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Who was Jack the Ripper? Show more Show less
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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?

Jill the Ripper Show more Show less

Despite the fact that almost all the suspects were men, a woman would have been better positioned to commit the crimes and escape.
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Witnesses and historians identify the Ripper as a woman

Though most accounts assume Jack the Ripper was a man, many eyewitnesses and historians alike say otherwise. Some theories suggest a woman was masquerading as one of the Ripper's victims hours after her killing, while others claim Lizzie Williams, the wife of a notable suspect, committed the murders.

Context

Jack the Ripper was an unidentified murderer who killed and mutilated at least five female prostitutes. He is considered one of the first recorded serial killers. To this day, no one knows the true identity of the killer, though historians have countless theories.

The Argument

Although over a hundred men have been labeled as suspects, some eyewitnesses suggest that Jack the Ripper was actually a woman. Following the death of the Ripper's fifth canonical victim, Mary Kelly, her neighbor Caroline Maxwell testified to having seen an unknown woman wearing Kelly's clothes several hours after Kelly was killed. Maxwell conveyed her testimony to one of the lead investigators in the Ripper case, Inspector Frederick Abberline. Abberline deemed Maxwell so trustworthy and consistent in her account that he raised the possibility of Jack the Ripper being a female serial killer to his mentor Thomas Dutton. Even today, many historians agree that the famous serial killer was really a woman. One of the strongest proponents of this theory is John Morris, author of "Jack the Ripper: Hand of a Woman.” In this book, Morris suggests that Lizzie Williams-the wife of Sir John Williams, another notable Ripper suspect-killed several female prostitutes out of frustration caused by her own infertility. There is substantial evidence supporting this claim. For example, the killer removed the wombs of three of their victims, perhaps as a symbolic gesture of resentment. Buttons from a woman’s boot were found at one crime scene, and did not belong to the woman who was murdered. The victims were not sexually assaulted, and a blood-soaked skirt was found burned in the fireplace of one of the victims. Perhaps most tellingly, Lizzie’s mental health noticeably deteriorated after the killings. Because of these findings, many researchers claim that this infamous murderer could be Jackie the Ripper instead.

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 1 Jul 2020 at 18:15 UTC

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