We all know the legend of Jack the Ripper,the elusive and horrifying stealth murderer that haunted London’s East End in the terrible autumn of 1888. Over 2500 suspects were accused of the sensational crime. The sheer media frenzy of the press whipped up the public to a pitched fever, and at it’s zenith, even Queen Victoria was upset, having been the recipient of a petition signed by 40,000 London women, with a demand for the immediate implement of “safety measures”. In short, Jack the Ripper was the first gory media sensation. It has never been the same since.
Life in the East End was brutal and often short. It has been said that half the children born in the area died before the age of 5. Police were over their heads trying to catch the elusive fiend, since fingerprints were not yet developed into a science, and in 1888, no blood tying technologies existed in criminal investigations.Most women in the area resorted to prostitution because of such extreme poverty., Small pox,Cholera, and T.B. were common killers and most people rarely lived past 45. This was a place to die, a skid row of broken dreams and lesser honor, a slum for as far as the eye could see. A perfect hunting ground for rapists, thieves and criminals.
The media roars…..
The Ripper murders mark an important watershed in the treatment of crime by journalists While not the first serial killer, Jack the Ripper’s case was the first to create a worldwide media frenzy.
Tax reforms in the 1850s had enabled the publication of inexpensive newspapers with wider circulation. These mushroomed later in the Victorian era to include mass-circulation newspapers as cheap as a halfpenny, along with popular magazines such as The Illustrated Police News, which made the Ripper the beneficiary of previously unparalleled publicity.
The first victim:
Prostitute Mary Ann Nichols, the first victim of London serial killer “Jack the Ripper,” is found murdered and mutilated in Whitechapel’s Buck’s Row on August 31st 1888. The East End of London saw four more victims of the murderer during the next few months, but no suspect was ever found.
The second victim: Anne Chapman:
Annie Chapman led a somewhat nomadic existence around Spitalfields. Dorset Street. She was 45 years old, a short plump, ashen-faced consumptive who for four or so months prior to her death had been living at Crossingham’s lodging house at number 35 Dorset Street where she paid eight pence a night for a double bed.
She appears to have enjoyed a cordial relationship with the other tenants and the deputy keeper, Timothy Donovan, remembered her as being an inoffensive soul whose main weakness was a fondness for drink.
Like many of the women in the area Annie supplemented the meager income she obtained from crochet work and making and selling artificial flowers with prostitution.
She had two regular clients, one known as Harry the Hawker, and the other a man named Ted Stanley, a supposed retired soldier who was known to her fellow lodgers as “the Pensioner.” As it later transpired, Stanley was neither a retired soldier nor a pensioner, but was in fact a bricklayer’s labourer who lived at number 1 Osborn Place, Whitechapel.
The media frenzy ups the anti.:
After the murder of Nichols in early September, the Manchester Guardian reported that: “Whatever information may be in the possession of the police they deem it necessary to keep secret … It is believed their attention is particularly directed to … a notorious character known as ‘Leather Apron’.” Journalists were frustrated by the unwillingness of the CID to reveal details of their investigation to the public, and so resorted to writing reports of questionable veracity. Imaginative descriptions of “Leather Apron” appeared in the press, but rival journalists dismissed these as “a mythical outgrowth of the reporter’s fancy”. John Pizer, a local Jewish worker who made footwear from leather, was known by the name “Leather Apron” and was arrested, even though the investigating inspector reported that “at present there is no evidence whatsoever against him”. He was soon released after the confirmation of his alibis.Business was brisk for the newsboys. Newspapers could not keep up with the public demand for these “gruesome murders” And then, the letters started arriving at police stations and newspapers, in a way similar to the notorious “Zodiac killer” 85 years later.
Missives from hell……
After the publication of the “Dear Boss” letter, “Jack the Ripper” supplanted “Leather Apron” as the name adopted by the press and public to describe the killer. The name “Jack” was already used to describe another fabled London attacker: “Spring-heeled Jack”, who supposedly leapt over walls to strike at his victims and escape as quickly as he came. were any of these letter’s actually from the so called “Ripper”?
What if the only true ripper murders were the first two victims? Here is presented a theory that promises not to clear up the mystery, but probably deepen it.
Could the media have been behind the “Double Event murders and the final murder?
After the first two murders, London papers enjoyed a huge bonus in readership, so much so that many were selling out of their papers in such a degree that they were now doubling and tripling their printings, and finding 100 times the readership. Horror Journalism was born! The adage,” if it bleeds, it leads, comes from the Ripper murders and the sensationalism surrounding the publics unending appetite for shock.News boys on every corner shouted “Orrible murder” and newpapers sold 400 times faster than in any time previously. Editors became right seemingly overnight.
The only thing more valuable than human life is profit
I have just read a most impressive book on the press in London during this period. The author is Paul Begg.Press coverage of the 1888 mutilation murders attributed to Jack the Ripper was of necessity filled with gaps and silences, for the killer remained unknown and Victorian journalists had little experience reporting serial murders and sex crimes. This engrossing book examines how fifteen London newspapers – dailies and weeklies, highbrow and lowbrow – presented the Ripper news, in the process revealing much about the social, political, and sexual anxieties of late Victorian Britain and the role of journalists in reinforcing social norms.
L. Perry Curtis surveys the mass newspaper culture of the era, delving into the nature of sensationalism and the conventions of domestic murder news. Analyzing the fifteen newspapers – several of which emanated from the East End, where the murders took place – he shows how journalists played on the fears of readers about law and order by dwelling on lethal violence rather than sex, offering gruesome details about knife injuries but often withholding some of the more intimate details of the pelvic mutilations. He also considers how the Ripper news affected public perceptions of social conditions in Whitechapel, the toughest part of the city.
If we look at the explosion of press that happened after the first two murders,, could it be possible to assume that a newspaper, wanting to continue keeping it’s readers in horror, had given instructions to one or more people to “commit some carnage in the East End” therefore tightening the grip of fear on Londoners and making a windfall at the same time? If the “double event” was staged by two “guns for hire” paid by a newspaper, it could explain the inflammatory note written on a wall blaming “Juwes”, a note that was washed off by police because they feared it could lead to civil unrest. There were a sizable portion of Whitechapel’s population that were immigrant escaping from the pogroms of Russia,so police were fearful that tensions would boil over.
Is it possible that even this note, written above a bloodtstained article of clothing from one of the victims, was an attempt by a newspaper to incite further fear and sell more papers? It is not out of the realm of possibility to assume such scenario’s, since we know that is exactly what Hearst did when his sensationalistic “Yellow” journalism led to the Spanish American war of 1898. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Would a psychopath also be intent upon writing such a note on a wall? It seems…staged..as if the author was really hoping to cause some type of public backlash….Could the offending missive have been written by a member of the London media?
Selling the news…
We must always ask, who profited from the Ripper murders? Examining the slew of letters to the press and police, which may have all been fraudulent, I would kindly suggest that a Victorian newspaper editor or editors might be given the same scrutiny as other ripper suspects. perhaps 15 papers witnessed a good 1000% profit during the Ripper panic.They had motive, opportunity and method, and “staging events” or to put it in popular rhetoric “False Flagging” would not be beyond the morals of some of these sordid publications. If this theory is to be tested, I leave it at the hands of the “Ripperologists” The first place to look is to see if any criminal history exists with any journalists/editors of the era.And then..
Follow the money…..
Thomas SchoenbergerRead More