New idea for Jack the Ripper: Killer was a woman

Birmingham author claims Jack the Ripper was a WOMAN

A Birmingham author has caused a storm among historians by claiming Jack the Ripper was a woman.

Former solicitor John Morris, 62, has named Welsh-born Lizzie Williams as the Whitechapel monster – and claims she killed her victims because she could not have children.

Lizzie was wife of royal physician Sir John Williams, himself seen as a prime suspect by many other crime experts.

John’s new book, Jack the Ripper: The Hand of a Woman, was written along with his late father Byron.

The men sifted through thousands of medical and legal documents to draw-up a compelling case for branding Lizzie the killer.

But John, speaking from his current home in Wicklow, Ireland, said their theory has not proved popular among Ripper experts.

He told the Birmingham Mail: “The case for a woman murderer is overwhelming. But unfortunately it does not sit well in some quarters where such a theory flies in the face of long-held beliefs.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that the Ripper was a woman. But because everyone believes that the murderer was a man, all the evidence that points to a woman has always been ignored.”

Tip: Fortean Times Daily News

Hmm. Ripper suspects are a dime a dozen. No new ideas are surprising anymore. Sounds interesting but we will never know for sure.

Here is an excellent rundown of the Ripper tale and what we know or suspect about who is behind it.

The bottom line is that there is no widely accepted evidence suggesting an identity for Jack the Ripper. There are many hoaxed diaries, claims of royal conspiracies, Freemason plots, and all sorts of theories that are all either disproven or based on pure speculation.

When you hear anyone claim to have finally solved the case of Jack the Ripper, you have very good reason to be skeptical.

Indeed.

  15 comments for “New idea for Jack the Ripper: Killer was a woman

  1. Drew
    May 8, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    I see a movie coming out with this story.

  2. Katherine
    May 8, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    I seem to recall seeing a special on tv a year or two ago that theorized that the Ripper might have been a woman. So, other than naming a specific suspect, this isn’t really a new idea.

  3. Leo
    May 8, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    Mike Resnick wrote an alternate history short story in which Teddy Roosevelt investigates the Jack the Ripper murders, and the killer is revealed to be a woman. “Redchapel” was first published in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine in 2001, and is collected in Resnick’s anthology _The Other Teddy Roosevelts_. Resnick is an amateur Roosevelt scholar and the various alternate histories are quite good.

  4. May 8, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Ah. So, not so new idea that Jack is really Jill. I’d forgotten about these theories.

    So, what’s with this author? Can’t believe he didn’t do research and find that he wasn’t proposing something really radical. Was this the first time Lizzie was mentioned? It still seems like a good bit of speculation on scant evidence.

    • Leo
      May 8, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      Well, to be fair to Mr. Morris, Mike Resnick’s story didn’t involve Lizzie Williams, but rather a fictional, I believe, Whitechapel midwife. I don’t know if Mr. Morris is the first to speculate about Lizzie Williams.

    • May 8, 2012 at 11:49 AM

      That’s the standard with these sorts of things. Keep chasing the same stories around and around, either adding new variants, or hoping that everyone forgot last time this story was sold (see any of the topics covered here, where an idea is ludicrous … for about five years).

      Clearly you’ve never read From Hell (which is nothing like the movie that pretty much just runs with the name and that’s it), or its extraordinary appendix, a 23-page illustrated history of Ripperology. I strongly recommend at least that section of the book to all skeptics.

  5. Massachusetts
    May 8, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    I saw a recent documentary that suggested the killer was a German Merchant Seaman who eventually moved to America and was caught committing murders in New York City, and executed in New York State for these crimes. The film makers followed an x cop / forensic expert (or something–I forget the details) who compared marks on the bodies and determined they were signature mutilations that matched multiple crime scenes. It’s an interesting theory and not crazy, sounds plausible, but unfortunately it ended a bit on the conspiracy-theory side: when they went to the shipping company the sailor worked for the records of the appropriate manifests were mysteriously missing from the ships in question. They suggested his lawyer did this when he was on trial for murder in the states. It was an “aha” moment emotionally but when you thought about it, it seemed a bit contrived, and rather unlikely in the 19th century that such large efforts at cover-up (crossing an ocean and such) would have been undertaken, or even deemed necessary.

  6. Moose McNuggets
    May 8, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    It was Bigfoot. I have proof. Same guy brought down the Twin Towers, incidentally.

    • May 8, 2012 at 10:43 PM

      Do I really need to post this?

  7. Dan
    May 10, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    A lot of people who don’t know much about the case or crime history in general read one Jack the Ripper book and think that what it says is all there is. Then some people decide to take that same theory and add several levels of crazy to it, sometimes releasing their own book in response. That’s what we have here.

    John Morris apparently read the rather awful book Uncle Jack by Tony Williams, who first brought the idea of Victorian doctor Sir John Williams as Jack the Ripper to the world at large. The problem? Well, other than the typical jumping to baseless conclusions off of wild speculation, the most compelling evidence presented in the book (a doctor’s notebook ostensibly showing that Williams had as his patient the first generally accepted Ripper victim — which isn’t all that compelling as proof that he killed anyone anyway) has been proven to be a forgery. The original notebook had been tampered with, poorly, with handwriting that looked nothing like the rest of the page… and it was so bad that when it was included in the first release of Uncle Jack, someone completely redid the line to make it look more genuine — an unconvincing forgery to improve upon a truly awful forgery. The rest of the book contains lesser levels of twisted facts and a whole lot of circular reasoning.

    Then Morris comes along, was largely convinced by a book everyone with passing knowledge of the topic knows is nonsense, and decided to improve upon it by coming to an even more ridiculous offshoot theory: it wasn’t the doctor, it was his wife! It’s like arguing that a spot in the sky isn’t an alien in a flying saucer, it’s the ghost of an alien.

    As far as the special on TV that suggested the Ripper was a woman goes, this old theory became more well publicized at the time because the DNA that was found on a letter that most experts don’t think really came from Jack the Ripper was tested and found to be from a woman. This was the same letter that Patricia Cornwell (another person who read a bad book and then twisted it around a little and expanded on the craziness for her own book) was arguing was linked by DNA to the artist Walter Sickert. If there’s anything to her argument at all (there isn’t) then she proved that Sickert was secretly a woman who wrote a Ripper-style letter as a joke, not that (s)he killed anyone.

    At least 90% of what is written about Jack the Ripper is nonsense, and when it comes to what receives modern newspaper coverage it’s more like 99%.

    • May 10, 2012 at 10:01 PM

      I can believe THAT.

  8. May 14, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    I think John Godwin, an “oddities” writer of the 70s, could claim to be first with his “Jill the Ripper” theory. However, he based this thought mainly on the Ripper’s elusiveness, arguing that a midwife could have walked around Whitechapel with knives and a bloody apron and hardly be noticed, but he also said there was no evidence that any particular woman might have been involved.

    • Leo
      May 14, 2012 at 8:59 AM

      Thanks for the information Matt! That gives me some more perspective on Resnick’s story.

    • Dan
      May 14, 2012 at 8:03 PM

      For the history of the idea, see:
      http://www.casebook.org/suspects/jill.html

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