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Jack the Ripper

You are in: London > History > Jack the Ripper > Who was Jack the Ripper?

Jack the Ripper suspects (c)Met Police Historical Society

Jack the Ripper suspects.

Who was Jack the Ripper?

BBC London presents a case against five of the main suspects - who do you think was London's most notorious serial killer?

A letter from someone claiming to be Jack the Ripper

From the ripper or a hoax?

It was 120 years ago this week that London's greatest mystery cast its grim shadow over the Victorian metropolis - the 'Whitechapel Murders'.

The first of five Jack the Ripper murders terrorised the capital and the identity of the most famous serial killer of all times has haunted the world's imagination ever since.

Mary Ann Nichols was the first of five women slaughtered by Jack the Ripper. The others were Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. The 'Whitechapel Murders' could have seen as many as eleven victims.

Le Journal Illustre 13 February 1891 (c) Museum in Docklands

An illustration from 1891

The tragic women would have all been forgotten by history had they not had the fatal misfortune to meet the Ripper in London's East End. So it is perhaps appropriate that this week the breakfast show will be putting five suspects in the dock, five suspects who have all been accused of being Jack.

We have sifted the evidence and reviewed the history of almost three dozen possible perpetrators. We lay before you the five most likely and you will decide who is innocent and who could be guilty.

You can listen to all five here now.

Monday - Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence

Robert Elms outlines the case for the prosecution against Queen Victoria's grandson, Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence. At one time second in line to the throne of Great Britain could he really be Jack the Ripper?

Tuesday  - Michael Ostrog

Vanessa Feltz presents the case for the prosecution against our second suspect. In the dock is Michael Ostrog, a Russian doctor who was detained as a 'homicidal maniac'.

Wednesday - Montague John Druitt

Time now to consider the evidence against our third suspect. Someone considered by a majority of Ripper experts to be the prime suspect. Here to present the case against lawyer Montague John Druitt is Danny Baker.

Thursday -  Nathan Kaminsky/David Cohen

Today a fourth man stands accused. Paul Ross will lay the case for the prosecution before you. The suspect is known as both  Nathan Kaminsky and David Cohen. He was confused by a pair of senior police officers years  after the Ripper murders ceased with another Jewish suspect, the far less convincing Aaron Kosminsky.

Friday - Walter Sickert

One last man stands accused before you. Prosecuting counsel, and star of Crossroads, JoAnne Good presents the case against Walter Sickert. Walter Sickert (1860-1942), a very highly regarded British painter, was named in recent years as Jack the Ripper by American crime novelist Patricia Cornwell.

Who do you think is Jack the Ripper?

Ladies and gentlemen of the London Jury we await your verdict.
You can tell us who you think is most guilty of the five suspects named above.

Michael Ostrog who became a prime suspect

Michael Ostrog - a prime Ripper suspect

Call 0207 224 2000 and text 07786 200 949 during the breakfast show (06.00 - 09.00 Mon-Fri) or email: joandpaul@bbc.co.uk

You can also tell us your views by using the form below.

last updated: 10/11/2008 at 15:13
created: 22/08/2008

Have Your Say

Who do you think Jack the Ripper was?

Emma Bird
Having read Patricia Cornwell's book and been on the Jack the Ripper London Walk twice I believe Jack the Ripper was Walter Sickert.

Dr Francis Tumblety
He was left out here but was a killer in America who fled here then fled back in late 1888

Kasim Aziz
James Maybrick is my Great, great uncle. He is in my family tree along with the other Maybricks. My name is asian, yes. But I am mixed race. My mothers a British white.

Ally in Bookham
What jewelry?

John Inverness
Like most of the serious Ripper historians I believe Jack was an unknown person living in the heart of the area (Kaminsky is a strong possibilty as is Barnett). It was not some 'visitor' like Maybrick, Tumblety, Druitt, or Duke of Clarence and Avendale.

Fredrick Western
James Maybrick, most that have studied the issue all have the same suspect.In some ways I feel the the media prefer to get it wrong, that way they can spin a story.But that's the BBC for you talking rubbish and feeding misinformation to all. But hey why let the truth get in the way of a stupid programme.Citizen Elms as always going for the Royals. never before has a man so middle class have a chip so big on his shoulder. The British way, talk a load of crap and miss the obvious.

Luisa
I think, looking at the evidence, Tumblety is the most convincing- though I have to disagree with Lindsay Room saying that serial killers nearly always show homosexual tendancies- from what Ive read, I would have to disagree, and actually the fact he may have been homosexual is the one point made against his being the killer as gay serial killers apparently usually target men.

heidi
brayling

Frank Riegal
Nathan Kaminsky

Linda
Nathan Kaminsky - Leather Apron!!!

Jo
Vanessa presented the case so well. I believe it to be Michael Ostrog.xx

Lindsay Room
From all the past enquiries I have to go for Dr Francis Tumblety, serial killers have shown they nearly always show homosexual tendancies so he fits the bill on that point, plus he had some medical knowledge, he lived within a mile of most of the murder locations, the case was massive in the US with huge press coverage given to him, (blocked in the UK) Scotland Yard sent 2 detectives to New york to catch him & failed. He hated women & kept womens organs in jars!!! The killings stopped after he left for the US! Sounds like our man to me Regards Lindsay

Chris in New Malden
It was none of these. Overwhelming evidence points to William Gull, Queen Victoria's physician!

alan -
danny baker could convince me I did it after listening to his piece on Druitt, however, Francis Tumbletee seems the most likley

Gill Griff
It was without doubt Montague John Druitt because The Great Master Baker said so.

Nick Bradley
Fabienne, Stephen Knight who came up with the discredited Freemasons/Albert Vicotr theory actually died many years after writing his book of cancer, additionally, the Prince was photographed shooting Grouse at Balmorral 300 miles away onm the day of one of the murders! I quite like Dr Tumbelty as a suspect, as similar murders took place in America after his return. All a bit speculative though.

Andy
Walter Sickert

Nickie Ward
Tumbletey as 'copy cat' killings occurred in the US after Tumbletey fled there but the murders stopped in the UK. However in reality probably no one listed. Alleyways were dark and main transport hubs close by for escape, the population was suspicious of the police and of one another. The majority of the population of whitechapel had issues with alcohol and witnesses were therefore unreliable and hard to find as they resided in flop / lodging houses, constantly in flux. Plus the language barrier between police and immigrant population. Police had only nominal guidance on how to treat a crime scene and forensics was in its infancy. I think the ripper thrived on this anonymity and the fact that violence on women in the east end was common and therefore the actual victims of the ripper as opposed to other women was hard to track.

michael regan
i think the ripper was Montague Druitt because the case put forward by Danny Baker appears to be the most compelling.

Jeni
I can't believe James Maybrick wasn't one of your suspects!!!There are far too many coincidences involving him for it to have been him AND after he died there were no more Ripper murders!!

Jacqueline
Probably Druitt; possibly Ostrog.

Whitechapel Jack
Without a doubt, Joseph Barnett.

jack
Explain the jewellery Ally in Bookham, if you can!

Mark Wood
Francis Tumbletee. can't believe you didn't even have him in your 5. Easily the most convincing

Richard Levene, Ilford
If I had never heard of Jack the Ripper,and only had the cases presented on the radio to go by, I would 'convict' Nathan Kaminsky on the basis that he was the only suspect linked to the scene of the crime by a witness. The others are all circumstantial or speculation.It seems the police may have 'stitched up' Druitt to close a high-profile case. Some things don't change...

John From Dagenham
Jack The Ripper must have been a local man who knew the area, and the victims, because they must of felt at ease with him. Some experts think he may have had more than five victims.

Fabienne Kentish
According to a book called the 'Final Solution' by Stephen Knight a secret society called the Freemasons were respnsible for the Ripper murders on orders of the Crown. The women murdered were not random victims, but witnesses to the illegitimate child of Queen Victoria's son. The writer of the this book was found murdered in his flat a few months after the book was published.

Robert Stuhldreer
I'm afraid none of your suspects are Jack the Ripper. The most likely contender is Tumbletee

Ally in Bookham
No serial killer has ever stopped because they wanted to. Shipman, Sutcliffe and West for example all kept on killing until they were caught and none of them has ever changed their modus operandi. Assuming that the crimes were committed by one man, Jack the Ripper has to be someone whose ability to continue was curtailed in some way. Tumblety merely went to America where, as far as we know, there were no 'Ripper' style murders.David Cohen, however, was banged up at just the right time.

Nikky
James Maybrick. Period!

Derek Flint
I think it was Robert Elms. He is older than he looks.

Jack
Tracy is on to something. Items of jewellery belonging to one of the victims were found in Francis Tumbletee's house in America. He was a suspect. The authorities tried to have him arrested on the boat he was returning to America on but couldn't get a message through in time.

Anne
Definitely James Maybrick but certainly none of the five mentioned

Lorraine
I saw a very good documentary some years ago that seemed to prove it was Kaminsky but he was also called something else. Really enjoyed this item - shame it wasn't on late at night for creepy dreams!

jacksy
Definitely Sickert! Great series.

albert charles shokey
Michael Ostrog the letters in his name are M.O. 4th letter R 2th I. Victims names have letters like his.

a-m
James Maybrick.

Ally in Bookham
When I lived in Mornington Crescent back in the 70's I used to go to a friends house on a Sunday afternoon where he would play loud reggae music whilst everybody played Monopoly, whilst eating Chili-Con-Carne and smoking weed.This house was the very same house in Mornington Crescent where Walter Sickert had his lodgings during the period when he painted The Camden Town Nudes.Based on the ambiance of the dwelling I would say that Walter is definitely innocent.

Ade
I agree with Tracy - Francis Tumbletee seems to be a more likely suspect

philip
james maybrick !

Colin
None of these for reasons that have been conclusively proved years ago. For example the Duke of Clarence was at a reception for the Shah of Persia at the time of one of the killings. The whole Walter Sickert thing arose from a story put out by someone who claimed to be his son who was proven not to be and later admitted he made the story up.

Griffin
The First suspect, he just looks like a slasher.

Tracy Hopper
Francis Tumbletee - a quack known to be in the area at the time. The killings stopped when he returned to America.Prince Albert was out of the country when some of the attacks took place.

xuna
I think Walter Sickert was the killer; in a passing phase - a mixture of mental illness, eccentrism and research for his paintings. Though Montague does look suspicious, he just may have been the perfect excuse for Sickert to get away with it all..

Mark Harrison
Joseph Barnett, simple as.

Vivien
I agree with Steve G, having read the book about James Maybrick several years ago. Definitey too many coincidences.

Adam Ioannou
All the evidence points to more than one man being involved, and there are too many coincidences to discount the notion that figures in the 'establishment' were complicit. Of the suspects, the involvement of Montague John Druitt seems most likely based on the evidence, perhaps in tandem with JK Stephen.

michael anthony wilson
i think it was suspect no 4nathan kaminsky.

Steve G.
James Maybrick, Liverpool cotton merchant. Too many coincidences regarding his wheareabouts at the time of the murders. I don't believe the Diary was a hoax.

N. Patel
I think the ripper was Michael Ostrog because he was a doctor. The way the women were cut open was likely to have been done by someone with a high knowledge of the human anatomy

Bill Stansfield
Joseph Barnett, Mary Kelly's ex-lover and known to have been in her company on the night of her murder

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