The poverty hit side of the East London was widely prevalent with brothels and Opium dens and it was a commonplace for violence. Diseases like tuberculosis and diphtheria spread wide because of almost no pure water. This depressing, bleak and often menacing place to live, had women who were engaged in prostitution to support their incomes as the city was full of immortality, racism, social disturbance, crime, anti-semitism, and nativism.
It was in the year 1888 when five women were butchered on the streets of East London by a mysterious man. The pseudonymous murderer killed at least five women who were all prostitutes in a period of three months from August to November, 1888 at the Whitechapel district of East End in London. This famous mysterious crime took 125 years to be unfolded as one of the former murder squad detective blew away the hoax on its 125th anniversary.
The unidentified serial killer’s name was disseminated in the media as it originated in a letter written by someone claiming to be the murderer and giving his name: Jack The Ripper. “The Whitechapel Murderer” and “Leather Apron” were some other names that accounted the killer. The city was lashed with fear and suspicion as the killer took body parts as if they were trophies which gave proposals that the killer had surgical and anatomical knowledge. Deep throat slashes, removal of internal organs, facial, abdominal and genital-area mutilations were the distinctive features in all the murders that was supposed to be done by the Ripper.
This enduring mystery began with the murder of Mary Nichols on 31st August, 1888 and was followed by the deaths of Annie Chapmen, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly who were named “the canonical five” until several investigation processes were started by forming vigilante committees and mobs, who routinely chased people through the streets and house-to-house. However, the case remained unsolved and was closed in 1892 that solidified the legends of Jack The Ripper.
A total of 11 deaths were noticed during that time and the investigation had a report that said -“the Whitechapel murderer had 5 victims- & 5 victims only.” made by Sir Melville Macnaghten, Assistant Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Service and the Head of CID( Criminal Investigation Department). All the canonical five murders were said to have been perpetrated at night. Some witnesses found during the inquest reported to have seen a shabby-genteel appearing dark-haired man while some reported that the man who was seen with the women before death was well-dressed. The case also gave rise to writing on the wall, known today as “Goulston Street graffito” which was washed away before dawn as it was thought to spark anti-semitic riots by then.
The Whitechapel mystery also gave rise to several other deaths later together with different rumors of the Whitehall mystery, the Thames Mystery and the Torso killer after a headless torso of a woman was discovered along with the death of a seven-year old boy John Gill and Shakespeare named women, Carrie Brown. However, any of the deaths after the canonical five were ruled out of connections to Jack the Ripper. Around 2000 people people were interviewed, 300 people were investigated and 80 of them were detained which mostly included slaughterers, butchers, surgeons and physicians because of their skill which somewhat matched to the way the murders took place. The post mortem reported no sexual activity with any of the victims and that all five murders were committed by the same hand as the women were lying down when murdered and their throats were cut first.
Jack the Ripper case gave rise to a lot of media activity and it is regarded as the first to create worldwide media frenzy. Pages and pages of Interviews with local residents, following of police officers and bribing them for any new investigation report helped in making large sell of newspapers during that time. The “Dear Boss”, the “Saucy Jacky” and the “From Hell” letter that was said to have come from the killer created a viral buzz in different parts of England as well as in whole Europe and America. Government and police officials claimed that these letter were hoax and was written by a journalist to circulate and sustain the newspaper business.
However, the mystery that kept the world enthralled for a century and more was unfolded as the case was found to be dreamed by a drunken journalist Thomas Bulling who forged a letter to the Scotland Yard pretending to be “Jack” in 1888. Trevor Marriott, who spent 11 years in carrying out reviews of murders saw through this case’s files and utilized modern-day police techniques backed up with forensic reports to finally solve the case.
However, the false case that gained worldwide attention gave rise to around 300 books, movies, TV shows and several theories on ripper’s identity that inspired multiple fiction works. The term “ripperology” was also coined back then to study, analyze and describe serial-killing cases. This famous case in the Britain’s history was voted as the worst Briton by BBC History magazine and its readers in 2006.