More than a century ago, Jack the Ripper was roaming the streets of London, terrorizing one of the city’s most downtrodden areas with his heinous crimes. Since then, the horror of the Ripper’s killings has continued to haunt people around the world – perhaps in part because no one has ever figured out the notorious culprit’s identity. But the mystery may have finally been solved. And it’s all thanks to a fascinating clue that may have been left behind by one of his victims – along with a little help from modern forensic techniques.
London during Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror was a very different place to its 21st-century incarnation. Immigrants from Ireland, Russia and Eastern Europe had flooded into the city in the late 1800s, where they principally ended up in East End neighborhoods such as Whitechapel. With more and more people cramming into this section of London, then, housing and working conditions had plummeted, and extreme poverty was rife.
Inevitably, such dire circumstances bred desperation in these parts of London. Whitechapel in particular became a hotbed for robbery, alcoholism and violent crime. Many women turned to prostitution to make money, too, with authorities estimating that there were 62 brothels in the area in 1888. All the while, though, other Londoners looked down on Whitechapel. And the emergence of Jack the Ripper only added to the district’s abhorrent reputation.