An interesting recent article in the LA Times looks at the long-unsolved
mystery of who was “Jack the Ripper.” The murder and mutilation
of five women in London by an unknown assailant occurred during a two-month
period 123 years ago. Now, armchair detectives and retired homicide detectives
alike are trying to solve the crime on their own.
One retired homicide detective even appealed to that country’s Freedom
of Information Act to have the original crime files by Scotland Yard released
to him so that he could try his hand at finally solving the string of
violent crimes. His request and appeal were denied because the Metropolitan Police Service
argued that it still had a duty to protect its informants, even if they
are long dead.
The police argued that revealing the identities of informants could put
their descendants at risk from the descendants of the people they implicated
in the crime.
In 1888, five women who worked as prostitutes were found dead in the red-light
district of London’s East End, called the Whitechapel district.
The perpetrator slit the women’s throats to kill them and also eviscerated
some of them.
The homicide detective who wanted to see the original documents has formed
his own theory on the crimes, which he wrote about in a book. He believes
that the crimes could have been committed by a German sailor who would
have been docked at the time near the Whitechapel district. He later slit
the throat of his landlady after moving to New York and was executed in
the electric chair for the crime. Similar crimes to the ones in London
also occurred in Germany at a later time.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “The cold, cold case of Jack the Ripper,” Henry Chu, Sept. 20, 2011