Jack the Ripper victims

Jack the Ripper, the symbol of Victorian London

They are the most famous “cold cases” in history, but yet many people don't know the details of Jack the Ripper's brutal murders.

We probably will never know who was the serial killer who, in Victorian London, killed at least five women by cutting their throats and then horribly mutilating the corpse. Women united by being divorced, separated, or otherwise abandoned by their previous husband or partner and then reduced to a state of poverty and also become prostitutes for this reason.

The letters of Jack the Ripper

Excluding some of the most imaginative hypotheses emerged in these years, few are still the clues to shed light on crimes, some of which for a long time disappeared as some letters that "Jack" wrote in 1888 (they were three in all, compared to hundreds of definitely false messages received by the police) and sent to several recipients.

The first, the "Dear Boss Letter", was initially considered a forgery only to be attributed to the killer after the "double event".

Jack the ripper letters

The second, the postcard from "Saucy Jack", and the third, the "letter from Hell", disappeared from Scotland Yard's archives without leaving a trace a short time after the crimes and it is still unknown who could have stolen them and what happened to them.

Only the "Dear Boss Letter" was returned anonymously to the police in 1988, it is believed by the descendants of those who carried out the theft.

There were five or eight victims?

Besides the five "canonical" victims (Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly), there have also been a series of other crimes mostly attributed to serial killer emulators.

For three of these (the murders of Martha Tabram, Alice McKenzie and Frances Coles) has never been ruled out the chance that it was Jack that hit, indeed, the first profiler to take an interest in the case, doctor Thomas Bond, believed that Alice McKenzie could certainly be considered the sixth victim of the London serial killer.

Jack the ripper victims cover

Since the main suspect of being Jack was the Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminsky, a barber with a violent character and with evident mental disorders admitted to the asylum of Colney Hatch in February 1891, where he remained for about three years before being transferred, in April 1894, to the Leavesden asylum (where he lived 25 years more, before he died on March 24, 1919), the hypothesis is still today likely.

A cruel society towards women and children

What is certain is that Victorian London was a terrible environment for children and women who were alone and in serious economic difficulties, totally devoid of any possibility of social redemption and exposed to the violence of a society that tended to consider prostitution a "proper punishment" for such sinful women as to have abandoned her husband (or to have induced him to abandon them) also because of the immoral pleasure, was supposed, they felt from the sexual activity they exercised for a fee.

victorian age children

Remember that the legal age for sexual consent a few years before  Jack the Ripper crimes (since 1885) was been elevated to 16 years, compared to the previous limit of 13 years (in turn set up in 1875, to replace the one until then set at 12 years) and that the most appreciated prostitutes were the virgins, which gave rise to buying and selling of young girls (and boys), as well as a high number of abductions of minors.

In short, however cruel Jack the Ripper was perfectly placed in Victorian London (after all perfectly described by Charles Dickens's novels).

Maybe, for the same reason, he was never discovered but rather in some way mythologized, while many of his victims ended up in common graves, without getting even from death any form of reparation of the wrongs suffered by a mean and cruel society against women and children.

Tags: Unsolved mysteries, history