‘Jack the Ripper’ was a fictional character invented by journalists

May 1st, 2009 - 5:54 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 1 (ANI): ‘Jack the Ripper’-considered one of London’s most notorious criminal-was actually a fictional character created by journalists to link and sensationalise a series of unrelated murders for boosting the sales of newspapers, reveals a new book.

Dr Andrew Cook, who is a historian researching on ‘Jack the Ripper’ for the past five years, has argued that the five murders believed to be committed by him in the East End in 1888 were actually the work of several different men.The Ripper hit the headlines when his so-called victims-Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly-all street prostitutes were killed in increasingly brutal fashion between August 31, 1888, and November 9, 1888.

Cook’s book, titled ‘Jack the Ripper: Case Closed’, draws on the testimony of various medical experts and policemen involved with the case who suspected that “Jack the Ripper” did not kill all the victims, including the six other women murdered in Whitechapel who are also credited to him at times.

Cook unearthed evidence, which includes the forgotten account of Percy Clark, the Assistant Police Surgeon for the Whitechapel Division at the time of the murders, who inspected all of the victims.

Clark was asked about the so-called “canonical five” Jack the Ripper murders by the East London Observer in 1910.

“I think perhaps one man was responsible for three of them. I would not like to say he did the others,” The Telegraph quoted him as saying at the time.

Cook added that Thomas Arnold, who was the most senior police officer on the ground in Whitechapel when the murders began, said in his retirement dinner address that he never believed that Mary Kelly was a Ripper victim.

However, in Victorian London the idea that there was a lone serial killer on the loose in the fog-swirling back streets of the East End caught the public imagination and may even have added to the final death toll.

Cook argued that the search for one killer made it easy for various copycat murderers to escape when their crimes were assumed to be the work of ‘Jack the Ripper’.

In Cook’s opinion, the clear beneficiary of the single-killer theory was the Star newspaper, which launched shortly before the murders began.

It was the first to suggest that there was a serial killer at work after the murder of three women - Emma Smith, who was murdered on April 3, 1888, Martha Tabram and Mary Ann Nichols, who were both killed in August of that year.

Now, a majority of Ripperologists have claimed that the Ripper did not commit at least two of these early murders.

Annie Chapman, who died on September 8, 1888, is regarded as the second of five “canonical” Jack the Ripper victims.

And by this time, the Star’s salacious coverage of the story boosted its daily sales to 232,000.

But, its sales plummeted when a local bootmaker, whom the newspaper had identified as a leading suspect, was released from custody because of several solid alibis.

And in retaliation, the Star forged the “Dear Boss” letter bragging about the killings from a man signing himself “Jack the Ripper” - which was the first time the name had been used, said Cook.

Elaine Quigley, a handwriting expert, was later brought in to support the claim that the letter was written by Frederick Best, a Star journalist.

Cook thus concluded that Star had inflated the story, only to sell more papers. (ANI)

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