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Why was Jack the Ripper never caught?

Essay 1

In this assignment, I will be describing and explaining why Jack the Ripper was not caught. Doing this I will use sources such as the text booklet and secondary sources from the internet.

One of the major points that Jack the Ripper was indeed not caught falls on the workings and failures of the police. After each murder the police always never came close to capturing the murderer and bringing him to justice, causing the publics’ fear and alarm to grow and each murder.

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Uncountable reasons that the police could not have even hoped at catching Jack the Ripper were often discussed and this made some of the public against the workings of the police such as Queen Victoria who’s a statement at the time suggested that ‘the police must be improved’ and ‘that they were not up to the standards they should be. She also knew that the lighting in the dark, dank streets was a big problem for the police to actually see someone and she demanded that ‘all those courts should be lit’.

Many at the time agreed with what she had said about the failures and workings of the police but many strongly disagreed and were for the police, sympathizing with them on how the Ripper chose his victims at random and had no motive for the police to actually catch him as it was a ‘chance meeting’ of the victim and the killer, making it not personal. Jack the ripper was malicious, cold-blooded, brutal, ruthless and suggested to be a sexual psychopath maybe even insane or a crazy maniac but also very cunning for he knew he wouldn’t get caught if he struck randomly and quickly, nobody has a chance of seeing him murder the victims and they had no chance of screaming for help in the dark lanes. So therefore he would be very hard to catch.

The Media clung onto every small, blood-gory detail of the murders, feeding the public with blood-thirsty stories and names of the ‘supposed killers’ the police accused. Newspapers emphasized the gruesome murders, making them sound a hundred times worst and the public clung to every word, fascinated with the crime. Random and normally innocent names we’re put forward into the papers of people that the public thought was the murderer, resulting in panic and innocent men being put in jail, even Prince Albert, the queen’s son!

The Star, a popular newspaper back then published an article soon after Polly Nichols death about the ‘leather apron’, supporting some people’s views that it was a Jew:

‘From all accounts, he is five feet four or five inches in height and wears a dark, close-fitting cap. He is thickset and has an unusually thick neck. His hair is black and closely clipped. His age is about 38 or 40. He has a small black moustache. The distinguishing feature of his costume is a leather apron, which he always wears. His expression is sinister and seems to be full of terror for the woman who described it.’

The description for this report was way to detailed and way over the top, this was to make people feel inferior to other people that the description matched and to scare them, other newspapers writing stories of the same context.

It was believed that the Ripper was a local, a person that maybe everyone trusted or knew, who just went around normally every day and killed at night. Many thought that it was a man that despised prostitutes and was killing them, one by one. This was thought because when Martha Tabram and Emma Smith were attacked they were both prostitutes.


Essay 2 – Why were the police unable to catch Jack the Ripper?

There were numerous reasons as to why the police were unable to catch Jack the Ripper. In this essay, I will be investigating the main reasons why Jack the Ripper was never caught.

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Firstly, one of the reasons why the police were unsuccessful in catching Jack the Ripper was the event took place at a period when forensic science equipment was limited and was not as advanced as they are now. The police did not know anything about fingerprinting and DNA; therefore they couldn’t catch the Ripper. This also resulted in police washing off the blood that they came across near the crime scene, instead of them checking for the fingerprints. Using fingerprinting and DNA could have helped them to search for suspects and hopefully they could have caught Jack the Ripper.

Secondly, the police did not get a clear description of what the Ripper actually looked like. Many of the witnesses that had claimed to have seen Jack the Ripper all had a different description of what he looked like. Some people said Jack the Ripper was a small, bearded, foreign man in a deerstalker hat, whilst others described him as a tall, distinguished man. This confused the police of what Jack the Ripper may have looked like and they could not have arrested anyone for being the Ripper.

Thirdly, time and resources were wasted on the police investigating over 200 men who claimed to be Jack the Ripper. Many of these people were insane and just wanted to get some attention. Others were doing it to make a mockery of the police force. This made the catching of the Ripper very unsuccessful.

Furthermore, the police could not link Jack the Ripper to any of his victims. The police thought the Ripper did not know any off the five women he murdered. Over 80% of murders that are carried out are by someone who knows the victims but in Jack the Ripper’s case, the police thought the Ripper did not know any of the five women he murdered.

In addition, one of the main reasons why the police were unable to catch Jack the Ripper was because there were two police forces; the metropolitan police force and the city of London police. The metropolitan police investigated four of the murders that took place at Whitechapel and the City of London police investigated the murder of Elizabeth Strides. Both forces were rivals and did not cooperate which each other in trying to catch Jack the Ripper. This means that when evidence came up they would not share it with each other and they did not work together. The selfishness of both forces led to the lack of evidence to suspect who the Ripper was, therefore his identity was not revealed.

Moreover, the newspapers put a lot of pressure on the police force. The newspapers sent false letters and made up stories to the police. They also mocked and criticized the police effort. The newspapers did this to earn publicity and more money.

Nevertheless, when the police tried to use two of the best bloodhound in London to track down Jack the Ripper, the bloodhounds ran away because they had not been trained and also the police could not have caught up with them. If the police had trained the bloodhounds then maybe there would have been a possibility that Jack the Ripper would have been caught. The local vigilantes also might have interfered with the police enquires.

As well as the newspapers putting pressure on the police, Queen Victoria also put a lot of pressure on the police. This could have caused the police to have rushed the case and also missed some vital evidence, which could have helped them to catch Jack the Ripper.

Finally, the police were unable to catch Jack the Ripper because some local Eastenders claimed that at first the police were not bothered if they caught the murderer because the police did not care about what happened to the Eastenders as it was a poor part of London. They claimed that if the murders had taken place in a richer place of London like Brixton. Then the police would have paid more attention to catching Jack the Ripper.

In conclusion, I think that the main reason why the police failed to catch Jack the Ripper was because of the lack of forensic science. If they had this it would have been easier to catch Jack the Ripper. I also think that the newspapers did not make life easy for the police and did not encourage them in finding the Ripper, instead, they mocked them and this made the police become less hard working on the case.

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They also did not have enough description as to what the killer might have been as people were giving different opinions. All of this made the police unable to catch Jack the Ripper. However, there might have been a possibility in discovering who Jack the Ripper was if the metropolitan and City of London police force worked together as a team.


Essay 3

There were many unsolved murders in the 1800s but Jack the Ripper was the most infamous and notorious serial killer never to have been caught by the police. There were many reasons why the Ripper was not caught such as no forensic evidence, the ‘Dear Boss’ letters, the role of the press, and bad methods used by the police and this essay will explain all the reasons why Jack the Ripper was never caught.

The first reason why the Ripper was never caught was the ‘Dear Boss’ letters. Hundreds and hundreds of letters were sent to the media with people claiming to be the Ripper and most of the letters were disregarded as they were clearly fakes, they were people who were just craving attention. However, there were a few letters which the Ripper himself allegedly had written, the ‘Dear Boss’ letters, which had details that only the Ripper would have known.

Initially, the letters were considered to be one of the many hoaxes but when the body of Catherine Eddowes was found with an earlobe severed, the writer’s promise to “clip the lady’s ears off” attracted attention. Although this was a significant piece of evidence, it was not given straight to the police.

The press gave the letters to the police shortly after the death of the Ripper’s fourth victim which could have meant that if the press had acted earlier the police could have had a chance to catch the Ripper by having more undercover patrols. Also, the press played its part in nationalizing the Ripper murders. The newspapers often exaggerated and sensationalized stories by mentioning as much gruesomeness as they could.

This led the middle and upper classes that lived in the wealthier areas of London to complain to the government and to the politicians. This resulted in the government putting pressure on the police and also experienced officers were always transferred to other cases which slowed down the progress on catching the Ripper. Another interference that delayed the Ripper’s capture was that Whitechapel was split into two.

There were two rival police forces in Whitechapel, each patrolling the streets. The Ripper murders crossed the area where the Metropolitan Police Force and City of London Police Force had officers on the investigation. The Metropolitan Police, known as Scotland Yard, was responsible for crimes committed in all the boroughs of London except the City of London. The single square mile in the heart of London known as the City of London had its own police force. When Eddowes was killed, it was in their territory and this brought them into the Ripper case.

You might have thought that with two police forces, the chance of catching the Ripper would have doubled but this did not happen because the men in charge of the two police forces did not cooperate very well. Both of the men wanted the glory of their forces to capture the Ripper without the assistance of the other. Also, not all of the information that each police force got was shared. This meant that officers were wasting valuable time looking for information that the other force already had. Another waste of time was the methods used by the police themselves.

The police used many poor methods for catching the Ripper and one method was dressing up as woman. The police knew that the Ripper was going after prostitutes so they decided to dress up some of the officers to see if the Ripper would approach them. Unfortunately, the disguises did not fool anyone as the men were embarrassed and they were not believable as real prostitutes and only after a few outings, the police abandoned the idea.

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There was also another idea that the police came up with as they trained some bloodhounds to ‘sniff out’ any leads but there were many scents in Whitechapel due to the fact that animals would go to slaughter and blood and feces would blanket the streets. This meant that the dogs could not follow a specific scent and later on the idea was also abandoned. The police also explored a different route on the investigation.

The police handed out eighty thousand leaflets appealing for any information on the Ripper and many witnesses came forward and over two thousand people were interviewed. This led to the police spending an awful amount of time questioning people. They asked sailors, drug addicts, lodgers, prostitutes, gypsies, doctors, butchers and slaughterers about the murders. However, all the witnesses gave slightly different descriptions and the police weren’t able to get an artist’s impression of the Ripper and they could not narrow down their search.

Also, the fact that there was not a reward might have encouraged a key witness to have come forward. But this raised the question that if a reward was given then many more people could have came forward with false evidence on the Ripper which would have slowed down his capture. There was also another type of evidence that the police did not have.

At the time of the Whitechapel murders, police did not have forensic evidence and the only way of catching a murderer was to catch them doing it or to get a suspect to confess. All that police could do was examine dead bodies and take witness statements.

They had no understanding of DNA and fingerprinting as it was only introduced in the early twentieth century. Also, police still believed that if a photograph was taken of the victim’s eyes shortly after death then an image of the murderer would be imprinted on their eyeballs. The fact that science and technology had not developed yet decreased the chances of the Rippers capture.

To conclude, there were many reasons why Jack the Ripper was never caught as I have just explained in this essay. The most important reason why the Ripper was not caught was that there was no forensic evidence. This is a more important reason than the ‘Dear Boss’ letters because if there was forensic evidence such as fingerprints then the suspects could have been narrowed down until the Ripper was caught. It is also a more important reason than the press because although the press delayed the investigation by not giving the letters straight to the police if there was forensic evidence on the letters then the Ripper could have been captured.

The least important reason was the press, although they belated the police investigation by not giving the ‘Dear Boss’ letters they were just doing their job; nationalizing the Ripper murders. In the end, the police never charged any suspect with the murders committed by the Ripper which shows they did not have a sufficient amount of evidence that would gain a verdict of guilty in criminal court.


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Why was Jack the Ripper never caught?. (2021, Sep 27). Retrieved August 14, 2022, from