The Jack The Ripper murders in London’s East End (also known as the Whitechapel Murders) have been an enigma since as far back as the Victorian ages.
The mysteries surrounding the identity of the infamous London serial murderer have become as complex as the murders themselves, and the London police, as well as people from all over the world, are still speculating on Jack The Ripper’s true identity.
It is believed that “Whitechapel Jack” was behind the murders of Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly; however, some believe that Jack The Ripper could have been responsible for up to eleven separate murders in London between 1888 and 1891.
After interviewing over 2,000 people, investigating 300, and detaining 80 others, the London police were still dumbfounded as to the real identity/identities behind all these atrocious murders. During the course of their investigations, however, police narrowed down the suspects to several men (though none were formally charged).
Here are five of the most likely suspects behind London’s Jack The Ripper murders, as well as the facts against them:
If you are interested to hear more about the Jack the Ripper suspects you should check out our daily Free Jack the Ripper Tour.
Although there may not be any concrete, scientific evidence against him, the fact that the Jack The Ripper murders in London’s East End ended after Druitt’s suicide convinced one London detective (Melville Lesie Macnaghten) that Druitt was in fact Jack The Ripper himself.
Montague John Druitt was an Oxford-educated man from a “fairly” good family, although some believed that he was “sexually insane.” He was born in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, and during his lifetime he once worked as an assistant schoolmaster in Blackheath, London.
Many experts believe Druitt was behind the murders as they are convinced that Jack The Ripper was a Whitechapel local (Druitt resided a few miles away from Whitechapel on the other side of the Thames), and he was also seen in the Whitechapel area around the time of the Jack The Ripper murders as well.
On November 9, 1888 (seven weeks after the murder of Mary Jane Kelly, which is believed to be Jack The Ripper’s final murder) Druitt’s body was found floating in the Thames. Investigators believed that the cause of death was a suicide, and that he had been at the bottom of the river for at least several weeks…around the time of Mary Jane Kelly’s murder.
Another likely suspect behind London’s Jack The Ripper murders was the 54-year-old German merchant sailor Carl Feigenbaum.
Feigenbaum was known to be a psychopath who confessed to mutilating women, and even his own lawyer believed that his client was Jack The Ripper as well!
Feigenbaum went by many aliases during his lifetime, and was known to be working as a merchant on ships that had been docked near Whitechapel. Records prove that Feigenbaum was working in Whitechapel on every single date of the five Jack The Ripper murders in London’s East End, and he and his co-workers were often seen at the nearby brothels as well.
After Feigenbaum emigrated to America sometime around 1890, he was convicted of murdering a woman by the name of Julianna Hoffman, and was sent to the electric chair for the crime. Experts also stated that there were “striking similarities” between London’s Jack The Ripper murders and the slaying of Hoffman.
Several highly-esteemed police officers believed that the polish barber Aaron Kosminski was behind the Jack The Ripper murders in London, and the fact that his mitochondrial DNA was found on Catherine Eddowes shawl certainly doesn’t help his case.
Kosminski was born sometime between 1864 and 1865 in Russia, and had settled in London in the early 1880s. Kosminski was Jewish, and was living and working as a hairdresser in Whitechapel during the time of the Jack The Ripper murders.
He apparently had a very strong hatred of women, had “homicidal tendencies,” and was even sent to an asylum in 1889; (where he died shortly after).
Police documents from the time of the Jack The Ripper murders revealed that officials suspected a man by the name of “Kosminski,” although Aaron Kosminski wasn’t pinpointed as the suspect until many years later.
In recent years, many Ripperologists have started believing that Mary Jane Kelly’s husband (Francis Spurzheim Craig) was behind all the Jack The Ripper killings in London.
Craig was working as a reporter at the time of the murders, and was even covering the police courts and inquests on the Whitechapel murders, as well as other crimes in London’s East End.
Craig was born in 1837, was the son of a “well-known Victorian social reformer,” and some people suggested that Craig was suffering from a mental illness; (or more specifically, schizo-typal personality disorder).
He lived in Whitechapel on Mile End Road, which is just seven minutes away from the first Jack The Ripper murder scene, and in 1884 he married Elizabeth Weston Davies, who is believed to have been a prostitute who went by the name of Mary Jane Kelly (Jack The Ripper’s final victim).
Theories suggest that once Craig discovered his wife was working as a prostitute, she went into hiding in the East End under her pseudonym. Craig started plotting her murder, but disguised his involvement by killing other prostitutes in the area beforehand.
In the book Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper – Case Closed, author Patricia Cornwell pinpointed artist Walter Richard Sickert as the real Jack The Ripper, and even claimed to have found DNA evidence which linked Sickert to at least one of Jack The Ripper’s letters. But even before her book, Sickert was believed to have been behind the Whitechapel murders since as far back as the 1970s.
Sickert was born in Munich in 1860, and emigrated with his family to London in 1869. Sickert was known for painting prostitutes, and some believe that he used to insert clues and symbols about the Jack The Ripper murders into his artwork. Some experts suggest that the clues are so similar to the actual crime scenes, that only the “true murderer” could have painted them.
It is also believed that Sickert was impotent after having several surgeries on his penis. Experts have always suggested that Jack The Ripper may have had some kind of impotence problem, which is why he targeted prostitutes so violently. (Many serial killers throughout history have been proven to be impotent or suffer from sexual problems, as the act of killing “becomes their only means of sexual fulfillment.”)
Cornwell also found mitochondrial DNA on several of Jack The Rippers’ letters, which were a match to several letters written by Sickert. but it still wasn’t enough to convince experts that Sickert was behind London’s Jack The Ripper murders. Unfortunately Sickert passed away in 1942, and took his many secrets to his grave.
To hear more about the different suspects and the different theories you can go on our daily Free Jack the Ripper Tour starting from Tower Hill Station or any of our other London Tours that might interest you.