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Was Jack the Ripper really the East London Advertiser's editor? Anatomist uncovers vital clue

PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:48 09 August 2019

Wynne Weston-Davies on trail of Jack the Ripper who murdered his great aunt Mary Kelly. Picture: Mike Brooke

Wynne Weston-Davies on trail of Jack the Ripper who murdered his great aunt Mary Kelly. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Incredible research has emerged linking Jack the Ripper to the editor of the East London Advertiser newspaper at the time of the 1888 Whitechapel Murders.

Offical Metropolitan Police archive crime scene photograph of Mary Kelly's murder in November, 1888.Offical Metropolitan Police archive crime scene photograph of Mary Kelly's murder in November, 1888.

Evidence has been uncovered by eminent anatomist and retired surgeon Dr Wynne Weston-Davies, who is the great-nephew of the last and most heavily-mutilated victim, Mary Kelly.

It points to journalist Francis Craig, who edited the paper between 1886 and 1889.

Mary Kelly's real identity was later uncovered as Elizabeth Weston Davies, who was being sued for divorce by Craig. He had tracked her down to Spitalfields after she quit their marriage and went into prostitution.

Kelly was the last of the five known Ripper victims. Her body was discovered by a rent collector at her dwelling in Miller's Court in Dorset Street, off Commercial Road.

Wynne Weston-Davies at the London Met Archives researching Jack the Ripper's killings. Picture: Mike BrookeWynne Weston-Davies at the London Met Archives researching Jack the Ripper's killings. Picture: Mike Brooke

Craig may have committed the first four murders of common prostitutes to throw the scent off his link to his intended victim, Dr Weston-Davies believes.

He suggests it all began when Craig was reporting the inquest of murdered prostitute Martha Tabum earlier that year at Gunthorpe Street in Whitechapel.

"The inquest may have given him inspiration," Dr Weston-Davies said. "There was already a pattern of attacks on prostitutes, with Martha the second in two months.

"Police would be looking for a gang if Kelly was murdered without her real identity known. Craig would be off the hook."

Engraving showing Craig (ringed) at press bench at Martha Tabum inquest in 1888. Picrture: London Met ArchivesEngraving showing Craig (ringed) at press bench at Martha Tabum inquest in 1888. Picrture: London Met Archives

The Ripper murders began days later — first Polly Nichols in Buck's Row, then Annie Chapman in Hanbury Street, Lizzie Stride in Berner Street, Catherine Eddowes in Mitre Square and finally Mary Kelly, all between August and November that year.

Craig was living at 306 Mile End Road at the time, the home of a printer and office of the Advertiser.

He was never a direct suspect, but there were suspicions of a journalist being responsible for the infamous "Dear Boss" letter supposedly by the killer taunting Scotland Yard and using "Jack the Ripper" for the first time.

The letter in neat Copperplate handwriting was sent to a news agency rather than a newspaper as a member of the public would have done.

Infamous 'Boss' letter to Central News agency signed 'Jack the Ripper'. Picture: Museum of LondonInfamous 'Boss' letter to Central News agency signed 'Jack the Ripper'. Picture: Museum of London

"But it had no punctuations," Dr Weston-Davies observes. "That's the way journalists wrote in those days, without shorthand, taking verbatim notes without punctuation to avoid wasted time putting in commas and apostrophes. It was a journalistic way of writing."

The "Boss" letter was a bombshell and assumed to be from the killer with its giveaway details. The Jack the Ripper signature was picked up by the press worldwide and used in every report of the Whitechapel Murders since — all, that is, except the Advertiser being edited by Craig.

He didn't use the Ripper name, Dr Weston-Davies believes, in case he let something slip. It was only after Craig quit the paper that it finally referred to Jack the Ripper by name.

Craig was actually capable of carrying out the skilled anatomical mutilations, according to Dr Weston-Davies.

Image published in American newspaper 1890 of Ripper suspect (left) compared to engraving of Francis Craig at Martha Tabum's inquest in 1888. Pictures: Museum of LondonImage published in American newspaper 1890 of Ripper suspect (left) compared to engraving of Francis Craig at Martha Tabum's inquest in 1888. Pictures: Museum of London

"His father, ET Craig, was a skilled anatomist who carried out dissections," he found.

"Craig wrote about his father when he died, revealing that he helped with dissections which would give him those anatomical skills.

"The second victim Annie Chapman had her uterus carefully removed which demonstrated the killer's skill in the days when there was no abdominal surgery."

Craig was pictured by a court artist sitting at the press bench at Martha Tabum's inquest. An American newspaper later runs an image of Jack the Ripper suspect with long sideburns, looking strikingly like Craig depicted at the inquest.

The day after Tabum's inquest opened he turned up to the High Court to change his divorce petition, Dr Weston-Davies discovered.

"It seems strange to abandon the inquest which was big news and tamper with a divorce petition that had been lying dormant for two years," he points out.

"He had an affidavit drawn up to strike out a paragraph naming a Mrs McCloud, the 'madam' running the brothel where Mary Kelly worked in Knightsbridge. It may have been a trade off, because McCloud kept in touch with Mary and knew where she lived. Craig needed to know where.

"Craig tracks her down, being obsessed with her leaving him three years earlier and seemed determined to drag her through the mud, outraged that she's gone off for a life of a low-class prostitute."

Mary Kelly's face was anatomically ripped out, which Dr Weston-Davies believes was to avoid her true identity that would have linked her to Craig — who quit the Advertiser weeks later and moved out of the East End altogether.

Another tantalising clue to his involvement in the Whitechapel Murders was his suicide in 1931, believing the police were after him, leaving a note saying "you would not want to know what the doctor did".

Craig, after all, had an anatomical skill that was the hallmark of Jack the Ripper.

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