The canonical five: Mary Ann Nichols, Anne Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddows and Mary Kelly. These were the victims of gruesome murders that involved smothering, stabbing, slicing, and disembowelment, all of which came at the hand of Jack the Ripper in eastern London during the 1880s.
And this is all just the tip of the iceberg. We learned much more about the twisted, seething mind of Jack the Ripper, an infamous serial killer whose antics have puzzled society for years, on a tour led by Donald Rumbalow, an expert on him and his murders. After walking through the streets of London, we discovered the harrowing police hunts that went in to attempting his capture, where vital clues were found, and where certain victims lived and in some cases, were murdered.
It was dark and grey outside, with an ever-present threat of rain; a perfect mood for the two hour tour. Wind nipped at our coats as we all gathered round the man who would take us on this perilous adventure through time.
With dark grey hair and bushy black eyebrows that jut out in all directions, Rumbalow spoke with a conviction that told us he knew exactly what he was talking about. Memorized and expertly scripted, Rumbalow was able to recount details of each murder, down to what the victims were wearing on the nights of their tragic fates and the familial problems that led them to their destitute circumstances.
After first being given background information about the city and its boundaries during that time, we learned of a Scotland police force and a London police force that were separated by a single street. Rumbalow believed Jack was well aware of this boundary along with the fact that the two units did not work together or get along for that matter, and he would plan his escapes accordingly. Merely stepping to the other side of the street could muster a fair getaway as police units from the opposite side ignored everything that occurred parallel to them and their border.
In addition, London was only one square mile long at the time, so the fact that police could not catch a murderer was astounding, especially now considering that London is absolutely massive in comparison to what it used to be. Even though society back then did not have the forensic knowledge and technology we have in this day of age, the size of the city alone should have been reason enough to be able to catch Jack the Ripper.
Justifying the aforesaid complications, not many clues were left at the murder sites, and it was repeatedly mentioned that at the time, animal blood and human blood could not be told apart. Policemen literally had no clue what was going on half the time, and for all they knew, the murderer could have been standing right next to them with blood on his hands and they would not have the ability to prove his guilt.
It was only after the killing of Catherine Eddows that a single message was left, and has plagued the now infamous Goulston Street. It read, "The Juwes are the men who will not be blamed for nothing.” According to Rumbalow, PC Alfred Long saw this message, wrote it down and then washed it away in order to not cause race riots amongst the highly Jewish population that lived there. Comparatively, Rumbalow believes this message had absolutely nothing to do with the Jewish people at all, but instead has to do with freemasonry and the medieval roots within that religious view.
All in all, the tour was widely informational and yet got us nowhere nearer to figuring out whom this infamous serial killer actually was. Rumbalow gave us his theories on who it was, but each one did not have nearly enough evidentiary support to justify such an accusation; and it is this dilemma that plagues those, like Rumbalow, who have devoted their lives and careers to cracking this case. He left us with the message that it literally could have been anybody, and for all we know, his descendants could have been among us, walking along the tour, with absolutely no idea of their harrowing pasts. And I guess, we’ll never know, demonstrating the true elusive beauty of Jack the Ripper and the murderous legacy he left hanging over London.