On 24th March 1919, a Polish man named Aaron Kosminski died in Leavesden Asylum, where he had been a resident for over 25 years. Today, on the 100th anniversary of his death, can we confidently say that Kosminski was the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper, or is he still just one of many Ripper suspects?
Aaron Kosminski was a Polish-born Jew and today is widely regarded as one of the most prominent suspects in the Jack the Ripper case. He migrated to England in 1881 with his family and began living in Whitechapel which, at the time, was a very impoverished and difficult area to stay in.
Kosminski strived to become a barber and make a life for himself and whilst he did achieve his desired profession, something happened along the way. In 1885, he was described as suffering from a range of mental health problems, ranging from schizophrenic paranoia through to hallucinations. This was three years before the Whitechapel Murders began.
Aaron Kosminski was seen as a potential Jack the Ripper suspect for two major reasons. The first was an eye-witness testimony given at one of the Ripper crime scenes where a bystander said that they had seen him in the area. Whilst the testimony wasn’t conclusive, this put Kosminski on the police force’s radar and so they investigated him further.
Upon learning more about him, the police discovered that his mental instability was profound and deep, which further supported their suspicions. Most notably, some of Kosminski’s close associates suggested that he had violent or homicidal tendencies and a hatred of women, two factors that matched the police’s profile of the Ripper.
Furthermore, during the period of the Whitechapel Murders, Kosminski was living and working in the area, making it easy for him to be considered for the case. However, there was little evidence beyond the potential eye-witness testimony and after questioning, he was released by the police. Eventually, his mental instability became too much, and his family admitted him to an insane asylum. He moved asylums after three years and eventually died at Leavesden Asylum.
Much of the evidence that implicates Kosminski is interview-based, making it incredibly inconclusive and impossible to confidently say whether he was truly the Ripper.
Over the years, countless authors, investigators and Ripperologists have looked into the Jack the Ripper case. This has led to a range of different Ripper suspects being mentioned, each with their own supporting evidence.
On our Jack the Ripper tour, we explore each of these suspects whilst walking around the very places where the murders happened. Utilising our exclusive Ripper-Vision, we display the original police photographs from the era, along with anecdotes and stories delivered by our expert guides.