Who is Jack the Ripper? — A Short Historical Explanation

Gather ’round children, this is going to be an interesting story

ABC’s “Time After Time” is giving us a semi-fictional look into H.G. Wells’ pursuit of the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper — who, in practically all of the show’s commercials, is deemed to be super “hot.”

Sure, Josh Bowman (Jack the Ripper) is an attractive guy, but we wouldn’t call the actual serial killer — whom the show is based on — anything close to “hot.” And here’s why:

To begin with, his name wasn’t really Jack the Ripper. Nor was it Jack — actually, his name could possibly have been Jack, we just don’t know.

Anyways, he was a notorious serial killer way back when in 1888 in a district called Whitechapel on the East End of London. He’s been found responsible for at least five murders and possibly up to as many as 11.

At the time, Whitechapel was known as the worst of the worst places to live in London. It was, basically, a slum where violence, prostitution and crime were rampant. All of Jack the Ripper’s victims were women and all but one happened to be prostitutes.

His murderous spree first started on Aug. 31, 1888 when he killed a prostitute named Mary Ann Nichols, who was 42 years old.

When Nichols was found, her throat had been slashed so deeply that it almost disconnecting her head, and her stomach was sliced open.

The second victim was Annie Chapman, a 47-year-old prostitute, who was killed on Sept. 8 of the same year and, like Nichols, Chapman’s head was also almost severed and her stomach was slashed open. However, Chapman had her intestines taken out and laid on one of her shoulders, and her bladder was missing.

A couple of weeks after Chapman was discovered, a person claiming to be the infamous serial killer sent a letter that is famously known as the “Dear Boss” letter to the Central News Agency. The letter was signed “Jack the Ripper.” Prior to that, the killer had been referred to as “Leather Apron” and “the Whitechapel Murderer.”

People claiming to be the killer had previously sent letters, so this one with the new moniker was believed to be another hoax. Its validity was disputed, but it was one of three — “Saucy Jack” and “From Hell” are the two other notes that could be real — that was taken more seriously.

A couple of days after the Central News Agency received the “Dear Boss” letter, Jack the Ripper killed his third and fourth victim on the same night … within a few minutes of each other. Both Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes had been killed in a similar manner to the previous victims.

The Ripper’s last known murder occurred on Nov. 9, 1888. Mary Jane Kelly was the youngest of his victims, she was only 25 years old, and it was the most gruesome of the murders. Kelly was found in her apartment with her face gashed, her breasts cut off, and her intestines, kidney, uterus and heart were all removed.

Although Kelly is widely believed to be Jack the Ripper’s final victim, there were other subsequent victims whose murder was never ruled as not being the work of the Ripper.

To this day, no one knows the true identity of Jack the Ripper. Well, someone might, but they’ve definitely taken that secret to the grave.