Saturday, June 16, 2007

UNMASKING JACK


Background
Between August and November 1888 five gruesome murders were committed within one square mile of London's East End. Thought to be the work of one man press called him "Jack the Ripper". The hunt to find the East End slayer caused panic in London's Whitechapel district and became an international sensation: Who was he? Where did he come from? Who would he be 'down on' next?

The victims
Newspapers carried theories on the killer's identity but he was never found and the phantom vanished leaving his bloody deeds as a reminder of his evil presence. Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, Mary Jane Kelly; the 'Canonical Five' (in this case generally accepted) victims of Jack the Ripper.

Additional murders
Some believe the Whitechapel phantom was responsible for thirteen additional (unsolved) murders but these are not listed under what is termed the canonical group. These victims, which stretch up to 1891, included only one which preceded the Whitechapel slayings and allegedly took place on the 26th December 1887. "Fairy Fay" was later discounted as a myth and, possibly, later creation. No such person has ever been unearthed in any contemporaneous news article or official documents. Five crimes then; apparently committed by one person - alone.

The discovery
Now come closer... I want to share a secret with you...a secret that may begin a process that could lead to the unmasking of Jack the Ripper. Could there be a Ripper victim who has - until now - remained unknown? And from a much earlier date? I think so and I've found her...

Pre-Ripper newspaper account
On Monday morning, in June 1886, shortly before nine o'clock, a boy named Horace Skinner was going over an unfinished building in East Dulwich, when he was horrified to find, crouched up in a corner, the body of a woman. "HORRIBLE DISCOVERY AT DULWICH" The South London Observer, Wednesday June 1886 carried the headline banner detailing reports of the discovery..."Information was at once given at the police-station, when Inspector Harris proceeded to the spot, and found in a back bed-room upstairs, a respectably dressed woman lying upon the ground with her throat cut in two places, and a common table-knife lying by her side in a stream of congealed blood."

Could she have been Jack the Ripper's first victim? Was the cause of her death later misidentified? Did the victim know Jack? Answers soon.... in TheBigRetort "Ripper Uncovered" series.

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