The crimes of Jack the Ripper have endured in the public imagination for a myriad of reasons.
Jack was certainly not the ‘original’ serial killer; however, he was perhaps the first to emerge in a great capital like London in an era where the ‘common people’ had become largely literate and the press was could be used as a power for societal transformations. The Ripper also came onto the scene when at a time of political upheaval, and social reformers as well as liberals attempted to exploit the crimes for their own political purposes.
There is not even a verifiable number for the amount of women Jack the Ripper killed. It is largely believed that five women were brutally slaughtered by him; however, other claims vary between four and seven. One of the very few things thought to be fairly incontestable is the fact that the primary victim murdered by Jack the Ripper was Mary Ann Nichols, on Friday 31 August 1888.
One of the more intriguing facets to the case of Jack the Ripper is the sum of global newspaper reporting that his crimes engendered. Journalists congregated on the streets of the East End to describe the murders, and were often left aghast by the horrific living conditions that they witnessed. It is believed that the name ‘Jack the Ripper’ was, in fact, most likely coined by a journalist.
An unending stream of condemnation was inflicted on the authorities by the press, due to the incapacity of the police to find the killer and put him on trial. In addition to this, the establishment was vilified for permitting such atrocious social conditions to come into being in such close proximity to the City of London, the richest square mile on earth. The murders were certainly the hub of an immense criminal investigation that saw the Victorian police try their hardest against a single killer who was committing his crimes in one of London attractions' most unlawful and heavily populated districts.
This all occurred in an era before forensic science; even the technology for finger printing had not yet been developed. As such, the only method of proving someone’s guilt in a murder was either to get the suspect to admit their guilt, or to catch them in the act itself. The infamous Jack the Ripper’s White chapel murders are as contentious and indecipherable to many in the current era as they were in Victorian times. There is not just a great amount of confusion as to how the murders were carried out. There is also, of course, much disputation over who Jack the Ripper was in reality.
Although no-one was ever charged as ‘Jack the Ripper’, over the centuries there have been more than a hundred named suspects who could have been Jack the Ripper. Take a Jack the Ripper tour and attempt to fathom the mysteries surrounding this inscrutable killer for yourself.