Jack The Ripper – The White Chapel Killer
Jack the Ripper was an infamous murderer who terrorized White Chapel in London’s East End in 1888. To this day, the serial killer’s true identity, and motives, remain a mystery.
Jack the Ripper earned his name after police investigators received a letter, entitled “From Hell”, from a person claiming to be the murderer. In the police case files, Jack the Ripper was known as “The Whitechapel Murderer“, as well as “Leather Apron“. During 1888 in London’s White Chapel district, Jack the Ripper preyed upon desperate prostitutes who worked in the slums of London’s East End. He would cut their throats prior to mutilating their abdomen. The mysterious serial killer even removed organs from at least three of their victims, including wombs and kidneys, which led investigators to believe the killer had some knowledge of anatomy.
Investigators and police received a string of letters from people claiming to be Jack the Ripper. Due to writing styles and grammar, it appears each letter came from a different source. The first letter was signed “Jack the Ripper” and is known as the “Dear Boss” letter. The Dear Boss letter was received by the Central News Agency on 27th September, 1888 and forwarded to Scotland Yard on 29th September, 1888. Here is the original letter and the text in case you can’t see it in the image:
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck.
Jack the Ripper
Dont mind me giving the trade name
PS Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now. ha ha”
The second letter was received by George Lusk, of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, which is called the “From Hell letter“, also known as the “Lusk Letter”. It was accompanied by half of a preserved human kidney which was reportedly taken from one of the victims. This turned into a media frenzy and solidified the legendary brutal streak. Here’s how the “From Hell Letter” read:
I send you half the
Kidne I took from one women
prasarved it for you tother pirce
I fried and ate it was very nise I
may send you the bloody knif that
took it out if you only wate a whil
Catch me when
The From Hell letter was postmarked October 15th, 1888, and although it came with half a human kidney, investigators are still unsure if it was sent from the killer or a “wannabe”. Another letter and another postcard was sent in from people claiming to be the East End’s serial killer. You can see them here: The Saucy Jacky Postcard | The Openshaw Letter
From August 31st, 1888 – November 9th, 1888, there were five brutal murders which are considered to be linked, and the work of Jack the Ripper. The victims during that time were Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. Many more murders occurred up to 1891, but investigators were unable to link them to the 1888 murders, though it’s become a common theory that those victims were also killed by the Ripper.
The crime scenes were so gruesome, they sickened even the toughest policemen. Investigators had many theories and came to many conclusions of the true identity of The Whitechapel Murderer, none of which were ever proven. They assumed he had surgical knowledge based on the extent of the mutilation, and the fact that he had removed uteruses, a kidney and intestines from the victims. This also led to theories that the killer may have been a butcher or a doctor. One examiner said that the killer had actual real skill (in reference to his knowledge of anatomy).
Jack the Ripper must have planned each murder carefully. He used his own weapons (instruments), rather than a weapon of opportunity, and managed to disappear into the night without a trace. During the midst of the killing spree, he was able to approach prostitutes without arousing suspicion that he was the mysterious serial killer, which suggests he knew the area well enough to continuously go unnoticed. This might also suggest he lived close by, which afforded him the ability to blend in with the locals and escape the highly populated areas unnoticed, sometimes he should have been heavily blood stained.
Despite over a century of investigation, the true identity of “Jack the Ripper” remains a completely unsolved mystery. Many references have been made to the elusive serial killer over the years. There have been articles, books, a TV series, and, in 1999, a movie starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, which employed the title of the letter sent with the kidney, From Hell. The movie was a big hit and more than doubled it’s $35 million budget, pulling in just shy of $75 million at the box office.
Nearly two decades after the blockbuster and 120 years after the Ripper events took place, enthusiasts are still actively investigating what really happened in 1888. The truth is, Jack the Ripper’s identity may never be discovered. Only time will tell.