Who Hides Under the Pseudonym Jack the Ripper

During the months of August through November in 1888, the residents of the Whitechapel district in London’s East End lived with hearts filled to the brim with terror. A serial killer, fearfully dubbed as Jack the Ripper, was haunting the night. His victims: prostitutes; his method: gutting; his motive: unknown, as he was never caught. Though the Victorian era police of Scotland Yard – and many conspirators of the present day – had many suspects in mind, no one knows for certain who lived and murdered behind this vicious pseudonym.

It was the 1880s and Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew, emigrated from Poland to London. He worked as a hairdresser in Whitechapel. 1891, and Kosminski began his hop from asylum to asylum, where he suffered from hallucinations, schizophrenia, and a deep-set paranoia until he died in 1919. Given Kosminski’s state of mental unrest and his convenient placement during the time of the murders, Scotland Yard latched onto him as a possible suspect. The murders were brutal and grizzly, and the crime scene lacked any sense of empathy.

Michael Ostrog: a Russian born conman and thief. He used aliases left and right, lying about his identity and his past. As a young adult, he was arrested for petty theft. Ostrog was introduced as a suspect a year after the “canonical five” were killed.

On December 31, 1888, a body was found floating in the River Thames. The man, who had been held down by the rocks in his pockets for days, was Montague Druitt. He grew up happy, with a scholarship to the University of Oxford, six siblings, a penchant for sports, and an elegant, widespread manor.

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Less happily, his family had a history of chronic depression, and his mother was hospitalized due to the illness. Druitt’s death, which is widely believed to be a suicide, took place around the time the murders ended, and Scotland Yard lapped this fact up as evidence that Druitt could have been the killer.

The entire suspect pool regarding the Jack the Ripper murders is almost all speculation. Ripper, along with being brutal and unforgiving, was methodical, and took measured steps to separate his victim from a crowd and maintain his ghostly air. Adding on the fact that he was never caught, it is and has been absolutely impossible to piece together any facts, because there was no one convicted and no one alive who could confirm them.

Kosminski, in a report, was not given a first name and was described loosely as a Polish Jew in an insane asylum – this gives incredibly little to work with. How many Polish Jews lived in London? How many of them were institutionalized? And though Kosminski is not exactly a common name and could very well be a helping factor in locating the Kosminski in question, the reliability of this identification is little to none. A Jewish man who was called in to testify against Kosminski refused to do so – it is against Jewish halacha to testify against a fellow Jew.

Ostrog may have been a thief, and he may have been comfortable using aliases – such as Jack the Ripper – but his thievery saved him from being a credible suspect. A researcher would later find records that confirm Ostrog was actually in prison in France at the time of the Ripper murders, rendering his involvement entirely impossible.

Druitt’s suspicion provides only a little reprieve from all of the uncertainty. It is speculated that Ripper drowned in a river – just like Druitt. It is also speculated that Ripper was the son of a surgeon – just like Druitt. This evidence and more points in Druitt’s direction, but researchers and conspirators alike rave that all of this evidence is purely circumstantial.

The suspect list is rife with uncertainty, and, unfortunately, so is the list of victims. The most widely accepted theory is that of the “Canonical Five,” as they are the most closely related in both physical placement of the crime scenes and the method of murder. However, some claim that only three of the five are valid; some claim that a series of later murders should be counted as well.

The “Canonical Five” include Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly, and all have one overarching linking factor: they were all prostitutes. Prostitution made them easy targets, as it was not uncommon for them to steal away into the night with anonymous men; this time, they stole away with their murderer.

But these women not only had prostitution in common. Additionally, each – with the exception of one – had troubles with men as well as drinking problems.

Mary Ann Nichols, nicknamed “Polly”, was a married woman of about forty-four with five children and a streak of leaving her husband – she had done so about five or six times. Annie Chapman was forty-seven at the time of her death, and two years prior her ex-husband died of cirrhosis of the liver. Elizabeth Stride’s husband died four years prior to her death at age forty-five, and the relationship she had with the man she lived with afterwards was described as rocky. Catherine Eddowes, forty-six, was never married, but had multiple children with the same man – and it was reported that, before they split, she tried to run away.

These factors – the prostitution, the man troubles, and the drinking – may have been what made them fit the profile. Serial killers find prostitutes to be easy targets, as they are generally family-less and no one cares if they go missing, and even if the killer actively participates in activities with the prostitutes, they still believe that the women are near to the scum of the earth. Maybe Jack the Ripper thought he was cleaning up the streets. The women having troubles with men may also make them seem “unworthy” in the killer’s eyes. A lot of male killers are egocentric (which could make them sexist) – maybe Jack the Ripper felt that these women failed in what he might have thought was their role to serve men. Therefore, he might have felt obligated to get rid of them. Lastly, the drinking – drinking is considered a sin in many religions, as it is the opposite of abstaining from worldly pleasures. Jack the Ripper was very likely a religious man – as were most people. Perhaps he felt as if it was his duty to rid the rid the world of their sinful presence – for both their drinking AND their prostitution.

There was, however, one anomalous victim that didn’t fit in with Jack the Ripper’s pattern, and her name was Mary Jane Kelly. She was a good two decades younger than her fellow victims, she was never married and had never been romantically involved with a man, and was known to be careful with her drink. She was also Jack the Ripper’s last victim. Maybe, if he wasn’t locked up like Aaron Kosminski or Michael Ostrog, Kelly’s differing characteristics were the reason why Jack the Ripper stopped his murders. He broke his pattern, and maybe he spiraled; maybe he committed suicide – like Montague Druitt did.

Jack the Ripper was never caught, so no one will ever know why he chose his victims. Everything on that front is speculation. But the way he killed is concrete, and though he left no evidence behind, his method of killing tells a story that is easier to make sense of.

One piece of the puzzle is that Jack the Ripper’s attacks all took place within one mile of each other, which allocates that his fishing pool was small and controlled. It also confirms that he was really good at killing – to keep doing so in such a small range without getting caught must have taken a lot of caution and skill.

A second piece is the way in which Jack the Ripper murdered his victims. It was brutal because he literally gutted his victims; it was unusual because of its brutality; and yet it was methodical and planned. This gives way to the fact that the killer had a substantial amount of knowledge about human anatomy. This knowledge may not have made the murders quick and painless, but it certainly made them effective.

But not only did Jack the Ripper murder his victims, he also taunted the Scotland Yard with

letters afterwards – and even sent half of a victim’s kidney. Though the letters’ authenticity is debated, the possibility that they could be genuine further fuels the idea that Jack the Ripper was incredibly egotistical and very, very apathetic about what he was doing. He bragged about his ability to stump the Scotland Yard and evade their capture, described the way in which he murdered, and even went so far as to joke about wanting to write in a victim’s blood but it having had become too gooey.

Jack the Ripper’s entire case was built upon speculation by a police department in a time when forensics wasn’t nearly as developed as it was now, and he murdered when women were much less valued and accounted for. He may have been cunning and methodical, and utterly merciless, but had he committed his crimes in the 21st century rather than the 19th, there is no doubt within my mind that we would have a man with his mutton-chops and menacing top hat sitting behind bars.

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Who Hides Under the Pseudonym Jack the Ripper. (2022, Apr 14). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/who-hides-under-the-pseudonym-jack-the-ripper/

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