A Persona of Jack the Ripper

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In 1888, in White Chapel London, there were five prostitutes that were brutally murdered by a person known as Jack the Ripper. He was of the most infamous killers globally and was believed to be a butcher or even a doctor since he had such anatomical knowledge (Simon 38) Throughout the years it had become a sensation to solve the murder case, and some have believed this person to have been H.H. Holmes. Holmes was the first serial killer in America in 1889; he was known for skinning and dissecting his victims before tossing them in acid. Some believe he killed nearly 200 people, but he had only confessed to killing twenty-seven. They both had targeted women and the similarities between the two are shocking. They had similar handwriting, both show experience medically with the way they sliced through their victims, and they both where familiar with Whitechapel, London. With these similarities it seems to be possible that the two could be the same person. Holmes was caught in 1895 and then sentenced to death by hanging. Holmes great-great-great grandson dedicated himself to prove that he was in fact the true Jack the Ripper. Throughout the decades the mystery of knowing who Jack the Ripper is, some have come to the conclusion that the possibility of H.H. Holmes being Jack himself, and the evidence is hard to disagree with.

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Back in 1888, there was no way to test DNA or to check fingerprints. Handwriting is as unique as a finger print, everyone’s is different, and specialists can compare writings to determine who a person is. Examiners assess overall forms, line features, margins and format, as well as content. With over 5,000 different personality traits and the way people dot their i’s and cross their t’s, it can real what kinds of a person they are.  In one source it says, Mr. Mudgett has submitted handwriting samples from both Holmes and Jack the Ripper for review, and experts have confirmed the likelihood they could be the same person (Burford 3). The Dear Boss letter from Jack the Ripper was compared to the journals of H.H. Holmes and there was a 97.97% chance they were written in the same hand (Sanza 3).

Many researchers have argued that Jack the Ripper could have had medical experience due to the way he opened his victims and exposed their organs. The women that were murdered were disemboweled and organs taken from the body. Precise incisions were made to extract certain organs. Cristine Sanza goes on to tell that Jack the Ripper murdered Annie Chapman only to take her womb, and the police believe he only could have done that with anatomical knowledge. H.H. Holmes finished college with a medical degree. Holmes on the other hand did have the skills, He was an intelligent, articulate man and a qualified chemist who graduated with a medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1884 (Burford 2). Understanding that both could possibly had similar medical knowledge leads us closer to believing Holmes could have been Jack the Ripper.

Jack the Ripper murdered five prostitutes in Whitechapel, London, and H. H. Holmes was a regular there as well. In one article about the comparison of Jack the Ripper and H.H. Holmes, Sanza discusses how they both relate to Whitechapel, London:

Jack the Ripper’s hunting ground was the Whitechapel neighborhood of London. H.H.       Holmes also had a connection to Whitechapel. His friend from the University of        Michigan, Edmund Buckley, came from a wealthy Whitechapel family. Buckley and        Holmes were partners-in-crime; they ran insurance scams and often sold corpses to        medical facilities, not an uncommon way to make money in the 1800s.

According to census records, Holmes had a residence in Whitechapel. After he tried to        sell a corpse to a local hospital, a formal complaint was filed against him. These records        place him in the Whitechapel area around the time of the Ripper murders. Was he doing        more than just his usual corpse-peddling? (4)

They both where in the same place at the same time, and could have very well been H. H. Holmes disfiguring the prostitutes and taking their organs for profit as well.

        Mary Kelly was the fifth victim of the canonical five, and she was the worst mutilated out of them all. She is the one that brought the town together with sadness and remorse. She was beyond disfigured, skinned, and disemboweled with many organs taken out set around her. As Timothy Verhoeven stated in his article, policed needed the help and called Dr. Thomas Bond to do an autopsy. As he looked her over, he also provided psychological profile of the killer. Verhoeven states that Bond thought he was a quiet, inoffensive man looking man, and neatly respectably dressed (25).  With H.H. Holmes having multiple properties, such as his hotel in Chicago and his property he had in Whitechapel, and a great education we could guess he dressed properly and looked like anyone else on the streets, or maybe with more class. Could Bond have been talking about Holmes?

In other opinions, Jack the Ripper could have been anyone. Everyone had their own thoughts about the one who got away. Some have believed that he was a butcher, medical student, or even a woman. In the article of Kirkis Reviews, they state, Since Jack the Ripper was never caught or identified… his continuing prominence in popular culture is discussed, as is the work of Ripperologists,’ amateur detectives devoted to finding out the murderer’s true identity (1).  According to Michael Conner, he believed Jack the Ripper could have been a working-class man. He believed the prostitutes were out in early mornings to early money from men as they were heading to work. Connor had a man in mind, This man, Charles Lechmere, could have been a murderer who hid in plain view (77). Lechmere was said to be standing by Mary Ann Nichols as she was dead, and a passerby come along and Lechmere told him to come look at the body. It is said that Lechmere gave a false name of Charles Allen Cross, it was not until 2007 that his surname was Lechmere (Connor 77).

 David Goldman states that a Famed FBI profiler, John Douglas agrees the theory that Jack the Ripper was actually already caught and was not able to be tried due to being crazy. He wrote that the Victorian times were very rough.  Slaughter houses filled the streets with blood, half of the children were dying before their fifth birthday, houses where packed together, and jobs were hard to come, therefore women started to prostitute to help with money. Fingers where pointed towards the Eastern European immigrants since a true Englishman could not do such crimes. Instead, angry mobs chased immigrants in anger. In 1888, police did not have the technology they needed to catch a villain, and the only way for police to catch a criminal was to catch them in the act or to have an eye witness (24). Goldman gets deeper information on who he thinks the killer could be: 

Crime historian Martin Fido writes that the police did catch the killer, but that he was        found to be insane and could not be tried. Based on asylum records from the period, he        names Polish immigrant David Cohen as the most credible suspect. Famed FBI profiler        John Douglas generally agrees, and feels that after the last, vision attack no rational        person could have continued functioning. (24)

Goldman thought of the Ripper had went a different way and that just shows everyone has their own opinions.

There are many theories of who Jack the Ripper is.  This is a big case that many people are eager to solve. H.H. Holmes is a good theory to compare to the Ripper. They both have done horrific crimes, and the similarities between the two seem pretty convincing to show they are one. Many people have their own opinions on the situation and the possibilities are endless. With All these different theories, H.H Holmes makes the most since. Their writings closely matched by professionals is very hard to oppose to. Holmes was in the medical field and Jack the Ripper made such precise incisions to extract certain organs makes us believe he as well was medical inclined. What are the odds of both Holmes and Jack the Ripper being in Whitechapel, London at the same time? Sanza goes deeper with deatail in Holmes wasn’t even in Chicago at the time of the Whitechapel killings:

We know that H.H. Holmes purchased the land to build his Chicago Murder Castle in        July 1888. It may seem unlikely that Holmes would travel to London immediately        afterwards, but construction on his castle did not begin until the spring if 1889. In fact,        there was no record of him in Chicago at all that winter. Perhaps Holmes took a winter        holiday in London to get an early start on his killing spree? (5)

Getting a head start on his killings does seem possible especially since he already been around there before. With Jack the Ripper and H.H Holmes having so much in common it does seem possible the two are one. The evidence is hard to not notice. Jack the Ripper has murdered prostitutes that were out to earn money and many of the victims of H.H Holmes were women and children. These horrific crimes are beyond disturbing and the fact they happened is beyond saddening. Everyone has their different theory on who Jack the Ripper is, and all are very reasonable theories. H.H. Holmes just seems to fit the description a bit closer than the rest do. Even with the many possibilities these men have done horrible things in this world.

Works Cited

  1. Burford, Rachael. Was America’s first serial killer HH Holmes also Jack the Ripper'” Daily Mail Online, 25 July 2017.
  2. Connor, Michael. The Strange Case of Jack the Ripper. Quadrant Magazine, vol. 54, no. 3, 2010, p. 76.
  3. Goldman, David. The Monster of Whitechapel: The Continuing Mystery of Jack the Ripper. Biography, vol. 5, no. 10, Oct. 2001, p. 24
  4. Jack the Ripper. Kirkus Reviews, vol. 85, no. 12, June 2017, p. 1. EBSCOhost, libproxy.ivytech.edu
  5. Sanza, Cristina. 7 Reasons Why H.H. Holmes And Jack the Ripper Could Be The Same Person. Ranker, 2018, www.ranker.com/list/theories-h-h-holmes-and-jack-the-ripper-were-the-        same-person/cristina-sanza
  6. .Simon, Gabriella. “The Traits and the Thrill of Serial Killers.” Internal Security 7.2 (2015): 33-42. ProQuest.  Accessed 20 Oct. 2018.
  7. Verhoeven, Timothy. “Pathologizing Male Desire: Satyriasis, Masculinity, and Modern  Civilization at the Fin De Sicle.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 24.1 (2015): 25-45.        Accessed 20 Oct. 2018.
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A Persona Of Jack the Ripper. (2019, Nov 18). Retrieved December 10, 2022 , from
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