Jack the Ripper was an unidentified Victorian era serial killer, who was active in London. He was never caught and he remains a mystery to this day; his victims were women who earned their income as prostitutes. His victims throats were slit, and most of their bodies mutilated. He was never found or caught by anyone. His weapon of choice was a knife. Other names for him at the time were "The Whitechapel Murderer" and "Leather Apron". He was one of the most vicious serial killers in history.
Nobody knows for sure how many women were murdered by Jack the Ripper. It is generally accepted that he killed at least three women, most likely five, and possibly as many as seven or eight; but, as the killer was never caught, it’s likely the true number will never be known. However, due to contemporary autopsy reports and inquest transcripts, some educated guesses can be made on which of the Whitechapel murders were most likely committed by the same hand, and which were unrelated to the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper (the Jack the Ripper murders only make up a part of the larger official police file known as the Whitechapel Murders. These eleven murders, committed between April 1888 and February 1891, are a series of unsolved murders, all committed within the Whitechapel district. How many of those eleven murders were committed by the same hand is unknown; even which victims can be attributed to the Ripper is open to debate, and indeed even the police officials at the time weren’t always in agreement).
Today, five of the Whitechapel murders are generally attributed to Jack the Ripper, and while this number still stands to this day, the debate over how many women were actually killed by the Ripper continues to rage on. These five women are now known as the canonical five, and while most researchers agree that three were murdered by the same hand, the opinion over whether two of the victims (Liz Stride and Mary Kelly) were victims of Jack the Ripper remain divided and is often hotly debated.
The canonical five victims killed by Jack the Ripper were female prostitutes. Their names were Mary Ann Nichols (43), Annie Chapman (47?), Elizabeth Stride (44), Catherine Eddowes (46), and Mary Jane Kelly (25?). They were cut apart into pieces and parts of them taken. All the victims were found dead on the streets, except the last who was found in her boarding room.
Nobody knows the identity of Jack the Ripper. And after more than 120 years, is safe to say that they will almost certainly never know the identity of the infamous serial killer. Still, that hasn’t stopped police, authors and armchair detectives alike naming literally hundreds of suspects over the years. Many have believed that he was a doctor, because he had knowledge of the human body and the organs contained. It's also possible that he was a butcher. Several theorists suggest that "Jack the Ripper" was actually more than one killer. Author Stephen Knight argued that the murders were a conspiracy involving multiple miscreants, whereas others have proposed that each murder was committed by unconnected individuals acting independently of each other.
The police believed the Ripper was a local Whitechapel resident. His apparent ability to disappear immediately after the killings suggests an intimate knowledge of the Whitechapel neighbourhood, including its back alleys and hiding places. However, the population of Whitechapel was transient, impoverished and often used aliases. The lives of many of its residents were little recorded. The Ripper's true identity will almost certainly never be known.
In popular culture
Jack the Ripper has since become the inspiration for many fictional villains. The very name Jack, which was once considered whimsical and endearing, is now enough to make a villain seem dangerous. Many serial killers from slasher-fiction can be considered a homage to the original Ripper.
- Jack the Ripper is an accomplice of Dio Brando in the anime and manga series Bizarre Adventure JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
- Raiden from the Metal Gear franchise is nicknamed Jack the Ripper because of his violent past
- The DC villain Vandal Savage is an immortal who is rumoured to have either been or worked with several real-life villains, including Jack the Ripper.
- Jack the Ripper is the main antagonist in the novel Savage by Richard Laymon. He reveals his name to be Roderick Whittle and his disappearance was explained as fleeing England to live in America. While in America, Whittle is able to continue his killings as he has assumed a position as sheriff and the locals are quick to blame any murders on the natives.
- Jack the Ripper is also the main antagonist in the Alan Moore graphic novel From Hell. He is played by Ian Holm in the film adaptation.
- Jack the Ripper appears as a boss and one of the main antagonists in the video-game Shadow Man
- In the comicbook series Doom Patrol, a cosmic being known as Red Jack claims to be both the Ripper and God
- The anime series Soul Eater has a monster called Jack the Ripper
- The videogame series Waxworks also has a more fantastic version of Jack the Ripper, who is revealed to be a devil-worshipper as well as a murderer
- One antagonist from the Fansadox web comic series is known as Jack Ripley and his actions are depicted as those of a religious fanatic who believes that all women need to be punished with rape, torture and death
- The main antagonist Jackson Rippner from the film Red Eye is a thinly-veiled reference. Despite this, Jackson is not a serial killer but instead a terrorist.
- “Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper” fuses with the ficticonal world of Sherlock Holmes; Jacob Levy shows up as the Ripper at the end of the game.