The Jack the Ripper mystery that has kept the world enthralled since the killer first struck on the streets of Victorian London has been blown apart on the 125th anniversary of the grisly crimes by a former murder squad detective.
And the bad news for the countless millions of amateur sleuths who have spent years trying to identify the nation’s most notorious serial killer is that he never existed.
He was just dreamed up by a drunken journalist called Thomas Bulling who wrote a forged letter to Scotland Yard in 1888 pretending to be “Jack” so he could obtain a scoop.
More than 300 books and dozens of films and TV programmes have named in excess of 100 different men, often on the flimsiest of evidence, as the serial murderer who slashed the throats of five women who he then disembowelled, bringing terror to the gas lit streets of Whitechapel.
The suspects have included everyone from Queen Victoria’s grandson the Duke of Clarence to Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll.
Some even said a Sioux Indian warrior called Black Elk, who toured Britain with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in the 1880s, was the guilty man. Others believed child charity campaigner Dr Barnardo was “Jack”.
But Trevor Marriott, a former murder squad detective with Bedfordshire police, has spent 11 years carrying out a detailed cold-case review of the killings, he has trawled Scotland Yard’s files and used modern-day police techniques backed up with state of the art forensic analysis.
“The facts of this case have been totally distorted over the years,” said Mr Marriott.
“The general public have been completely misled by any number of authors and publishers.
“Jack is supposed to be responsible for five victims, but there were other similar murders before and after the ones attributed to him, both in this country and abroad in America and Germany.”