Jack the Ripper was one of the most famous and renowned killers in history. Although he was not the first serial killer, he was the first to do so in such a hugely populated area – London. Although the number of victims is unofficial, the number is thought to be around 5-7, all prostitutes within Whitechapel Area in East London, murdered in 1888. The identity of the Ripper is unknown because he was never caught. The main victim’s names were: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. Jack’s victims were stabbed, mutilated, usually disembowelled and often missing organs.
There are a number of reasons why Ripper was never caught. Firstly, the geography of London played a part in his escape – London was like a maze. At the time, London’s geography was badly organised, with many streets and dark alleys, which was the perfect place to murder someone. At night, the only light source in dark alleyways would be a tiny lamp, which flickers and the air would be dusty, and even if someone saw the Ripper, they probably would only see a shadow of him. It is also thought that the Ripper was a local person because he always escapes minutes before police arrive at the scene and he was never caught, which meant he knew the area of Whitechapel very well.
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Lack of technology was another main reason. In Victorians time, they had extremely limited forensic science – they had no DNA, fingerprinting, blood typing etc. The detection of murder generally involved eyewitness accounts and dumb luck. In other words, unless he was caught red-handed at the scene, there was no way to connect him with the victim. If Jack the Ripper was here now, in modern-day London and did the same thing, we could be sure that he would’ve been caught in a few weeks, or even days. Without forensic science, it’s not likely they could catch the Ripper. The police were under extreme amounts of pressure. Although they tried very hard, they were too ill-equipped to deal with a serial killer investigation. The murder was being dealt with by two police departments, who did not cooperate with each other.
If they had worked together, they would’ve had a bigger chance to catch the Ripper. Also, the police failed to hand out a reward for any information or encourage the public to help them in any way, although in doing so, avoided even more hoaxes. There were no viable suspects at that time – the police were working in the dark! Racial tension caused a lot of problems for police when they could’ve been spending times hunting the Ripper, as the public suspected Jews – they weren’t very popular. Their dealing with evidence was extremely poor – one police rubbed out the writing on the wall, which was likely to be written by the Ripper. Evidence suggested the Ripper was a lunatic, so lunatics were rounded from all corners but to no avail.
Press involvement was more of a hindrance than a help. It was the first time the media could make a lot of money from it, so they wrote stories or exaggerated pictures for those who can’t read, which gave false information, which mislead the public. Over the course of the Ripper’s murder, the police and newspapers received thousands of letters regarding the case. Many were considered hoaxes and wasn’t important. There were over hundreds of letter claiming to be the killer, but only a few were considered to be genuine. The media wasted time sending in some letters as they never really cared – it was money they cared about. The “Dear Boss” letter was at first considered to be a hoax, but when Eddowes ears were cut off after the letter promise that the next victim’s ears would be cut off.
The “From Hell” letter was sent with a kidney (Eddowes had a kidney missing) and it was thought to be a genuine letter because the police never released the information that Eddowes had a missing kidney. Due to the media’s involvement in this case, there was a lot of false lead and red herrings (distractions). The economics of Britain was to be blamed in some way as the victims never wanted to be prostitutes, so if they weren’t prostitutes, there wouldn’t be a Jack the Ripper. The people of the Whitechapel were very poor so unless any reward was on offer, it really didn’t matter to them. Jack the Ripper himself was a reason why he was never caught. There were hints on what job he had. Some thought he was a doctor or a butcher because he possessed surgical knowledge as the victim’s organs were cut out with precision.
However, if he wasn’t a butcher or a doctor, naturally he wouldn’t be suspected because he didn’t fit the description of one. Another reason was nobody has ever seen him in action! It is thought Jack the Ripper didn’t act on his own due to the fact “he” acted extremely quickly and the fact no evidence was ever left behind. The way he killed his victims, meant he would’ve got bloodstains all over himself, but there were no clues left behind, which hints there were more than two people. Jack the Ripper was either extremely clever or very mad, which made it difficult because he doesn’t think like a normal person. Jack the Ripper could very well have held regular employment and even had a wife and children. The true murderer was never suspected by friends, family or co-workers, because he did not fit the profile of the Victorian raving lunatic.
With all the evidence, it could be said that Jack the Ripper was extremely careful and very intelligent. In my opinion, I think the main reason why he was never caught was that in Victorian times, forensic science was still in its infancy. I don’t think Jack the Ripper could’ve got away if we had DNA or blood typing, no matter how smart (or mad) he was and with no forensic science, they couldn’t pin it on anyone. The attacks were at night so there was no clear description of the killer and the police were not popular at the time, many people loathe them at the time. With all the facts, it was no wonder how Jack the Ripper escaped! The case is still open, however, in hopes of solving this mystery.