One of the most enduring mysteries in British criminal history is without a doubt, the real identity of the scourge of Victorian London, the Whitechapel serial murderer known as ‘Jack The Ripper‘.
Countless theories have been offered up which claim to have ‘solved’ the case, and an equal number of people have been named as being prime suspects, if not the actual perpetrator him/herself.
Almost every year we hear of a new theory and a possible culprit, and these have ranged from the simply ridiculous to the rather more plausible examples, one of which appeared in today’s DAILY EXPRESS.
Francis Thompson is a name that may not be familiar to many people, but his name has been associated with the Whitechapel crimes by Ripperologists for a number of years, and has been widely discussed on various forums dedicated to the events of that Autumn in 1888.
Richard Patterson, who is the author of a forthcoming book ‘Francis Thompson – A Ripper Suspect‘ has spent the best part of twenty years researching his theory, and what he has found, has certainly elevated Thompson to the top of many people’s lists as being the Whitechapel murderer.
He certainly had the ability, as he trained as a surgeon for six years at Owens Medical College, Manchester, where he dissected hundreds of cadavers, and more significantly, it is where he was taught the very new and rare (at that time) technique of removing a human heart, that was known as the Virchow method.
This procedure entailed excising a heart via the pericardium.
How was this significant?
Well according to Doctor Thomas Bond, who carried out the autopsy on the Rippers canonical last victim, and the most horrific by a long way, that of Mary Jane Kelly, stated in his report – that this was the very method that was used to remove her heart.
Having the ability alone, does not make Thompson a killer by any means, but as Patterson has illustrated in great detail, he not only had the ability, but also the opportunity, the motive and even possessed a weapon which could quite easily have been used to carry out some, if not all of the murders.
Thompson, an Opium addict and being mostly homeless for a number of years in the East End, meant he could easily blend in, becoming a part of the landscape and would not have attracted much, if any attention, nor aroused any suspicions.
He also had a confirmed resentment of prostitutes, which may have started during the June of 1888, when a year-long relationship with an unnamed prostitute from Chelsea ended suddenly and angrily.
It is believed that the prostitute was his first and only sexual encounter, and when she threatened to leave him, he took it rather badly.
The prostitute disappeared without trace from official records following that event, but that could be entirely unconnected as there is no evidence that points to anything untoward happening to her.
Thompson was also known to carry a knife with him at all times, and not the ordinary type of knife that was often carried in Whitechapel around that time, but a dissecting scalpel, which would have been the perfect weapon for the crimes attributed to the Ripper, and as the actual murder weapon has never been definitively identified, it’s as good a choice as any.
So those four traits alone are enough to place Francis Thompson, as a strong, if not a perfect candidate, and could well be the most infamous as yet unknown, serial killer in British history
He should be viewed as being very close to, if not at the very top of any Ripperologists’ list of suspects in my opinion.
Further reading about Francis Thompson.