If there is one thing scarier than a killer, it’s a serial killer, and the most frightening one of all? Jack the Ripper.

Yes, this most notorious of Victorian villains continues to hold the esteemed honour of history’s most terrifying, and most elusive, murderer. Stalking London’s streets and mutilating the city’s ladies of the night, the Ripper struck fear into the heart of every woman from Whitechapel and beyond.

Of course, he wasn’t a slash-happy maniac, killing indiscriminately. It is a well-documented fact that all five of his canonical victims were prostitutes, either full-time or in a casual capacity.

But what about delving deeper? At least as far as the connections between the victims is concerned? Can we see any relationship between who he killed, in order to figure out why he killed them?

Did Jack the Ripper have a type?

Well, as with every aspect of the Ripper case, there’s always an element of mystery, and therefore, an element of speculation. However, just by looking at what we do know, we can draw links and hypothesise as to how the Ripper chose his victims.

Read on for more…

If looks could kill

With the exception of the reportedly blonde-haired and blue-eyed Mary Kelly, all of the Ripper’s canonical victims were dark-haired (either brunette or auburn), with distinctive eyes that were noticeably dark, hazel or grey. The women were all similar in height too, averaging at around 5’0” to 5’5”. So, based on these common features, is it possible that Jack the Ripper’s criteria included slightly more than “prostitute”?

Victims of circumstance

Another common feature in the canonical five’s biographies were the dire circumstances in which they lived. Whether their background was workhouses or pedalling their wares on the street, these women all had a hard life. Some were full-time prostitutes at the time of their death, others were only casual, and most had either lost their husbands, left their abusive relationships or abandoned their children and duties of motherhood. In some cases, the women were guilty of all of the above.

An unexpected twist…

Of course, if you look a little closer at the case files, you might be interested to know that most of the Ripper’s canonical five were also known to be suffering from bouts of serious illness, deterioration of health, or at least had some poor health records in their past. Some of the conditions suffered by the women near or at the time of their death included bronchitis, tuberculosis, Bright’s Disease, extended spells in the infirmary and so on. Is it possible that Jack the Ripper knew his targets were ailing? Perhaps he was a surgeon with a warped view of a noble cause, putting ill patients out of their misery? Maybe, instead of clearing London’s streets of prostitutes, he felt he was ridding them of disease and illness. What are your thoughts?

If you haven’t quite decided on what made the unlucky few so very unlucky, or even if you have a few theories of your own, be sure to come on one of our Jack the Ripper walking tours for the full story and all the grisly details.