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Jack the Ripper


These prints are 8.5 x 11" on cardstock.

Jack the Ripper (fl. 1888) is the name given by the British press to an unknown individual who has been called history's first modern serial killer. During the "Autumn of Terror" in 1888, "Jack" was responsible for the killings of at least five women in London's poor, crime-ridden Whitechapel district. His uncanny ability to quickly kill and mutilate - including extracting victims' internal organs in pitch-darkness - as well as his skillful evasion of police baffles and disturbs investigators, even to this day.

One cannot discuss Jack without also discussing the social and living conditions that made his killings possible. Whitechapel in that time was one of the worst slums in London, ridden with crime and poverty. The incredible riches harvested across Britain's global Empire gave little relief to the working class in places like Whitechapel; people took up whatever meager work they could find to eek out a living. Many women turned to prostitution, and their services were available at all hours of the day; it was from among these women that the Ripper found his victims. Couple this with the mazelike conditions of a neighborhood constructed virtually without urban planning, and one has designed the perfect stalking ground for a serial killer.

The Whitechapel killings caused a sensation, and were heavily covered in the press. Even Queen Victoria concerned herself with the matter, hounding police to find the killer at all costs. Some citizens couldn't resist contributing to the Ripper mythos themselves; newspaper offices and police precincts were flooded with letters allegedly from "Jack the Ripper." At least one, however, is typically considered genuine. Sent to George Lusk, head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee and postmarked "From Hell," it was madly scrawled in red ink, and boasted of eating half of the aforementioned victim's kidney.

The other half was delivered with the letter.

Numerous suspects were investigated at the time, and many others have been suggested in the near-century-and-a-half since the Autumn of Terror. And, though several well-researched theories placing certain individuals very close to the crime scenes at the time have been propounded, none have ever been conclusively proven. Contemporary investigative techniques did not include modern forensic or DNA testing; moreover, police of the time had little practical experience or established procedures for investigating serial killers. The term "serial killer" itself would not even exist for almost another century. Whoever Jack was, he arrived at the perfect place and time in history to commit his chosen atrocities.