Spotlight On: Jack the Ripper Suspects

DATED: 08.11.16

With no killer ever caught, will we ever know how the story of the Whitechapel murders ended? Some believe that we may one day solve this century old mystery, while others think that the real killers identity will remain a secret for all time.

As it stands, the identity of the gruesome and heartless killer still remains a question on many people’s lips. How did the Jack the Ripper suspects evade capture for so long?

Maybe speculate that the Ripper was a professional with medical experience which explains the precision of his work and the lack of physical evidence. Others believe that it was simply the Victorian Police not knowing what they were doing in the first place.

Whatever the reasons were, there were some efforts made in trying to capture the serial killer and a number of suspects were identified by the police in this infamous case. In addition, the media had their own theories as to who the killer was and many historians since have also pointed the finger, leaving us with almost 100 suspects in total… but no definitive answer!

We’re going to focus on the primary suspects, as named by the 19th-century police on the case, in an attempt to shed some light on this macabre tale.

The Jack the Ripper Suspects: Named and Shamed

Montague John Druitt

Because the Ripper’s methods of disfigurement were so precise and accurate, he was widely believed to have had medical knowledge and training.

Druitt became the primary suspect in the Whitechapel murders, largely due to the fact that he was a doctor with the necessary skills to mutilate the victims in the manner of the Ripper. Other rumours circulating at the time led to many fingers pointing towards him. However, soon after the last murder, when Druitt’s body was found floating in River Thames,  he became the prime suspect.

Michael Ostrog

Ostrog was a Russian con-man and had been known to commit petty crimes to survive. There may or may not have been truth to the rumours that he had once been a surgeon, but it was enough for him to be named as a suspect in the case.

Despite this, there was never any other records that showed him to be more than a petty criminal.

Seweryn Klosowski

Klosowski had arrived in London in the year 1887, just a few months prior to the first murder that was believed to have been committed by the Ripper.

He was a barber by trade and the Whitechapel murders certainly proved that whoever Jack the Ripper was, he was very handy with his knives. He was eventually hanged in 1903 – not because he was proved guilty of these murders but because he poisoned three of his wives.

Aaron Kosminski

Kosminski was believed to have been mentally unbalanced and was admitted into a Lunatic Asylum in 1891, just a few years after the Ripper killings. He, too, was a hairdresser and very much present in Whitechapel at the time of the gruesome murders.

He was the number one Jack the Ripper suspect at that time despite the very little evidence was there to accuse him. His identity was kept hidden for a long time during the investigation.

Dr Neill Cream

This suspect was by far one of the most believable, as he was hanged in 1892 for killing four prostitutes, much like the victims that died at the hands of Jack the Ripper. As a trained doctor, he also had the skills required to carry out the murders as per the Ripper’s modus operandi.

The final nail in the coffin for the case against Dr Cream was the fact that right before his execution, he whispered, “I am Jack.”

However, despite the similarities, it is thought that he wasn’t the Ripper as he wasn’t present in Whitechapel for all of the murders.

While these were certainly the prime suspects in the Jack the Ripper case at the time, as mentioned previously there have seen been many, many, more added to this list.

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The Jack the Ripper Casebook