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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jack the Ripper: The Prime Suspect

Jack the Ripper: The Prime Suspect
by Michael Connor
What if Jack the Ripper wasn’t Prince Albert Edward, or Lewis Carroll, or Oscar Wilde’s lover or any of the dozen or so flamboyant, globe-trotting eccentrics usually named as suspects? What if he was just a local workman who fit the murders into his daily schedule? Someone like cart driver Charles Allen Lechmere, who was on the scene when the first body was discovered and who gave a false name at the inquest. Police in 1888 let him walk away, but in a modern murder investigation he would have been the prime suspect.

In Jack the Ripper: The Prime Suspect posted at Quadrant Online, Michael Conner makes a strong case that Charles Allen Lechmere, overlooked person of interest in the Whitechapel murders should have been the prime suspect then and should still be the prime suspect.  He also has some choise words for modern writers churning out Jack the Ripper books:
Modern Ripperology is a game. Choose a name, preferably of a top-hat sort of person, choose your clues and anyone could write a book proving that anyone possibly alive in 1888 was Jack or even Jill. Ripperology is a flawed discussion, and part of the reason is the poor state of the evidence. What we know of the murders depends on surviving official records and newspaper accounts. The information they carry often conflicts and the scientific conclusions they incorporate are often a grave concern. A “fact” rapidly dissolves when conflicting accounts are uncovered. Proving who the murderer was is probably impossible. Even if a signed confession came to light it would not be believed. Yet there is a solution to the mystery of the Whitechapel Murders which is even possibly true. It is unmysterious, unglamorous and ordinary—all the things that the legend of “Jack the Ripper” is not.


Connor’s point is well taken; in a criminal investigation, the simplest solution is seldom wrong. It’s something to keep in mind if you plan to watch Jack the Ripper in America, which will be broadcast once again on the Discovery Channel this Saturday, 11/20/2010, at 1PM EST.




1 comments :

Undine says:
November 19, 2010 at 7:27 AM

I had never heard of this book--or Lechmere, for that matter. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

What fascinates me about the Ripper murders is not so much who he was, but how he escaped capture. The killings--Annie Chapman's and Catherine Eddowes' in particular--were so incredibly brazen and "public" it's kind of eerie that he somehow avoided ever being caught literally red-handed.

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