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Did Jack the Ripper's family die in 1943 wartime London air-raid disaster?

PUBLISHED: 00:01 04 September 2012

Cheryl Baker as Mary Nichols and Anthony Smith as Jack the Ripper

Cheryl Baker as Mary Nichols and Anthony Smith as Jack the Ripper

Archant

The identity of Jack the Ripper has finally been unravelled in a dramatic evening at an East End church on the 124th anniversary of the first victim in the Whitechapel Murders.

The Victorian serial killer who butchered at least five women—some say more—on the streets of Whitechapel was named on Friday evening as the father of three members of the Lechmere family who died in the 1943 Bethnal Green wartime air-raid disaster two generations later.

He was a Pickford’s cart driver, Charles Cross, who was identified at the end of a drama staged by the Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust at St John on Bethnal Green Church.

Cross was found at the scene of the first Whitechapel murder, in Buck’s Row on August 31, 1888, and told police he was on his way to work at 3.45am when he found Mary Nichols’ body.

But Cross gave a false name—he was really Charles Lechmere, according to Ripper experts Christer Holmgren and Edward Stow.

All subsequent murders were on the route between his home at 22 Doveton Street and his work depot at Broad Street in the City.

He escaped suspicion because police were looking for an educated man with possible medical knowledge.

Lechmere was working class—but his mother cut up carcasses for cats’ meat for a living, so may have had anatomical knowledge from her.

Highlight of the evening was a play starring the charity’s patrons, TV’s gardener Tommy Walsh and former Bucks Fizz member Cheryl Baker.

Sue Lechmere, the great-granddaughter of the man who could have been the Ripper, played the part of prostitute Emily Holland, last person to see Polly Nichols alive.

It raised £2,200 towards the memorial being erected in Bethnal Green Gardens honouring the 173 men, women and children crushed to death in a stampede in a public shelter during an air-raid alert on March 3, 1943.

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