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Jack the Ripper Suspects

Article by Carolyn Clayton

Nowadays, Jack the Ripper would not get much attention for killing five victims – the public is desensitized by murder sprees with more violence. But back in 1888, the rumors of the white chapel murders spread like wildfire. Still, many wonder who Jack the Ripper was. There is an entire subculture dealing with what is called “ripperology”, the myth around the unknown killer.

There are over one hundred suspects.

Among them were:

William Bury, a man who married a former prostitute and later strangled her and slashed her stomach. He said she committed suicide, but was hanged for murder.

Frederick Deeming, who immigrated to Australia where he murdered his second wife. Her body was found buried in the basement. When police looked into his background, they discovered that Deeming had killed his first wife and four children in England before coming to Australia. Deeming himself said he was the Ripper, but police published that he couldn’t be – he was imprisoned or out of the country for most of the Ripper-murders.

Dr Thomas Neill Cream, a doctor from Glasgow who went to live in the United States. He secretly facilitated abortions and murdered his lover’s husband. He was imprisoned but later pardoned for good behavior. Back in England, he went on murdering and was arrested and hanged. His last words are supposed to have been “I am Jack” Even though he was in an US prison for most of the Ripper murders, there have been spun several theories about him getting out of prison early by paying off guards, or about a lookalike serving time in his stead.

Sir William Withey Gull, Queen Victoria’s doctor. Books have been published, outlining a conspiracy between the royal court and the freemasons. It has largely been discredited, but is still used in books and movies about Jack the Ripper.

James Maybrick, a merchant from Liverpool. He became famous because his wife allegedly poisoned him with arsenic. Her trial is seen by many as unjust and was moreover presided over by a judge whose son was another Ripper-suspect. In the 1990’s, a sensational diary showed up in which Maybrick confessed to be Jack the Ripper. Five years later, the finder of the diary admitted to having forged the diary together with his wife. Later on, his wife denied any forgery. This story staid in the media for some time, since the forgers went back and forth in their statements. Historians who have examined the diary have concluded it is fake and contains many factual errors.

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