Did life imitate art in the case of Jack the Ripper? An Australian English teacher, who claims to have solved the 127-year-old mystery, certainly thinks so, the New York Daily News reports. Richard Patterson believes Jack the Ripper, who killed five London prostitutes over 10 weeks in 1888, was actually poet Francis Thompson. According to the Mirror, Patterson read a book of Thompson's poetry in 1997 and became convinced he was the legendary killer. He's spent the years since attempting to prove his theory. "Soon before and soon after the murders, he wrote about killing female prostitutes with knives," Patterson says. And the Daily News quotes a graphic short story by Thompson about a woman being stabbed to death.
In addition to Thompson's grisly writings, Patterson points to his experience as a surgeon and his troubled relationship with a local prostitute, the Mirror reports. Patterson says Thompson kept a dissecting knife under his coat and knew a rare surgical procedure that was used to mutilate some of the victims. He also lived with a prostitute with whom he began a romantic relationship. When that relationship ended, Patterson says Thompson "snapped." "I'm excited that people are beginning to take the theory seriously," says Patterson, who is publishing it in a book. The Jack the Ripper case was eventually closed in 1892, and Thompson died 15 years later, according to the Christian Science Monitor. In the years since the slayings, scholars, amateur sleuths, and others have identified up to 100 suspects. (This Hollywood director thinks Jack the Ripper was actually a popular singer.)