Who did The Police Think Was Jack the Ripper?


Ripperologist JON REES outlines who the contemporary police investigating the Whitechapel Murders believed was Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper

In the 125 years since the murders of Jack the Ripper have occurred, over 100 potential suspects have been put forward. Several of these were suggested by the police investigating the crimes or who policed the capital in the aftermath. It is perhaps in these names that we are most likely to find the true identity of Jack the Ripper.

Sir Melville Macnaghten thought Montague Druitt did it

In his memoranda to the Home Office in 1894, Chief Constable (CID) Sir Melville Macnaghten names three suspects – Aaron Kosminski, Michael Ostrog and Montague Druitt. Macnaghten seems to favour Druitt (a Barrister and Schoolmaster who committed suicide by drowning in the Thames in December 1888) as in a draft version of the memoranda, Macnaghten states “I have always held strong opinions regarding him, and the more I think the matter over, the stronger do these opinions become. The truth, however, will never be known, and did indeed, at one time lie at the bottom of the Thames, if my conjections be correct!”

Sir Robert Anderson thought Aaron Kosminski did it

Sir Robert Anderson never names his suspect directly, but instead refers several times in news articles, interviews and his own autobiography to a Polish Jew, caged in asylum and positively identified by an eyewitness who refused to testify against a fellow Jew. We can ascertain from the copy of his book The Lighter Side of My Official Life owned by Donald Swanson, that Kosminski was his suspect.

Superindent Donald Swanson thought Aaron Kosminski did it

We don’t know if the suspect that Swanson writes about in the margins of his copy of Anderson’s biography is his favoured suspect, or him merely identifying the suspect Anderson writes about and providing more information on the identification that occurred.

Chief Inspector Littlechild thought Francis Tumblety did it

Inspector Littlechild writes in a letter to journalist G R Sims about a suspect named “Dr T” – Francis Tumblety – an American quack Doctor who was in London during the Autumn of 1888 leaving around the time of the final Ripper crime. Tumblety was arrested in early November on charges of “gross indecency” (taking part in homosexual practices) so was most likely fleeing these charges. Littlechild considered Tumblety to be a likely suspect in his mind.

Inspector Fredrick Abberline thought George Chapman did it

Abberline contradicted himself many times, sometimes giving a theory about the identity and sometimes claiming to be clueless. The most famous suspect theory he proposed was that of George Chapman (aka Severin Klosowski) in 1903, apparently remarking to former colleague George Godley upon his arrest for poisoning several women “you’ve caught Jack the Ripper at last”. He also stated during an interview with a reporter: “… I cannot help feeling that this is the man we struggled so hard to capture fifteen years ago.”

JON REES has a blog where he discusses all sorts of things, including crime and Jack the Ripper. Read the blog here and follow him on twitter here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here