My Review of 9/1/2018 BBC History Magazine article of “The Ripper of our Nightmare”
It was a diabolical killing spree of the late 19th century that made the residents of Victorian capital shudder with visceral fear, and swivel their heads in incredulity. No one dared to venture the nightly labyrinthine streets of Whitechapel in London’s East End between August and November 1888 when five women were found dead and grotesquely mutilated with surgical precision in a ritualistic fashion. The unfortunate victims of this heinous crime were all prostitutes in the slums of the East End into the bargain. With the evasive killer still forever on the run in the wings of imaginations of many to this date, the stupendousness of the crime and its phantasmal committer still egg the inquisitive minds on coming up with zany theories as presented herein.
The turpitude of the extraordinary epochal net murder case has gripped the minds of many with journalistic bent who often go to extremes in search of novelty in what is established now as its own field of study. They are called “Ripperologist,” the individuals, as it were, with mission to provide the most feasible cue on who-done-it. Naturally, these Ripperologists have often looked for their suspects in a group of outsiders in the time of the era who were regarded as misfits, introverts, loners with hints of eccentricity because they are easy to be gorged out of the melee without much strains of their cognitive faculties and mental exertions. Yet, out of a pile of idiosyncratic mugshots of their suspects come some profiles I think are worth the noting by sheer dint of ingenious entertainment .
The Likely Suspects
- Francis Thompson: A poet with radical religious views was posited as the killer on account of the fact that all of the crimes were committed on Catholic saints’ days. However, this theory is hamstrung by the fact that those days are the feast days of the particular martyrs in celebration of their sacrifice of their lives to the Faith.
- A Mad Midwife: In 1939, a certain author named William Stewart posited that the killer was most likely a bloodthirsty deranged midwife. But then anterior to Mr. Stewart’s theory, Frederick Abberline, an inspector investigating the kills, had also suggested that it could also be a woman’s act of crime on account of a witness who had seen a female figure leaving one of the victims. Yet, the inspector later concluded that it’s more likely that the killer was a man dressed in a woman’s clothing as a way of quelling his potential victims.
- Lewis Carroll: Of all other suspects, I think this eminent writer of Alice in Wonderland stands all alone in his prodigality of literary fame and notability. In 1996, an author named Richard Wallace suggested that the Ripper was, in fact, none other than this famous writer and Anglican deacon into the bargain on the ground of the anagrams in his novels which indicated the carnival of killings in 1888. Surely, positing Carroll as the Ripper may be regarded as ludicrous and beyond the pale and even defamatory. However, Wallace must have exerted himself on interpreting the anagrams to decode the messages that Carroll had left as an act of contrition for his mortal sin. Otherwise, he would not have published his theory, knowing that doing so without any factual grounds might have incriminated one of the most renowned English writers and his descendants.
It is always interesting to see how people become fascinated with crimes and criminals of the most wicked and bestial beyond the pale. Maybe it’s because of the ignoble, recalcitrant horse that we have in the soul, always inclining to a raw, precarious stimuli to our senses, spurring the other noble, reasonable horse toward such pleasure. But why not so when our minds wonder when they spur our imaginations on devising brilliant theories such as the aforesaid? The theories will only remain possible in the domain of poetic justice and in the wings of our imaginations so long as no substantive facts surface out of the mists of the eerie past. And I defy any of the Ripperologists not to come up with any such ingenious theories to that end – all for the Truth of who-done-it in deference to the victims.