Jack the Ripper is a man with no confirmed identity yet he has become a symbol of Victorian London’s dark side and an institution in his own right. Associated with countless conspiracy theories and assumed to be the inspiration for a number of urban legends, the notorious Whitechapel butcher is a terrifying character that has haunted generations and imaginations for over a century. Other than a handful of tentative links and suppositions Jack the Ripper is still a mystery to us and each new discovery or clue leads to more unanswered questions. However, there are five Ripper-related details that have been confirmed over the years thanks to the painstaking original investigation and the work of those who have revisited the case since. Below are the only things we can say about Jack the Ripper with any certainty:
Jack the Ripper only targeted prostitutes
One of the few constants of the Jack the Ripper case was the fact that all five of his confirmed victims were prostitutes. Whitechapel (the location of the murders) was not the best of areas at the time and prostitution was common. Whilst it is clear he preyed on prostitutes, why he did is a matter of speculation.
All of Jack the Ripper’s victims were brutally mutilated
As is evidenced by the coroner’s reports, case files and photographs of the Ripper case, each of the victims suffered brutal mutilations pre and post-mortem. The precision and extent of the injuries have led many to believe Jack the Ripper was a surgeon. The victims’ bodies were cut methodically before organs were removed.
Originally the Jack the Ripper case was known by another name
The spate of murders occurring in 19th century Whitechapel were referred to as the Whitechapel Murders. Although some cases had similarities, nothing conclusively linked them until a London newspaper received a letter signed Jack the Ripper. The letter detailed some of the murders and its author explained he was the one who had committed them. The discovery of this link and the unearthing of a name sent the public and the press into frenzy and the Jack the Ripper phenomenon was born.
Only five murders were ever attributed to Jack the Ripper for sure
Whilst Jack the Ripper is a name synonymous with horror and the infamous Whitechapel murders only five victims were actually attributed to him. The other Whitechapel murders were thought to be committed by copy cats and other individuals, not necessarily as part of a pattern. The canonical five confirmed Jack the Ripper victims were Katherine Eddowes, Elizabeth Stride, Mary Ann Nicholls, Annie Chapman and Mary Jane Kelly.
Stride and Eddowes were the only Ripper victims killed as part of a double homicide event
Each of the Ripper victims was killed individually, on different dates, at different places and at different times; the only pattern being the brutality and methodical nature of their murderer. The only exception was the double murder of Stride and Eddowes who were killed on the same night within a few hours of each other, they were even killed in close proximity to one another.
Of all the evidence collected and theorising done with regards to the Jack the Ripper murders these five statements are the only ones that can be made without dispute. So how can such a high profile case and its notorious sole culprit – searched for by all of Victorian London – be shrouded in so much mystery, even today? These are the kinds of questions asked and answered by Jack the Ripper experts and enthusiasts on London’s Jack the Ripper tour. So if your curiosity has been peaked and you want to know more, be sure to explore Whitechapel as you uncover more of the man, the monster and the mystery.