If I may ask, what *are* your thoughts on Jack the Ripper, Simon?

I’ve been asked this before. I personally only believe there were three or four victims of the same killer. I don’t think Elizabeth Stride was one of them. I see absolutely no evidence of surgical skill. In fact I see a host of evidence suggesting the opposite. I think that George Hutchinson is the most likely suspect.

His story made no sense. Picture this:

In those days inquests were done because the police weren’t technically allowed to investigate a death before a jury determined they needed to. So Mary Kelly is killed in her room at Miller’s Court. An inquest is held several days later. At that inquest, one of the last people to see her alive, an older woman who chatted with her often, reports that when she saw Mary go into the small alley that led to her room with a customer, another man was standing beneath a light post across the street. This man was described. This description was in the paper. Some time later, George Hutchinson reports to the police and claims he was also a witness. Here is his story:

He saw Mary at a pub and didn’t like the look of her latest client, a poshly dressed bloke. So he took it upon himself to follow them to Mary’s house at a distance of some hundred feet. At one point, the man turned and gave him a hateful look, and that’s how he knew the man’s face. He then proceeded to give a description of the man that was so minute it contained his cufflinks and eyelashes. The description is of a man that most people in Whitechapel would instinctively find offensive – a slummer- a wealthy person popping into the prostitutes for the night. He then claims that this man went into Mary’s house. He saw an old lady pass by. He stood there waiting for the man to leave, but after some length of time, it was raining and he was cold so he left.

Nothing about that makes any sense. Firstly, I lived through that time period and though I wasn’t in London, I can imagine. Gas lamps, coal fog from the factories. Police couldn’t keep track of someone 100 feet away, so how is it this Hutchinson saw his tie pin? He’s so concerned for Mary – an acquaintance – that he follows this man, but then isn’t worried enough to stay in the rain longer than forty five minutes? You have already been there that long! What’s to prevent you from staying? And the old woman saw Mary’s client, as she was leaving the street, and saw Hutchinson on her return. The client Hutchinson claims to have seen doesn’t match the description of the client seen by the old woman. So we are to believe that Mary went home drunk with a man, singing and carrying on, slept with him in a few minutes, left, walked to the pub, seduced another man, brought him back, followed by Hutchinson, and then was with him being presumably hacked to pieces.

What actually happened in my opinion:

Hutchinson knew that Mary had her own room. This was rare in those days. Most women would be sharing with several others to afford the rent. But Mary had just had a falling out with her boyfriend, who had left the room. This meant Mary was alone in a room. She likely would have mentioned it to others as to explain why she was out so often collecting her earnings to pay the rent. George knew he had an opportunity. He waited for her to take a client – the drunken man seen by the older woman – he kept his distance. He then stood outside and watched for the time when the man left. When he did, Hutchinson knocked on Mary’s door and took his time. He was spotted, however, by the old woman, and his description was posted in the papers. He came forward out of nervousness and concocted the story about the well dressed man, at a time when rampant speculation and classicist hatred made most Whitechapel residents sure it was an outsider.

This is a man who claimed to be Mary’s friend, so concerned for her that he’d follow her home, but despite this, even though her murder was the most reported news in the entire country and abroad, he doesn’t come forward to report what he saw until AFETER the inquest? That’s patently absurd. He just “didn’t know what was happening”? What?

Hutchinson was also a butcher who lived in the region. Anyone who looks at the victims on a map will see through regional profiling that the murderer likely lived and worked there in that maze of passages and poorly lit alleys. Hutchinson did both.

What happened to him? He was committed to an asylum a few years later and no one knows where he went after that.

He is the man.

Now I respect the work Patricia Cornwall put into her analysis of the letters, but all she succeeded in proving to me beyond doubt is that Walter Sickert wrote most of them because he was a twisted, hypergraphic, serial killer junkie. Despite the fact that he painted all those Camden Town Murder paintings and the Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom painting, I honestly don’t think he was the Ripper. He may have been the Camden Town Murderer, but no. I believe he was ill, the murders occurred, they swept him up. He idolized the Ripper, he inserted himself, and possibly eventually copied him. There’s no proof he was the Ripper aside from confession, and frankly Hutchinson’s story is far more suspicious.

I think it more likely that Hutchinson had been roughing up prostitutes for some time, then decided to finally do as he pleased. He took them when they least expected it, dragged them into secluded places, did his worst, and then moved on. He saw an incredible opportunity with Mary Kelly, and took it. What he did to her took hours. I know from experience that when it is science, food, butchery…it takes very little time, but it wasn’t that for him. He was savoring and enjoying it. He likely left biological evidence. He likely used his training as a butcher. He performed his own private rituals. He finally had the chance to do the things he fantasizes about and it allowed him to have a longer cooling off period, which was good, because he was seen. He then was likely battling terror and hunger for the act, which is what eventually caused him to have a breakdown. The strain of never being allowed to have the same game would be unbearable, and there was no way to get a better experience than Mary Kelly.

He would not have stopped, but likely he would have changed his attack.

In any event, this is what I think explains everything. But my understanding is based on experience. Both of them sort of man it takes, the MO, and the life they were all living. Whitechapel in those days was grimy, dark, and incredibly poor. There were butchery houses all over the district. No hope for obtaining biological evidence. The crimes were swift and haphazard – this we know from Catherine Eddows who was killed and mutilated in a few minutes time with regular patrols and approximately 100 deputized civilians on lookout. These people haunted every alley and constantly misidentified one another. No eye witnesses from that time can be trusted, except for that of the patrolman who saw her enter Mitres Square with a man. If it appeals to you, take a look at her death portraits. You will find no trace of the supposed surgical accuracy. Her death was abrupt, from behind. He laid her down on her back, fought with her clothes (most women of her profession wore everything they owned), cut a jagged line, put his hands in, grabbed her guts, threw them over her shoulder, grabbed her liver (which is in front), cut haphazardly bisecting the renal artery, and took that with him. The only precision involved was what he did to her face, and that was likely done as a signature touch after she was thoroughly immobilized and dead, likely as he bent down to check if she was expired.

It was all done literally in a matter of minutes.

So you tell me what you think happened.

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