Forward: In these days of lousy media (both television and press) inventing stories and outright lying about their stories, we see that this trend was also behind the Jack the Ripper murders! Disgusting!
Jack the Ripper was a forgery invented by journalists to link a series of unrelated murders and sell newspapers, according to a new book.
The unsolved murders of five prostitutes in London's East End in 1888 have spawned innumerable theories over the identity of the 'real' Jack the Ripper - with candidates including artist Walter Sickert, Alice In Wonderland author Lewis Carroll and even Queen Victoria's grandson the Duke of Clarence.
But now historian Dr Andrew Cook claims to have blown all these theories out of the water by dismissing the notion of a brutal, murderous spree by one 'serial killer' altogether.
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In his book Jack The Ripper: Case Closed, he argues that the famous letter bragging about the killings - signed 'Jack the Ripper' in the first-ever use of that name - was actually forged by journalists desperate to sell their newspaper.
Dr Cook says streetwalkers Mary Nichols, Catherine Eddowes, Mary Kelly, Elizabeth Stride and Annie Chapman were killed by different men, as were the six other Whitechapel victims often added to the Ripper's toll.
He takes his evidence from police and medical experts at the time who expressed doubts about the single killer theory even as it began to take hold on the public imagination.
The senior Whitechapel policeman at the time of the killings admitted in his retirement speech that he did not believe Mary Kelly was killed by 'Jack the Ripper', Dr Cook points out.
The assistant police surgeon who examined all five victims, Percy Clark, told the East London Observer in 1910: 'I think perhaps one man was responsible for three of them. I would not like to say he did the others.'
However, comments like this were a drop in an ocean as the myth of the lone rogue killer took hold of the Victorian imagination.
Dr Cook shows that the newly-launched Star newspaper was the first to claim that one man was behind three of the 1888 killings.
Even though most experts today agree that two of these - Emma Smith and Martha Tabram - were not carried out by the same man, the Star's prurient accounts of the on-going murders massively boosted its circulation.
The Star only unveiled the notorious letter from 'Jack the Ripper' in the midst of a drastic fall in sales after the exoneration of a bootmaker it had identified as a key suspect.
Handwriting expert Elaine Quigley, recruited by Dr Cook to examine the letter, has identified it as the work of Star journalist Frederick Best.
But the public was convinced, Dr Cook says - and the concept of a lone rogue killer on the loose in the East End backstreets may have helped the real culprits literally get away with murder.