Jack the Ripper is probably the most famous serial killer of all time. His identity remains a mystery to this day, and his gruesome crimes continue to fascinate us all. The murders took place in Victorian Whitechapel in London, a poor area with many homeless people who were called ‘whites’ or ‘chaps’ by locals. These unfortunate men were often referred to as ‘Rags’ or ‘Ruffians’ because they wore rags or old clothes as their only possessions.
The nickname for this district was extended to anyone who lived there and became known as Jack the Ripper by historians. Twisted theories about who the notorious killer might have been have sprung up over the years, but only a few are credible enough that many people believe them. In this article we take a look at some of the more popular suggestions and see why they could make sense:
Mary Ann (Marian) Airborn
One of the most widely believed theories about Jack the Ripper’s identity is that he was actually a woman named Mary Ann (Marian) Airborn. She was a domestic servant who worked at a lodging house in Whitechapel at the time of the murders. She was arrested in connection with the case but was later released after no evidence was found that she had committed any crime.
The main reason this woman is thought to be the Ripper is because of the timing of the murders. They happened in 1888, and, according to some, she was pregnant at this time. She was also known to be a heavy drinker and suffered from mental illness, which would have made her an unpredictable person. This theory is backed up by the fact that there were two attacks on pregnant women who were killed in a very similar way to the other murders.
Prince Eddy, the Duke of Clarence
The Prince Eddy, who was the Duke of Clarence and the grandson of Queen Victoria, has long been suspected of being Jack the Ripper because he was a womanizer and reputed to be a heavy drinker. Prince Eddy was in Whitechapel at the time of the murders and had a strong motive for killing prostitutes. He was allegedly driven to commit these murders because he had caught syphilis from one of the women and wanted to silence her.
Prince Eddy was also in line to be the next King of England, but, if he had been caught and tried for his crimes, the throne would have passed to his younger brother. This would have placed his younger brother in the number one position in the line of succession and would have been a very embarrassing scandal for the Royal family. Because of this, some believe Prince Eddy had every reason to kill the prostitutes in Whitechapel and silence them so he could keep his reputation and keep his place in line to become King.
Sir William Gull
Sir William Gull was the Physician-in-Ordinary to King Edward VII and the physician responsible for delivering Prince Eddy and his brother Prince George. He was also known to suffer from mental illness and epileptic attacks. It’s thought that during one of these fits of epilepsy, he murdered one of the women in Whitechapel. There’s evidence to suggest that William Gull was in Whitechapel around the time of the murders.
He was also a friend of Sir Charles Warren, the Police Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police at the time, and would have had easy access to the crime scenes. This theory is supported by the fact that he owned a watch that was very similar to the one left at one of the crime scenes by the murderer. However, this is also the most disputed theory that there was ever a connection between Sir William Gull and Jack the Ripper.
Dr. Thomas Neill Cream
Dr. Thomas Neill Cream was a Canadian doctor who was convicted of killing two women in 19th century London. He was also suspected of poisoning at least five other people, including two of his wives. Dr. Cream was imprisoned for the murders and committed suicide in prison by poisoning himself with cyanide. While he was in prison, he wrote a note to the press in which he claimed to be Jack the Ripper.
He was almost immediately suspected of being the infamous serial killer and remains one of the most popular suspects to this day. It’s possible that he committed the murders in Whitechapel because he needed the money to pay off his debts. He also tried to poison one of his patients with strychnine, the poison that was used in all of the Ripper murders.
Robert Donston Stephenson
Robert Donston Stephenson was a journalist who worked for the London Central News. He was arrested for the murders in connection with letters that were sent to a friend in which he claimed to be the Ripper. It’s believed that he wrote the letters because he needed the publicity in order to make his name as a reporter. Robert Stephenson was in Whitechapel at the time of the murders, and he was known to have written about the crimes before they were even discovered.
He also wrote about how he would commit the crimes and then escape detection against London Police. This would certainly have given him inside knowledge of the crimes and how they were committed. However, there is also evidence to suggest that Stephenson was also in Liverpool around the time of the murders there, so he may not have committed any crimes at all.
Jack the Ripper is one of the most famous serial killers of all time, and his identity remains a mystery to this day. There are many theories about who he could have been, but only a few are credible enough that many people believe them. One of the most widely believed theories is that he was actually a woman named Mary Ann (Marian) Areborn. Another popular theory is that he was the Duke of Clarence, Prince Eddy. Other suspects are Sir William Gull, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream, and Robert Donston Stephenson. It’s likely that we’ll never know who Jack the Ripper really was, but these are some of the most talked about suspects.