Jack the Ripper was a hoax? Hmm.

Convenient timing, don’t you think?

Jack the Ripper mystery solved by top detective after 125 years.

THE Jack the Ripper mystery that has kept the world enthralled since the killer first struck on the streets of Victorian London has been blown apart on the 125th anniversary of the grisly crimes by a former murder squad detective.

And the bad news for the countless millions of amateur sleuths who have spent years trying to identify the nation’s most notorious serial killer is that he never existed.

He was just dreamed up by a drunken journalist called Thomas Bulling who wrote a forged letter to Scotland Yard in 1888 pretending to be “Jack” so he could obtain a scoop.

But Trevor Marriott, a former murder squad detective with Bedfordshire police, has spent 11 years carrying out a detailed cold-case review of the killings, he has trawled Scotland Yard’s files and used modern-day police techniques backed up with state of the art forensic analysis.

“New facts have come to light, we’ve now disproved the claim that the killer removed organs from the victims at the scenes of the murders, the organs were removed later once they were in a mortuary.

“There just isn’t a Jack The Ripper as such.”

This sounds like an incredible claim. If Jack the Ripper was a hoax, it’s astounding that it hasn’t been surfaced until now, 125 years after the fact. Could it be another Jack the Ripper fan trying to gain some notoriety? There are tons of speculative writing about the crimes. Where is his evidence? Everyone has their own pet theory about JtR. Can we really know the truth after all this time? I doubt it. I don’t put much faith that this evidence is any more astounding than the last astounding evidence. Are they problems with the story? Yeah, of course there are. Has mythology crept in? Certainly. But people seem to be capitalizing on macabre speculation these days.

We’re not sure what to make of this story except BE SKEPTICAL.

Catching Jack the Ripper.

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.

  15 comments for “Jack the Ripper was a hoax? Hmm.

  1. Chris Howard
    September 23, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    My favorite theory is that Jack the Ripper was H.H. Holmes.

    There is an H.H. Holmes movie in the works that advances the Ripper/Holmes theory. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a PR piece, but who knows?

  2. Sean A. Elliott
    September 23, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    Holmes was American, is there a period of time he was known to be in England? Personally, my favorite speculation about JTR comes from John Douglas, the former FBI profiler. I wouldn’t put too much stock in these new claims. This is one ice cold case!

  3. Chris Howard
    September 23, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Holmes was in London around the same time of the Ripper murders. The Ripper murders stopped right around the time Holmes returned to the U.S., right before the Columbian exhibit in Chicago.

  4. Mike Xeno
    September 23, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    Heck, I once came across a theory that Jack the Ripper was actually SHERLOCK Holmes. Dozens of theories are worse than none.

    However, I tend to think that Marriott’s solution has some merit to it. Hype existed then as it does now, and it is certainly worth serious consideration that Jack the Ripper was a name attached to several unrelated murders by a press which sold papers through bold, shocking headlines. I submit that a mundane and uninteresting suggestion probably deserves a little more weight given to it than a sensational one, simply because the only reason to advance such a theory (in this case) is because the facts would seem to warrant it rather than to attract attention and shock people.

  5. WMcceery
    September 24, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    This theory has been around since the murders stopped, some letters were fakes but the “Dear Boss” letter has never been discredited. The kidney was diagnosed with Brights disease just as the remaining Kidney was.

  6. Andrew Gable
    September 24, 2013 at 2:24 AM

    I recall theories about Jack being such unlikelies as Lewis Carroll, Queen Victoria, and once – I crap you not – the Chupacabra.

    The article cites the Bulling hoax letter – this was the Dear Boss letter, which has been pretty much discounted by most non-sensationalist researchers for years. Though it makes out that this was a new development, it’s not. I recall hearing that almost everyone had serious doubts about *that* letter 12 years ago.

    Basically, there were the Whitechapel Murders – a lengthy series, which spanned over five or so years, and had about 16 or so victims – and the so-called “canonical five” murders – the ones thought to be the same guy, which spanned only about three months. Of those five, much doubt has been piled onto Mary Kelly, #5, simply because that murder was so different in many respects than the others. Same with the murder of Elizabeth Stride, #3, who gets included in the canonical five mostly because of the fact that #4 was killed about 20 minutes later. I, personally, don’t necessarily feel that she was a “Ripper” victim. So that whittles it down to three. I suppose it’s possible that the killer was a complete invention of the media, but I’d be inclined to guess at least those three are the same killer. How many other killers were responsible for the 13 other murders? I guess short of a smoking gun, it’s not very likely we’ll ever know. The fact that the police in 1888 were as baffled as we still are 125 years later is telling.

    Complicating matters, too, is the fact that you had the Thames Torso Killer dumping bodies in much the same area at the same time. But that’s a whole other pile of worms.

  7. September 24, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    I still think that the ‘Bullshit or Not’ segment from ‘Amazon Women on the Moon’ was right – Nessie was JtR.

  8. September 24, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Chris Howard, there is absolutely no evidence H.H. Holmes ever left the United States, let alone at the time of the Ripper murders. The summer/fall of the Ripper murders also happens to be when Holmes got one of his wives pregnant and started building the “murder castle,” so a trip to England would have been noticed. As far as I know the only person who claims Holmes was the Ripper is Jeff Mudgett, a guy who claims to be Holmes’ descendent and says he talks to Holmes all the time, though he’s a little fuzzy on whether that’s because Holmes is a ghost or if he’s immortal hypnotist and sneaking around whispering to Mudgett when he’s not looking. Really. I’ve read his book, and it is literally the product of mental illness. Don’t mistake any part of it for fact.

    I find Trevor Marriott’s theory (which he’s been pushing for years, I’m not sure why it’s being brought up now) fascinating, if only because part of it brings up an interesting point that everyone should be given more attention, and the other part of it is totally wrong. Marriott is terrible at presenting both parts, however, *and* they’re inherently contradictory.

    The good point that Marriott brings up is that the definition of “Jack the Ripper” is slippery. Murders of women were not rare in the summer/fall of 1888, and the five “canonical” murders that are popularly lumped together as Jack the Ripper are not necessarily all the work of the same person, nor the only ones that may be attributable to murderer who was dubbed “Jack the Ripper.” The problem is that Marriott makes it sound like he’s the only person who’s ever realized this, and that he’s the only person who ever figured out that the “Jack the Ripper” letter were a hoax. In fact, both of these facts are well known and much discussed among the “Ripperologist” community.

    However, Marriott took these ideas way too far, and at some times he’s claimed that there was no single murderer in Whitechapel that fall, and that all the murders were totally separate and if they resembled each other at all it was copycatting. I think you only need to look at a picture of Mary Kelly’s body to know that that murder was not committed by a copycat. That was textbook serial killer escalation. In some sense Marriott’s arguments are a Straw Man fallacy, because he insists on arguing against the pop culture incarnation of the Jack the Ripper, and ignores all the more scholarly work (amateur as it may be) that’s been done on the case.

    The part of his theory that’s completely wrong is when he claims a seaman named Carl Feigenbaum was responsible for one, some, or all of the murders. (I have to hedge on this, because as I mentioned earlier, Marriott sometimes claims that no single person was responsible for more than one murder. He seems to change his theory on an annual basis, though the evidence never changes. If I were a more cynical person, I’d say he revises his theory so often to get more press.) There’s no evidence Feigenbaum was in London at the time of the murders, nor is the one murder we know Feigenbaum committed “Ripper-like.” In short, it’s another theory, just as bad as all the others.

  9. Chris Howard
    September 24, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    It was my understanding that The Chicago Sun put Holmes in London pior to his time in Chicago?

    Oh well, I never claimed that it was a good theory, just that it was my favorite. 😉

  10. spookyparadigm
    September 24, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    I still think Moore and Campbell’s “Dance of the Gull-Catchers” is the best statement on Jack the Ripper out there. It’s the appendix to _From Hell_, and I think almost anyone who reads Doubtful News would enjoy it tremendously. YMMV on From Hell itself (it’s brilliant IMO, and I highly recommend it, but it is unabashed conspiracy theory as entertainment and it has impacted some of the beliefs mentioned above), but the appendix upends all the hundreds of pages of mystical conspiracy theory found in the main book with a cartoon history of Ripperology, where all the ideas come from, and a number of fairly memorable statements on historiography and the use of sex and violence for entertainment.

    Never watch the film “adaptation” though. Pointless.

  11. September 24, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    My pet theory about Jack the Ripper is that he was just some guy who nobody would ever have heard of if not for the murders. I don’t understand the people who want the Ripper to be Lewis Carroll or H.H. Holmes or any other famous or infamous persons, presumably because the murders are well-known, and, uh, Lewis Carroll is also well-known, so there must be a connection? I guess?

    It’s like attributing Charles Manson’s crimes to Brian Wilson because hey, they were both in California in the ’60s…

    No modern serial killers have turned out to be anyone famous or particularly noteworthy. Why would anyone think the Ripper was?

  12. David Hall
    September 24, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Well, try as I might, I find it hard to take any history presented in a comic book seriously. Even if it is printed on glossy paper and called a “Graphic Novel.”
    It is entirely possible, even highly likely, that most of the accounts of the killings in Whitechapel were sensationalized all out of proportion by the newspapers. Imagine what FOX or MSNBC would have done with their 24 hour news format.
    About the only thing I can say with certainty regarding Jack the Ripper, is he was NOT Edward DeVere, 17th Earl Of Oxford.

  13. spookyparadigm
    September 24, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Your loss.

    PS: Your quote here?

    “It is entirely possible, even highly likely, that most of the accounts of the killings in Whitechapel were sensationalized all out of proportion by the newspapers.”

    there is a great montage in From Hell showing people from all walks of life penning fake Ripper letters and sending them to newspapers and police as a form of amusing themselves.

    The appendix I mention, which I think may come before the 40 pages of footnotes which themselves are a fun read, is pretty much a character-by-character history of the scams and speculations, before realizing how pointless the whole question is. I think my favorite line is when Moore suggests how ridiculous it is to approach history like a game of Clue, where one might describe WWII as “Germany, in Poland, with tanks”

  14. spookyparadigm
    September 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Also, the paper isn’t glossy at all, the illustrations move between sketchy photorealism and a grotty mess of shadow, depending on context.

  15. deano
    October 3, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    the Thomas Bulling bit has been known for years its nothing new.
    as for “organs were removed later once they were in a mortuary” goes against all the facts of the doctors reports (in situ) and inquests.

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