An ex-homicide detective believes he has answers to one of the most baffling mysteries of all time -- the identity of Jack the Ripper. He claims the infamous serial killer never existed at all.
When a rash of violent murders occurred in London in the late 19th century, citizens and authorities alike were both terrified and bewildered. The string of murders were blamed on an individual the media dubbed "Jack the Ripper." While the deaths of five female victims in the Whitechapel district left behind plenty of evidence, no one was arrested for the grisly murders.
The Jack the Ripper case has been associated with a variety of wild explanations as to "whodunit," and the suspects have included "Alice in Wonderland" author Lewis Carroll, Queen Victoria's grandson, the Duke of Clarence and even a Sioux Indian warrior called Black Elk.
Trevor Marriott, a former Bedfordshire murder squad police officer, says he's spent the last 11 years examining the evidence left behind in the cases and, using modern-day police techniques and forensic analysis, he believes a German merchant sailor committed many of the crimes thought to have been committed by Jack the Ripper, but that he wasn't solely responsible.
While a thorough investigation was conducted by both authorities and a group of dissatisfied citizens who called themselves the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, a single suspect has never been favored. The number of named suspects reaches over 100. Previous theories go on the idea that the killer could have been a doctor or a butcher because of the way the bodies were eviscerated, but Marriott believes that the evidence just doesn't add up.
Marriott spoke with HLN about why he thinks the legend of Jack the Ripper is nothing but a fairy tale.
HLN: What drew you to this case when you first started to investigate it?
Marriott: In 2004, I gave a lecture at a college and used Jack the Ripper as my topic. When I researched it, I found that a lot of the information was incorrect. I wanted to see what was the truth.
HLN: Did Jack the Ripper really exist?
Marriott: In my opinion, no. This killer has been singularly attributed to killing all these women, but my research proves that that is not the case. The facts surrounding the case have been totally distorted and blown out of proportion. People mainly believe in the name because of a letter allegedly penned by Jack the Ripper that was sent to the Central News Agency of London. I believe an overzealous newspaper reporter (Thomas Bulling) wrote it. Those letters were signed "Jack the Ripper," and that's where the name came from. But these murders were not committed by one person.
HLN: Where did the image of Jack the Ripper as a well-dressed man come from?
Marriott: The media has portrayed Jack the Ripper as a doctor, with a black cape and hat. And since the organs were removed from the victims, people believed he would need medical skills based on how it was done. The truth of the matter is that the killer would not have had time to remove the organs, based on the evidence we have. What's propped the case up and left it open is the idea of this single killer. But the evidence proves otherwise.
HLN: Who was Carl Feigenbaum, and how was he associated with the Whitechapel murders?
Marriott: Feigenbaum was a German merchant sailor whose ships often docked near Whitechapel. He was executed in New York in 1894 for cutting a woman's throat, and his attorney claimed after his execution that Feignbaum had spoken of his hatred of women and the desire to kill them and destroy their bodies. In my book, I detail other murders I believe he committed in the United States and Germany from 1891-1894. In short, he must be regarded as a prime suspect.
HLN: Is there direct evidence that ties Feigenbaum to the five women that were murdered by Jack the Ripper?
Marriott: There is no direct link between Feigenbaum and the murders as in primary evidence. There are strong circumstantial links to connect him to one, some, and perhaps all of the murders but the latter I think is highly unlikely, regarding to the MO operated by the killers in these murders.
HLN: Did you ever consider any other people to be serious suspects in the Whitechapel murders?
Marriott: No. I looked at the small minority of suspects who have been regarded as prime suspects and could find no evidence to connect any of them to the murders. In fact, most should not even be regarded as prime suspects as their suspicions amount to nothing more than uncorroborated theories put forward by authors and television documentary makers.
HLN: You're currently touring in your one-man show "Jack the Ripper-A 21st Century Investigation" in the UK. How do people react to being told Jack the Ripper never existed?
Marriott: Hardcore "Ripperologists" don't like the theories or new changes. But people mostly seem generally happy and interested. I think with a case that has this much notoriety, they want to learn the true facts.