A study of any mystery, which includes any unsolved crime, must of necessity strictly follow the known evidence sequentially. These facts become the dots by which the connecting line is drawn by logic to link these facts progressively. Without sequentiality and chronology context is lost. Even more importantly, the lines of logic help us to reveal facts hitherto unseen, for the mind, all minds, follow a pattern. Therefore, quite inadvertently, the mind that conceives the crime also gives us the solution. It is unavoidable. Unraveling a mystery thus can be likened to decoding a cipher. Once a few letters are learned, we can build words. With a few words we can build more and complete sentences. With logic and a few facts we can find hidden things. Logic is everything. It is the DOS (disk operating system) that is in us all. The mind naturally follows certain steps: Observe; Classify; Infer; Interpret, Measure; Predict; Questions; Hypothesis; Experiment; Model Building. These 10 steps are classified as the Process Skills of Scientific Inquiry. Together they constitute Scientific Method. They are the mandatory steps of science only because they are the natural steps of a thinking and inquiring mind. We can see from this why Einstein referred to Science as “merely the refinement of everyday thinking.”
Is it a bit alarming to discover that we are all “scientists”? We are in a sense only because by logic the mind follows the above steps. The real difference between lay and a professional is that the professional undergoes intense training in a specific field— biology, geology, physics, cosmology, etc.— in order to accumulate all the data they can. With this extra specific knowledge they are capable of acquiring and processing far more data and in turn unlocking more mysteries in their scientific field. Without this extra knowledge, the lay can only process what knowledge they have. Nevertheless all data is processed by the mind in the same way. The mind will follow the same steps embedded in the Process Skills of Scientific Inquiry no matter what.
Natural logic is easily and academically defined as conclusionary statements that are supported by the reasons the person gives. Actions likewise must follow the motive to be logical. Thus logic is only a criterion. It is possible to only refine the method the criterion requires, not create it, for logic is; just as no law of science tells nature how to behave but is rather a reflection of how nature always behaves, so logic describes the symmetry of thought that already exists. As there is symmetry of form, so is there symmetry of thought.
The difficulty with studying and unraveling crime is that crime is no science. It is an art— a depraved one, granted; but the criminal mind expresses itself in many varying and grotesque ways. Logic is the only way to apprehend criminals and by the clues draw a face on the faceless and reveal a motive from the darkness. Darkness is the advantage of evil. Eyes in the light cannot see into darkness, but eyes in darkness can look out into the light. Only the mind can see into darkness and probe in to extract the evil.
Therefore the study, apprehension and exposure of criminals, especially serial killers, is an incredibly mental pursuit. Criminology has built up a huge vault of comparatives between serial killers. But as with any art, there is individuality. General profiling cannot be allowed to obscure specific facts. Each case must be taken on its own evidence. Nothing can be overlooked. There is no clue that is insignificant. There are only clues that are at a higher profile than others.
In being pitted against any enemy, the hunter cannot underestimate his quarry. When a notorious serial killer goes undiscovered we must logically accept that a difference exists between these serial killers and those whose identities have been discovered. Either the police were grossly negligent or the killer is in this case a genuine monomaniac. It’s a rather old fashioned term, but it truly is the one term that applies to the most ingenious killers. All it means is a person who obsesses on one thing, one thought, one goal. Monomania can be used for good or evil. For the criminal mind, the obsession is in perfecting their crime scene and spree. They do not have to be arch-villains like Professor Moriarty, the nemesis of the indomitable Sherlock Holmes. They can be of average intelligence and have very limited goals. But when someone devotes all their time and energy to thinking and planning their crime they are going to do well at it despite only being of mediocre intelligence. The great advantage a detective has in stalking a monomaniac is that clues are not incidentals. They are the reflection of the criminal’s premeditative mind.
Furthermore, we cannot be naive and think that people endowed with special gifts must always use them for good. Successful criminals may have some special gift. The potential of the brain is seen in examples of mild autism or drug use where almost superhuman powers are unleashed. One young man can be flown over a city and after only one view can redraw it in mural form almost exact. If the reports out of China are true then there truly is a documented case of a human being with night vision. Studies of this Chinese youth have shown that his uncharacteristic blue eyes flash back light when a flashlight is beamed on them— the eyes of a nocturnal creature like cats. Tests have shown he can write in the dark and he himself admits to hunting crickets at night without a flashlight.
Examples are far too numerous in the annals of crime of average, even mentally disturbed, predators acting with great ingenuity or having unusual attributes. The EAR/ONS is possibly the supreme monomaniac of all times. He remains California’s number one serial offender— some 50 rapes and 12 murders, active for about 10 years— and yet the police truly never had a prime suspect. After his rapes (always in the home), he would go to a corner of the darkened room and sob bitterly. This was countered by his bizarre premeditation in every case, seen in how he selected his victims, made hang-up phone calls for weeks or months in advance to the intended victim and their neighbors, apparently in order to determine the best time to strike. He had, to say the least, an unusual presence. Dogs would yip at him as he silently made his way through neighbors’ yards. But when he entered the house and was going to carry out the evil intent of his heart, the dogs inside fell sheepishly silent. Poodles known to yip uttered no sound. On only one occasion a pitbull raised the courage to utter one growl before he picked it up and threw it in another room. Bloodhounds went to pieces when finding his scent— indications of drug addiction or disease. One sheriff would get a draining, cold feeling upon entering the house after the crime. Whatever the truth of it, the perpetrator was incredibly agile and had very good night vision.
Other examples exist within the annals— The Boston Strangler, The Torso Killer, perhaps even The Black Dahlia and Zodiac. But the first one unquestionably is Jack the Ripper. Yes, there had been serial killers and mass murderers before him. But none took such care to stage their crimes so as to baffle one and all and challenge the constabulary. This sets him apart as a genuine monomaniac. One other factor does as well: He was never captured. He was that careful.
The context of his crimes tells us how extraordinary this is. The Ripper came out of nowhere. He had no precedence. He had no serial killers to study in order to help plan his mystifying attacks (serial killers today have been known to study killers who had previously been caught to see where they went wrong). He killed in public and almost always in near complete darkness. He did not just kill but mutilated as well. He did this within the span of minutes and never left a trail from the scene of the crime. There was never a sound. There was never a witness after-the-fact. There is 1, perhaps 2, witnesses who saw a victim with a man just minutes before they must have been killed.
Collating their descriptions, the Ripper was an inoffensive foreign-looking man, clerkly, “shabby genteel,” about 5 foot 7, wearing inappropriately a deerstalker hat— a gauche accouterment in an urban setting. He wore a long coat. One one occasion he might have had a parcel under his arm. That was about it. This must be the diabolical Jack the Ripper.
However, the Ripper has not earned his high place in the pantheon of crime because he was the first. He executed his crimes carefully. The evidence in each case, into which we will probe both on this subsection of my site and in Scarlet Autumn, shows not a man progressively losing control, but a man who carefully engineered progressively gruesome mutilations. At the crime scene of Mary Jane Kelly, regarded by many as his final victim, he carefully planned her death on the far side of the bed by the wall. This required he cut her throat from a difficult angle and on the right side— quite at an opposite to his previous MO. He did not try to prevent the spurting of blood from her jugulars— the only instance where a victim showed signs blood had spurted from her cut throat. It would have been impossible to prevent it with the wall in the way anyway. But this allowed the body to drain of blood in such a way he would not be encumbered by it when vigorously carving her up. He pulled her body over to the left side of the bed, over which he stood. There was now no fear of blood sprinkling him from drenched sheets and mattress under the body. The crime scene photos show the blood had only pooled under the center of the bed and no further because it had to drip through the mattress on the right side and could trickle no further than the floor under the center of the bed. He thus never had to worry about the blood flowing out from under the bed and messing about his shoes. The bed sheets by her head show signs of having been shredded with his knife. He seems to have covered her face before mutilating it. This could not be from a squeamish stomach obviously. It seems he didn’t want to be soiled by flying pieces of flesh.
The result nonetheless is that the murder of Mary Jane Kelly looks like a madman went at her. Yet the evidence testifies with what care and silence her murder and mutilation was carried out. The Ripper left the door to her small rabbit hutch-like room locked from within. It wasn’t hard for the police to figure out how he did it. It was a spring lock. When the door slammed shut, the bolt snapped into place. Yet in the small chute-like courtyard off which Mary Kelly’s room was situated, none had heard such a slam. He must have yanked the door quietly closed until the bolt snapped into place. He was calm and cool to the end, and walked quietly away, not a witness seeing him.
The Ripper clearly had an ulterior motive for his crimes. He began his killing in the late summer of 1888 and continued into autumn. But the murder of prostitutes would continue off and on until February 1891. Each time his reputation was brought up. No one was particularly sure how many he truly killed. Only one thing is certain. He started without reason and he quit without reason.
Jack the Ripper has been written about an incredible number of times. But a careful study of his crime scenes has been sacrificed to economic rehash in order to support some theorists’ pet suspect. Yet the actual details of each crime scene actually eliminates most popular suspects. Placing each crime scene in chronology to the events around it also shows how the the Ripper changed his ulterior motive. For example, there was no hint of anti-Semitism in the crime spree until Harry Dam, a Star reporter, made a slanderous use of a poor dullard of a Jewish cobbler nicknamed Leather Apron. The East End of London was almost shattered by anti-Jewish riots in the aftermath of the next victim’s grisly murder. Far from coincidence the next victim, Liz Stride, would be found in the shadow of a largely Jewish club. In the aftermath of the next victim, Catherine Eddowes, killed that very same night as Stride, an assignation would be found at an entryway. “The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.” Underneath it was the bloodstained piece of apron that the killer had torn from the victim. The Ripper now attempted to create racial upheaval only because he saw that he could.
Folklorists only chronicle. They heap together incongruity. They delight in retelling events for the thrills and chills they get. But it is time to study the murders of the eponymous Jack the Ripper in detail— each crime scene plus the broad chronology in which each was committed. Hopefully this website section and Scarlet Autumn will help reintroduce and contextualize the most notorious crime spree in history.