Graveyard Shift

Theories About Jack the Ripper That Will Freak You Out  

Jen Lennon
18.5k votes 4.6k voters 1.2M views 12 items

List Rules Vote up the scariest theories about the Whitechapel killer.

Jack the Ripper is easily one of England's most infamous killers. In 1888, five women were brutally murdered in the Whitechapel district of London. All five had their throats slashed, four had deep cuts to their abdomens, and three had some of their organs removed. Six similar murders occurred between 1888 and 1891. It's unclear exactly how many people fell victim to the infamous serial killer, partially because Jack the Ripper's real identity is still a mystery.

With so much unknown about the Whitechapel killer, it's no surprise that there are a lot of theories about the slayings. Who was Jack the Ripper? Was he connected to the royal family? Was he being protected by someone in the police department? Was he a woman? Read through this list to learn some truly frightening theories about Jack the Ripper - and vote up the ones that scare you the most.

DNA Evidence Has Identified Jack the Ripper
DNA Evidence Has Identified Ja... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Theories About Jack the Ripper That Will Freak You Out
Photo: Radio Times

In 2014, new DNA evidence emerged from a shawl that was allegedly found at one of the crime scenes. The shawl was never logged into evidence books because a detective took it home, planning to give it to his wife. She was horrified and put it in a box without washing it. It was passed down through their family before eventually being put up for auction in 2007, when Russell Edwards, an amateur Ripperologist, bought it.

Edwards immediately set about trying to procure DNA samples from the shawl, and through some serious luck, managed to find viable genetic profiles from several people. One of them was Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper's victims, and another was Aaron Kosminski, a Polish immigrant who had long been suspected of the crimes. It's not clear why police named him as a suspect, but notes from the original detectives on the case contain his name. He was committed to an insane asylum in 1891 after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

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Jack the Ripper Committed Murders in America, Too
Jack the Ripper Committed Murd... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Theories About Jack the Ripper That Will Freak You Out
Photo: Public Domain/via Wikimedia

Three years before the first Jack the Ripper murder in England, a serial killer called the Servant Girl Annihilator killed eight people in Austin, Texas, in the United States. Like the Ripper, the Servant Girl Annihilator has never been identified, and there are many theories about his (or her) identity.

Author Shirley Harrison theorized that the Ripper and the Annihilator were the same man: James Maybrick, a British cotton merchant who made frequent business trips to the United States.

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Jill the Ripper
Jill the Ripper is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Theories About Jack the Ripper That Will Freak You Out
Photo: Sam Wolff/via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

A witness to the murder of Mary Jane Kelly, one of the Ripper's victims, told a very strange story: she claimed to have seen Kelly at around 8:30 am on Friday, November 8, 1888. The only problem? The coroner concluded that Kelly died around 4 am that day.

The witness insisted that she saw a woman wearing Kelly's clothes hours after she was murdered. Detective Frederick Abberline, one of the lead investigators on the case, wondered if perhaps the killer was a woman who had stolen and worn Kelly's clothing as a disguise. It was posited that if Jack the Ripper were actually Jill the Ripper, she would have to be a midwife because of the surgical precision with which many of the victims' organs were removed. This led to another nickname: "the Mad Midwife."

Some people believe that this mad midwife is Mary Pearcey, who killed her former lover's new wife and their 18-month-old baby. Pearcey slit the woman's throat from ear to ear and dumped her body in the street. The baby had been smothered to death.

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Jack the Ripper's Diary Was Found in 1992
Jack the Ripper's Diary Was Fo... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Theories About Jack the Ripper That Will Freak You Out
Photo: Carol Warren/Casebook

In 1992, a diary surfaced that was purported to be written by James Maybrick, a cotton merchant from London, who died in 1889 after being poisoned by his wife. The diary contains graphics details of and confessions to the murders and is signed "Jack the Ripper." The diary's authenticity has been called into question numerous times, but no one has been able to prove that it's fake - or that it's real.

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