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The Solution to the Case



The Assignment Letter from Christopher’s Curiosities states the goal for your investigation: identity the most infamous serial killer of all time, Jack the Ripper. An article on the front page of the Forrest City Herald newspaper reveals that Detective Blusson and Inspector Abberline of Scotland Yard concluded that Jack the Ripper moved to Forrest City from Whitechapel before the first Forrest City Ripper murder occurred on Aug. 27, 1891. They identified nine potential suspects.


The FBI profile (which is based on an actual profile of Jack the Ripper prepared by the FBI for training purposes) identifies several characteristics that are useful in identifying the Ripper.  He was tall, unmarried at the time of the killings, and was 28 to 36 years of age. He also must have been present in or near London and Forrest City when the Ripper murders occurred in those locations.  



The FBI profile places the Ripper's age at 26-38.  Suspect Thomas Kelley was only 17 years old when the first Ripper murder occurred in Whitechapel. When the final Ripper attack came in Forrest City in 1892, Kelley still would have been only about 21 years old. Kelley is not the Ripper.



Lewis Carroll would have been too old to fall within the FBI profile’s age range for the Ripper. He can also be ruled out as a suspect because he has an alibi for the murder of Jennifer Morris. In the case file is an invitation to a reception on Aug. 27, 1891, for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson at Christ Church at the University of Oxford. Lewis Carroll was the pen name used by author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. A newspaper article in the case file confirms that Lewis Carroll (Dodgson) did attend the reception in England. Since Lewis Carroll was in England when Jennifer Morris was killed, he cannot be the Ripper.



Careful investigation reveals that Douglas Kocher did not move back to Forrest City until Sept. 5, 1891, after Jennifer Morris had already been murdered. The Suspect Book states that Kocher used the alias George P. Lyman. A luggage tag in the case file indicates that “Dr. George P. Lyman” from Whitechapel boarded the RMS Etruria steamship for an Aug. 27, 1891 sailing. Lyman gave his American address as #10, Nelson House, Forrest City. Additional evidence further confirms that Kocher was aboard the Etruria when it set sail on Aug. 27: a notice reveals that a radio message was received by the Etruria for Dr. George Lyman in response to his message sent on Aug. 31. Since Kocher was aboard the RMS Etruria when Morris was killed, he is not Jack the Ripper.



The evidence strongly suggests that the Ripper was right-handed: (1) Alice Matthews stated that the Ripper “carried a large knife and brandished it in his right hand,” (2) police surgeon Thomas Bond stated that in four of the Whitechapel murders, “the throats appear to have been cut from left to right,” and (3) witness Jane Plenty stated that she saw the Ripper carrying a knife in his right hand. Of the nine suspects, one is identified in the Suspect Book as left-handed: James Silver. Therefore, it is unlikely that James Silver is the Ripper. 



Records from Chapmans Hansom Cab give John Shaw an alibi. The log states that on Aug. 27 at 3:31 am, the driver picked up the “owner of Dante’s Books” at the Blue Cap Pub and “carried him to his apartment. He was very drunk as usual. He required assistance walking up the stairs to his apartment and then passed out on his bed. The Suspect Book reveals that the owner of Dante’s Books is John Shaw. The body of Jennifer Morris was found by police at 6:15 am on Aug. 27. Remarkably, she was still alive but died soon after. It is unlikely that in a highly inebriated state John Shaw could have murdered and mutilated Jennifer Morris before taking a carriage at 3:31 am, and that Morris then survived for nearly three hours before being found. Based on these facts, Shaw is not the Ripper. 



Samuel Cullen is given an alibi for the murder of Renee Hansen by the Log Book from the clipper ship Ajax. The Suspect Book indicates that Cullen became the Steward aboard the Ajax on Feb. 14, 1892. An entry in the Log Book (from 1892) addressed Cullen’s appointment to that position: “14 FEB:  Unloaded cargo, Seaman Frey and Steward Finn discharged. Took on new steward.”  The Log Book then indicates that the Ajax set sail from London to Forrest City on Feb. 15. The evidence shows that Cullen was on board the Ajax during that sailing because the Log Book states that on Feb. 19, “Steward SC finds Seaman Tillman unconscious in cargo hold.” The Ajax did not arrive in Forrest City until March 24, 1892. Since Renee Hansen was murdered in Forrest City on March 6, 1892, Cullen is not the Ripper.



The Herald states that Jonathan Pierce was arrested and jailed at about 9:30 pm “yesterday” during a physical altercation with a woman. Since the newspaper is dated March 28, 1892, Pierce must have been arrested on March 27. A document in the case file by the Forrest City Magistrate indicates that Jonathan Pierce was released on bail on March 31, 1892.  Since the Herald also states that Alice Matthews was attacked by the Ripper after midnight “yesterday,” Pierce was already in jail when the attack occurred. Pierce is not the killer.



Graham Crispin has an alibi based on a telegram in the case file. Dated Sept. 29, 1888, it is from “Joshua Green” to his mother, Sarah, and states that he and “Graham” are “having a wonderful time in New York City” and will stay another seven days before returning home by ship on the Cunard Line. The Suspect Book reveals that Joshua Green was the male companion of Graham Crispin. If Green and Crispin were in New York when Elizabeth Stride and Catharine Eddowes were killed by the Ripper on Sept. 30, 1888, Crispin cannot be the Ripper. 


William Sims is Jack the Ripper. While the other suspects have alibis or characteristics that rule them out as the likely killer, William Sims does not. Sims left London and moved to Forrest City in 1889 to attend medical school. This timing coincides with the ending of the Ripper murders in Whitechapel and the beginning of the similar killings in Forrest City.  


Sims also had a potential motive for the murders. His father died from syphilis (a sexually transmitted disease).  Since the women that the Ripper attacked and killed were prostitutes, it is likely that he was targeting his victims as surrogates in exacting vengeance against whomever transmitted the disease to his father (ultimately resulting in his father's death). 



There is an advertisement in the newspaper for Petit's Eye Salve. This eye salve was a real medication.  Starting in the late 1800's, salve medications were put into newborn babies' eyes to combat the transmission of STD infections (such as syphilis) during the birthing process.  

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