On August 31st of 1888, the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper claimed his first victim in a most horrific manner.
Mary Ann Nichols was found murdered in an alley. Her body had been mutilated. She lived in a part of town called Whitechapel's Buck's Row, a seething slum well known for its brothels. Mary was a prostitute, as were Jack the Ripper's four other victims over the next few months. All were killed in the same way. The brutality of the killings shocked the people of London's East End in Victorian England.
At the time, London's East End was a filthy, high crime neighborhood. Still, about a million of England's lowest income citizens lived there. Many women who lived in that area were forced to resort to prostitution just to make the money they needed to survive. Whitechapel had more than a thousand prostitutes at the time.
On September 8th, the killer claimed a second victim. Her name was Annie Chapman. On September 30th, two more victims were murdered on the same night. Their names were Liz Stride and Kate Eddowes. All these women had been carved to pieces.
The London police noticed a pattern. The killer would offer to pay for sex, then take the victim to a secluded alley and slice her throat with a six-inch knife. As she lay there dying, Jack the Ripper would carve her up and remove her internal organs, for whatever sick, sexual pleasure it gave him to do so.
The police, lacking modern forensic technology, could not find a suspect.
Soon, dozens of letters poured into the police station, in which the writer of the letter claimed to be Jack the Ripper. Almost all of them were immediately deemed fake, and none of them offered any significant clues as to the identity of the killer. However, there were two letters written by the same individual. These letters contained information they believed was only known to the police and the killer. These two letters were signed “Jack the Ripper.” Still, many people believe these two letters are also a hoax. Jack the Ripper was, most likely, a criminally insane man who could only get sexual pleasure by murdering women. Serial killers are unlikely to toy with police, as if daring the police to catch them. Most serial killers do not want to get caught.
On November 7th Jack the Ripper claimed his fifth and (as far as anyone knows) final victim. Her name was Mary Kelly. Her body was mutilated even worse than the murderer's previous known victims. By 1891, there had been eleven brutal killings in Whitechapel, known to police as The Whitechapel Murders. But police could not tie them all in to the same attacker. However, the women known to police as the “Canonical Five” are believed to have been killed by one person.
Jack the Ripper was never found.
Today, there are more than 100 theories regarding his identity. According to police experts, also known as Ripperologists, most of these theories cannot be taken seriously in the slightest way. Some of the accused are strongly suspected, but not enough evidence was found to file charges.