the Ripper -Case Closed’ (2002) lays out her findings and narrates her equally implausible theory.
On Monday the 27th of April, 1896, at 11:18 am, the murderer Carl Feigenbaum was executed at Sing Sing Penitentiary, New York. Normally, this would have signalled an end to the matter, and the name Carl Feigenbaum should have been consigned to history and forgotten.
However, as Feigenbaum’s body was being wheeled into the Sing Sing autopsy room, his lawyer, William Sanford Lawton, gave an interview with a reporter from the New York Advertiser in which he stated that it was his belief that his ex-client was actually the notorious London murderer Jack the Ripper.
The Paper knew exactly what sold papers, and immediately sent out a press release announcing a coming interview. This caused a sensation, albeit very brief, which was reported in newspapers all over North America.
However, as the rest of the world moved on to other things, the story quickly died and was largely forgotten.
But, with the release of the paperback issue of Trevor Marriott’s book ‘Jack the Ripper The 21st Century Investigation’ in 2007, William Sanford Lawton had found support for his belief that Carl Feigenbaum was actually the infamous killer who stalked the streets of Whitechapel in the Autumn of 1888.
Francis Tumblety an American Quack doctor and snake-oil salesman has been named by some as being the Killer.
Dr. Roslyn D’Onston Stephenson was an author and magician who preferred to keep his own activities to himself, has been labelled as the murderer by theorising that the murders were committed as part of some secret initiation/ritual process (5 murders ties in with the belief that the pentagram symbol can be used to channel power to individuals).
This belief that Stephenson may have been the killer, may have gone away altogether, had it not been for the fact that Stephenson himself, ‘disappeared’ sometime in 1904.
James Kenneth Stephen (1851-92) was directly linked to Prince Albert by way of being his tutor at Cambridge, and it has been claimed by some that he was the murderer due to his homosexuality, which was alleged to have somehow developed into a pathological hatred of women in general.
Where this allegation falters, though, is the fact that he didn’t kill any female that he happened to meet, preferring instead to indulge himself within a small geographical area of the East End of London.
Michael Harrison, in the book ‘Clarence The Life of HRH The Duke Of Clarence And Avondale 1864-1892’, even made the suggestion that Stephen and the Duke of Clarence were lovers at Cambridge, and when the affair ended, Stephen became unhinged and decided to kill prostitutes on dates which had some significance to the Duke.
Harrison also claimed, that Stephen’s poetry displayed signs of sadism and misogyny, thus somehow ‘proving’ his pathological hatred of women and is used to further back up his theory.
In one of his poems, ‘A Thought’, J. K. Stephen wrote:
‘If all the harm that women have done,
were put in a bottle and rolled into one,
earth would not hold it,
the sky could not enfold it,
It could not be lighted nor warmed by the sun,
such masses of evil would puzzle the devil,
and keep him in fuel while time’s wheels run.
But if all the harm that’s been done by men,
were doubled and doubled and doubled again,
and melted and fused into vapour,
and then were squared and raised to the power of ten.
There wouldn’t be nearly enough, not near,
to keep a small girl for the tenth of a year.’
Severin Klosowski was a Polish immigrant who changed his name to George Chapman upon his arrival in London, and probably deserves an article by himself, being a wife poisoner and all.
He was suspected, (an accusation later retracted) as being Jack the Ripper when arrested by Frederick Abberline, who was in charge of the Ripper murders at that time. It is exceptionally unusual, (although not impossible) for a murderer to change his method of killing so dramatically, and it is now believed that in sheer desperation to pin the murders on someone, Klosowski, simply fitted the profile.
It has been suggested more than once, that the perpetrator of the Ripper murders may have been a woman practising abortion techniques, which would point towards explaining the manner in which the brutal mutilations of the women occurred.
The consensus against this theory, however, is that there has never been a single recorded case of a woman performing sadistic mutilation murders.
Author William J Perring has also raised the possibility of the killer being a woman in ‘The Seduction Of Mary Kelly’ (2005), his novel about the life and times of the final victim.
He surmised that the killer was not ‘Jack’, but ‘Julia the Ripper’ – a Salvation Army soldier.
Mr Perring, 63, who was born in east London, has been fascinated by the murders for nearly three decades and is highly sceptical about some of the suspects put forward by ‘ripperologists’ over the past century.
Montague John Druitt was a failed lawyer whose body was found in the River Thames in December 1888, having been suspected of committing suicide. His inclusion into the already long list of suspects, was based on little more ‘evidence’ than the murders came to an abrupt end around this time.
John Pizer (Leather Apron), Aaron Kosminski and a host of others, including the author Lewis Carroll, of all people, have all been suspected at one time or another by a myriad of assorted Ripper researchers, journalists and authors over the years.
Doctors, Butchers, Satanists, Rogue Policemen, Journalists, Freemasons, Politicians, Social Reformers, Vengeful Midwives and assorted members of the Royal Family, or indeed, people loyal to them, have all at one time or another, been suspected.
Unfortunately, the problem that has always accompanied any credible work about the Ripper, is that any of the above named suspects, along with the dozens of others that have been suspected of being the killer over the years, have stood an equal chance of being the real killer as they do of being ruled out completely by anyone who has made anything more than a cursory examination of the facts.
It was designed that way.
It is highly unlikely that ‘Jack the Ripper’ would have been apprehended while carrying out his grisly nocturnal activities, nor would his identity, following any contemporary investigation, however robustly that investigation happened to have been conducted, been revealed.