Some crimes are historically famous. Here are a few examples all from the 1930’s.
Although the above examples are all from the 1930’s, every decade seems to have its notorious criminals. I have perused books in the Fulton County Public Library about all of the criminals mentioned above – and many, many more.
Since time and one blog post will not allow me to comment on all notorious criminals, I’ve decided to comment on just one very famous case; Jack the Ripper. Although the Ripper’s crimes were committed in London, this case has world wide recognition and following. Many Americans have shown great interest in the case since the 1880’s when the crimes occurred. Jack the Ripper has been the subject of fiction and nonfiction books, movies, radio and television shows, stage plays, newspapers, magazines, photographs, and works of art. The Ripper’s story is on the world wide web and in the files of many police officers and detectives. There are even tours to learn about the Ripper’s crime spree (Scroll down the linked page to the second video to watch a 2 minute video about a very popular tour). This crime is retold in every medium imaginable.
One of the reasons I chose to write about this case is because it covers most of the areas of Criminology I’ve already written about. It is an obvious True Crime story. There have been many people accused of this heinous crime spree as well as many false confessions, making it a Falsie. The case was an Unsolved Crime for approximately 130 years which made it a famous historical crime.
The Ripper was active in the “East-End” of London in an area known as Whitechapel. He would strike at night. His targets were always female prostitutes who roamed the poverty stricken areas of London’s east side. The Ripper usually cut the throats of his victims and then performed horrid mutilations of his victims. Some of the victims had organs removed. This is how the killer got his nickname. There are actual photographs but they are much too graphic to be shown in this post. Because of the mutilations and a knowledge of anatomy, many believed that Jack the Ripper had medical training.
George Lusk, who was part of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, received a letter containing part of a preserved human kidney. The letter has become known as the “From Hell” letter. The image below is of a photograph taken of the letter before evidence went missing. The letter was postmarked “15 October 1888.”
The letter reads:
- Mr Lusk
- I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother pirce I fried and ate it was very nise I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer.
signed Catch me when
Jack the Ripper had 5 known victims, but some believe these were not his only victims and that the true number may have been 11 or higher. The 5 known victims are now referred to as the “Canonical Five.”
Later, Johnny Depp and Heather Graham would star in the movie From Hell which took it’s title from the Ripper’s letter. From Hell is, of course, the story of Jack the Ripper and his five known victims.
Here are some of the books I checked out:
In Naming Jack the Ripper Russell Edwards claims to have discovered the identity of Jack the Ripper by using a shawl of one of the Ripper victims, Catherine Eddowes. Catherine was the Ripper’s fourth victim. The author of this book explains how he traced a shawl belonging to Catherine, bought it at an auction, and was able to have blood on it tested for DNA. Modern technology has helped to unmask Jack the Ripper. This is a very interesting story which not only tells the story of Jack the Ripper in an engaging way, but which also follows the investigative process of the shawl itself to reveal the identity of the killer.
Spoiler Alert: If interested in learning more about the shawl you can follow my link, however the killer is also revealed. If you would prefer to follow the story and then find out, I suggest the above book. Shawl and Identity of the Killer. There are also some interesting docudramas about the Ripper (not scary) on this site. There is some criticism of the Russell Edwards findings, but the DNA evidence seems pretty strong.
Were you aware that Jack the Ripper had been named? Is this a story you have followed? Are you more curious now about Jack the Ripper?