Jack the Ripper, whose identity is unknown, butchered and murdered at least five women in Whitechapel, east London, in 1888.
Yet he is likely to have been married, from the area, and able to mask his urges in day-to-day life, rather than being a sadistic loner, believes Pippa Gregory, a criminal behavioural adviser to the National Crime Agency.
She has profiled the killer for a book exploring how the murders would have been investigated today.
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Former Met Police officer Steven Keogh, 51, who retired after 30 years’ service in 2021, asked her to profile Jack the Ripper for his book.
Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chap-man, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly were killed between August and November 1888. Three of the victims had internal organs removed, leading to a theory that the killer had anatomical or surgical skills.
Police investigated the murders of 11 women, mainly prostitutes, between April 1888 and February 1891. It is widely agreed that the third to the seventh were carried out by the Ripper.
Ms Gregory used the NCA’s Serious Crime Analysis Section that was established as a result of the 1970s and 1980s investigations into Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. It holds details of more than 35,000 serious sexual and violent crimes.
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Ms Gregory concluded Jack the Ripper was probably aged in his late 20s or 30s and lived in, worked or regularly visited the area. It was likely he had been arrested before for sexual assault, indecent exposure or dishonesty, but she said the widespread theory of surgical skills was not necessarily true.
She said his level of ritualistic mutilation was very rare among UK serial killers and he derived sexual pleasure from this. He had the mental capacity to understand the risk of being caught and how to mitigate it.
Ms Gregory also deduced that some- thing must have happened to stop his killing, just as his crimes were escalating.
She wrote: “This offender may not have been the socially isolated, deviant loner they were likely to have been anticipating.
“Criminological research into ‘overkill’ in sexual homicides has found that those offenders who also mutilated their victims were commonly married… the marriage is likely to mask these feelings in their day-to-day social interaction.
“The series of offences appears
to represent a burst of murderous activity in a relatively short space of time. It is possible that there was a trigger in his lifestyle that served as the catalyst for his offending spree.
“Exploring the personal circumstances of any potential suspects,
eg marital break-ups, bereavements, being released from prison in the lead-up to the first attack, may uncover useful information.
“The offending was very likely to be highly compulsive… he was therefore very unlikely to stop offending of his own accord.”
Mr Keogh concluded: “It will never be solved to the standard that someone could have been charged. The best will be a general consensus.”
● Murder Investigation Team: Jack the Ripper – A 21st Century Investigation, is out now from John Blake Publishing
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