Jack the Ripper was the name of an unidentified serial killer who terrorized London for two months in 1888, probably one of the most famous killers in the world. He killed (canonically) five women, all of them prostitutes from lowest social circles.
Despite an extensive police investigation, the killer was never found and his identity is still a mystery. Both at the time and subsequently, many amateur and professional investigators have proposed solutions but no single theory is widely accepted.There are many theories on Jack the Ripper. Some state that he was actually a freemason and that he was committing Masonic rituals, some believe that Lewis Carroll (author of Alice in Wonderland) was actually Jack the Ripper, and the most popular theory is listed below.
The most popular theory, proposed by Stephen Knight in his Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, was that Jack the Ripper was a myth made up by a Royal Conspiracy: Jack’s only target was Mary Jane Kelly from the beginning. All other women were murdered in particularly gruesome way to fuel the media campaign and general hype, in which to hide the real victim’s death. The perpetrator is thought to be then-heir apparent Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, who was known for his dissolute ways (see Cleveland Street Scandal) and past involvement with cheap prostitutes. It was suggested that Mary Jane Kelly claimed to be pregnant with his child and was murdered to hide the fact. Since Prince Albert had a firm alibi at the time of the murders, it was suggested that Sir William Gull, 1st Baronet, a loyal surgeon (!) and physician of the Royal House, carried out the attacks. The critics of the theory pointed out, however, that Gull would have been 72 years old at the time. Arguments for the Mary Jane being Jack’s only target:
- She was the last canonical victim before the killing spree stopped.
- All other victims were lowlife prostitutes over 40, while Mary Jane had a more refined background (e.g. she traveled to France as a concubine of a powerful politician) and was no older than 25 at the time of her death.
- All other women were murdered on the streets (thus, making them “random”), whereas Mary Jane was killed in her room, as if Jack specifically targeted her.