Jack the Ripper is an alias given to an unidentified serial killer (or killers) active in the largely impoverished Whitechapel area and adjacent districts of London.
The murders were committed in the latter half of 1888, and the legends surrounding them have become a combination of genuine historical research, conspiracy theory and folklore. The story has been told over and over in books and films and is as intriguing to many as it was when the crimes were committed.
Ripperologists is the term used for authors, historians and amateur detectives who study the case. The lack of a confirmed identify for the killer has led to a wide variety of individuals being accused.
Victims were women earning income as casual prostitutes. Typical murders were perpetrated in public or semi-public places. Victims' throats were cut, probably in order to silence them, and the bodies were then mutilated. The removal of internal organs of some victims was done in a way that indicated the killer possessed anatomical or surgical know-how.
Five murders were perpetrated at night on, or close to a weekend, in a secluded site to which the public could gain access. Dates formed a pattern of either the end of a month or a week after. Despite the pattern, each case had differences.
A major factor contributing to idenifying who was, and was not a Ripper victim is the large number of horrific attacks against women during the period.
Most experts point to deep throat slashes, mutilations to victims' abdomens and genital areas, removal of internal organs and progressive facial mutilations as the distinctive features of Jack the Ripper.
Those in the know believe it is still possible that Jack the Ripper's identity may one day be discovered.
For those who are inquisitive, it is possible to follow the trail through the creepy backstreets and shadowy courtyards of London's East End on what is acclaimed as being the best Jack The Ripper Tour to be had. Join a London Walks Tour and follow the story of Jack the Ripper's crimes on location.
It takes you into the very streets where this fascinating murder mystery was played out. It begins by seeing an 1890 photograph of the area which includes the church of St Mary's, the original White Chapel. You pass under a rather sinister old arch to the cobblestones of what was formerly George Yard.
You are led by experts on the subject and their knowledge and enthusiasm are most impressive. Their delivery almost convinces you that you have stepped back in time.
Group sizes are limited and the atmosphere builds as you walk through narrow shadowy lanes and see houses where victims lived and pubs where they met with friends.
London Walks Jack the Ripper Walking Tours depart every night. They are around $14 for adults and children under 15 are free.
Emirates has flights to London.
- Perth, $2073
- Melbourne, $2090
- Brisbane, $2093
- Sydney, $2107
- Adelaide, $2709
- Darwin, $3462
Valid for travel between October 4 to November 11, 2007.
Prices correct at May 17, 2007
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