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.


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.

PickleRick says:
January 16, 2017 at 6:55 PM

Lechmere also fits the FBI profile that was done by their expert in 1988 (more than 25 years before his name was ever put forth as a viable suspect) to a T.

Unknown says:
July 1, 2018 at 9:19 AM

This is the most sensible theory about the Ripper that I have comes across and the only one that places the suspect at the scene of the crime. It is truly astonishing that Lechmere (Charles Cross at the time) wasn't considered a suspect, especially when PC Mizen testified that Cross had given him false information. With so many original records missing, including police statements, we will never know for sure. But Lechmere's actions were highly suspicious and he is a likely suspect for the Whitechapel murders.

Howard Brown says:
July 28, 2018 at 2:18 PM

To put it bluntly, Charles Cross was a man ' in the wrong place at the right time'. He's been vilified for no reason other than he was walking on his way to work and spotted something that caught his eye on the pavement. Those who propose him as a suspect make the mistake of believing the nonsense that he was seen standing over the victim's body by Robert Paul. He wasn't. Read the Inquest testimony. One of the biggest timewasting exercises in memory is pushing him as a viable candidate.

Meade Skelton Haufe says:
September 23, 2018 at 4:03 PM

He lied and said a policeman wanted help. Another lie was that he gave his stepfather name, when he usually used the name lechmere.

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