Wednesday, May 04, 2005
JACK the Ripper, who murdered and mutilated a series of young women in 19th century London, is one of Britain's most infamous criminals, closely associated with the capital's fogbound backstreets. But the killer – who was never caught – might have been a Sailor who interspersed his London murders with crimes in other countries, a new report said today. The theory detailed in the Guardian newspaper is the product of research by retired British detective Trevor Marriott, who used modern police methods in an attempt to solve the crimes. His conclusions, published in a book called Jack the Ripper: the 21st Century Investigation, challenge the long-held assumption the murderer was a skilled surgeon as some of the women were disemboweled. Mr Marriott also said the location of the killings between 1888 and 1891, in Whitechapel, east London, near the city's then-thriving docks, suggest the murderer may have been a Merchant Seaman. The author believes he has even identified the ship on which Jack the Ripper arrived - a cargo vessel called the Sylph which docked in London in July 1888, just before the first murder. The Ship later left for the Caribbean, tying the Sailor to a murder in Nicaragua - which Mr Marriott believes bears the hallmarks of the same man, in that a prostitute's throat was cut and her body was mutilated. Mr Marriott has also linked a crime in Germany to Jack the Ripper. "The detectives at the time took a very blinkered approach," he was quoted as saying by the Guardian. "They were convinced the killer was someone who lived or worked in the Whitechapel area. They completely overlooked the fact that there was a pattern emerging, which pointed to the possibility the killer may have been a Sailor who only occasionally visited Whitechapel, hence the gaps between the murders. "More than 100 people have been identified as Jack the Ripper in many dozens of books produced over the decades, with suspects ranging from a Polish immigrant to Prince Albert, one of Queen Victoria's grandsons. The killings generated huge publicity at the time, both for their brutality and the letters with which the killer taunted the police, signing himself as Jack the Ripper. The crimes also helped focus public attention on the appalling living conditions faced by many in the poverty-stricken east of London.