Jack the Ripper is one of the most mysterious and feared figures in the history of London. Though his final identity was never confirmed, there are hundreds of theories surrounding this shadowy murderer. But as some have suggested, if you wish to learn the identity of the terrifying serial killer that finally ended his reign in 1891, you may be able to catch a glimpse of him on December 31st, when he jumps off the Westminster Bridge – every year.
The name Jack the Ripper was first given to the culprit of a series of murders after rumors that the series of deaths throughout the Whitechapel Area may have been connected – and the unusually brutal manner in which the victims were killed was linked from one to another. The first few victims, often referred to as the “canonical five” were linked by newspaper reports and the wildly popular “penny dreadfuls” outlining the murders in the most sensational way available at the time – even including rumors at the time that Jack the Ripper could be inhuman.
But these events gradually went away altogether, though they were soon followed by a series of what are believed to be “copycat murders” which lasted after 1891, but didn’t fit the modus operandi of the now infamous “Jack.” The case was left unsolved, but London would never finally see justice in the case of Jack the Ripper. Years passed, and the mythology of the Ripper eventually outweighed the individual incidents themselves in the eyes of the public.
But there was another legend that served as a sort of epitaph of the original Ripper lore. It was said that on December 31st as Big Ben tolled its last few notes of the year and the echoing sound could be heard throughout the city streets and down the Westminster bridge you could see a figure torn in despair as he stumbled down as if a remnant left of the old year. And finally amid the new year’s celebrations the cloaked ghost would be largely unseen except by a select few as he jumped from the bridge into the river. This ghost, as the legend goes, belongs to the never truly identified Jack the Ripper.
While it seems reasonable Jack may be so overwhelmed by guilt over his murders, some have speculated that it may actually be some other equally mysterious factor that tortures his soul to this day. Some have said the ripper was interested in the transition from the 19th to 20th centuries, but this is partially due to a quote that was erroneously attributed to him in the book “From Hell” and later the film of the same name. The reality of it is the ripper didn’t make many mentions of the transition from one year to the next, nor did he give any indications that he would be taking a dive off the Westminster Bridge. How can those who see the ghost positively identify him as the ripper? Those who have seen him say there’s no mistaking it – there falls the tortured ghost of Jack the Ripper.