Ironically, one of the most famous serial killers of all time is a mystery. We do not know who he was, what he did or anything other than that he was a very skilled murderer. He murdered five women over a three-month period and was never caught. The case remains unclosed, and this man has become known as 'Jack the Ripper'.
So, another serial killer. Why is this one so famous? Well firstly, let’s consider the background to the case. This man roamed the Whitechapel district of London in the Victorian era, around 1888, and murdered five women on five separate occasions during the early hours of the morning. In 1888, London had a population of 6.7 million (that’s a lot of people!) and the Whitechapel district was overpopulated and very poor and there were often people working in the streets late at night. There was very little in the way of light, as gas lights were mostly used on the main streets and not in alleyways. There was a labyrinth of alleyways in the city, which made it easy for the murderer to escape but more likely to be caught should someone take the wrong turn.
There are two main reasons as to why the murders are so famous. The first is that the media coverage was very big and incited fear in the poor population of Whitechapel. The second is the brutal way in which the murders were carried out. The killings were carried out with such precision that 'Jack the Ripper' was believed to be either a surgeon or a butcher, as there are not very many other professions which require such skill. The man must have been carrying large, sharp knives and would have had to act extremely fast, with very little light, to murder the women. Yet the killer was never found.
There are many explanations, conspiracies and guesses as to who committed the murders, ranging from ordinary people to Prince Albert, the Duke of Clarence, who went mad. Others suggest that 'Jack' didn’t act alone and actually had an accomplice. However, one thing is certain, the Ripper case will never be solved and will remain a great British mystery.
Are you interested in history? Had you ever heard of Jack the Ripper?