Firstly, let me state that I detest the phrase ‘Ripperology’. I feel like cringing every time I see it. It suggests a “true fan” culture, which is something achingly perverse as a concept. What next, ‘Bundyology’? We are so desensitised of the horrific nature of these murders that we almost trivialise it down to the form of some parlour game like Cluedo. Clue for any American reader. “Colonel Mustard with a lead pipe in the library” are not too far from the type of posts we see on the numerous forums on this subject.

Other things I hate with ’Ripperology’ include the academic snobbery which resides on numerous forums. Some very bright people have been posting on these forums for years. The trouble is they attack a problem of brutal criminality with chin-scratching, bookish thinking. They are also quick to dismiss “fringe theorists” who may have a new take or view. Like, somehow, they are the only people qualified to play this game. It is not a game.

Nor is it a puzzle unlocked through continuous research of history books, census data and shipping manifests. That isn’t how real crimes are solved today. They may well form some backbone to supporting evidence. Still, ultimately you need to have an ability to think creatively, contextually and logically to attack crimes like these to solve them. It would help if you had thinkers who see things differently. My advice to the elitist snobs who rule the roost on these forums is to ditch the turtleneck sweaters, put down the Merlot and turn off the Miles Davis CD. There are new and exciting voices who have ideas and theories deserving of equal oxygen to yours.

This brings me to what I love about these forums – a wealth of knowledge that is not snobbish and open to offering newcomers ideas and advice. The abundance of researching ability available on these sites is quite breathtaking. I include in that list several ex-police officers of varying ranks who have spent many years studying the crimes from a police perspective. Sadly, there is also an ocean-full of knowledge the community has lost in recent years. in particular has a vast smorgasbord of resources written by many esteemed experts and accessed easily. All of it is worth a read. If only to decide which is most likely true and which is not. For example, many “experts” cast doubt on Elizabeth Stride being a genuine Ripper victim as she was murdered but not mutilated. In my view, it was pretty obvious he was interrupted. However, there could easily be a 30-page thread on why she might not have been his victim on these forums. At some point, you have to make your own choices. There will never be 100% consensus on even the smallest of details.

“Jack the Ripper: Threads” is me making my choices and creating a world in which my ‘Jack the Ripper’ is James Maybrick.


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