For several months spanning from August to November of 1888, a serial killer known only as Jack the Ripper tormented the Whitechapel area of London. During that time, the Ripper murdered five prostitutes, savagely mutilating all but one, a woman by the name of Elizabeth Stride. Now, nearly 130 years later, the identity of Jack the Ripper is still unknown, and the mystery surrounding the killer who became a legend has become among the most contemplated and enduring ever, both in Britain and around the world.
As TheTelegraph reports, a long list of possible Jack the Ripper suspects has been compiled and pored over in the dozen or so decades since the unidentified serial killer stalked and brutalized his victims. However, researchers now say that they may be one crucial step closer to unmasking the identity of the notorious Ripper once and for all.
Roughly 25 years ago, researchers investigating the Jack the Ripper case discovered a diary that turned the mystery of Jack the Ripper on its head. Penned by Liverpool cotton merchant, James Maybrick, the 9,000-word Victorian tome claimed to have been written by Jack the Ripper himself. However, at the time of the discovery of the diary in 1992, it was widely discounted as a hoax by many prominent scholars and researchers, reports The Telegraph.
The diary was first brought to the collective attention of the media, the public and Ripper enthusiasts alike by Mike Barrett, a scrap metal dealer from Liverpool. Barrett claimed to have gotten the unbelievable volume from Tony Devereux, a friend of his family. However, much to the dismay of investigators, Devereux passed away soon thereafter.
Because of his death, researchers were unable to trace the origins of the alleged Ripper diary, leading most to claim it was nothing more than a sophisticated hoax, but a hoax nonetheless.
In the disputed diary, cotton merchant and author James Maybrick admitted to have murdered five women in London’s East End and another prostitute in Manchester, UK. At the end of the diary, Maybrick signed the diary “Jack the Ripper.”
“I give my name that all know of me, so history do tell, what love can do to a gentleman born. Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper.”
Now, however, researchers say that they have discovered “compelling evidence” which proves the diary is not a forgery at all but instead it is the real deal. Led by Bruce Robinson, who directed and wrote Withnail and I, the researchers have spent decades meticulously souring the diary and the story it tells.
The diary was published publicly in 1993 by Robert Smith, who has now written and published a new book on the subject, and in that book, he claims that the widely disputed Jack the Ripper diary was discovered in the former home of James Maybrick. That piece of information, the author claims, was withheld from him by Mike Barrett when he first handed over the diary.
New research, led by Bruce Robinson, however, puts the origins of the Jack the Ripper diary firmly at the Maybrick home, and puts Maybrick’s name at the top of the list of most likely Jack the Ripper suspects.
“When the diary first emerged, Mike Barrett refused to give any satisfactory explanation for where it had come from, but after painstaking research, chiefly by Bruce Robinson, we can now show a trail that leads us directly to Maybrick’s home.”
James Maybrick passed away in 1889, just a year after the horrific murder spree attributed to Jack the Ripper. Maybrick died of suspected arsenic poisoning, and his wife Florence was convicted of his murder. She spent 14 years in prison for the crime, and many believe that she may have known something about his sinister pastime. He lived in a prominent home known as Battlecrease House in Aigburth. The home was renovated in 1992. It was during that renovation, on March 9 1992, that Mike Barrett contacted a London literary agent claiming to have the diary of the Ripper.
“I’ve got Jack the Ripper’s diary, would you be interested in seeing it?”
Research indicates that the diary was likely discovered by local workers helping with the renovation and passed on to Barrett, who had previously made claims of being an author, to strike a publishing deal.
“Barrett was a colourful local character who was always boasting about being an author, so when the electricians at the house found this book, they believed he was the man who would be able to help them sell it to a publisher.”
Smith believes that Barrett was not forthcoming about the true origins of the diary, the former home of James Maybrick, because he was afraid of prosecution. Smith further claims that Barrett was not an author nor “very literate,” and that he wouldn’t have been able to fraudulently produce the Ripper diary if he’d tried.
“He was not very literate and the idea that he would have been capable of producing such a sophisticated and credible forgery is not remotely plausible.”
Since its publication in 1993, the Jack the Ripper diary has been a highly contentious document. Many immediately claimed it was a blatant forgery. Others insisted that it contained details that would only have been known by the killer.
Smith himself has always believed in the authenticity of the Jack the Ripper diary, and he claims that its purportedly true origins confirm his beliefs.
“I have never been in any doubt that the diary is a genuine document written in 1888 and 1889.”
Mike Barrett himself didn’t help his own cause when he signed an affidavit in 1995 admitting to making the whole Jack the Ripper diary story up. He later recanted that admission.
Robert Smith remains adamant that the diary is the real deal, and that it was found in the floorboards of the home of James Maybrick. According to Smith, these details don’t 100 percent prove that Maybrick was the ripper, but they lend much credence to the theory.
“It follows that James Maybrick is its most likely author. Was he Jack the Ripper? He now has to be a prime suspect, but the disputes over the Ripper’s identity may well rage for another century at least.”
What do you think? Is the diary authentic or just a sophisticated fake? Does it prove that James Maybrick is Jack the Ripper? Let us know in the comments below.
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