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Almost solved – yet again Nov 20

Miraculously, modern technology has come up “the face of Jack the Ripper“. Although the image has been constructed using new technology, it’s not as if the Victorian force could not have knocked together an artist’s impression of the serial killer if witness statements matched: the problem was, they didn’t.

The BBC quotes Metropolitan Police Commander John Grieve, who rightly states:

“It’s a popular misconception that nobody ever saw the murderer, that he just vanished into the fog of London. Well that’s just not right. There were witnesses at the time who were highly thought of by the police. If we were doing this investigation today, we could pool together all these descriptions and the kind of face that the police were clearly looking for.”

Where I tend to disagree with him is this:

“This is further than anyone else has got,” he said. “It would have been enough for coppers to get out and start knocking on doors… they would have got him.”

And not just because the coppers did go door to door at the time.

In some cases, witnesses’ descriptions – and they exist, although there are not many – flatly contradict each other. It’s virtually impossible to know which were accurate, which were fabricated, and which were describing men other than the murderer (or someone guilty of a “non-canonical” murder). It becomes a matter of deciding, based on little information from over a century ago, which witnesses you trust – and that makes any composite image suspect.

This is all in aid of a documentary on Five tomorrow. Apparently, “investigators have even been able to pinpoint his address” – although that’s not quite what one of them says:

“We can name the street where he probably lived; and we can see what he looked like; and we can explain, finally, why this killer eluded justice.”

Hmm. In case you can’t tell, I have my doubts. I’ll tune in anyway to see if their method of picking an address is any better than plotting the murder sites on a map and picking a street in the middle.

2 Responses

  1. 1

    Oh buggeration. This was on last night wasn’t it? Missed the bloody thing. Is it being repeated?

  2. 2

    Oh no its on tonight! I’m missing it right now aren’t I? *sigh*