Jack the Ripper--The Bare Bones
One reason why Jack roused such horror was the killer’s unprecedented barbarity. Another reason was the rarity of murders in London during the Gilded Age. Even one of the worst sections of town, Whitechapel where Jack plied his knife, averaged fewer than one a year.
But then, in the second week of August 1888 a faceless, nameless butcher stabbed Martha Tabram to death in George Yard. After the Annie Chapman murder a month later, the anonymous killer earned a name. A letter to the press signed “Jack” prompted journalist Thomas Bulling to dub the terrifying spectre “Ripper.” Police came to believe Bulling himself wrote the letters to juice up his story. In a heartbeat, copycat “Jack the Ripper” letters deluged the police--more than a thousand a week.
Many wrongly blamed Chief of Metropolitan Police Sir Charles Warren for failing to offer a reward. They didn’t know the refusal came from on high--the powerful office of Henry Matthews, the Home Secretary. Rumors raced that authorities didn’t want the monster found because the murderer was a person of power--perhaps a Prince Royal.
One thing is sure. The killer had chutzpah. He even dared to place a female torso in the cellars of a police building under construction at Whitehall’s New Scotland Yard.
Police had few tools then--no blood-typing, fibre analysis, finger-printing, DNA tests. The latest and lamest fad in police procedure in the 1890s was the Bertillon system of measuring heads--little improvement over the ancient belief that a dead victim's eyes reflect the image of the killer. No wonder they couldn’t find him. No wonder the brutal mystery has captured our collective imagination for more than a century.
There are liars, damned liars and people who write books about Jack the Ripper
The Mutilated Victims
Mary Ann Nichols
Mary Jane Kelly
...and perhaps others
Jack the Ripper—The Ashes
Jack the Ripper--The Flesh
Where did he go after 1888? Tumblety blamed women for all the trouble in the world. Perhaps he continued his crusade against the fair sex on other continents.
London newspapers suggested he kept busy in Jamaica and Nicaragua. In January 1889, dark Managua alleys witnessed the slashing of 6 low women in less than 10 days.
He flitted from hotel to hotel and from city to city. In April 1903 he checked himself into St. John's Hospital and Dispensary at 23rd and Locust Streets in St. Louis. Even in his last days, he wouldn’t compromise his principles by telling the truth. He swore he was a pauper.
Tumblety died May 28, 1903. However, he was not penniless. He left a $135,000 estate to his niece in Rochester. His funeral cost $37.60 in St. Louis and $68.50 in Rochester.
Want to know more?
Cornwell, Patricia. Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed. G.P. Putnams’ Sons. NY. c2002
Evans, Stewart P. and Paul Gainey. Jack the Ripper: First Ameircan Serial Killer. Kodansha International, NY. 1996.
Ryder, Stephen P. (Ed.). Casebook: Jack the Ripper.