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Detective Inspector Frederick Abberline - The Illustrated Police News, 1888!

The “Jack the Ripper” Suspects

those who have been suspected of the Whitechapel Murders

Is that Jack the Ripper?
Is that jack the Ripper?

The Whitechapel Murders were a spate of unsolved brutal attacks and increasingly gruesome murders of women that befell the London East End District of Whitechapel and its environs in 1888. These crimes would make the area world famous as the stalking ground of the mysterious, and as yet unidentified, killer now widely known as “Jack the Ripper”.
      The killer or killers responsible for these heinous crimes remained elusive throughout the resulting investigations - though many prospective suspects were looked into, both at the time and (probably many more) in the years since, the investigation officially ended in 1892 and remains unsolved.
      On this page we will be looking in detail at the more plausible suspects (and other suspicious individuals) who may have been responsible for (or involved in) one or more of the murders and related crimes. We'll also be looking at some of the more notable and (in)famous suspects that have been posited as candidates for the true identity of “Jack the Ripper” over the years - many of these are pretty unlikely though so will be given fairly short-shrift and, where possible, will be thoroughly debunked.

This page is under construction... and will be subject to regular updates as our investigation continues.

The so-called “High-Rip” Gangs

Street-gangs of Thugs, Robbers and Extortionists!

There are definite grounds for suspecting that the attacks on Emily Horsnell, Margaret Hayes and Emma Smith were the actions of a gang of (three or more) men, there's reasons to believe the attack on Martha Tabram involved two (or more) and the attacks on Elizabeth Stride and Rose Mylett may have involved two men - one of which perhaps acting only as a look-out. The use of a look-out or look-outs could explain how the killer, later known as Jack the Ripper, managed to evade being caught - or even being seen - in the act, and could then flee before witnesses or constables arrived at the scenes of crime.
      There were criminal street gangs - so-called “High-Rip” gangs - operating in the Whitechapel area (extorting, robbing and generally violently harassing the populace - especially prostitutes - at night) and there were numerous other street gangs operating in the surrounding environs. The murderous Liverpool 'High-Rip-Gang' were notorious in Victorian Britain and many East End gangs adopted the name in imitation... perhaps the most infamous of which was the 'Hoxton-High-Rips' (or Hoxton Mob). It is debatable whether the 'High-Rip-Gang' was ever a single entity, even in Liverpool, and was more a name that was adopted by many ad-hoc gangs hoping to capitalise on the notoriety.
      Known to operate in the Whitechapel area during 1888 was a gang calling itself the Monkey-Parade Gang (named in The Pall Mall Gazette, Saturday 13 October 1888) and there was also a gang apparently operating around Old Nichol Street, at the top of Brick Lane, close to where Smith and Tabram were murdered (later usually referred to as the Old Nichol Gang though this is probably not what they called themselves). There was also the White's-Row Gang of Bethnal Green, the Green Gate Gang (who operated on City Road) and then the immigrant gangs - the Bessarabians and the Odessians. By their very nature such gangs were very amorphous and of course clandestine so that naming them with confidence can be very problematic... let alone trying to identify individuals among their ranks - which would be next to impossible.
      Less than half an hour before the estimated time of Martha Tabrams murder in the morning Tuesday, 7 August 1888, John Reeves and his wife, while sleeping in their lodging in 37 George Yard Buildings, heard a disturbance and piercing screams - a crowd of "a few roughs" seemed to be moving in the direction of George Yard. However, the noise soon lessened in volume, and Mr. and Mrs. Reeves then retired for the night. Were the piercing screams those of Martha Tabram as she was accosted by a "few roughs"?
      On the day after Mary Ann Nichols' murder, and regarding that attack, The Evening Post (1 September, 1888) stated: “Detective-Inspector Abberline, of Scotland-yard, ... says the police have no theory with respect to the matter, except that a sort of ‘High Rip’ gang infests the neighbourhood, and blackmails woman [sic] frequenting the streets, taking vengeance on those who do not give them money. They [the police] base that surmise on the fact that within 12 months two other women have been murdered in the district by almost similar means – one as recently as August 6 last – and left in the gutter of the street in the early hours of the morning.” The two previous murders referred to here are clearly Emma Smith and Martha Tabram.
      On the 3rd of September the Evening Post then reported: “After much cogitation upon the matter, the police have discarded the idea of a ‘high rip’ gang being responsible for this and the previous murders of a similar character, and have returned to the first idea, that they are the work of one man.” That was certainly the case for the murder of Nichols, and possibly Tabram... but that of Smith? These two reports were typical of those given by other news-papers regarding the subject of High Rip gangs at the time and this clearly shows that the police pursued the theory seriously, especially during the early Whitechapel Murders, but it was the murder of Mary Ann Nichols particularly that persuaded them that some lone killer was at work.
      Interestingly, one of the many letters received by Central Press (and others) purporting to be from the Whitechapel Murderer was signed by a George of the High Rip Gang, it was dated 2 October, postmarked E.C. (London Eastern Central) and was one of the earliest imitations of the much more famous "Dear Boss" Letter - other than its unique signatory though there is, on the face of it, little else of interest in its red ink (with a drop of the real stuff) ramblings. But could it be a rebuff to the name “Jack the Ripper” from the killer himself?

A Lone Killer?

There's a killer on the road - His mind is squirming like a toad!

As early as 10 August, 1888, it seems that some Scotland Yard Detectives (despite not being officially involved in the Whitechapel Murder investigations yet) were linking the murders of Emma Smith and Martha Tabram as the work of one killer. The Echo newspaper of the 10th reports, “For ferocity, the two cases are somewhat analogous, and some of the Scotland-yard experts in tracing criminals and fathoming crime incline to the opinion that one man is responsible for the two crimes”. Did Scotland Yard have reason to doubt Emma Smith's own account of her attack? Or, did they have reason to believe that one of her three reported attackers was branching out on his own? Perhaps his particularly vicious treatment of Smith was beyond the pale even for common street thugs and he was drummed out of the gang?
      Two earlier attacks in 1888, that on Annie Millwood and that on Ada Wilson, both bare (perhaps formative) hallmarks that could suggest a link with the later Whitechapel Murders, and both could be seen as the early attacks of a lone serial killer in the making. The attacker of Annie Millwood stabbed her numerous times in the legs and lower part of the body, not unlike the attack on Tabram. The attacker of Ada Wilson cut her throat, not unlike the attacks on the Canonical Five.

The Stabbing Stranger: is our nickname for the unidentified man who attacked Annie Millwood in the afternoon of Saturday, 25 February 1888. She was stabbed numerous times in the legs and lower part of the body with a clasp-knife. Annie offered no description of her attacker other than to say she did not know him - he was a stranger to her.

Mac the Knife: is our nickname for the unidentified man who attacked Ada Wilson at about 12.30am on Wednesday, 28 March 1888. She was stabbed twice in the neck with a clasp-knife. Ada described her assailant as aged about 30, height 5ft 6in, sunburnt face, with fair moustache; dressed in a dark coat, with light trousers and a wide-awake hat (a hat made of soft felt with a low crown and wide brim). The witness Rose Bierman also believed the attacker to be a young fair man, but with a light coat on.

The Stick Man: is our nickname for the unidentified man who attacked (with two or three others) Emma Smith at about 1.30am on Tuesday, 3 April 1888. She was punched, kicked, raped then viciously sexually assaulted (by The Stick Man) with a long blunt instrument - possibly a walking stick. Emma described all her attackers as young men with one of them (presumably the youngest) looking as young as 19 years old - perhaps suggesting the others looked to be in their twenties, certainly no older than 30?

A Soldier or a Sailor?

The Military angle, a Merchant Seaman or a Ship's Cook?

The murder of Martha Tabram early in the morning of Tuesday, 7 August 1888, seemed to draw investigators away from the idea a gang was involved, though at this point it still wasn't ruled out. Focus shifted to a military angle, initially due to the possible use of a dagger or bayonet in the murder and to the testimony of certain witnesses, and then the possibility of a merchant seaman was raised.

Corporal john: Earlier that evening, witness Mary Ann ‘Pearly Poll’ Connelly had been drinking with Tabram in various pubs on Whitechapel High Street when they were approached by two soldiers, a Corporal and a Private (Grenadiers or Coldstream Guardsmen). The foursome drank together for a while and then they paired up to conclude their business for the evening. At 11.45pm, the Corporal accompanied Pearly Poll up Angel Alley, while Tabram and the Private go up George Yard, a nearby alley that also runs north from the High Street to Wentworth Road. After conducting their business, the Corporal and Pearly Poll wait at the north end of George Yard for the Private and Tabram, though neither of them show up. At around 12:25am Pearly Poll and the Corporal parted amicably despite a quarrel over money in which he hit her with a stick, she went towards Whitechapel, the Corporal apparently went west toward Aldgate. The Corporal was never identified.

Private john: Pearly Poll's was the last known sighting of Tabram while still alive, Tabram was in the company of a Private (a Grenadier or Coldstream Guardsman) at 11.45pm, going north up George Yard, presumably to conduct the business of the night. The Private was never identified.

The Waiting Soldier: PC Thomas Barrett, at about 2.00am, was in the neighbourhood of George Yard when he noticed a soldier loitering at the corner of Wentworth Street and George Yard. PC Barrett remarked to the Private that it was quite time he was in barracks. The soldier replied that he was waiting for a mate who had gone away with a woman to one of the buildings close at hand. The soldier, a Grenadier Guardsman, was 22 to 26 years old, stood 5'-9 or 10" tall, had fair complexion, dark hair, and a small dark-brown moustache turned up at the ends. PC Barrett was confident he could identify the Private again, but the Waiting Soldier remained unidentified. Could he have been the Private that Pearly Poll had last seen with Martha Tabram? Was the soldier waiting for the Corporal who had earlier been with Pearly Poll?

Private John Leary: PC Barrett identified a Private John Leary in a subsequent identity parade but the private denied he was there and was able to provide the police with a satisfactory account of his movements on that night. It would seem John Leary was not the Waiting Soldier.

Richard (Dick) Austin (or Austen): on October 5th 1888, the authorities in Rotherham contacted Scotland Yard to report that a discharged soldier named James Oliver had named one Dick Austin (who had served with him in R Troop the Fifth Lancers) as the Ripper. Austin had allegedly threatened to kill every whore and rip her insides out and had a hatred of women. Oliver was interviewed on or about the 19th October and then again on or about the 24th October, and copies of the Dear Boss letter and Saucy Jack postcard were shown to Oliver and he asserted that the former much resembled Austin's handwriting. Dick Austin was never traced, despite Abberline's best efforts.
      Oliver described Austin as about 40 years old, 5ft 8" tall, with light hair, a very long fair moustache and long tapering hands. He described his face as fresh, hard and healthy looking, with a small piece missing from the end of his nose, where it had been bitten off. He said Austin was a very powerful man, though not heavy or stout, and although not mad, was not right in his mind. Before joining the army he had been a sailor and though always respectably dressed, still had the appearance of a sailor more than a soldier.

The Sailor: Two of the canonical victims were said to have been in the company of men resembling a sailor before they were murdered. Witness William Marshall, about an hour before the murder of Elizabeth Stride on the 30th of September 1888, saw the following man with the victim near the crime scene. A rather stout middle-aged man, 5ft 6ins, wearing a round cap with a small peak, "like what a sailor would wear," dressed like a clerk, and speaking like an educated man. About two hours later, minutes before Catherine Eddowes was murdered that same night, witnesses Joseph Lawende, Joseph Hyam Levy and Harry Harris saw the following individual talking with Eddowes at the corner of Duke Street and Church Passage - close to the Eddowes murder site. Victim was standing facing the man with her hand on his chest, but not (according to the witnesses) in a manner to suggest that she is resisting him. The man was about 30 years old, of medium build, about 5ft 7ins, wearing a dark pepper-and-salt coloured jacket, a grey cloth peaked cap, a reddish handkerchief knotted around his neck and with a fair complexion and moustache, he had the appearance of being a sailor - they said.

The Seaman: The idea that the Whitechapel Murderer was a merchant seaman able to depart London, and thus avoid the manhunt for him shortly after committing each murder, was considered at the time and remains a plausible proposition to this day. On the 6th of September, a few days after the Mary Ann Nichols murder, it was reported by the Manchester Guardian (UK) that the police's "attention was directed to two individuals, one a notorious character known as Leather Apron (see below) ... and the other a seafaring man". Amatuer investigator Edward Knight Larkins, a Custom House official, became interested in the Whitechapel murders as they happened and was of the opnion that the Ripper could have been a seaman (he was also a proponent of the medical man theory). In November of 1888, he started compiling copies of Custom House and Home Office documents, particularly relating to ship movements, in an effort to try and pin down what ships were docked in London and when. Although the endeavour presumably proved fruitless.

Alaska (the Malay Cook): On the 5th of October, 1888, the New York Tribune (USA) reported that an English seaman named George M. Dodge claimed that, as quartermaster on the English steamship Glenorley, he "arrived at London on Aug 13. Dodge went to the Queen's music hall High St. Poplar, with the ship's mate, and there met a Malay cook called Alaska. The Malay said that he had been paid a few days before two years' wages, amounting to more than $500. He had purchased clothing and fine gold watch. Going to the Whitechapel district, Alaska said, he had been robbed by a woman with whom he had consorted, of all he had. Dodge says that in his presence that Malay cook threatened that, unless he found the woman that robbed him and recovered his property from her, he would murder and mutilate every Whitechapel woman he met. As an earnest of his boast he showed a knife, the blade of which was fully fifteen inches long and sharpened on both edges. The Malay is described as five feet seven inches high; weight 130 pounds; has straight, black hair, black eyes, black mustache, fine features and is about thirty-five years old."
      The story was quickly reported in numerous news-papers on both sides of the Atlantic in the following days. Various papers and the police in the UK tried to asertain the facts of this story, but no record or recollection of an English seaman named Dodge or a Malay seaman named Alaska could be found - except for one unnamed seaman who claimed that Alaska was now aboard a ship in the North Sea. It was ascertained that the steamship Glenorley docked in London on the 14th of August so, despite the discrepancy of one day, at least that part of Dodge's story is close to true.
      Interestingly, the day before this story broke, the Times printed a letter proporting to be from a seaman calling himself "Nemo", dated October 2, that theorised the Whitechapel Murderer could be "a Malay, or other low class Asiatic coming under the general term of Lascar, of whom, I believe, there are large numbers in that part of London". He goes on to say "The mutilations, cutting off the nose and ears, ripping up the body, and cutting out certain organs - the heart, etc. - are all peculiarly Eastern methods, and universally recognised and intended by the criminal classes to express insult, hatred, and contempt". This Nemo also suggests a motive; "that some man of this class has been hocussed and then robbed of his savings (often large), or, as he considers, been in some way greatly injured by a prostitute". Coincidence? I think not. Notice the similar sounding names "Laskar" (an eastern term for a sailor or militiaman) and "Alaska".

James Sadler: A 53-year-old merchant seaman and fireman on the S.S. Fez, who was the initial suspect in the murder of Frances Coles which took place on Friday, 13 February 1891, in a short passage between Chamber Street and Royal Mint Street, Whitechapel. Despite these initial suspicions, largely fueled by various accounts of Sadler's violent and drunken brawling night ashore that included an argument with Coles after spending the previous day with her, and him selling a knife some hours after the murder. It was soon proved that he could not have commited the slaying of Coles. The identity of the actual murderer remained unknown, though it is unlikely to have been the same individual responsible for those earlier killings most often attributed to Jack the Ripper.

Carl Ferdinand Feigenbaum (AKA Anton (or Carl or Karl) Zahn (or Zahm)): Murderer Carl Feigenbaum was executed by electric chair in Sing Sing Penitentiary on Monday the 27th of April 1896, for the murder of Juliana Hoffman at 542 East Sixth Street, New York, USA a short time after midnight, on Saturday 1st September 1894. He had worked as a sailor and, as his lawyer William Sanford Lawton stated “had been working for many years as fireman on the Atlantic liners, sometimes on the Bremen, sometimes on the White Star, and at others on the French and Inman lines.” Feigenbaum, a German who used many aliases, was believed to have arrived and settled (probably ilegally) in the USA sometime in 1891. Juliana Hoffman, who rented a room to her attacker, had been stabbed in the neck and had her throat cut, severing her jugular vein, before Hoffman's son came upon them and Feigenbaum fled.
      Feigenbaum's 1894 admission form to Sing Sing Prison describes him as 54 years of age, 5 feet 4 inches in height, 126 pounds in weight with a medium complexion, dark brown hair (thin on top), small grey deep set eyes, a high and heavily arched forehead and a large red nose with pimples. Some sketches taken during his trial depicted him sporting a mustache and the Chicago Daily Tribune described him as “a little, wrinkled old fellow, shabbily dressed”. Lawton claimed that Feigenbaum told him “I have for years suffered from a singular disease, which induces an all absorbing passion. This passion manifests itself in a desire to kill and mutilate every woman who falls in my way. At such times I am unable to control myself”. Lawton apparently came to suspect that the killer was Jack the Ripper, when asked directly if he was responsible for the Whitechapel Murders, Feigenbaum’s reply, according to the lawyer, was that “the Lord was responsible for his acts and that to Him only could he confess”. Considering most accounts claim the German spoke little English, these supposed exclamations seem unlikely. Or did Lawton converse with the murderer in German?
      Lawton's theory linking Feigenbaum not only to the murder of Carrie Brown in a room at the East River Hotel, Manhattan, New York, in 1891, but to the Whitechapel Murders in London in 1888, got little traction beyond a few news-papers in the USA. Apparently, though, Assistant District Attorney Vernon M. Davis, who had prosecuted Feigenbaum, stated “If it were proved that Feigenbaum was ‘Jack the Ripper’ it would not greatly surprise me”. Trevor Marriott resurrected the case for the German seaman being the Ripper in his 2005 book Jack the Ripper: The 21st Century Investigation, and tried to tie this suspect to countless other Ripper-like cases in Europe and the Americas in the late 1880s and early 1890s. The fact remains, however, that there are no records detailing Feigenbaum's whereabouts during this time with any certainty, and there are certainly no indications that he was in London during the Autumn of Terror.

John Anderson (or Sanderson): Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper published an account by ship's cook James Everard Brame in October 1896 that implicated a then deceased shipmate called John Anderson, an Able Seaman who had apparently confessed to being Jack the Ripper on his deathbed in a hospital in Iquique, Chile. The account, or variations of it, appeared in numerous other publications sudsequently. Brame and Anderson had been shipmates on the Liverpool barque Annie Speer during a voyage from Shields in England to Chile, under a Captain called Curruthers, around October 1894. Anderson had fallen ill while aboard and was admitted to hospital on arrival to Chile. The Able Seaman had been suffering bouts of mania for most of the voyage, often becomming wild and uncontrolable, to the point a guard was placed beside his bunk and the Captain had to resort to giving him an opiate to keep him manageble. When ashore, Brame became ill himself, and was also admitted to hospital, being placed in the bed next to Anderson.
      The two got to know each other quite well and, according to Brame, it was then that Anderson made his confession. Apparently, before the murders, Anderson had worked the weekly boats running between Rotterdam and London, but left these once he determined to revenge himself against the type of low class woman who had robbed and almost ruined him in London. He took lodgings in a quiet farm-like house near Bromley, where he passed as a ship's watchman engaged at night work in the docks. He would leave his lodgings in the evening, and make his way to the Whitechapel District, where he committed the murders as he found the opportunity. The knife he used was similar to that used by a slaughterman. Anderson also claimed that he recruited a co-conspirator in his endeavor that would act as lookout and provide a butcher's smock to cover his bloodied clothing once the crime was commited, and thus, they would make an easy, and "clean", getaway.
      According to Brame, Anderson had served in the United States Navy and had obtained a knowledge of surgery while acting as a hospital assistant. After the crimes in Whitechapel, Anderson went into the country and worked on a farm before signing with the Annie Speer. Brame claimed that he originally had a written confession by Anderson, but it was lost in a shipwreck during his voyage home from Chile. Brame described Anderson as about 38 years old, with fair complexion, red hair, mustache, a slight beard, and a face pitted with smallpox scars. Anderson died in hospital and was aledgedly burried in the cemetry at Iquique. It seems that Scotland Yard attached little importance to Brame's story, though they believed the ship's cook told it in good faith, they thought his shipmate was more likely than not the victim of a delusion.
      Little can be verified about Brame's probably tall tail, but the Annie Speer did sail from Sunderland on Sept 1, 1894 and arrived in Antofagasta, Chile on Dec 10. The ship was indeed captained by a Captain George G. Curruthers. Not exactly as Brame relayed it, but close. Whether there was a John Anderson aboard, though, is entirely debatable.

Emil Totterman (AKA Carl Nielsen): On the 22nd of December 1903 Emil Totterman, a Finnish sailor, was arrested at the Sailors Union boarding house at 37 South Street, New York, and charged with the murder of Sarah Martin at Kelly's Hotel in Walker Street some time early in the morning of Sunday, 20 December. Martin's body had been mutilated; there were two deep wounds in her throat, apparently made by a straight bladed knife. Across her breast, extending from armpit to armpit, was a gash three inches deep. In her abdomen was a large vertical wound. Minor mutilations were targeted at her genitalia. Thirteen years earlier, Carrie Brown had been murdered in a similar fashion at the East River Hotel, on the southeast corner of Catherine Slip and Water Streets, a stones throw from the site of Martin's murder.
      This led to the inevitable speculation that Totterman was also the killer of Carrie Brown, and indeed that he might be Jack the Ripper. The headline of the New York Times proclaimed, "Police Say They Have Ripper Murderer". Totterman left a trail of clues and a slew of witnesses, however, and the case against him was air-tight... not exactly the work of a Jack the Ripper. The Finnish sailor apparently claimed to be 41 years of age at the time of his arrest, though most news-papers reported his age as 35, so the possiblity that he may have committed the Carrie Brown murder 12 and a half years earlier, or even the Whitechapel Murders 15 years earlier, may not be entirely unfeasible, just unlikely. It should be noted, though, that in all of his official court and prison documents, his age is given as 29 in 1904... and this would surely rule him out entirely?

Fogelma: On 23 October 1923, Empire News (UK) published an article that claimed "Every head of police knows that Jack the Ripper died in Morris Plains Lunatic Asylum in 1902". A bold claim, to say the least. The article goes on to name the suspect as Fogelma, a Norwegian sailor originally from Arendal who was apparently committed to the asylum in New Jersey in 1899. He suffered from fits of insanity and, it is alledged, "muttered of scenes and incidents that connected him clearly with the atrocious crimes of 1888". The unnamed source for this story appears to have been someone working at the asylum, they claimed that the patient was visited by two people during his stay, an old sweetheart named Olga Storsjan and a sister who gave her name as Helen Fogelma.
      The sister, when questioned by our source about the suspect's proclomations had said "he had done some terrible things in London", he had kept cuttings from the Press of New York and from the London papers. These she had found in the trunk of her brother, who after he landed in New York lived with her at 324, East 39th-street. "Many of the passages were underscored, and marginal notes, in sarcastic vein, gave an insight into the working of the madman's brain". It is further claimed that "Before he died this man sent for the Rev. J. Miosen, the pastor of a Nestorien church in New York. To him the dying man told enough to connect him with the crimes committed in London".
      Morris Plains Lunatic Asylum is now called Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital. There is no record of any patient by the name of Fogelma. According to the New-York Historical Society, 324 East 39th Street was owned by "Geo Jardine et al.", and possibly housed an organ manufactory. No trace of the Reverend J. Miosen could be found, and searches for Helen Fogelma and Olga Storsjan come up just as empty. It seems this is just another case of an individual seeking attention by manufacturing a story for a news-paper. It is possible that the name Fogelma could be a curruption, miss-spelling or anglicised version of another name like Fogelman or Voegelman (or one of many similar variations)... but who knows... and that doesn't explain the lack of records for the other names mentioned.

The “Leather Apron” Scare

Will the real “Leather Apron” please stand up!

In the days following the murder of Mary Ann Nichols, the Whitechapel Murders investigation shifted quite firmly from the notion of "High Rip" gangs to the idea that a lone maniac was responsible and, in particular, that a mysterious and very threatening individual known as “Leather Apron” (AKA: the “Mad Snob”) may in fact be the killer... perhaps with the aid of his even more mysterious associate - 'Mickeldy' Joe.
      Reports concerning these two mysterious characters appeared in various news-papers on the 5th of September, five days after the murder of Nichols. One, from The Star (UK), claimed " About 50 of the unfortunates in the Whitechapel district gave a description of "Leather Apron" to a Star reporter between midnight and three o'clock this morning. The descriptions all agreed, and most of them added to it a personal experience with the man during the last two years in which they were more or less injured. From all accounts he is five feet four or five inches in height and wears a dark, close-fitting cap. He is thickset, and has an unusually thick neck. His hair is black, and closely clipped, his age being about 38 or 40. He has a small, black moustache. The distinguishing feature of his costume is a leather apron, which he always wears, and from which HE GETS HIS NICKNAME. His expression is sinister, and seems to be full of terror for the women who describe it. His eyes are small and glittering. His lips are usually parted in a grin which is not only not reassuring, but excessively repellant. He is a slipper maker by trade, but does not work. His business is blackmailing women late at night. A number of men in Whitechapel follow this interesting profession. He has never cut anybody so far as known, but always carries a leather knife, presumably as sharp as leather knives are wont to be. This knife a number of the women have seen. His name nobody knows, but all are united in the belief that he is a Jew or of Jewish parentage, his face being of a marked Hebrew type. But the most singular characteristic of the man, and one which tends to identify him closely with last Friday night's work, is the universal statement that in moving about HE NEVER MAKES ANY NOISE."
      It goes on to say, "'Leather-Apron' never by any chance attacks a man. He runs away on the slightest appearance of rescue. One woman whom he assailed some time ago boldly prosecuted him for it, and he was sent up for seven days. He has no settled place of residence, but has slept oftenest in a fourpenny lodging-house of the lowest kind in a disreputable lane leading from Brick-lane. The people at this lodging-house denied that he had been there, and appeared disposed to shield him. 'LEATHER-APRON'S' PAL, 'MICKELDY JOE', was in the house at the time, and his presence doubtless had something to do with the unwillingness to give information. 'Leather-Apron' was last at this house some weeks ago, though this account may be untrue. He ranges all over London, and rarely assails the same woman twice. He has lately been seen in Leather-lane, which is in the Holborn district. There is no question, considering his general character and the certainty that the murders were done by some unsettled character of this kind but that he should be taken into custody and investigated."

John Pizer

William Henry Piggott?
Jacob Isenschmid
Julius Lipman
Charles Cross (AKA Charles Allen Lechmere)
The Shabby-Genteel Deer Stalker
The Hawk Eyed Shabby-Genteel
The Lodger
Nikaner Benelius

Anatomical Knowledge?

A mad Doctor or Surgeon... or perhaps a Slaughterman?

Dr. Lyttleton Stewart Forbes Winslow
John Davidson
Frederick Richard Chapman
Oswald Puckeridge
Dr. Morgan Davis (or Davies)
Dr. John William Sanders
Robert Mann (mortuary attendant)
Dr. John Williams

The “Jack the Ripper” Scare

The Leather Apron is eclipsed by a Ripper... called Jack?

A letter claiming to be from the killer was sent to the Central News Agency on the 25th of September 1888. This "Dear Boss" letter was received on the 27th and - probably written by a journalist - was undoubtedly a hoax... but it did provide another name for the public and press to fixate on... "Jack the Ripper"!
The American (?)
Michael Kidney
The Respectable Deer Stalker
The Anti-Semite
The Pipe Man
Joseph Barnett
Joe Fleming
Blotchy Face
The Astrakhan Gent
The Black Bag Man
The Man in Plaid
Francis Tumblety (AKA J.H. Blackburn, Frank Townsend, The American?)
Robert D’Onston Stephenson
James Kelly
The Torso Killer(s)
John Arnold (AKA John Cleary)
The Commissionaire
William Henry Bury
Arbie La Bruckman
Frank Castellano
Thomas Haynes Cutbush
Timothy Donovan

Jill the Ripper?

Was the Ripper a woman - maybe a Midwife or an Abortionist?

Detective-Inspector Abberline himself considered, all-be-it briefly, the possibility of a Jill the Ripper when confronted with Caroline Maxwell's testimony that she (apparently) saw Mary Jane Kelly alive and well hours after she was supposedly killed... did the killer steal Kelly's clothes to make good her escape?
The Midwife/Abortionist
The Slaughterwoman
Mary Ann Connelly (?) - Was Pearly Poll the killer? Was she an accomplice? Or did she know the killer?
Mary Jane Kelly (?) - Was she really the last Canonical Victim? - Was Mary Jane Kelly really Jill the Ripper and she faked her own Ripper murder to escape detection? - Or, did she just discover a Ripper murder in her own room and take advantage of the situation to change her name (again), leave behind her not-inconsiderable debt and start anew?
Mary Pearcey

Memoirs, Memoranda & Marginalia

Including Anderson's Memoirs, Macnaughten's Memoranda & Swanson's Marginalia

The already wound down police investigation into the Whitechapel Murders officially ended in 1892, but that didn't stop various law enforcement officials from voicing their opinion regarding the identity of the one that got away.
Montague John Druitt
Michael Ostrog
Aaron Kosminski
Isaac Kosminski
Nathan Kaminsky
Aaron Davis Cohen (AKA David Cohen)
Jacob Levy
Hyam Hyams
... or another "low-class Jew" (Polish or otherwise)... and were any of them Leather Apron?

The Unusual Suspects

The eternal Mystery & the birth of speculative Ripperology

The Known Killer - Frederick Bailey Deeming, Dr Thomas Neil Cream, H. H. Holmes, Severin Klosowski (AKA George Chapman), William Seaman.
The Enterprising Journalist - Thomas J. Bulling, Charles Moore, George Sims, Harry Dam, Frederick Best, Francis Craig (Mary Jane Kelly's vengeful Ex?).
The Merchant (and Murder Victim?) - James Maybrick.
The Song Writer - Michael Maybrick (AKA Stephen Adams), brother of James Maybrick.
The Cat's Meat Man - James Hardiman.
The Tortured Poet - Francis Thompson.
The Tortured Writer - Lewis Carroll.
The Tortured Artist - Walter Sickert, Vincent Van Gogh.
The Philanthropist - Dr. Thomas Barnardo.
The Religious Radical - Rev Samuel A. Barnett.
The Private Detective - Le Grand (AKA Christian Briscony/Neilson, Nelson, Grand, Charles Grant, “French Colonel” and Captain Anderson).
The Milkman - William Benjamin Belcher (AKA William Williams).
The Wigmaker - Willy Clarkson
The Disgraced Policeman - Bowden Endacott

A Conspiracy of Agent Provocateurs?

Spies, Anarchists, Radicals, Vigilantes

The Russian Anarchists or Spys - Dr. Alexander Pedachenko (AKA Vassily Konovalov, Count Andrey Luiskovo) with Levitski and a Miss Winberg,
The Finians - William O’Brien, William Magrath(?)
Vigilantes and Vigilance Committees - The Mile End (Whitechapel) Vigilance Committee (George Lusk, Albert Bachert) - East London Trade and Labourers' Society's Vigilance Committee (John Chandler) - The St Jude’s District Committee (AKA The Toynbee Hall Patrol); Rev Samuel A. Barnett
Anarchist Artists Les XX - William Magrath, Walter Sickert, Vincent Van Gogh
Other Anarchists and Radicals at the International Working Men's (Educational) Club - William West (club secretary and printer - "witness" in the Elizabeth Stride Murder), Louis Diemschutz (steward - witness in the Elizabeth Stride Murder) - Israel Schwartz (patron - witness in the Elizabeth Stride Murder) - Benjamin Feigenbaum (A Jewish Russian anarchist, radical and writer operating out of the Berner Street club - after a strict religious upbringing as a chassidic Jew he decided to propagate socialism through anti-religious satire - went to New York in 1891).
“Rogue” Special Branch Officers/Informers - Was Mary Jane Kelly a Special Branch Finian agent/informer? - Did she (and Special Branch?) use the situation to fake her death, switch her identity and start anew?
“Rogue” Police Officers/Informers - Detective Inspector Abberline (???) - He knew police procedure and its limitations - He knew the streets of Whitechapel - He knew its underworld - Did he have a network of snitches and informers? - Was he Jack the Ripper? Extremely unlikely ... but, it'd make a good story.
“Rogue” Military Intelligence Agents/Informers - Colonel Claude Reignier Conder (?)

Other Grand Conspiracies

Royalty, the Masonic connection and other Occult Nonsense!

The Royal Conspiracy - Prince Albert Victor (AKA Prince Eddy), Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, Sir Charles Warren, Sir James Anderson, Sir William Withey Gull, Lord Randolph Churchill and the Freemasons
The Freemasons - Prince Albert Victor (AKA Prince Eddy), Lord Randolph Churchill(?), Sir Charles Warren, Dr. William Wynn Westcott, Samuel Liddel Mathers (AKA Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers), George Lusk, James and Michael Maybrick (?)
The Black Magicians - the “English Luciferians” - Dr. William Wynn Westcott(?), Robert D’Onston Stephenson(?)
The Esoterics - The Order of the Golden Dawn - Dr. William Wynn Westcott, Samuel Liddel Mathers (AKA Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers), Dr William Robert Woodman
A Supernatural Entity - a demon, a vampire, Spring-Healed Jack?

Detective Inspector Frederick Abberline - The Illustrated Police News, 1888!

The Ripperologist

The Ripperologist: purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Ripperology - investigating and exploring the mystery of the 1888 Whitechapel murders and the origins and legacy of Jack the Ripper - the archetypal serial killer!

Stay up-to-date by following The Ripperologist on Twitter @Ripperology101!

Other great resources for the study of Ripperology can be found in our list of Ripperology websites HERE and our list of Jack The Ripper documentaries HERE.

Buy the Latest Books about the Whitechapel Murders and Jack the Ripper from Amazon.co.uk or from Amazon.com.


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Ripperology 101:

investigating the Whitechapel Murders and Jack the Ripper
The Victims:

those who fell victim to the Whitechapel Murderer/s
The Witnesses:

those who witnessed key aspects of the Whitechapel Murders
The Investigators:

those who investigated the Whitechapel Murders
The Places:

the scenes of crime and related places of interest
The Clues & M.O.:

weapons used, trophies taken and the Modus Operandi
The Ephemora:

the letters, documents and other records
The Links:

websites concerning Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel Murders
The Documentaries:

factual films & TV-shows investigating the Whitechapel Murders
The Movies:

fictional films & TV-shows inspired by the crimes of Jack the Ripper
The Fiction:

fictional accounts of the crimes of Jack the Ripper
The Reference Books:

factual accounts and reference works regarding the crimes
A Time-line:

a basic time-line of the crimes and related events
The ABYSS eBook:

A Chronicle of the Whitechapel Murders & the Origins of Jack the Ripper (soon)

eBooks to Buy:
from the 451 ePublishing Haus

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