BULL STREET - The art of the Con

Jack The Ripper

Of all the mysteries connected with serial murder, there is little question in anyone’s mind that the murders committed by a man whose identity was never discovered, created unmitigated havoc in the East End of London in 1888.. Jack the Ripper as he became fondly known was a vicious killer and before he was finished, Mary Ann Nicholls, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catharine Eddowes and Mary Jeanette Kelly were all killed in an almost surgical manner, with mutilation and the removal of internal organs being common attributes binding the killings to Jack. It is possible that Jack also did in several other women in the same vicinity but that has never been confirmed.

Jack was consistent in his attacks and confined them to poverty-stricken women who had taken up prostitution as a way of earning an honest living. All the murders occurred in a three-month period toward the end of 1888 and then ended just as suddenly as they had begun.  In each case, Jack used a straight razor to carry out his grizzly work. At that time, the London Police had a pretty fair reputation for getting their men and grilled numerous suspects but to no avail. To make matters even worse, Jack the Ripper started using the press to publicize what he was doing. The following is an example of one of his many writings that were considered to be authentic:

“Dear Boss, I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they won’t fix me just yet…I am down on whores and I shan’t 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 know? I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me and my funny little games… The next job I do I shall clip the lady’s ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly…Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knofe is nice and sharp. I want to get to work right away if I get a chance.

Good luck.

Yours truly, Jack the Ripper” [82]

Jack had a few other tricks like sending the kidneys he had removed from several of the women to the Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee who was to say the least and unwilling receipient. 

So time went by and in spite of an intensive manhunt for Jack, he was never found. Because of the utterly gruesome nature of the killings, people continued to speculate on who had done it for decades. Plays were written about it and songs were published, depicting Jack in one light or another. In 1992, over a century after the last killing had taken place, Mike Barrett was renovating a house in the same district where Jack had prowled 100-years previously. He purportedly came across the diary of one James Maybrick, a man that had lived in the area at the same time as that when the murders were committed. However, at the time, Maybrick was never considered to be a serious suspect.

However, in the diary, Maybrick admits to the fact that he is indeed, Jack the Ripper and he gives chapter and verse to back it up. However, Maybrick by the time the diaries are uncovered, Maybrick has been long dead and he cannot tell us much about the case one way or the other. Interestingly enough though, we do know that he died in 1889 and his loving wife was indicted for murdering James by putting a substantial serving of arsenic in his food in order to do him in. For this, she was found guilty and sentenced to hang, which sentence was ultimately commuted to life. This probably means that Maybrick did not treat the old girl very well. However, was he bad enough to have brutally killed five women? That is a questioned that has puzzled the world over the last decade.

In analyzing Jack’s diary, it appeared that the paper that it was written on was indeed contemporary with the killings. However, James Maybrick did leave a will which was later compared to the diary. The handwritings in the two documents do not match but many experts on the subject claim that the will was a forgery and not necessarily the diary. This seemed to be bornout by the fact that Maybrick misspelled his own daughter’s name in his will which experts said he would not have done if it was indeed his own hand. However, somewhat more critical is the fact that the contemporary letters that were sent by Jack the Ripper to various places during that period do not match either the diary or the will. Once again, this seems to be easily dispensed with because; he would have not wanted to incriminate himself by using his normal handwriting.

We are left with the fact that the London Police indicated that historically, serial killers are much younger than the middle aged Maybrick, but they agreed that there are always exceptions to any rules. Interestingly enough, attempts to date the ink that was used by the writer of the diary was inconclusive, however a group of psychologists in attempting to analyze the writing concluded that the person that authored the diary was indeed demented and probably suffered from the same malady as Jack the Ripper if indeed he was not one in the same.  

Professor David Canter of Liverpool University Centre for Investigative Psychology and the host of a Jack the Ripper forum which included experts from all over the globe, stated that: “This was either produced by a very skilled author or someone with detailed knowledge of the Ripper history, or someone with enormous insight into carrying out these crimes and the person most likely to have that is the person who did carry out those crimes.”

So the question becomes, have we found the real Jack the Ripper or not? Are the diaries real or are they a hoax? Interestingly enough, there was no financial gain for Mike Barrett, he did not charge for interviews and he did not try to sell the diaries. However, today, as many people believe one way as believe the other. As we become more accurate in our ability to date ink and paper, it may be that we will come closer to the truth. However, for the time being, maybe he did it and maybe he didn’t.  If he did should, Maybrick be punished posthumously to make a case for never letting murderers get away with their crimes? 

We believe that this was a well planted hoax by a bored, Mike Barrett. He really didn’t harm anyone with his actions and stirred up the scientific juices a bit. No one lost any money because of Barrett’s hoax and his actions reinforced the story of a man that had gone on a mad killing spree terrorizing all of London.



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