a sketch of Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper is not just one of London’s most well-known nefarious killers. He’s one of the world’s most evil killers ever to exist—and used to be one of the greatest unsolved mysteries.
Back in the 1800s, London wasn’t in a good state—specifically, it’s Whitechapel district. Poverty, overcrowding, and crime all created the perfect cesspool for a killer like Jack the Ripper to take advantage of.
In the slums, Jack the Ripper would attack and kill prostitutes who lived and worked there. He incited fear all throughout London because he would slice open their throats and disembowel them. But what really baffled police—and disgusted everyone—was that Jack the Ripper removed the uterus, bladder, and vagina of one victim. It was thought that Jack had to have experience in human anatomy.
This detail utterly terrorized the London public and the Metropolitan Police’s Scotland Yard headquarters. Then, the police and journalists started getting notes supposedly written by Jack the Killer himself—or, someone claiming to be him.
You Don’t Know Jack
The nickname Jack the Ripper actually came from one of these letters that was sent to Whitechapel Vigilance Committee chairman, George Lusk in October of 1888. The letter was called “From Hell” and was signed by Jack the Ripper. But it wasn’t just the letter that had been sent to George, much to his dismay. Half a human kidney that belonged to a victim was sent with it. The writer of the letter claimed, “I fried and ate” the other half. At the time, police weren’t sure whether the letters were actually from the killer or not. It was thought that the letters were fake and had been created by the press in order to sell more newspapers. Whether they really did or not is just as much a mystery as the motives of Jack the Ripper himself.
From 1888 to 1891, 11 murders took place that caught the interest of the police. However, only five of these 11 murders were linked directly to Jack the Ripper. These five women—Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly were found all within a mile of each other in August, September, October, and November in 1888. Of the five women, four of them were prostitutes who were killed while they were soliciting customers. More than that, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were both discovered dead on the same day.
Even though police were able to figure out a pattern Jack the Ripper stuck to—murdering at night and usually on or around a weekend—but they were never able to catch the killer. For a while, it was suspected that Jack the Ripper worked and even lived in the Whitechapel area, but nothing else was discovered beyond that.
The Future of Jack the Ripper
The case took a turn for the worst in the 1940’s when Germany’s bombings actually destroyed many of the files created about Jack the Ripper’s crimes and the case. However, in 2019, forensic evidence from DNA from a shawl found by the body of Catherine Eddowes allowed investigators to finally solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper’s identity: Aaron Kosminski, a Polish barber.