A modern look at the myths surrounding Jack the Ripper

Trevor MarriottTrevor Marriott
Trevor Marriott
Retired murder squad detective Trevor Marriott is breathing a little bit of common sense back into the madness and myths which surround Jack the Ripper.

As he says, if a newspaper reporter hadn’t dreamt up the name Jack the Ripper, if people hadn’t insisted on identifying endless numbers of suspects without a shred of evidence, the Whitechapel murders would have drifted into obscurity years ago.

Trevor offers a straight bat to the suggestion that you could look at things the other way round: that the myth grew, not because of morbid newspaper interest, but purely and simply because the police failed to solve the crimes in the first place.

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But he admits that he isn’t about to solve them now, despite more than ten years on the job.

His insists, however, that the public has been misled about the whole thing in the 125 years since the killer (or maybe killers) struck.

“My belief is that the media, the books, the TV documentaries have all contributed to distorting the true facts of the case. The facts presented have been consistently wrong.”

Such as?

“The number of victims”, says Trevor who will offer an evening entitled Jack the Ripper – A 21st Century Investigation on Saturday, June 20, at 7.45pm in The Hawth Studio, Crawley.

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“If you read the police reports, some say that only five of the victims were attributable to this killer. From a professional perspective, I think you could say now that at least two were killed by the same hand. And then there is the matter of the murders before and after those five. Other police officers believe that there were other killings and that there were also other killings in other places.

“I have identified 17 Ripper-like murders that occurred in London and Germany and the USA,” Trevor says – though the emphasis is on Ripper-like. He is not necessarily saying that one killer killed 17 times.

“I think some of these could have been copy-cat killings.”

His point rather is to strip away the urban myth. The police never referred to the killer as Jack the Ripper. He was the Whitechapel Killer or the Whitechapel Killers.

“The urban myth was created by an overzealous newspaper reporter sending a mysterious letter signed Jack the Ripper. The police certainly never believed in a killer known as Jack the Ripper.”

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But the truth certainly remains that they never did find the killer, whoever he was: “And I guess 125 years later, it will never be solved. I have got some ideas as to who could be responsible for some of the killings. But in effect, the police at the time didn’t have a clue as to the identity of the killer – despite some people saying that they knew the name but kept it back for various reasons.”

What Trevor can do now, from his 21st century perspective, is to pursue the available evidence and evaluate it properly, slashing through the 100-plus possible suspects, which range bizarrely from Lewis Carroll to Dr Barnardo, mostly, Trevor stresses, without any foundation whatsoever.

“I started looking at the case in 2002. As a working detective, I had always had more than a passing interest, but I didn’t have the time. When I did, I just started to go into it all in greater detail – and the press and TV and documentaries and films have kept the case alive.”

More details from Trevor’s website on www.trevormarriott.co.uk.

Tickets on 01293 553636 and www.hawth.co.uk.

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