Though all witnesses have been dead for decades, historians and sleuths have put these Jack The Ripper suspects at the top of their list for the infamous murders.
Since the terrible Whitechapel Murders of 1888, speculation as to who was Jack The Ripper have run rampant, with dozens of names being thrown in the ring.
When police failed to find the identity of the murderer of several women in the Whitechapel neighborhood of London in 1888, the newspaper dubbed the anonymous killer “Jack The Ripper.” This now legendary figure was the first urban serial killer to capture the imagination of the public, and now, over 100 years later, the Ripper still has a grip on the public consciousness.
Though all involved in the case have been dead for decades, historians and sleuths have attempted to glean the identity of the murderer to this day. While some of these theories have been outlandish speculation, there are a few Jack The Ripper suspects that legitimately have a case against them.
Many of these Jack The Ripper suspects were at one point suspected by the police but were ultimately never charged with the murders. Others have been speculated on in hindsight, and have some historical evidence for their involvement later uncovered.
Here are five of the most likely Jack The Ripper suspects:
Jack The Ripper Suspects: Montague John Druitt
Who was he?
Montague Druitt was born in 1857 as the son of a prominent local surgeon and officer of the law. Druitt was a bright child and obtained a scholarship to attend Winchester College at the age of 13.
In school, he participated on the debate team and was an opening bowler for the school’s cricket team. After leaving school in 1880, he joined the Inner Temple, one of the qualifying bodies to become a lawyer in England at the time, located in London.
To pay for his legal training, he took a job as an assistant schoolmaster at George Valentine’s boarding school in 1885. During this time he also played cricket with a prominent clubs across England.
He was dismissed from his position at the school in 1888 for an unknown reason. Newspapers at the time said it was because Druitt “had got into serious trouble.”
A month later his body was found in the River Thames, presumably dead from suicide.
Why is he one of the Jack The Ripper Suspects?
Shortly before Druitt’s death in 1888, the Ripper claimed his final victim, Mary Jane Kelly. Shortly after rumors began to spread that the Ripper had drowned in the Thames.
Three years later, in 1891, a member of parliament from West Dorchester, England began saying that the Ripper was “the son of a surgeon” who had committed suicide on the night of the last murder.
Journalists and law enforcement officers of the time also corroborated this story of the Ripper dying in the Thames after his final murder.
This description led contemporary law enforcement and later investigators to suspect Druitt, who had committed suicide in the manner described by these rumors directly following the last murder.
Assistant Chief Constable Sir Melville Macnaghten of the London Metropolitan Police even named Druitt as a suspect in the Whitechapel murders in private memorandum written in 1894
Does the case against him hold up?
Even though many people of the time seemed to have genuinely suspected Druitt, there is little more than vague circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders.
Beyond that, Druitt himself was not trained in any medical techniques, something many people suspect the true Ripper was.
Furthermore, his suicide can be more reasonably explained by a note he left to his brother, “Since Friday I felt that I was going to be like mother, and the best thing for me was to die.”
His mother suffered from depression and insanity and died in an asylum in 1890. She had attempted suicide in the past, as had his grandmother and many members of his family.
Also, Druitt has solid alibis from the cricket games he played showing him far away from London at the time of many of the murders.
Realistically the only things tying him to the murders were his place and time of death, as well as the hearsay of some law enforcement officers, none of whom were directly involved in the Whitechapel murder cases.