Jack the Ripper has long been regarded as the first known British serial killer; however, to this day, we still don’t know his identity. In spite of the long list of suspects, the Ripper ultimately got away with his crimes, and we’re left wondering why this is. From Jack the Ripper and the police to the Ripper’s careful methods, there were many aspects that contributed to the limited knowledge about the Ripper.
Detailed below are the key reasons why Jack the Ripper got away with his heinous crimes. Read on to discover more about Britain’s most mysterious serial killer.
First things first, it needs to be understood just how seedy East London was in 1888. London as a whole was a prosperous city; however, the conditions of East London were dire. Poverty was rife, and the streets were full of prostitutes, homeless people, and drunkards. As a result, murders were common in this region, as were brutal fights between aggressive and intoxicated men.
On top of this, racism was a real problem in the area, due to the number of immigrants that relocated to London in search of a better life. This racial hatred led to an unfortunate setting in which violence was horrendous.
Ultimately, the high level of crime in the area meant that the Jack the Ripper police investigation was a low priority. Since he predominantly targeted sex workers, the victims weren’t considered important members of society. Consequently, amid all the other crimes in the area, the police didn’t deem these cases worthy of pursuing.
Today, the FBI will occasionally profile murderers into one of two categories – organised killers or disorganised killers. Jack the Ripper was an organised killer, as demonstrated by the lack of clues that he left behind. It was apparent that the Ripper knew the area well, and he very cleverly chose victims who had very few personal connections. Therefore, upon their disappearance, no one would recognise that they were missing for a significant amount of time.
As previously mentioned, the police methods to catch Jack the Ripper were by no means impressive. So, how did the police try to catch Jack the Ripper? Well, they didn’t try all that hard. In fact, one officer is believed to have rubbed out some writing on a wall that could well have been left by the Ripper. Therefore, the Jack the Ripper police methods actually consisted of officers destroying evidence.
Not only this but some of the Jack the Ripper police files were built from nothing but racism, particularly antisemitism. There were rumours circulating in which it was believed that the Ripper had to be Jewish; however, this was built off nothing except antisemitism. Despite this, the Jack the Ripper police records show that the authorities actually went looking for Jews, as well as “lunatics” and any “obvious” perpetrators. In 1888, we didn’t have the same understanding of serial killers that we have today, and the Jack the Ripper police report shows that no one really knew what they were looking for.
The Jack the Ripper letters to police and newspapers were a hindrance to the investigation, as we can infer that many of them were nothing but a hoax. Hundreds of letters were received by the police and newspapers alike of people claiming to be the Ripper. The Jack the Ripper killings were a scandal, meaning that so many individuals were keen to immerse themselves in the theatrics of such. Despite this, these letters wasted a lot of police time and ultimately threw the authorities off track.
Perhaps the most substantial difference between police investigations in 1888 and 2022 is the amount of technology that gets used. Today, there is CCTV on every corner, biometrics are incredibly sophisticated, and handwriting analysis is very accurate. In 1888, CCTV was non-existent, biometrics consisted of only ink and the naked eye, and handwriting analysis was a case of someone comparing two letters to one another. The absence of CCTV also meant that identifying the Ripper’s appearance was reliant on eyewitness reports, which weren’t particularly reliable, especially in the dark alleys of East London. Many eyewitness reports contradicted one another, meaning an accurate suspect drawing could not be formed, and the police had almost nothing to work from.
If one thing is certain, it’s that technology has come on leaps and bounds since the time in which the Ripper was lurking about.
If you were around in 1888, do you think Jack the Ripper would have gotten away with it? Why not find out by booking into one of our tours? You’ll follow in the footsteps of the notorious killer, discovering his every move, and piecing his identity together. Unmask Jack the Ripper with us today.