Former murder squad detective claims he never existed
Jack the Ripper has been one of my favorite unsolved mysteries ever since I was a young, morbid girl. I am pretty sure I have consumed every scrap of Jack the Ripper media, no matter how tangential. (But Split Second was a wonderful movie and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.)
Thus, I was pretty curious when I learned that someone had put together a new theory about one of the world's most famous strings of unsolved murders. On the 125th year anniversary of the crimes, a former Bedfordshire murder squad detective named Trevor Marriott has announced that he has solved the mystery.
His solution? That the whole thing was a hoax.
Marriott has spent the last 11 years poring over the Scotland Yard archives and subjecting Jack the Ripper evidence to modern forensic techniques. His conclusion is that the whole thing is like one big game of Telephone, with various facts distorted over the years. Compounded by some deliberate hoaxing on the part of a newspaper reporter who needed to drum up controversy in order to increase sales.
At the same time, Marriott fingers a German merchant seaman named Carl Feigenbaum as the actual killer.
Marriott found that although five murders are attributed to Jack the Ripper, there were in fact 17 murders committed between 1863 and 1894 which he deemed "Ripper-like." Some of these murders took place in Germany and America.
Feigenbaum worked on a merchant ship which often docked in Whitechapel. He was caught fleeing a Ripper-style murder in New York, and was executed in 1896. His own lawyer claimed at the time that he believed Feigenbaum was Jack the Ripper, but his claims were ignored until recently.
As for the infamous letters, Marriott says they were actually sent by a journalist named Thomas Bulling, a notorious alcoholic whose job was to feed crime stories to newspapers. As for the claims that organs were removed from the victims' bodies, Marriott says that new evidence has come to light that these organs were actually removed by the mortuary.
So the myth of Jack the Ripper has been built up, brick by brick, over time. But it was built upon a solid foundation: a serial killer who traveled from port to port, brutally slaughtering women around the world.
And it must be said that there are Ripper experts who dispute Marriott's findings. In particular, one expert says that Feigenbaum's visits to Whitechapel do not match up with the "core five" deaths there. So that's something we will need to get sorted, if we are to collectively decide that Feigenbaum did it!