Copy Cat Criminal

DATED: 21.03.16

The Jack the Ripper crimes were as prolific and infamous as they come. As one of the biggest unsolved serial killer crimes in history, it’s no wonder there are numerous theories and ideas thrown around with such gusto. With the Metropolitan Police, FBI, private investigators, amateur sleuths, Ripperologists, authors and even obsessed ‘fans’ of the macabre 19th-century killings, coming up stumped when it comes to narrowing down a suspect.

Of course, with so much time passed between then and now (128 years this autumn, to be precise), narrowing it down to just one conclusive suspect may never happen. In fact, there are already a number of experts on the subject speculating that there never was just one killer; instead, they are claiming that there were a series of copycat murders following the first victims.

The Facts

The five Jack the Ripper victims that were attributed to the most mysterious serial killer in history are known as the Canonical Five: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly.

There were a number of other deaths in and around Whitechapel at that time that has, at some point, been linked to Jack the Ripper. However, experts claim that these deaths are more likely to be unrelated to the Ripper case.

A Number of Killers

Several police officers at the time, including Thomas Arnold, held the belief that the Jack the Ripper victims were not all linked and were the work of a number of killers, or, at least, a copycat. This is a theory that historian Dr Andrew Cook believes to this day.

According to the historian, the first three of the Canonical Five were most likely to have been killed by the same person, but after the media’s intervention and the introduction of the letters in the public realm, the M.O for the killings changed significantly. There was every possibility that this, in itself, inspired a copycat killer. Dr Cook proclaims that the media forged the letters, in a bid to boost sales.

Why Do We Get Copycat Killings?

The term ‘copycat killing’ first originated with the Jack the Ripper case, and is the name given to a criminal act based on a previous crime reported in the media. Spates of copycat killings tend to occur after sensationalist media coverage catches the eye of those who already have an inclination towards criminal activity.

The psychology behind the notion is that the copycat killer is looking for an elevated sense of notoriety, like the original murderer.

For example, Derek Brown, who had already been imprisoned on rape charges, boasted of wanting to add the title ‘serial killer’ to his resume. He then went on to stalk and murder two victims in the East End of London; both vulnerable and one a sex worker, much like Jack the Ripper. While he was caught, he has never shown any remorse.

If the notion of there being not just one perpetrator responsible for the deaths of the Jack the Ripper victims, is one that has piqued your interest, then book your place on our tour to get yourself reacquainted with the victims, the suspects and the story in general.


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Tour Duration

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The Jack the Ripper Casebook