Could H.H. Holmes be Jack the Ripper?
In History Channel’s new documentary, ‘American Ripper’, Jeff Mudgett, a former lawyer and great-great-grandson of Chicago serial killer H.H. Holmes, sets out to prove his theory that his ancestor and Jack the Ripper are one in the same.
In the late 1800s, Jack the Ripper (which is merely a title given to the unidentified serial killer) murdered five women– all of them were prostitutes, and all were murdered in a gruesome way. The first victim, Mary Ann Nicholls, was murdered on August 31, 1888. Nearly one month later, on September 30, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddoweson were killed. The other victims were Annie Chapman and Mary Jane Kelly.
A number of theorists have put forth different possibilities as to the identity of Jack the Ripper. Mudgett believes his is, without a doubt, correct.
Jack the Ripper’s murders took place between August and November 1888. H.H. Holmes did not appear in Chicago property records between July 1888 and April 1889.
In the documentary, Mudgett’s theory rests on the notion that Holmes escaped execution in Philadelphia after confessing to 27 murders and fled to London to become Jack the Ripper. Though the execution on May 7, 1896, was a public event and closely documented, Mudgett (and others who support this theory) believes that Holmes swapped another convict to be executed in his place, and left the country for London to continue his killing spree.
The History Channel’s documentary culminates in the exhumation of Holmes’ body. According to Philly.com, A Delaware County Judge gave the okay to exhume the remains on March 9. This past Friday, NBC10 televised the event. It could, according to Philly.com, not be verified if the remains were Holmes’.
Mudgett also cites Holmes’ handwriting, claiming that it matches a letter from Ripper. “I’m a believer,” he says. “I’d be willing to debate that Holmes was Jack the Ripper with anyone, anywhere, anytime.”
Others, however, don’t believe that the chronology lines up. Adam Selzer, who wrote the book H.H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil, says that he has documents that prove Holmes was in Chicago when Ripper was killing in London, according to the Chicago Tribune. Those include Holmes’ voter registration and a record of his meeting with an attorney, writes the outlet.
The other difference skeptics of Mudgett’s theory have posed is that the means of killing is different. Holmes was known for murdering quietly, in the confinement of a place people refer to as “Murder Castle”, while the Ripper slashed his victims and left them dead on the streets to be found.