Anonymity brings defence to one’s identity but it may be dangerous for few who may be unaware of the unidentified being a wanted murderer. 

‘Jack the Ripper’ being one of the most wanted yet mysterious serial killer till this date happens to be a piece of great evidence to defeat the advancement of forensic and investigation bureaus. This self-proclaimed serial killer is believed to be the mastermind of five murders, all victims being prostitutes.

He is also famous as the ‘Whitechapel Murderer’ and ‘Leather Apron’.

The history takes us back to one of the poorest districts of England, Whitechapel in 1888 where the mystery of all bloodbaths lies deprived of any proper shreds of evidence. It all started one late evening of April 4th when Emma Elizabeth Smith, a prostitute, was assaulted by three men while she was walking back to her lodging house. She survived the attack however she was found dead after arrival to her house.

After months of this, another prostitute, Martha Tabram, found dead with ‘thirty-nine stab wounds’. Her corpse was laid with her genitals exposed however no evidence of intercourse was found.

Five other murders followed and the police began its chase for the hunter. A total of eleven murders were documented in Whitechapel however only five of them were believed to have a common killer.

A secret individual, Jack the Ripper, is believed to be accountable for the murders of Mary Ann Nicols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. These five is known as the ‘canonical five’. The Ripper is theorized to be male since witness’ reported seeing a male perpetrator with the women and officers claimed a woman would not be strong enough to commit such murders.

The deep slash wounds to the throat, followed by extensive abdominal and genital-area mutilation, the removal of internal organs, and progressive facial mutilations as the distinctive features of the Ripper’s modus operandi. The savagery of this murderer, the lack of an obvious motive, and the closeness of the location and the date to the later canonical Ripper murders led police to link the murders committed by Jack the Ripper.

How this name came into the picture?

In September 1888, a letter was received by the Central News Agency. It was written in red ink and boasted about the Ripper’s crimes, ending with a signature from ‘Jack the Ripper’. The police thought it could be a hoax until they realised that a second letter was delivered and it was a postcard referring to the first letter. This letter was also signed in the same way which was adopted by media and the culprit then became known under the name.

Speculating the suspect began. Slaughterers, butchers, surgeons, and medics were suspected because of the manner of the mutilations. But, there was strong opposition to this angle of view for the case saying that the killer must have been a man of solitary habits, subject to ‘periodical attacks of homicidal and erotic mania’. 

There is no evidence the perpetrator engaged in sexual activity with any of the victims, yet psychologists suppose that the penetration of the victims with a knife and ‘leaving them on display in sexually degrading positions with the wounds exposed’ indicated that the perpetrator might be deriving sexual pleasures from the attacks.

A Whitechapel Vigilance Committee was formed in September 1888, with a group of volunteer citizens to patrol the streets looking for suspicious characters, partly because of dissatisfaction with the failure of police to find the culprit, and also because some members believed that it was affecting their business in the area.

A threat to life could take away the peace and solidity of one’s mind. The case was a reason for the endless sleepless nights of some people who were afraid to be the next target of the Ripper.

With an unending list of hundreds of suspects, there is still no face to provide to the ripper.

Is it some kind of psychological disorder which is so fatal to the lives of a few victims who wouldn’t have thought of being trapped in this manner? Even if the ripper is not thought to have killed again after November 1888, he creates the perfect example for the absence of any guilt, shame, remorse, empathy and humanity for other’s life.

A name which erupted by a letter does not ensure the identity whether it was the culprit himself. It could have been some hoax created by media to increase the curiosity with the case.

A crime like this is the very first case which shocked the whole world with the media going unrestrained with thousands of articles carrying the possible theories and suspects. And it still remains an unsolved mystery of a man who never gets caught.

Jack the Ripper.

By Kajal Singh , Delhi

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