There are many Jack the Ripper suspects – some are plausible, while others are much less likely to have been the mystery killer. One such suspect that you may not know much about is a man named Michael Ostrog.
But could Ostrog have been Jack the Ripper? We’ve compiled the evidence to help you discover more about this man and make your own mind up as to his guilt – or innocence.
Much of Michael Ostrog’s life is wreathed in shadow; clearly, this was a man who liked to keep his secrets close to his chest.
Ostrog was born in Russia in approximately 1833, yet we know little of his life until he arrived in the UK in 1863. By this point, it seems as though Michael Ostrog had already committed to a life of scams, robbery, and petty theft.
In 1863, he was arrested and jailed for 10 months for trying to rob the University of Oxford. At the time, he was also using the alias of ‘Max Grief’, a trend that would continue later on in his life.
Over the next 25 or so years of his life, Michael Ostrog spent his time in and out of various prisons up and down the country. His crimes ranged in severity from fraud to robbery, contempt, and even attempted murder (he resisted arrest and tried to fire a gun at police officers in Burton-upon-Trent in 1873) yet in March 1888, he was released from prison in the UK for the final time.
In September 1888, Ostrog committed another robbery in Paris and was imprisoned, before finally returning to the UK in 1891. He was then detained in an asylum for apparently not being of sound mind. Over the next few years, Michael Ostrog was periodically in and out of prisons, the asylum, and the country. The exact details still remain unclear, and much of his later life is muddy.
However, we do know that all the information about Michael Ostrog disappears from 1904 onwards. No more arrests, recorded crimes, press reports, or sightings. Did he meet an untimely end, or did he simply disappear underground to live out the remaining years of his life? The likelihood is that we will never know.
Michael Ostrog was not considered to be a Jack the Ripper suspect until his name was mentioned alongside several other notable Ripper suspects in a memorandum in 1894. Sir Melville Macnaghten was the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London between 1903 and 1913, yet he also played a role in the Whitechapel Murders case. In this memorandum, he proposed Michael Ostrog as one of the most likely Jack the Ripper suspects (in his opinion) alongside Montague John Druitt and Aaron Kosminski.
However, despite Macnaghten’s belief in his guilt, it was never actually proven that Michael Ostrog committed any murders. Thefts, robberies, scams, and fraud – yes, but murders? The evidence remains inconclusive.
Additionally, a contemporary investigation found that Michael Ostrog was actually in prison in France in 1888, at the time when the Ripper murders took place. Unless Ostrog could move very quickly or had a secret identical twin, then this evidence pretty conclusively rules out his involvement in the murders of the Canonical Five Jack the Ripper victims.
While most sources consider Michael Ostrog to be one of the least likely Jack the Ripper suspects, the fact remains that we just don’t know the Ripper’s identity for certain. While it may not be likely, there is a possibility that Michael Ostrog could have been Jack the Ripper – after all, so many years after the murders took place, will we ever be able to pinpoint the murderer’s true identity once and for all?
Join us on our exciting Jack the Ripper walk as you explore the streets of Whitechapel, following in the footsteps of the Ripper and his unfortunate victims. Our expert Ripperologists will give you all the information you need to know about the primary Jack the Ripper suspects, allowing you to make up your mind for yourself.
Do you think Michael Ostrog was Jack the Ripper? Book your place on one of our tours to find out!