Was David Cohen Jack the Ripper?

DATED: 21.02.14

There are many suspects in the gruesome file of serial killer Jack the Ripper, most of which fit the bill quite nicely. However, due to the fact that this notorious figure was never identified our imaginations on who could really be the culprit are left to wonder and speculate. The result? Too many suspects to whittle down to just one. However, in this article we will be looking into the background of one of the most popular Jack the Ripper suspects.

David Cohen

According to the casebook, David Cohen was born in 1865 and died at a young age supposedly from ‘exhaustion of mania’ at the Conley Hatch asylum. It is thought that his occupation was that of a tailor and he was described to have brown hair and eyes with an unshaven beard.

The Story

His Jack the Ripper story begins during a cold December where he was found rambling on the streets speaking nothing but a little Yiddish. On finding the supposedly confused man, the police decided to take him to Leman station. Since he proved to be taciturn, it was then decided that he was unable to take proper care of himself and that he must be taken to the Parish warehouse.

When finalising their decision, Cohen turned violent and as a result was restrained to prevent injury to him and the officers. Later on that day he was registered as ‘David Cohen’ at the infirmary since he provided no details regarding neither his name nor his address. At this time, ‘David Cohen’ was allegedly used as a ‘John Doe’ for those of Jewish heritage with no known identity.

During his time at the infirmary, Cohen was prone to violent tendencies that led to his later transferral to Conley Hatch under restraint. His stay at the asylum proved to be a tiring one as he was under constant observation. He was said to be prone to indistinct rambling, spat out his food when being force-fed and in the end had to be confined to a ‘strong dress’ so that he did not tear off his own clothes. It is thought that if Cohen had been around today, he would have been diagnosed as a ‘paranoid schizophrenic’.

During October 1889, Cohen was restricted to his bed and a after a few days passed away.

The Kaminsky Theory

Before the time of David Cohen’s imprisonment in the asylum, the police were searching for a character known as Nathan Kaminsky, a Jewish man they believed to be a Jack the Ripper suspect following eye-witness testimonies. Kaminsky was said to have a ‘great hatred of women’ along with ‘homicidal tendencies’ making him a suitable candidate for the Jack the Ripper murders.

However, Martin Fido, an expert in the Jack the Ripper case, stands by his claim of David Cohen and Kaminsky being the same person. His theory suggests that due to the language barriers evident at this time and the fact that Cohen refused to provide his real name, David Cohen is nothing more than pseudonym given by the infirmary.

Whether or not this is true still remains a mystery; however, Cohen’s behaviour in the infirmary suggests a raving suspect for Jack the Ripper.

If you’d like to know more about Jack the Ripper and his fiendish ways, why not consider booking yourself on one of our fantastic Jack the Ripper walks to gain the full 1888 experience?


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The Jack the Ripper Casebook