From Whitechapel to the Big Apple. Maybe not the most obvious change of scenery, but quite possibly the perfect escape route for a serial killer on the run from detectives and the Metropolitan police force in Victorian England.
Yes, you heard us right – a new theory has recently come to light which investigates whether Jack the Ripper headed off to New York after his murder spree in London. Now, while this may seem like another wild and poorly thought-out Ripper theory, there is actually some potential behind the concept.
Almost three years after Mary Kelly, the woman believed by many to be the Ripper’s last victim, was found dead, a chain of intriguing events began to take place over in New York. Although Jack was never caught, a great number of suspects were identified, interrogated, and in some cases, imprisoned. Once the murders stopped, police and public alike thought the killer had finally been caught or must have eventually met his demise in some other way.
However, what if Jack was never caught, wasn’t killed and didn’t take his own life? What if he boarded a ship and made his way across the Atlantic to New York instead?
On 24 April 1891, a woman named Carrie Brown was found strangled and mutilated on the streets of New York. In a scene chillingly similar to those found in Whitechapel three years earlier, her death seemed to be the catalyst for an increasingly worrying killing spree. Three more murders occurred in the subsequent eleven days.
Thomas Byrnes, the Chief Inspector of New York City at the time, had previously boasted about his ability to catch Jack the Ripper had he shown up in his city many times before. It was perhaps this cockiness that prompted the mysterious killer to send a letter to Byrnes, taunting him with a bloody body part taken from one of the victims.
Again, this drew major comparisons to the infamous ‘From Hell’ letter received by George Lusk back in London. The presence of the letter was officially denied, but newspapers and police sources in the city swore the rumour was truthful.
As quickly as the murders began, they stopped just as fast. Nothing more was heard from the killer for two years, until a newspaper received another letter from Jack in 1893, talking about Carrie Brown’s murder. A policeman from Scotland Yard inspected the letter, finding that the handwriting matched that of the ‘From Hell’ letter.
Of course, this could just have been the work of a dedicated copycat killer, or indeed just pure coincidence. However, as the finer details of Jack the Ripper are still shrouded in mystery even today, it is possible that the Ripper could have indeed found his way to New York.
Do you want to learn more about Jack and discover some of the other theories surrounding the case? Book yourself onto one of our Jack the Ripper walks today!