Trevor Marriott, a former Bedfordshire detective, has been investigating the Jack the Ripper murders for 11 years—and he's come to the conclusion that the Ripper doesn't exist, or at least not as he's traditionally portrayed. Though Jack was supposedly responsible for five grisly murders, Marriott has uncovered 17 unsolved murders between 1863 and 1894, all of which bear Ripper-like signs; some of them took place in America and Germany. He believes German sailor Carl Feigenbaum (who was caught fleeing a Ripper-like murder in New York and was executed in 1896) carried out some of those crimes, but he says the murders would never have gotten the attention they did were it not for one booze-loving journalist. Thomas Bulling forged a letter about the murders from "Jack the Ripper" and sent it to Scotland Yard in 1888, hoping for a sensational story, Marriott tells the Express.
"It was the most ingenious piece of journalism that has kept this mystery alive for 125 years," Marriott says. "The reality is there was just a series of unsolved murders and they would have sunk into oblivion many years ago, but for ... Bulling." Many of the popular ideas about the Ripper have been disproved—for instance, the victims weren't disemboweled; their organs were removed in a mortuary. "There just isn't a Jack the Ripper as such," says Marriott, who used forensic analysis and other modern-day police techniques to carry out his investigation. "You have to ask yourself if 'Jack' is an urban myth. ... The facts of this case have been totally distorted over the years." But if Feigenbaum is enough of a Ripper for you, the Huffington Post has more on why he's the perfect suspect: His ships were often docked near where many of the murders took place, and the time between killings suggests the murderer may have been a traveler. Click for more theories on the Ripper. (Read more Carl Feigenbaum stories.)