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The Mystery of Jack the Ripper

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					The Mystery of Jack the Ripper LiAnn Chen James Maybrick is one of the top suspects who believed to have been disguised as Jack the Ripper. After Michael Baratt found a diary allegedly written by Maybrick, the attitude given to the familiar serial killer has never been the same. Though it has been over a century since his killings, the Ripper’s true identity remains a mind-boggling mystery. The identity of “Jack the Ripper” was one of the first great murder mysteries in a time when the media was becoming a major influence in people’s lives. Though it’s been over a century, Jack the Ripper continues to be a familiar name in forensic science. The name was given to a serial killer who murdered at least 5 women in London, England in 1888. While no one was ever proven to be the perpetrator for these crimes, approximately 20 people have been suspected of the murders. The most controversial suspect is a man named James Maybrick. James Maybrick was one of the top suspects for the murders by Jack the Ripper. Maybrick, a cotton merchant in the 1800s, lived in Liverpool with his wife Florence. Brian Maybrick, a descendant of James described him as “the black sheep of the family” (Sengupta). Maybrick died in 1889 after consuming too much arsenic. Though it was known that he was a frequent arsenic user, his wife was accused of murder and spent 15 years in jail (Bardsley). In 1992, a man named Michael Barrett supposedly found a diary in James Maybrick’s old house in Liverpool. The diary, written by Maybrick, had entries in which he confessed to being Jack the Ripper. Although it seemed like a believable case, many were skeptical.

While one side argues that a case with such questionable findings should not be dismissed, the other insists that “it is not difficult at all” (Scheib) to fake a diary. Handwriting and document examinations done on the diary have either been in favor of a hoax or have been inconclusive. The handwriting analysis used samples from James Maybrick’s signature on his marriage agreement, letters that Jack the Ripper wrote to his boss, and the diary. While the three handwritings were completely different from each other, some argue that it is common for a serial killer to have Multiple Personality Disorder (Scheib). To counter that dispute, however, Scheib brings up the fact that “Maybrick’s handwriting does not change within the course of the diary.” One of the greatest arguments against the diary’s authenticity is the confession of Michael Barrett. In a confession on January 25, 1995, he writes, “I know its old hat and I am sick of trying to convince people about it but the truth is I wrote the Diary of Jack the Ripper and my wife Anne Barrett transcribed it onto the old photograph Album” (Barrett). While this directly demonstrates that the diary was forged, Barrett has taken back what he said on several occasions. Shirley Harrison, the author of The Diary of Jack the Ripper, writes, “Michael Barrett’s unpredictable imagination has tired many a knicker in a twist and wasted hours and hours of time” (Harrison). The arguments the claim the diary to be authentic are weak but not altogether unreasonable. Had the diary been authentic, it would explain much about why the murders stopped (Bardsley). The last murder occurred in November of 1888 and James Maybrick died in 1889. These events could have been coincidental but it does clarify an otherwise unknown justification as to why the murders came to an end. While the diary uses a comparable tone as that found in letters written by Jack the Ripper, a hoaxer could

have easily familiarized himself with the publicized letters and forged the entries. One part of a letter to “The Boss” received on September 27, 1888 states, “I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now” (Ripper). Similarly, the believed Maybrick writes, “The whore like all the rest was only too willing…her nose annoyed me so I cut it off…” (Stratmann) in the diary. From the information that has been gathered from several articles, I have found very little to support the argument that James Maybrick is in fact Jack the Ripper, and a great deal that suggests the contrary. Although arguments made by both sides were logical, there was much more proof of the diary being a fraud than not. While the believers of the diary being a hoax backed their points of view with real evidence, the opposite side only defends themselves using complicated reasoning. Though it would have been easy to accept the idealistic diary as genuine, James Maybrick was not Jack the Ripper.

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