In 1888, the most infamous murders of all time took place in London’s East End. Five prostitutes, destitute women who knew of no other way to survive, were killed and slaughtered by a supposedly unknown killer who bears the nickname Jack the Ripper.

The victims are listed below:

Mary Ann Nichols, Friday 31st August mutilated at Buck’s Row
Annie Chapman, Saturday 8th September mutilated at Hanbury Street
Elizabeth Stride, Sunday 30 September throat cut at Berner Street
Catherine Eddowes, Sunday 30 September mutilated at Mitre Square
Mary Jane Kelly, Friday 9th November murdered indoors at Miller’s Court

Chief Inspector Donald Sutherland Swanson would have had access to the best information on the topic. Sir Melville Leslie Macnaghten was investigign after the Kelly murder and was privy to valuable information. He wrote a memorandum naming Druitt, Kosminski and Ostrog as the best suspects. Dr Robert Anderson was Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police at the time of the killings and preserved much valuable information including his certainty that the killer was caught and was an unnamed Polish Jew.


A man called Druitt was suspected of being the Ripper simply because he committed suicide in 1888. This could have led to the myth that whoever the man was he died after glutting Kelly.

Swanson, head of the Ripper investigation, wrote in a private record of his own in 1910 that the Ripper was identified at the Seaside Home and was returned to Whitechapel and later he went to Stepney Workhouse and then to Colney Hatch, Lunatic Asylum. He wrote that Kosminski was this man and he died soon after.

"After the suspect had been identified at the Seaside Home where he had been sent by us with difficulty in order to subject him to identification, and he knew he was identified. On suspect’s return to his brother’s house in Whitechapel he was watched by police (City CID) by day & night. In a very short time the suspect with his hands tied behind his back, he was sent to Stepney Workhouse and then to Colney Hatch and died shortly afterwards – Kosminski was the suspect – DSS"

Nobody else in a position to know says the Ripper died at that time.

Nobody gave us the first name of this Kosminski but a search of the records has thrown up the name Aaron. A low class Polish Jew Aaron Kosminski is a good fit for being the Ripper but he did not die until 1919.


Macnaghten's Aberconway version of his memorandum, which was written in 1894, it says he believes that Kosminksi is still detained in a lunatic asylum from March 1889. This is a break from the evidence of others that the possible killer was committed and died soon after! He says he only believes it so nobody was checking.

The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.) on 4 June 1913 quotes Macnaghten. "It is one of the greatest regrets of my life that Jack the Ripper committed suicide six months before I joined the force. That remarkable man was one of the most fascinating of criminals. Of course, he was a maniac, but I have a very clear idea as to who he was and how he committed suicide, but that, with other secrets, will never be revealed by me."

Read that carefully – he does not say he has any real evidence. He was thought to be referring to Druitt. It is strange that he will not give a name! The name was circulating anyway. He says that the killer was sexually insane and we can feel that in his melancholy which led him to drown himself that Druitt imagined he committed the murders.

Is it possible Kosminski had been attempting suicide? Is that who he means? Is he mistaken that this character actually succeeded?  Later on he started to deny he said the killer committed suicide and blamed a journalist for lying that he said it. 

The police encouraged the notion that the killer would have committed suicide. It made them look less bad for it meant the killer was not at large any more.

Macnaghten wrote,

It will have been noticed that the fury of the murderer, as evinced in his methods of mutilation, increased on every occasion, and his appetite appears to have become sharpened by indulgence.

There can be no doubt that in the room at Miller's Court the madman found ample scope for the opportunities he had all along been seeking, and the probability is that, after his awful glut on this occasion, his brain gave way altogether and he committed suicide; otherwise the murders would not have ceased.

The man, of course, was a sexual maniac, but such madness takes Protean forms...

Sexual murders are the most difficult of all for police to bring home to the perpetrators, for ‘motives’ there are none; only a lust for blood, and in many cases a hatred of woman as woman.

Not infrequently the maniac possesses a diseased body [euphemism for syphilis], and this was probably so in the case of the Whitechapel murderer”.

Comment: He admits that he only guesses the killer would have killed himself for his mind was totally deranged. His seeing that the killings showed hate of woman as woman matches what the medical certificate said about a suspect. Psychological analysis of the killings says the same thing. It’s a thought that could only really come from somebody who knew the real killer. Kosminski was never diagnosed with syphilis but it is clear that all expected the killer to have it.

Some feel, “Kosminksi did not commit suicide so who does he mean? He means Druitt. That could be a police decoy. It would not do to say the real killer was alive.”

We know that the suicide story was a presumption made on the basis of what they knew about the killer.


Robert Anderson said no benefit would come from revealing the name of the killer and his old police department would suffer.

Anderson avoided using any misdirection. Machnaghten clearly did. Swanson might have made a mistake about the Ripper’s death.


When we read that the Ripper went to Colney Hatch asylum we are left with the impression that he died there. Aaron Kosminski was there a while but was longer in Leavesden Asylum for Imbeciles, which was his abode until his death in 1919.

It is asked that if they had meant Aaron Kosminski one would expect them if they were going to mention an asylum they would have mentioned the one he was longest in?


They clearly did not follow up on what happened to him after he went to Colney Hatch.

Aaron is not on the discharge documentation we have around the time he was moved from there. Swanson might have been misled by bad record keeping in the asylum.


According to Detective Inspector Edmund Reid, the Ripper died before the year 1896. It was declared that, "The mania was of a nature which must long ago have resulted in the death of the maniac - an opinion that is borne out by the best medical experts who have studied the case”. This suggests that the killer suffered from a killer disease such as syphilis and mania many suspects did.

We do not know if Kosminski had syphilis but clearly it was assumed he did. That is where the logic that the Ripper had died came from. They thought he had general paralysis of the insane which was understandable.


Aaron Kosminksi died in 1919 while Swanson indicates the killer died soon after the murders. Reid speculates that the Ripper didn't last long.

The best explanation is that they assumed the killer was in the last stages of syphilis which was why he had such mania. The case was closed in 1891 so they were not tailing anybody anymore and then had no reason to know if Kosminski was still alive. The Ripper was too ill to be worth keeping tabs on so the police just let the matter go and assumed he died soon after the murders possibly of syphilis.

This explains how the killer could still be Aaron Kosminski who died in 1919.

Maybe the police just lied that they thought the killer had died in case a new media storm would start.


The Pall Mall Gazette dated 7 May 1895 claimed:

Since the cessation of the Whitechapel murders there has been no lack of theories accounting for the disappearance of the author of those crimes, "Jack the Ripper", as he is called, in consequence of a series of letters so signed, purporting, rightly or wrongly, to come from the murderer. The theory entitled to the most respect, because it was presumably based upon the best knowledge, was that of Chief Inspector Swanson, the officer who was associated with the investigation of all the murders, and Mr. Swanson believed the crimes to be the work of a man who is now dead".

He would say that to the papers anyway. There was a risk that if the Ripper were alive they would find out where he was. The article claims to be only hearsay when you read it in context.


This man got loads of correct information from the police.  He wrote - obviously inspired by Macnaghten,

It is betraying no state secret to say that the official view arrived at after the exhaustive and systematic investigation of facts that never became public property is that the author of the atrocities was one of three men.

Let us take them separately.

The first man was a Polish Jew of curious habits and strange disposition, who was the sole occupant of certain premises in Whitechapel after nightfall. This man was in the district during the whole period covered by the Whitechapel murders, and soon after they ceased certain facts came to light which showed that it was quite possible that he might have been the Ripper. He had at one time been employed in a hospital in Poland. He was known to be a lunatic at the time of the murders, and some time afterwards he betrayed such undoubted signs of homicidal mania that he was sent to a lunatic asylum.

The second man was a Russian doctor, a man of vile character, who had been in various prisons in his own country and in ours.

The Russian doctor who at the time of the murders was in Whitechapel, but in hiding as it afterwards transpired, was in the habit of carrying surgical knives about with him. He suffered from a dangerous form of insanity, and when inquiries were afterwards set on foot he was found to be in a criminal lunatic asylum abroad. He was a vile and terrible person, capable of any atrocity.

Both these men were capable of the Ripper crimes, but there is one thing that makes the case against each of them weak.

They were both alive long after the horrors had ceased, and though both were in an asylum, there had been a considerable time after the cessation of the Ripper crimes during which they were at liberty and passing about among their fellow men.

Having said that he goes on to blame a man who can only be Druitt.  This follows the misdirection employed by Macnaghten which made it look like he blamed Druitt while in fact really giving no proper evidence and making Kosminski fit the profile of the killer. At least he shows that we cannot take Swanson too seriously for saying Kosminski should be dead.


Aaron Kosminski went to Leavesden on April 19 1894. He died there at 5.05 am on 24 March 1919 in the presence of Bennett the night attendant. He was not buried with his family. He was buried under the name Kosminski the only one of his family to be buried under that name.


The information conflicts on whether the Ripper died soon after the murders or not. There are explanations for this. Nobody claimed to know for sure the Ripper was dead.  So it was hearsay not evidence.  Lack of records and overreaching with assumptions can explain how this does not rule out the Ripper being alive in 1919.

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