At least five women were murdered by Jack the Ripper in London in 1888.

Jack The RipperPhoto byAbyss

Jack the Ripper, the world's most famous serial killer This is strange because he is believed to have only had five victims, which is not a lot compared to other serial killers. 

So what made Jack the Ripper so famous? Part of his appeal was that the police never caught him. In 1888, forensics were still in their very early days. Thanks to modern methods, we do have some ideas of who he was. So then, who was Jack the Ripper? That's the question we are going to try to answer, right now, about life's biggest questions. 

Jack the Ripper terrorised east London for 12 weeks in 1888 and targeted prostitutes living and working in one of London's poorest crime districts, Whitechapel. Jack the Ripper was also known as the Whitechapel murderer. Jack the Ripper's five known victims were Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. The victims sometimes had their throats slashed and internal organs removed. It is unclear if the five known victims are the rippers' only victims.

Whitechapel was a densely populated area, but most of the killings happened within a few streets of each other, as well as on weekends and public holidays. The ripper either could have been a local who worked 9–5, or he could have been an educated, upper-class man, possibly a doctor, who targeted victims in lower-class neighbourhoods. 

The ripper was suspected of being a doctor because the mutilation of his victims appeared to suggest he was surgically trained. Hundreds of letters were sent to law enforcement and the media over the course of the murders, some claiming to be from the ripper and others offering advice on how to catch him. Many of these letters were believed to have been sent by journalists posing as the ripper. Even though the police never figured out exactly who he was, there were definitely suspects. Aaron Kosminkski, Thomas Cutbush, and Montague John Druitt were the main ones. 

According to new DNA evidence, the bloodstained shawl of Catherine Eddowes, one of the rippers' victims, contained 126-year-old DNA that Doctor Louhelainen compared to the DNA from the decedents of Catherine Eddowes. Kominski was a Polish-Jewish immigrant. He fled to London from Poland, which was being controlled by Russia at the time. He lived with his two brothers and sisters on Greenfield Street, which is where Elizabeth Stride was killed. Kominski was said to be suffering from a serious mental illness and to have spent much of his life in and out of asylums. He died in one of the institutions from gangrene. So the official story is that Kominski was Jack the Ripper. 

But according to Richard Cobb, who runs the Jack the Ripper conventions, the shawl belonging to Catherine Eddowes has been handled by many people, not to mention that, like many men living in east London, Kominski probably frequented prostitutes, including Catherine Eddowes. But there is another very compelling theory that makes the claim that Jack the Ripper was actually an American doctor who goes by the name of Doctor H.H. Holmes. 

Holmes was America's first serial killer, who terrorised Chicago in the late 1880s. He built elaborate death traps in a massive 3-story hotel known as the "murder castle." Holmes confessed to killing 27 people, but he may have killed closer to 200. According to his great-great grandson, Jeff Mudget, Holmes documented the murder and mutilation of several prostitutes in London in his two diaries. He travelled to London in 1888, the same year the murders occurred. Handwriting samples between the ripper and Holmes are very similar; one expert suggested they were written by the same hand. 

Apparently Scotland Yard even went to America during the investigation because there were rumours that the ripper could be an American doctor, but they abandoned the search because of funding. Jeff Mudget detailed his findings in a book and helped produce a series. But his theory has been met with criticism by many who believe Mudget is just trying to sell books. 

There are other theories as to the ripper's identity. Historian Mike Covell claimed the ripper was Fred Deeming, a criminal who emigrated to Australia. Others say the ripper was a renowned artist named Walter Sickert, who painted the scenes from the ripper's murders. In all, there were around 200 suspects. Perhaps we will never know who Jack the Ripper was; it remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries ever. Who do you think the ripper was?

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