In 1992, Ripperologists around the world “were stunned by the discovery of a previously unknown memoir, claiming to have been written by Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick”, says The Daily Telegraph.
In the 9,000-word volume, Maybrick confessed to the brutal murders of five women in the East End of London, as well as a prostitute in Manchester.
He signed off the diary: “I give my name that all know of me, so history do tell, what love can do to a gentleman born. Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper.”
But within months of the book hitting the shelves, “Ripper experts, who subjected it to careful analysis, began to question its authenticity”, says the Telegraph.
More recently, researchers – including Withnail and I writer and director Bruce Robinson – who have spent years poring over the story, have insisted that the Ripper was not a fiend, or a criminal genius.
Rather, “he was a psychopath shielded by servants of the Victorian state”, Robinson told The Daily Telegraph in 2015. More specifically, he was “shielded by the fraternal bonds of Freemasonry”, he said.
Robinson’s theory is that all of the killings bore the unmistakable stamp of being “perversions of Freemasonic ritual”.
The most recent theory, which came to light in February, is that the Ripper may have been a Dutch serial killer and sailor. Crime historian Dr Jan Bondeson recently named Hendrik de Jong as a prime suspect. De Jong murdered two wives in his homeland and is believed to have travelled to London regularly.
Bondeson said: “We can’t say for certain he was Jack the Ripper, but he is a credible candidate who until now has been ignored in England yet was seen as a prime suspect in the Dutch newspapers of the time.”