Was Jack The Ripper A Woman?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Last night I was surfing The Huffington Post and came across a story about an Australian scientist who performed DNA testing on one of the Ripper letters. For those who don’t know, several letters were sent to police during the time of the murders. Most are believed to be fakes, but a few are considered to be authentic. Scientists using technology that’s way above my head took swabs from the back of the stamps and the seal of the envelope to process for DNA. There’s a lot more to the science, but you get the point. Reports were inconclusive, but enough of a profile was constructed for the scientist to claim the Ripper could have been a woman.

Seriously?! Don’t get me wrong – there have been more female serial killers than people realize. Countess Elizabeth Batheroy murdered hundreds of peasant women in the Middle Ages in order to drink their blood and remain young. Some go so far as to suggest she may have been the real inspiration for Dracula instead of Vlad the Impaler. There’s also Amelia Dyer, a.k.a The Baby Butcher, who murdered several infants while “baby farming,” a practice in turn-of-the-century England for illegitimate and poor mothers. Aileen Wuornos is another notorious female serial killer, and many more paved the way before her.

Still, it’s just hard to imagine a woman could be responsible for something as heinous as the Ripper murders. At least five proven victims in Whitechapel (and likely more) were mutilated by the Ripper, their throats and genitalia slashed open. Could a woman really have done such a thing?

I have to admit, it’s possible. There’s all types of crazy in this world, and for all our modern advances, people weren’t that different during Jack’s time. I could see a religious woman with a crazy gene seeking to rid the streets of London from the filthy prostitutes.

Makes for a good story, doesn’t it?

According to history, the detective who ran the investigation thought it was possible the Ripper could be a woman because Mary Kelly was seen hours after her death, with the Ripper wearing her clothes. The only female suspect had a similar M.O. to the Ripper, so it’s impossible to rule out the option, especially with the new DNA evidence.

If this is true, no wonder the case has never been solved. The police were looking in the wrong place! Investigators leaned heavily toward the male suspects, and many believed the Ripper had some sort of surgical training or was a skilled butcher. Those theories have never been proven and are still argued to this day.

Jack the Ripper wasn’t the world’s first serial killer by any means, but he was the first to garner worldwide media attention. Reporters went crazy with their theories, and the investigation was tainted by their interference. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Now imagine if the Ripper had been a woman and the media frenzy that would have created.

‘Sweet, Victorian housewife slaughters prostitutes while her babies sleep.’

The press would have loved her!

We’ll probably never know the truth. Then again, genetic profiling and the science of DNA advances at the rate rabbits reproduce, so who knows what we’ll learn about the Ripper in a few years. Maybe the geniuses will come up with some trick to get a full profile from what little biological stuff is left.

I doubt it. Jack the Ripper will continue to live in infamy, the stuff of legend and folklore. Tourists will flock to Whitechapel to follow the trail of the murders, butterflies in their stomachs as they walk the streets. They’ll listen to the tour guides tell the story, all the while thinking what a hideous man the Ripper was.

But who knows? Perhaps Jack was a Jane, after all.


Anne-Mhairi Simpson said...

Fantastic! Makes me shudder more than the thought of him being a man!!

Anonymous said...

What a great idea for a historical thriller. Jane the Ripper. Fantastic post. I love crime stuff, too.

Kristen Lamb

Anonymous said...

In the manga/anime series "Kuroshitsuji" ("Black Butler"), their Jack the Ripper was indeed a woman. It was a very interesting twist that I never saw coming.

Stacy said...

Doesn't it? There have been plenty of nasty women, but the idea of Jack being a Jane is downright chilling.

Thanks for stopping by! It is a great idea for a historical thriller. It's definitely milling around in my brain.

Really? I bet it was. This was the first I've heard of it. Definitely a surprise.

Thanks for commenting!

Kait Nolan said...

Ok I want someone to WRITE that book so I can read it. That's a really fascinating possibility.

Anonymous said...

Jack the Ripper is one of those cases that will always fascinate. The brutality of the crimes and the fact that it was never solved open it wide for speculation.

Some time ago, I watched a show on Discovery (or one of those channels) about Jack the Ripper, which worked the case using modern forensics. Very interesting.

Thanks for such a cool post. :D

Misha said...

Lol... If I think about it, I can see it. In fact, it could have been another prostitute out to widen her turf...

On the other hand, the real Ripper might not have liked the taste of the gum...


Anonymous said...

Very interesting and would make for an awesome thriller! I smell a movie = ) Great post.

Stacy said...

Me, too! It would be a huge undertaking, though. Tons of research. Of course, every book takes a ton of research ... hmm.

He definitely is. I know there are those that believe they've solved it, but we'll never for sure. I think I may have seen the show you're talking about. They went to each location, didn't they?

Another prostitute? Never thought of that. Would definitely be interesting!

LOL. It would make a great movie!

Thanks for the comments!

Tressa Green said...

I was going to mention Black Butler also, but ketmakkura beat me to it. :) I thought the motive for her in that story was very plausible.

It's on Netflix if you want to check it out... the Ripper arc is fairly early on in the story, so you wouldn't even have to watch the whole thing. Black Butler is a fav of mine, so worth watching the whole thing, imo. :D

Jessica R. Patch said...

I hope I don't pop on here twice. My computer is acting up. If only I could beat it into submission!

Love the post. I've always been fascinated with this case, with serial killers in general. :)

Annie Boreson said...

Wonderful post! I love the possibility of Jane the Ripper!

Mark R Hunter said...

My fiancee is fascinated by Jack the Ripper -- she'll find this just as fascinating.

Stacy said...

Tressa - first off, I did a double take at your name because my mom's name is Tresa Green, lol. Small world. Secondly, the movie sounds pretty interesting, altho I'm not much of anime person. But if it's on Netflix I'll have to check it out.

Jessica, it's all good. Thanks, and me too. I didn't know how much to post about serial killers on the blog because I didn't want people thinking that's all I wanted to talk about, lol. So I'm limiting that sort of talk to Thursdays:)

Annie -
Thanks so much! I do, too. The idea is pretty fascinating.

Mark -
Thanks for stopping by. Hope your fiancee enjoys the post:)

Tressa Green said...

Stacy, small world indeed! :) I was named after my great grandmother and until I married, we even had the same initials. :)

Anonymous said...

Ooo, I like it! I remember watching a Jack the Ripper story on History or Bio (I can't remember which), and the narrator indicated that Jack was really a man named James Kelly which cracked me up because on of my best friends is named James Kelly! :)

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I feel like I read or heard a long time ago about the possibility of Jack the Ripper having a devoted mistress, who did anything he asked. Including assisting him in covering up his killings.

It is entirely possible that I made that up, though.

Great post! I need to go research more now.

Stacy said...

Tressa - that's a really cool story. Mom's name is actually pronounced 'Theresa' but her mother spelled it Tresa. She's gotten a lot of flack for it.

Tiffany - I think I may have seen that. There have been so many different theories and suspects over the years it's hard to keep track of. And lol, your poor friend!

Amber - Really? I've never heard that one. But it wouldn't surprise me. Plenty of women have done the same.

Thanks for the comments, guys!

Jen J. Danna said...

Sorry, going to step in as the scientist here to say that I'm not buying it on multiple levels. The science itself doesn't support it for starters. 'Inconclusive' and 'not forensically reliable' results could never be brought to any peer reviewed journal and that's the only reliable science out there. I can tell you exactly how hard it is to get useable DNA out of skeletal remains with a decent nucleic acid load when they are a few decades old. But from saliva (which has few cells to begin with) that is 160 years old? We simply can't do it now, and I doubt we'll be able to do it in the near future.

Also, psychologically, I'm going to be a hard sell that a woman would commit a crime of this nature. Yes, woman murder; yes, sometimes even serially. But a crime of this violence and hatred? With the deaths of this type? It really doesn't seem likely to me. But I admit that where I'm solid on the science in this, the psychological aspects of it are less based in cited fact than my gut.

Sorry to be the only non-believer in the crowd. It's an intriguing idea but the realistic bench scientist is me simply can't go with it.

Lyn Midnight said...

Jane the Ripper? Niiice. Still, sometimes a mystery's worth a thousand times more than a... solved mystery, lol. This is indeed shoking! I've never heard of this. Stacy, you are my wondow into the world of crime, you are a natural! :)

Stacy said...

I'm sure from a scientific pov it sounds impossible, and it probably is. My first pause was the idea of the authentic letter. They're using the one Scotland Yard believes is authentic, but then again, how do they know for sure? Add that with the iffy science, and you don't have much.

I'm not sure I could buy a woman being that vicious either, but then again, anything's possible.

Intriguing idea, isn't it? LOL, don't give me the credit. I just stumbled across the post. Thanks for the comments!

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.