On the early hours of Friday, August 31, 1888, the body of Mary Ann Nichols was discovered. Her throat was severed by two deep cuts, and her lower abdomen was ripped open by a jagged wound. Not too long after, a second corpse was found near a doorway on 29 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields. Like Nichols, the woman’s throat was severed by two cuts, and her abdomen was slashed entirely open with her uterus missing. She was identified as Annie Chapman and also like Nichols, she walked the dark streets of London as a prostitute. Both women were just two of the many gruesome murders committed by a serial killer known only by the nickname Jack the Ripper.
Has Jack the Ripper’s Identity Been Revealed?
As authorities scrambled to put the perpetrator behind bars, dozens of letters from individuals claiming to be “Jack the Ripper” began pouring in. Among all of them, three were the most prominent: the “Dear Boss” letter, the “From Hell” letter, and the “Saucy Jacky” postcard.
The “Dear Boss” letter was received by the Central News Agency on September 27, 1888, who then forwarded it to the Scotland Yard. It contained a threat to “clip the ladys ears off” as well as a salutation that was believed to be written by Jack the Ripper. The letter was initially perceived as a hoax, but when the corpse of Catherine Eddowes was discovered with her ear chopped off, the police started to pay more attention. But despite efforts to arrest whoever was responsible, the case remained unsolved.
Centuries after Jack the Ripper terrorized the streets of London, a British author is now claiming that she knows exactly who the mass murderer was. According to Patricia Cornwell, acclaimed artist Walter Sickert was the man behind all the gruesome crimes.
But why Sickert? Well, here are the clues listed down in Cornwell’s book Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert.
Sickert had the psychological profile of a killer
A number of painting and sketches made by Sickert depict themes of misogyny and violence against women. Cornwell believed that Sickert couldn’t have intercourse due to a botched surgery on his penis and that the sexual frustration eventually took a toll on his mental health. He also began to develop a sense of hatred toward the opposite sex when his close friend and mentor James Abbott Whistler, abandoned him after he married.
Walter Sickert’s “Nuit d’ete”
Walter Sickert’s painting Nuit d’ete or Summer Night is said to evoke the death of Mary Jane Kelly, another victim of Jack the Ripper.
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Aside from Walter Sickert, there have been other famous suspects who were attached to the case. The most controversial name in the roster was Queen Victoria‘s grandson Prince Albert Victor, also known as the Duke of Clarence. Another suspect who had ties with the royal family was Sir John Williams, the queen’s surgeon. His theory was expanded in a 2005 book titled Uncle Jack. The author suggested that Williams carried out the crimes in an attempt to research more on the topic of infertility.
Among the lesser-known suspects was cotton merchant James Maybrick, who kept a diary that suggested that he was the murderer. Maybrick was later released due to lack of evidence. A certain Dr. Thomas Neill Cream was also arrested after he was accused of poisoning London prostitutes, but there was no evidence linking him to the crimes committed by Jack the Ripper.
So who was this mysterious phantom of the night? Was he truly the famous painter Walter Sickert? Perhaps, the world will never know.