During the late summer and fall of 1888, the serial killer, known as Jack the Ripper, terrorized London’s Whitechapel district.The name originated from a letter sent to the London Central News Agency written by someone claiming responsibility for the crimes.
All of the victims were prostitutes who had their throats slit. Some of the victims were mutilated and had their organs removed.No one ever captured or revealed the identity of Jack the Ripper and the legend has grown through the years with many people offering a hypothesis to whom really was the killer.
Below, are a few of the more intriguing suspects to the crime.
WARNING: Some of the material below is of a graphic nature.
Carl Ferdinand Feigenbaum: Feigenbaum was a sailor that was killed at Sing Sing prison in April, 1896. His name would probably go down as forgotten in history had it not been for his attorney claiming he believed that Feigenbaum was Jack the Ripper. This story made a minor sensation in turn of the century America, but then died until it resurfaced in the book, “Jack The Ripper: The 21st Century Investigation”, by Trevor Marriott. In the book, Marriott brings up the fact that Feigenbaum had lived in London during the times of the murders, left soon after to come to America, where he sliced the throat of a Mrs. Julianna Hoffman, the owner of a boarding house.
After his execution, Feigenbaum admitted to his attorney, William Lawton,“I have for years suffered from a singular disease, which induces an all absorbing passion. This passion manifests itself in a desire to kill and mutilate every woman who falls in my way. At such times I am unable to control myself.”
Further searching proved that Feigenbaum had been in Wisconsin during a group of killings of women there, and in Germany when other women had been killed. Lawton also asked him if he had been in London during the dates of the Ripper killings and he admitted to being there. He would not elaborate further on this. It remains a mystery to this day.
Robert D’Onston Stephenson: This person was a con artist who had ties to the occult and a particular interest in Ripper killings. Stephenson booked himself into the London Hospital with back pain in Whitechapel one week before the first Ripper slaying. He booked himself out of the same hospital the day after the last slaying. His condition allowed him to come and go from the hospital as he pleased.
During the times of the murders, Stephenson wrote to both the police and the newspapers of his thoughts on the Ripper case. According to him, the Ripper was killing in the form of a Satanic ritual. Due to his very graphic and descriptive writings, an amateur detective and newspaperman ended up going to Scotland Yard, asking them to question Stephenson. During the time, he was not considered a suspect, but came under fire after the fact.
Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence and Avondale: Prince Albert became a suspect of the Ripper killings in 1960, almost 70 years after his death. It was rumored that Prince Albert suffered from syphilis. The syphilis is what drove the prince to being murderous and violent. He blamed the prostitutes on his condition.
While this may or may not be true, it was also rumored that the prince had had a child out of wedlock with a commoner and that Queen Victoria and the Prince’s friends in the Freemasons disposed of anyone that was aware of the child.
While either speculation can be believed, the truth of the matter, Prince Albert wasn’t in London on several of the murder dates, giving him an alibi. It is probable that the Prince had nothing to do with it.
Jill the Ripper: The possibility that Jack the Ripper was actually a woman was originally proposed by Inspector Frederick Abberline while the killings were going on after a witness claimed to see the last victim, Mary Kelly, hours after her death. It was because of this, he felt that it was possible the murderer disguised herself in Kelly’s clothes.
If it was possible that the murderer was a woman, it was also believed that she could have been a midwife. A midwife would be able to walk around Whitechapel without fear and if she had blood on her, no one would question her. Midwives at the time were also responsible for doing illegal abortions and Mary Kelly was supposedly pregnant. At the time, there was a woman, Mary Pearcey, who was executed for killing two women in 1890. She had stabbed her lover’s wife and child to death, slit their throats and dumped them in London. It was widely believed that the Ripper killed his victims in one place and then dumped their bodies somewhere else.
This belief of a female murderer was also brought forth by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. However, Doyle felt that the murderer was a man who dressed as a woman to get close to his victims.
Who was Jack (or Jill) the Ripper? It will probably never be revealed. Too much time has passed and the evidence is cold. It is only left for us to speculate. Who do you think was the Ripper?
Lewis Carroll : The pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who wrote “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass”. While Carroll’s involvement wasn’t even questioned in 1888 while the Ripper murders were happening, he became a suspect in 1996, with the release of the book, “Jack the Ripper, Light-Hearted Friend”, by Richard Wallace. According to Wallace, Carroll and his friend, Thomas Bayne, were responsible for the Ripper slayings and that Carroll wrote about them in his books in the form of anagrams.
For example, here is an excerpt from Carroll’s “Nursery Alice”:
‘So she wondered away, through the wood, carrying the ugly little thing with her. And a great job it was to keep hold of it, it wriggled about so. But at last she found out that the proper way was to keep tight hold of itself foot and its right ear’.
Switching the letters around and you can decipher this as:
‘She wriggled about so! But at last Dodgson and Bayne found a way to keep hold of the fat little whore. I got a tight hold of her and slit her throat, left ear to right. It was tough, wet, disgusting, too. So weary of it, they threw up – jack the Ripper.’
While this may seem intriguing – and Carroll was in London at the time of the murders – it is highly unlikely that Lewis Carroll had anything more to do with the crimes than being alive during this time period.