A Student of History

November 21, 2006

Jack the Ripper, Revisited

Filed under: New books — John Maass @ 2:13 pm

An e-fit of what investigators say Jack the...


At the Scotsman webpage, there’s an interesting piece on the continued fascination with JtR, which really doesn’t do much for me, but the article itself is very interesting.  The article tells us that

the face of Jack the Ripper, the 19th-century killer whose identity still remains a mystery, has been revealed for the first time.  Using state-of-the-art profiling, investigators have created a vision of what the murderer, who strangled and butchered five London prostitutes, would have looked like – and revealed that police at the time were probably searching for the wrong kind of man.

Laura Richards, of Scotland Yard’s Violent Crime Command, analysed evidence from the case using modern police techniques and has been able to form the most accurate portrait of the Ripper ever put together. She claims that the 118-year-old evidence shows the Ripper was aged between 25 and 35, he was between 5ft 5in and 5ft 7in tall and was of a stocky build.

Crime novelist Patricia Cornwell (one of the worst writers of our time) is also into Jack, as her latest work and very glitzy website demonstrate.  As we learn from an old CNN column,

What began as a passing interest burgeoned into an opportunity for applying modern investigative techniques to archival evidence, and from there into “something none of us ever, ever would have imagined,” she said in a brief telephone interview in the midst of a whirlwind launch PR blitz. Teaming up with her colleagues at the Virginia Institute for Forensic Science and Medicine (which she helped found with a personal endowment of $1.5 million), she performed a sort of institutional, investigative cross-pollination between the Institute and the British government, focusing primarily on approximately 250 letters attributed to the Ripper.

Her book came out a few years ago.


 Where will it all end?  Or, why does it really matter? Cornwell’s own answer:

As to why she pursued this cold case, she credits the same drive that prompts Kay Scarpetta to solve crimes. “There’s a lot of philosophical and other reasons that I thought it was important to pursue this to — well, it’s not even to the end, it’s just as far as I’ve gone with it,” she said. “I felt that it was my moral obligation to continue down that path, because I just can’t let him get away with murder even if he is dead and cremated.”

Writer Patricia Cornwell

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