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Was Jack the Ripper a Manipulative Man and a Psychopath?
I am a student detective of the Jack-the-Ripper murders. I have read all of the more scholarly books and formed my own conclusions and opinions about this infamous killer. One, I believe he was manipulative. Psychopaths are manipulative by nature and I am convinced that Jack was a psychopath. Naturally, I am not the only "detective" with this opinion. Let's look at background information on the most infamous London murderer of all times.
As Richard Jones said, "The Jack the Ripper murders occurred in the East End of London in 1888 and, although the Whitechapel Murderer was only a threat to a very small section of the community in a relatively small part of London, the murders had a huge impact on society as a whole."
"To police the labyrinth of dark alleys, passageways, backyards, courts and closes in the square mile where the murders would take place would have required a force far in excess of the number of officers the Met and City Police could have assembled. Besides, prostitution was not illegal in England at that time. Although self-styled "purity groups" were actively campaigning to drive the sex trade off the streets. they had succeeded in shaming Parliament into raising the age of consent from 13 to 16, and in the summer of 1887 Sir Charles Warren had been pressured into ordering th3 closure of 200 brothels in the East End (of London) to appease the reformers who considered them a stain on the conscience of a Christian nation" (the Crimes of Jack the Ripper, 2006).
Many, if not all, of the murder victims were prostitutes at a time when very few work options were available to women. It has been said that all of the victims were a little too fond of alcohol, which had ended some marriages. They were also mothers, wives, daughters and sisters--families grieved for their loss. Neighbors were shocked and saddened by the sheer audacity and cruelty of the crimes. Women feared leaving their homes, though the "unfortunates (prostitutes)" continued to ply their trade to earn money for food, drink and a "doss house" bed for the night.
How Many Murders?
The experts don't agree on the number of murders that can be attributed to Jack. Some say as few as three murders and others say as many as nine. According to custom, it appears the number may be five. These five were, Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride,Catherine Eddowes and his most horribly mutilated victim--Mary Kelly.I wonder if Elizabeth Stride may have been murdered by an estranged lover. There is some evidence that suggests her murder was different from the rest, though this may have been due to an interruption by workmen passing through during the murder.Unfortunately, the workmen found the body, but the killer got away unobserved. His luck was the luck of the devil according to many
Londoners at the time.
What Did He Look Like?
Based on historic witness accounts, modern investigators at Scotland Yard compiled a physical description of the killer in 2006. He was a man between 25 and 35 years of age, of medium height and stocky build. Investigators also concluded that Jack was a resident of Whitechapel and, more chillingly, that he was "frighteningly normal," as opposed to the raving, drooling fiend it may be more comforting to imagine [source: BBC].
Not Scary Enough?
This is a composite drawing (2006) using the various witnesses' descriptions.
Jack the Ripper was never caught and punished for his crimes. Though, ranking retired police officials often intimated that they knew who Jack's real identity. Regrettably, the "real" Jacks varied from official to official.
Learn more about psychopaths and other disagreeables in the Manipulative Man
Casebook Jack the Ripper
(Let me warn you about a few things before you start reading and take everything for the gospel. There are many Ripper experts and none of them agree on the number of victims (three to nine), the suspects (there are many), even the officers working the case gave differing accounts about the murder and their favorite suspect. We are not even sure if the Ripper letters were indeed written by the Ripper. There is much to learn then you can decide for yourself. I will tell you who I think did it, no, wait that is another book. Talk later...Dr. McCoy)
Significance and Importance
Jack the Ripper has remained popular for a lot of reasons. He was not the first serial killer, but he was probably the first to appear in a large metropolis at a time when the general populace had become literate and the press was a force for social change. The Ripper also appeared when there were tremendous political turmoil and both the liberals and social reformers, as well as the Irish Home rule partisans tried to use the crimes for their own ends. Every day the activities of the Ripper were chronicled in the newspapers as were the results of the inquiries and the actions taken by the police. Even the feelings of the people living in the East End, and the editorials that attacked the various establishments of Society appeared each day for both the people of London and the whole world to read. It was the press coverage that made this series of murders a "new thing", something that the world had never known before. The press was also partly responsible for creating many myths surrounding the Ripper and ended up turning a sad killer of women into a "bogey man", who has now become one of the most romantic figures in history. The rest of the responsibility lies with the Ripper. He may have been a sexual serial killer of a type all too common in the 1990s, but he was also bent on terrifying a city and making the whole world take notice of him by leaving his horribly mutilated victims in plain sight. Lastly, the Ripper was never caught and it is the mysteries surrounding this killer that both add to the romance of the story and creating an intellectual puzzle that people still want to solve.
It is unclear just how many women the Ripper killed. It is generally accepted that he killed five, though some have written that he murdered only four while others say seven or more. The public, press, and even many junior police officers believed that the Ripper was responsible for nine slayings. The five that are generally accepted as the work of the Ripper are:
- Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols, murdered Friday, August 31, 1888.
- Annie Chapman, murdered Saturday, September 8, 1888.
- Elizabeth Stride, murdered Sunday, September 30, 1888.
- Catharine Eddowes, also murdered that same date.
- Mary Jane (Marie Jeanette) Kelly, murdered Friday, November 9, 1888.
Besides these five there are good reasons to believe that the first victim was really Martha Tabram who was murdered Tuesday, August 7, 1888, and there are important considerations for questioning whether Stride was a Ripper victim. As to the actual number of women that the Ripper killed, Philip Sugden wrote in his excellent book, The Complete History of Jack the Ripper, "There is no simple answer. In a sentence: at least four, probably six, just possibly eight."
All five of these listed plus Tabram were prostitutes and were killed between early August and early November 1888. All but Tabram and Kelly were killed outdoors and there is no evidence to suggest that any of them knew each other. They varied in both age and appearance. Most were drunk or thought to be drunk at the time they were killed.
Method of Operation
Surprisingly, a full understanding of the Ripper's modus operandi was not established until several years ago. The Whitechapel murderer and his victim stood facing each other. When she lifted her skirts, the victim's hands were occupied and was then defenseless. The Ripper seized the women by their throats and strangled them until they were unconscious if not dead. The autopsies constantly revealed clear indications that the victims had been strangled. In the past some writers believed that the Ripper struck from behind when the victims were bent forward, their skirts hiked up their backsides while waiting to engage in anal sex. This is a very awkward arrangement and the risk that they may scream or elude his clutch's make this unacceptable. The Ripper then lowered his victims to the ground, their heads to his left. This has been proven by the position of the bodies in relation to walls and fences that show that there was virtually no room for the murderer to attack the body from the left side. No bruising on the back of the heads shows that he lowered the bodies to the ground rather than throwing or letting them fall. Given the inclement weather and filth in the streets it is unacceptable that the prostitutes or their client would have attempted intercourse on the ground. He cut the throats when the women were on the ground. Splatter stains show that the blood pooled beside or under the neck and head of the victim rather than the front which is where the blood would flow if they had been standing up. In one case blood was found on the fence some 14 inches or so from the ground and opposite the neck wound and this shows that the blood spurted from the body while in the prone position on the ground. This method also prevented the killer from being unduly blood stained. By reaching over from the victim's right side to cut the left side of her throat, the blood flow would have been directed away from him, which would have reduced the amount of blood in which he would have been exposed. If the victim was already dead before their throats were cut, then the blood spilt would have not been very much. With the heart no longer beating the blood would not have been "pressurized," so only the blood in the immediate area of the wound would have evacuated gently from the cuts. The Ripper then made his other mutilations, still from the victim's right side, or possibly while straddling over the body at or near the feet. In several cases the legs had been pushed up which would have shortened the distance between the abdomen and the feet. No sign of intercourse was ever detected nor did the Ripper masturbate over the bodies. Usually he took a piece of the victim's viscera. The taking of a "trophy" is a common practice by modern sexual serial killers. In the opinion of most of the surgeons who examined the bodies, most believed that the killer had to have some degree of anatomical knowledge to do what he did. In one case he removed a kidney from the front rather than from the side, and did not damage any of the surrounding organs while doing so. In another case he removed the sexual organs with one clean stroke of the knife. Given the time circumstances of the crimes (outside, often in near total darkness, keeping one eye out for the approach of others, and under extremely tight time constraints), the Ripper almost certainly would have had some experience in using his knife.
In 1894, Sir Melville Macnaghten, then Chief Constable, wrote a confidential report in which he names the three top suspects. Although some information concerning the suspect he believed most likely to have been the murderer had been available before the turn of the century, the name of that suspect was not made public until 1959. Macnaghten's suspect was M.J. Druitt, a barrister turned teacher who committed suicide in December 1888. Unfortunately for Macnaghten who wrote his memoranda from memory, the details he ascribes to Druitt are wrong. According to the Chief Constable, Druitt was a doctor, 41 years of age, and committed suicide immediately after the Kelly murder. In actuality Druitt was 31, not a doctor, and killed himself nearly a month after the last official murder. No other police officer supported Macnaghten's allegations, and one in fact, stated that the theory was inadequate and that the suicide was circumstantial evidence at best that the drowned doctor was the Ripper. While it is still possible that he was the Ripper, correct information gathered about Druitt so far makes him seem an unlikely candidate.
In 1903, Frederick Abberline, a retired crack detective who had been in charge of the Ripper investigation at the ground level stated that he thought that multiple wife poisoner Severin Klosowski, alias George Chapman, might be Jack the Ripper. As with Macnaghten, no other officer has concurred with his opinion and modern criminal profiling science tends to reject Klosowski as a serious candidate.
The name of Macnaghten's second suspect was confirmed as Aaron Kosminiski in the early 1980s when a researcher came upon Donald Swanson's personal copy of Robert Anderson's book of memoirs. Both Swanson and Anderson were officers who participated in the Ripper investigation; indeed, they were the ones given the responsibility of being in charge of the case. Anderson had written in his memoirs that appeared for the first time in 1910 that the police knew who the Ripper was. According to Anderson the Ripper was a Polish Jew who was put away in an insane asylum after the crimes, and then died soon after. Swanson had made some notes in his copy of the book concerning Anderson's suspect, and wrote that the suspect's name was Kosminski. At first it seemed that the case had been solved, but research has found a number of problems with the theory. No other officer supports' Anderson's allegation, and Swanson's notes seem to question his superior's claims rather than support them. Aaron Kosminski was a real person and was placed in an insane asylum. His records show him to be a docile and harmless lunatic that heard voices in his head and would only eat food from the gutter. The dates of his incarceration are wrong, and he did not die soon after his committal but lived on until 1919. Some researchers have tried to explain the problems by saying that the name Kosminski' was confused with another insane Polish Jew, who really was dangerous.
The search continues. The third Macnaghten suspect, Michael Ostrog, has been investigated and there is nothing to indicate that he was nothing more than a demented con man.
Dr. Francis Tumblety, the latest serious suspect, only became known to students of the Jack the Ripper murders in 1993. A collector of crime memorabilia obtained a cache of letters belonging to a crime journalist named G.R. Sims. Among the letters was one from John Littlechild, who had been in charge of the Secret Department in Scotland Yard at the time of the murders. Dated 1913, Littlechild writes to Sims: "I never heard of a Dr. D. (which many assume is a reference to Druitt as Macnaghten thought Druitt was a doctor and Sims was a confident of the Chief Constable), in connection with the Whitechapel Murders but amongst the suspects, and to my mind a very likely one, was a Dr. T . . . He was an American quack named Tumblety . . . " A book by the collector who found the letter goes to great lengths in trying to prove that Tumblety is the final solution for the mystery. Unfortunately, he fails to do so. There is no doubt that Tumblety was a legitimate suspect and that when he fled to America, Scotland Yard detectives came over to investigate him further. It is unlikely that Scotland Yard continued to view him as a serious suspect. James Monro, who succeeded Warren and was in overall command of the Secret department before becoming Commissioner, thought that the Alice McKenzie murder of July 1889 was the work of the Ripper. He stated in 1890 that he did not know who the Whitechapel murderer was but that he was working on his own theory.
For more information, please go to Larry Barbee's excellent site
Newspaper Article 1888
THE MURDER IN WHITECHAPEL
Yesterday afternoon Mr. G. Collier, Deputy
Coroner for the South-Eastern Division of
Middlesex, opened an inquiry at the Working
Lads’ Institute, Whitechapel-road, respecting the
death of the woman who was found on Tuesday
last, with 39 stabs on her body, at George-yardbuildings,
Detective-Inspector Reid, H Division, watched
the case on behalf of the Criminal Investigation
Alfred George Crow, cabdriver, 35, George-yardbuildings,
deposed that he got home at half-past
3 on Tuesday morning. As he was passing the
first-floor landing he saw a body lying on the
ground. He took no notice, as he was accustomed
to seeing people lying about there. He did not
then know whether the person was alive or dead.
He got up at half past 9, and when he went down
the staircase the body was not there. Witness
heard no noise while he was in bed.
John S. Reeves, of 37, George-yard-buildings, a
waterside labourer, said that on Tuesday
morning he left home at a quarter to 5 to seek for
work. When he reached the first-floor landing he
found the deceased lying on her back in a pool of
blood. He was frightened, and did not examine
her, but at once gave information to the police.
He did not know the deceased. The deceased’s
clothes were disarranged, as though she had had
a struggle with some one. Witness saw no
footmarks on the staircase, nor did he find a
knife or other weapon. Police-constable Thomas
Barrett, 226 H, said that the last witness called
his attention to the body of the deceased. He sent
for a doctor, who pronounced life extinct. Dr. T.R.
Killeen, of 68, Brick-lane, said that he was called
to the deceased, and found her dead. She had 39
stabs on the body. She had been dead some three
hours. Her age was about 36, and the body was
very well nourished. Witness had since made
a post mortem examination of the body. The left
lung was penetrated in five places, and the right
lung was penetrated in two places. The heart,
which was rather fatty, was penetrated in one
place, and that would be sufficient to cause
death. The liver was healthy, but was penetrated
in five places, the spleen was penetrated in two
places, and the stomach, which was perfectly
healthy, was penetrated in six places. The
witness did not think all the wounds were
inflicted with the same instrument. The wounds
generally might have been inflicted with a knife,
but such an instrument could not have inflicted
one of the wounds, which went through the chestbone.
His opinion was that one of the wounds
was inflicted by some kind of dagger, and that all
of them had been caused during life. The
CORONER said he was in hopes that the body
would be identified, but three women had
identified it under three different names. He
therefore proposed to leave the question open
until the next occasion. The case would be left in
the hands of Detective-Inspector Reid, who would
endeavour to discover the perpetrator of this
(illegible) murder. It was one of the most dreadful
murders any one could imagine. The man must
have been a perfect savage to inflict such a
number of wounds on a defenceless woman in
such a way. The inquiry would be adjourned for a
The London Times - August 10, 1888