He may have vanished into the shadows of history, but – thanks to careful analysis of key evidence which was first compiled in the year 1888 – we may now know what Jack the Ripper actually looked like.
American Ripper in London, the new documentary series charting a fresh investigation into the Whitechapel killings, has now unveiled Jack’s “face”, as created by forensic sketch artist Paloma Galzi. Not only does this forensic composite image shed new light on the enigmatic killer’s appearance, but it also bears an intriguing resemblance to photographs of HH Holmes, the psychopathic con man and killer who created a “Murder Castle” to imprison and murder countless victims in late 19th Century Chicago.
“If you took this composite to a judge, he’d issue a warrant,” says Jeff Mudgett, the former trial lawyer who is investigating the possibility that Jack the Ripper and HH Holmes were one and the same person.
Mudgett, whose quest is chronicled in American Ripper in London, has a very personal reason for pursuing this theory. He is, as he puts it, the “descendant of the devil”, being the great-great-grandson of HH Holmes. Mudgett’s belief that Holmes was indeed the Ripper has led him on a globe-trotting trail, tracking the footsteps of his brutal and remorseless ancestor.
Working alongside former CIA operative Amaryllis Fox, Mudgett presented forensic artist Paloma Galzi with 13 eyewitness testimonies by people who happened to see Jack the Ripper’s victims in the last moments of their lives.
“If you took this composite to a judge, he’d issue a warrant,”
Among these witnesses was Israel Schwartz, who saw Elizabeth Stride, the third victim of Jack the Ripper, being assaulted by a mysterious man just before her body was found. Another of the 13 witnesses was Mary Ann Cox, who glimpsed Mary Kelly, Ripper victim number five, in the company of a man on the night she was brutally butchered in her bed.
The various descriptions of these men were used by Paloma Galzi to create the composite image, which has added to the growing body of evidence that HH Holmes should be considered a major suspect in the Whitechapel murders.
So far, American Ripper in London has also revealed that there is a gap in US records for HH Holmes during the period of the Ripper killings, indicating he wasn’t in the States at the time. Ship passenger listings have also been dug up, showing that someone called “H Holmes” sailed from England to the US shortly after the final canonical Ripper killing was committed.
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HH Holmes, a qualified doctor with a known obsession with dissecting cadavers, constructed a hotel in Chicago that contained a secret labyrinth of fake corridors, trapdoors and soundproofed rooms. It was a factory of death through which numerous hapless victims passed. It’s now speculated that the murders in London’s East End may have been a form of grisly practice for this more elaborate murderous enterprise.
“I believe that by assuming the identity of Jack the Ripper, HH Holmes pulled off one of the greatest cons of all time,” says Jeff Mudgett. More findings are set to be revealed in the remaining episodes of American Ripper in London.