Jack the Ripper was one of the most notorious serial killers in history. In 1888, the Ripper was suspected of brutally killing at least five women in and around the Whitechapel district in the East End of London. The Ripper killings were the focus of an intensive police investigation and garnered enormous attention from the public and media, but the case went unsolved, and the identity of the Ripper remains a subject of widespread debate over a century later. So who was Jack the Ripper? Was he one of the contemporaneous suspects, or one revealed by historical and scientific research? Was he even a man - or, for that matter, was he real at all?
No single person was Jack the RipperShow moreShow less
Differences between the Ripper murders suggest that they were the work of multiple people, not a lone killer.
Serial killers are almost always compulsive killers with very strong tendencies to commit their crimes in particular ways. The modus operandi of a killer is defined by the specific methods and behaviors exhibited during their murders, but Jack the Ripper had no apparent modus operandi. Instead of a single consistent pattern of killing, the Ripper murders were committed in a variety of different ways.
The Ripper's first canonical victim, Polly Nichols, had her throat cut and her body wounded, but the next victim, Annie Chapman, was disemboweled. Catherine Eddowes was killed by a small incision to the throat, but the final victim, Mary Kelly, was savagely mutilated. No single method of killing links the Ripper's victims together, indicating that the "Ripper" was not a single individual.