We all know that Jack the Ripper was never caught, and with no concrete evidence emerging from police investigations at the time, it wasn’t hard to see why the police struggled to name one primary suspect. But that doesn’t mean to say that the real killer was not within reach during the winter of 1888 – especially when you consider the letters that were sent to the police.
There were hundreds of letters sent to the police throughout their investigations of the Jack the Ripper killings. Many of these were written off as hoaxes, but the media’s mention of their existence added to the terror felt on the streets of London that year.
That being said, however, there was a handful of letters that many experts believe to have been legitimate. Had a suspect ever been arrested and charged with the murder of the Jack the Ripper victims, these letters would have been used as evidence against the killer, and could easily be seen as the confessions of a serial killer.
The definition of a confession is a statement that admits guilt of a crime. While not formally declared to the police by a known individual, the letters most widely believed to have been penned by Jack the Ripper himself – ‘Dear Boss’, ‘Saucy Jacky’ and ‘From Hell’ – are certainly descriptive enough to have been considered the admission of premeditated murder, mutilation and even cannibalism.
These horrific acts are abhorrent today, but back in the 19th century – where public hangings and death penalties were ten to the dozen – even crimes such as these were considered to be of the very worst nature.
Dear Boss – the first letter that is believed to have been from Jack the Ripper intimated that the killer was enjoying his work and intended to strike again, and would clip the ears of his next victim. It was signed Jack the Ripper.
When found, the next victim had her ears cut just as the letter stated. It is this fact that made Police sit up and pay attention to the Dear Boss letter.
Saucy Jacky – The second letter made reference to the double event – now known as the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, and was delivered a mere few hours after the killings took place.
From Hell – The third letter accompanied half a human kidney, along with a message stating that the other half had been fried and eaten, and ended with a taunting “Catch me if you can”.
As the killer was never caught and brought to justice, is it difficult to speculate as to whether or not these letters were legitimate confessions, exaggerations to goad the police and rile the media, or whether they were even real.
Scrutinise the evidence for yourself on our Jack the Ripper tour. Places are limited, and fill up quickly, so be sure to book your tickets now to avoid disappointment.