It was the fall of 1888 when the Central News Office in London, Scotland Yard and many other government officials began receiving some bizarre letters. The situation was not at all happy, as a series of horrifying murders were continuously taking place. One of the letters, written in red ink, also included a clue that was going to become legendary. It was signed “Jack the Ripper”. In the following weeks and months, the authorities received lots of letters. Most of them were obviously fake, written by people looking for fame as the notorious serial killer.
However, one question has been bugging experts and investigators for years. Were those initial letters indeed coming from the killer? According to a new study which the journal Digital Scholarship in the Humanities recently published, forensic linguist Andrea Nini has reached a conclusion. At least two of these letters were written by the same hand. However, that hand probably didn’t belong to the Ripper himself.
The mystery of the Jack the Ripper letters
Nini decided to analyze and eventually decipher 209 such letters, including the two initial ones. One was a letter that contained the phrase “Dear Boss”. In it, the person says that they will cut off the next victim’s ears. Interestingly enough, this did happen with the next victim. The second letter which Nini analyzed was actually a blood-stained postcard. That one talks about a double murder and calls the killer “Saucy Jacky”.
Nini says that the two letters have very similar styles, use similar words and certain combinations that are too clear to be coincidences. Now, for years, it was believed that a reporter called Thomas Bulling actually wrote these letters in order to keep the story alive. Nini thinks that this might be the case, no matter if Bulling was or not the one who wrote them.
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