There have been countless unsolved crimes and unidentified criminals throughout history, but none has become entrenched in the modern imagination like Jack the Ripper. The true identity of the serial killer who brutally murdered and mutilated young women throughout London in 1888 has never been discovered, although there have been numerous likely suspects named over the years – as well as a host of less likely ones including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lewis Carroll, and an escaped primate. DNA testing has often been used to try and pin down an identity, but nothing conclusive has come of it so far. Nevertheless, amateur sleuths and professional historians alike continue to try and track down who might have been behind these heinous crimes.
It seems to that time of year again, because another researcher has come forward claiming to have found the grave of who he believes to be Jack the Ripper. David Bullock just published his theory in his new book The Man Who Would Be Jack. Bullock works as a police community support officer but has researched Jack the Ripper for nearly three decades. In his new book, Bullock claims that Thomas Hayne Cutbush, one of the many possible suspects, is the definitive Jack the Ripper.
Thomas Cutbush was a medical student who suffered some sort of mental break, thought to be due to syphilis, and stabbed two women in 1891. He was committed to a psychiatric hospital where he stayed until his death in 1903. Bullock says that due to the unique combination of Cutbush’s biographical facts, medical knowledge, his attacks on women, and his deteriorating grave, he must be Jack the Ripper:
Ever since I came across Cutbush I’d been trying to find out the beginning and the end of his life, and it was a missing piece of the jigsaw. I found his grave by finding out where his other family members were buried, thinking maybe they were buried in the same place. What’s fitting about Cutbush’s grave is that the area where his tomb is is covered in ivy and bramble.
Yeah I don’t know, basing most of your theory on the fact that his grave is overgrown seems tenuous. While it’s certainly commendable that someone could spend almost thirty years of his life researching a century-old unsolved crime, Bullock’s theory of Cutbush being the Ripper ultimately isn’t any stronger than any of the other theories about other suspects.
The fact is, we have so much more information and perspective available to us today that it’s easy to find suspects who fit a certain pattern. Cutbush could be the Ripper, sure. But so could Lewis Carroll or that escaped primate. We’ll likely never know.