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< Back to question Who was Jack the Ripper? Show more Show less

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?

Walter Sickert Show more Show less

Clues about Sickert's connection to the Ripper case have been found in his paintings and letters.
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Sickert sent letters addressed from the Ripper

Watermarks and DNA from the Ripper letters point to Sickert.
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The Argument

During the period of the Ripper's crimes, multiple letters were sent to Scotland Yard and various newspapers by individuals purporting to be Jack the Ripper. Many of these "Ripper letters" were preserved, enabling DNA analysis of the stamps and envelopes used once that technology was developed. Author Patricia Cornwell had some of the Ripper letters analyzed by forensic scientists, who determined that mitochondrial DNA which could have belonged to Walter Sickert was present on the letters. A comparison between the Ripper letters and Sickert's own letters also revealed that both contained the watermark of the Aberdeen paper manufacturer Alexander Pirie and Sons. Two findings from some of the last remaining physical evidence in the Ripper case thus point to the same individual: Walter Sickert.

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    This page was last edited on Wednesday, 25 Mar 2020 at 03:33 UTC

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