Jack the Ripper
is a pseudonym given to an unidentified serial killer (or killers) active in the largely impoverished Whitechapel area and adjacent districts of London in the latter half of 1888. The name is taken from a letter to the Central News Agency by someone claiming to be the murderer, published at the time of the killings. Although many theories have been advanced, Jack the Ripper's identity has never been determined.
The legends surrounding the Ripper murders have become a combination of genuine historical research, conspiracy theory and folklore. The lack of a confirmed identity for the killer has allowed Ripperologists
— the term used within the field for the authors, historians and amateur detectives who study the case — to accuse a wide variety of individuals of being the Ripper. Newspapers, whose circulation had been growing during this era, bestowed widespread and enduring notoriety on the killer due to the savagery of the attacks and the failure of the police in their attempts to capture the Ripper, sometimes missing the murderer at his crime scenes by mere minutes.
Victims were women earning income as casual prostitutes. Typical Ripper murders were perpetrated in a public or semi-public place; the victim's throat was cut, after which the cadaver was subjected to abdominal and sometimes other mutilations such as those found in lust murder. Many now believe that the victims were first strangled in order to silence them. Due to the nature of the wounds on some presumed Ripper victims, several of whom had internal organs removed, it has been proposed that the killer had a degree of surgical or medical skill, or was perhaps a butcher, although this point, like most of the beliefs about the killer and facts in the case, is in dispute.