Unnamed: Jack the Ripper

Can DNA evidence provide the answer?

A. Grace

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Prolific and uncaught, who was Jack the Ripper?

Who is Jack?

Between 1888 and 1891, there were 11 brutal murders in the Whitechapel district of London, England. Five of those have been canonically attributed to the Whitechapel Murderer, also known as the Leather Apron, or famously, Jack the Ripper. The names of his victims are Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine “Kate” Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly.

“The Five,” as they are known colloquially, were believed to be connected to each other by investigators because the killer in these cases had a consistent and progressing Modus Operandi. Each victim suffered a deep cut to their throat and bodily mutilation. The brutality progressively increased with murder, except in Elizabeth Stride’s case where police believe her attacker was interrupted.

The Investigation

The Whitechapel community was unstable at the time of the murders due to a quickly growing population and economic difficulties. The area was rife with gang activity, and it was difficult to ascertain how many murders were committed by the serial killer and how many they could attribute to others. Violence toward sex workers was especially prevalent.

Police were desperate for leads, and much effort was made into finding witnesses or trapping the killer. The descriptions they received were often contradictory or vague. For instance, while one bystander described the killer as unkempt, another said he was well-dressed. While there were a few likely suspects, the Ripper was never brought to justice.

The Suspects

The investigators searched for a man with knowledge of anatomy due to the nature of the victims’ mutilation. Their interest focused on butchers, slaughterers, and physicians. Montague Druitt, a teacher who piqued their interest, was interested in surgery. He also disappeared after the last murder and was later found dead.

Micheal Ostrag was a doctor from Russia and a known criminal with homicidal tendencies. He was later committed to an asylum after the last murder because of his dangerous behavior. His removal from society could explain why the murders ended when they did, as it is unlikely the Ripper would…

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A. Grace

Grace writes fiction & articles on various topics in the western U.S. She is also a photographer, dog mom, and nature lover! Buy her a coffee: Ko-fi.com/agrace