Jack the Ripper, still going strong 2008

I wonder what it is about Jack the Ripper that inspires people to try to copy him? Peter Sutcliffe is doing time in a high security mental hospital for his claim to fame and it looks like another wannabe Ripper is to join him. There’s an original series Star Trek episode called ‘Wolf in the Fold’ where they discover that an entity called ‘Redjac’ is really Jack the Ripper (it possesses people), I wonder if that is going on here, after all Jack the Ripper does seem to have inspired a lot of copycat killers.

Convicted rapist, Derek Brown (from Lancashire, Sutcliffe was a Yorkshire man – not exactly great publicity for us Northerner’s is it?) was found guilty of murdering and dismembering Xiao Mei Guo and Bonnie Barrett who he picked up in the Whitechapel area of London. Neither body was found but blood from both victims was found in the kitchen, corridor and bathroom of his flat in South East London, it’s unlikely that the bodies will ever be recovered. Brown assmebled a murder kit and even borrowed a book about serial killers (‘Killers: The Most Barbaric Murders of Our Time‘ – either sales of this book will go up or it will mysteriously vanish from the shelves). He’ll serve a minimum sentence of 30yrs, and will probably become one of the few prisoners to whom life really does mean life.

Serial killers do fascinate me, particualrly the ones with a big question mark over ‘who?’ – there are times when I get worried that if police (for some reason) search my flat I’m going to get into trouble for the many books I own on this topic. I’d like to therefore state, I have no intention of killing anyone I’m far too much of a wuss when it comes to things like that and I’m the least organised person on the planet.

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The Ripper on the Enterprise Pursued by Holmes

Ever since I was quite young I’ve been obsessed with three things, Sherlock Holmes, Star Trek and Jack the Ripper – bizarrely you can link them together as the original series did a Jack the Ripper episode (‘Wolf in the Fold’) and there’s also a TNG comic called ‘Embrace the Wolf’ that features Data as Sherlock Holmes and the entity Redjac from TOS ‘Wolf in the Fold’.

Other things that link Star Trek & Holmes include:

– Nicholas Meyer (he wrote several Holmes pastiches, including ‘The Seven Percent Solution’).
– In ‘the Undiscovered Country’ Spock says “An ancestor of mine maintained that if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains – however improbable – must be the truth.” his ancestor is either Arthur Conan Doyle or since we’re in a fictional universe a relation of Sherlock Holmes (Holmes never married).
– TNG episodes ‘Elementary, my dear Data’ and ‘Ship in a Bottle’

On Saturday I went to the ‘Jack the Ripper and the East End‘ exhibit at the Museum in the Docklands with a friend, this is a stand out exhibit in the way it looks at the conditions of the time, the social structure (with a lot of stuff about Charles Booth’s poverty map), culture and media involvement in the story. Not only that but it talks about eleven possible Ripper murders rather than the traditional five.

I don’t believe that of the five traditionally mentioned victims that two of them were murdered by Jack the Ripper, I think that Elizabeth Stride had her throat cut by a client or a street gang trying to rob her and Mary Kelly doesn’t fit the pattern (far too much mutilation and she was indoors).

I do think however that the ‘Whitehall Mystery‘ and the unknown woman found in Pinchin Street was a victim – the autopsy showed that her abdominal region was mutilated in a very, very similar way to the other victims. Her head and legs were severed in a manner that was similar to remains discovered in the Thames, Battersea Park and on the Chlesea Embankmant.

My list of victims would be:
31st August 1888 – Mary Ann Nichols
8th September 1888 – Annie Chapman
30th September 1888 – Catherine Eddowes
3rd October 1888 – ‘Whitehall Mystery’
June 1889 – Elizabeth Jackson
10th September 1889 – Pinchin Street Murder

As for who did it… well, there are many ‘famous’ suspects (including a very stupid royal conspiracy one when Prince Albert wasn’t in the country at the time and William Gull was overweight and had recently had a stroke…) but I think it’s far more likely to be some annomous soldier. Several of the victims were seen talking to soldiers before they were found dead and the police did consider the fact he could have been a soldier. If it wasn’t a soldier then my three ‘favourite suspets are (in order):

1. Dr T Neill Cream
2. Aaron Kosminski
3. Walter Sickert

The exhibition is brilliant and is great fuel for the imagination, it closes on the 2nd November so there’s not that much time left to go see it.