Joseph Barnett is the suspect du jour. He was arrested at the time of the Miller's Court affair, and interrogated for four hours. His clothing was searched for bloodstains, and his new lodgings searched for a knife. A report was leaked to the press that police were considering Miller's Court a "copycat" murder, with jealousy as the motive -- clearly indicating that Barnett was the suspect. Then he was released, and managed to escape suspicion until 1977. Now he is back in vogue. 3 books, 2 articles, a novel and a play (mine) accuse this unemployed market porter of having been the most infamous murderer of all time. Even the Tumbletonians are beginning to fold the tent, with the latest edition of Gainey and Evans conceding that Barnett is the probable murderer of Mary Kelly.
It has always been presumed that Jack the Ripper posed as a potential customer, and led his victims to isolated locations on the pretext of sex. I'm not sure why this is presumed, as all the evidence is against it. Nichols was killed on the street near London Hospital -- not an isolated location. Blood drops led west. Chapman died off Hanbury street, behind a pet food store. Not a romantic spot. She was found lying near half an envelope. The tear was right through the address, and all that could be read was the letter M, the letters Sp, and the number 2 (Gainey and Evans.) I think I'm the first writer to realize that this was the killer's address, and that he tore it away to conceal his identity. Medical examiner George Bagster Phillips estimated time of death as 4:00am, but witnesses saw Dark Annie alive as late as 5:30. Walter Dew, later the famous inspector who caught Crippen, tailed the killer towards the Spitalfields Market, near Dorset. Elizabeth Stride was assaulted in full view of two witnesses, with no suggestion of a sexual relationship. Stride had her throat slit, and wasn't ripped. It has always been assumed that the killer was interrupted, but this could also be an unrelated crime (forensic evidence indicates a different blade.) Eddowes died the same night in Mitre Square, a well-travelled area with foot patrols passing every ten minutes and a security guard at the door of one of the businesses. Clearly, although all the victims were prostitutes, the killer had some other "line" that he used to gain their trust. Or did they know and trust him already? There is strong evidence that the killer fled north from Mitre Square: a bloody rag was left in Goulston street, and he washed his hands at a public sink -- the bloody water was still flowing down the drain. Where was the sink? Miller's Court, 26 Dorset Street -- the same place where he would later kill Kelly. Coincidence? Hardly. Major Smith claimed he was "five minutes" behind the Ripper that night. In fact, he must have been seconds behind him. The only place the killer could have gone is through his own front door.
Dorset Street is vastly important. The corpses were found all over the East End, but every one of the Ripper's victims lived within two blocks of Dorset Street. Bruce Paley indicates that four of them lived in Dorset Street itself! Witness Mary Ann Connelly, who I believe was an intended victim, also lived in Dorset. (Connelly had been with Tabram the night she was killed. When they split up with customers, I think Jack followed the wrong couple.) There is no reason to look for our killer any farther afield than the corner of Dorset and Commercial. Jack the Ripper must have lived or worked in this neighbourhood. In fact, it's a safe bet he lived in Miller's Court -- the geographical centre of the victim's addresses, the site of one of the murders, and the place to which he fled after two of the crimes. The corner pub was the Britannia. All the victims were alcoholics, and undoubtedly drank there. Living so close, drinking in the same gin-joints, and following the same profession, it is virtually certain that they knew each other -- and their killer. Indeed, the press at the time claimed Chapman and Kelly were good friends, and Paley claims Eddowes and Kelly once lived in adjoining rooms. Eddowes once said she knew the Ripper's name. She was found dead two days later. Surely this is beyond coincidence! Eddowes' Suspect must be Jack the Ripper. And Joe Barnett is the only Jack the Ripper suspect whom Eddowes can be presumed to have known. Also, John Pizer, the original suspect, was said to frequent Dorset Street, and to have a friend named "Joe" who intimidated witnesses. Was this friend Joe Barnett?
The most persistent myth about Jack the Ripper is that nobody ever saw him. In fact, the Ripper was seen, a number of times, by reliable witnesses. He was a man, about 30 years of age, stout, with a small, light moustache. He wore a respectable suit and a deerstalker hat. He stood 5'7" tall. Any serious Jack the Ripper suspect must resemble this description. Only one does: Joe Barnett.
George Lusk, head of the vigilantes, was the recipient of a taunting letter and the kidney of Catherine Eddowes. (The kidney was authentic -- it showed symptoms of Bright's Disease, an ailment Eddowes suffered.) The Lusk letter is the only communication from the real killer. It is written in Irish dialect -- consistent with Ripper Central, an Irish neighbourhood. And Barnett was Irish, unlike most other major suspects. Interestingly, Paul Harrison claims Barnett was one of Lusk's men.
"Dr." Michael Ostrog was no doctor, but a thief and conman. A bearded man of 55, he doesn't look like the Ripper. But he does look like the man who stalked Lusk, and he may have sent the famous kidney, though he is unlikely to have written the letter. George Sims wrote about a local tradition that he (Sims) looked like Jack the Ripper. Sims resembled Ostrog. Also, Ostrog stood 5'11", a height that keeps turning up. Druitt was 5'11" too, as were Tumblety, G. Wentworth Bell Smith, White's Suspect, the Batty Street Lodger and Schwartz' 2nd Man. Gainey and Evans relate an incident in which a witness was shown a 5'11" policeman, and asked if the man he saw could have been that height. While the Ripper was believed to be "not above middle height," it seems there is another tradition that a taller man was somehow involved. An accomplice? What makes me think there was an accomplice is that Barnett lived in a 12 foot room, (no place to hide a knife), and had a girlfriend who would not have appreciated his "trophies." Ostrog is the best bet for accomplice, especially as it now appears he may have been in France for the final murder, which could account for the killer having to change his methods and strike indoors for the first time.
Dr. Robert Anderson stated in his autobiography that the killer was a low class Polish Jew (unnamed.) Briefly, the story is that a mystery witness, who refused to testify, identified him as Jack the Ripper. He was then committed to a mental institution on the q.t. The witness is said to be "also a Jew." Martin Fido identifies Anderson's Suspect with Macnaghton's "Kosminski." This much is probably correct -- it is confirmed in the marginalia of Inspector Swanson that "Kosminski was the suspect." Fido then goes on to argue that Kosminski is really David Cohen, that David Cohen is really Nathan Kaminsky, and Kaminsky is the real Leather Apron. There is no reason to believe that any two of these men were the same person. Let's stick to Aaron Kosminski. He was picked out of a one man lineup, with no lawyer present. The witness wouldn't testify or even give his name. Inspector Abberline, who coordinated the detectives on the ground, heard this story and said there was nothing to it. Only Dr. Robert Anderson ever claimed the case was solved in this way -- and he only started claiming this in 1910! As late as 1908 Anderson states in the Daily Chronicle (Sept. 1st) that there were two real clues: the Goulston Street graffiti and Joe Barnett's pipe. The graffiti indicates a gentile suspect who fled north -- some claimed the phrasing was Irish. The implications of the pipe are obvious. In other words, "Anderson's Suspect" was Joe Barnett.
It is hard to avoid concluding that only Swanson ever believed in Kosminski's guilt, and he may have told this story to Anderson as late as 1909. Anderson's interview implicating Barnett is his only comment on the case not reprinted in the A to Z.
The last victim, Mary Kelly, was killed inside a locked room. Now a lot of nonsense is written about "locked room" mysteries. The solution is always that somebody had a key. But in this case the victim didn't! She'd lost it about a week before. Which means that, after he was finished, Jack the Ripper must have locked the door behind him with his own key. Now Mary was the original tenant! Therefore, a limited number of keys. Only two men can be Jack the Ripper: the landlord John McCarthy, or her ex-lover Joe Barnett, an unemployed market porter she threw out at the same time the key disappeared (he obviously kept it.) The police cleared Barnett, because he had an alibi for the time of the murder, 4:00 am.
But 2 witnesses, Caroline Maxwell and Maurice Lewis, both saw Mary Kelly alive and well the next morning, between 8:30 and 10:00. Both lived in the neighbourhood, and knew Mary well. They couldn't be mistaken. Maxwell even talked to Kelly, and then saw her later chatting with a man dressed like a market porter. Joe Barnett is the only suspect who worked as a market porter.
The coroner set the time of death at 4:00am because that's when a witness heard somebody shout "Oh murder!" He originally estimated the time of death as late as 8:00am. Still too early? Body temperature was estimated by touching the body and guessing. If he guessed wrong, by even a few degrees, then none of the witnesses has to be lying. And it's our old friend Dr. Phillips.
Most ripperologists now agree Phillips was wrong about Chapman, because he is overruled by the testimony of dubious early-dawn earwitnesses who didn't even know the woman. But nobody suggests he was wrong about Kelly, even though he is here contradicted by credible eyewitnesses who knew Kelly well and saw her in broad daylight -- and even spoke to her! It is suggested that a 4:00am time of death is confirmed by the "morning footsteps"; Mary Cox heard footsteps in the court at 5:45, and this is supposed to be the Ripper making good his escape. The theory is destroyed by the testimony of Elizabeth Prater, who admits that she is the person who left the court at that hour -- and no, she didn't bump into Jack the Ripper! Ultimately, the stomach contents are conclusive. Kelly had a meal within 3 hours of her death. What is more likely: dinner at one in the morning, or breakfast at seven?
Mary Kelly was seen by reliable witnesses as late as 10:00am. The body was found at 10:45. Abberline and Dew found three puzzling clues, hitherto unexplained. The fireplace embers were still warm. The candle on the table was unlit, meaning the Ripper must have worked in the dark. And Joe Barnett's pipe was on the mantlepiece. I will now explain these baffling mysteries. Barnett's pipe was on the mantlepiece because that's where he left it when he killed her. The embers were still warm because they were minutes behind him. And the candle wasn't lit simply because it wasn't dark!
And at ten in the morning, when the murder really took place, John McCarthy was minding his store and has an iron-clad alibi.
And now it can finally be revealed what the address was on Annie Chapman's envelope:
By the way, have you ever noticed that all of Jack's ladies had the same name? It's perfectly true. Of course, you have to consider each woman's alias along with her real name. But if you include Tabram and discount Stride, look what happens:
MARIA Turner, victim.
MARY ANN Connelly, intended victim.
MARY ANN Nichols, victim.
ANNIE Chapman, victim.
MARY ANNE KELLY, victim.
MARY ANN KELLY, final victim.
All victims, real and intended, are named Mary, Ann, or Mary Ann. Two are named Mary Ann Kelly. Recent genealogical evidence published in Ripperana suggests that "Ann" was Mary Kelly's real middle name, and not an alias. Only Barnett is likely to have known this at the time. And, added to the coincidence of the addresses, the coincidence of the names suggests that somebody was obsessed with "Mary Ann Kelly, the Dorset Street whore," killing her again and again, until he finally killed the real one, and then stopped.
(Just in case Stride was a victim, it's interesting to note that she spent the evening with an English-speaking gentile who looked like Joe Barnett, and who was hailed as "Leather Apron.")
1) One of 2 men likely to have had a key -- the other has an alibi.
2) Resembles eyewitness descriptions, down to exact age and height.
3) Lived at Ripper Central, the heart of the neighbourhood.
4) Likely to have known at least 3 of the victims.
5) Violent quarrel with last victim a week before her death.
6) A former next-door neighbour, could have been Eddowes' Suspect.
7) Return address consistent with initials on Hanbury envelope.
8) Working-class Irishman, could have written Lusk Letter.
9) As a market porter, he would have owned an appropriate weapon. (His fish-filleting knife.)
10) Would have washed hands in Miller's Court after double event, then could have easily disappeared. This is only true of Barnett.
11) Left his pipe at the scene of the crime.
12) Doesn't have to be a "psycho." Knowing the victims personally, he could have had a rational motive.
1) Swanson's Witness, probably Lawende, identified Aaron Kosminski. But he wasn't offered Barnett as a choice.
2) Several witnesses thought the killer was Jewish. But this could be racial prejudice.
3) Alibi for 4:00am. But see above re time of death.
4) Small room shared with "wife" -- no place to hide his trophies. But presumed accomplice disposes of difficulty.
5) Joe Barnett did not die or leave the country after the murders. If he was a serial killer, why did he stop? But a local man disposing of known enemies might not have been a "serial killer."
Peter Underwood, JTR: 100 Years of Mystery (book)
Paul Harrison, JTR: The Mystery Solved (book)
Bruce Paley, JTR: The Simple Truth (book)
Paley, "A New Theory on the Jack the Ripper Murders" (article)
Dr. Frederick Walker, I Love My Work: A Ripping Good Play (drama)
Walker, "JTR: The Key to the Mystery" (article)
Mark Andrews, The Return of Jack the Ripper (novel)
One last thought: you've probably heard of the Maybrick diary. It doesn't match Maybrick's handwriting, so it must be a forgery. But scientific tests date it to the early 20th century, when only the real killer would have known certain facts the diary contains. So who is the forger?
Barnett lived into the 1920s. He knew the crime scene facts, because he was there. In 1908, after reading Anderson's interview, he could have panicked. He could have written a Ripper diary, backdated it, and used it to frame the innocent Maybrick. The irony is that he would have been forced to imitate the famous letters, whether he had really written them or not. Then he could have put it away as an ace-in-the-hole. When ripperologists failed to pick up on Anderson's hint, it could have been lost and forgotten.
The Diary of Jack the Ripper is a hoax -- by Jack the Ripper!