Was Jack the Ripper a Wealthy Cotton Merchant?

New evidence suggests a tell-all diary is authentic
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2017 8:27 AM CDT
Experts Claim Jack the Ripper Was Likely a Cotton Merchant
A letter with the signature of an individual calling themselves 'Jack the Ripper' is seen during a press preview for the exhibition "Jack the Ripper and the East End" at the Museum in Docklands, London, Wednesday, May 14, 2008.   (AP Photo/Akira Suemori)

In 1992, a 9,000-word diary was found in the floorboards of a home in England containing a detailed confession to murders tied to Jack the Ripper, the serial killer who terrorized London for 10 weeks in 1888. It ended thusly: "I give my name that all know of me, so history do tell, what love can do to a gentleman born. Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper." It appears to belong to wealthy Liverpool cotton Merchant James Maybrick, who died a year later, but many experts dismissed the tell-all tome as a sophisticated forgery. Now, the Telegraph reports, a team led by writer and film director Bruce Robinson has unearthed timecards that show which electricians were working on Maybrick's home, Battlecrease House, on March 9, 1992, the morning the book was said to have been found.

The man who came up with the diary, scrap metal dealer Mike Barrett, claimed to have gotten it through a family friend who died soon thereafter, leading many to believe it was a fake. But Barrett was a colorful character who frequented the Saddle Inn public house in Anfield, where one of the electricians working on Battlecrease House was also a regular. Because Barrett fancied himself a writer, it is believed that the electricians who found the book passed it onto Barrett, who then famously contacted a London literary agent that very day in March claiming he had Jack the Ripper's diary, adds the Sun. Mental Floss notes that many suspects have been proposed over the decades, including a former royal obstetrician. (The Ripper's last known victim remains mysterious.)

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