It’s been a couple of years since the last round of Jack the Ripper speculation. Which means of course that we are due for some sensational, earth-shattering new evidence in this coldest of cold cases.
The latest, via the Telegraph, involves Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick, who’s among the plethora of candidates for the REAL Ripper. In 1993, a diary turned up, purported to be Maybrick’s confession as the killer. The Telegraph explains that, “The diary had first come to public attention via a former Liverpool scrap metal dealer named Mike Barrett, who claimed he had obtained it through a family friend, Tony Devereux,” but Devereux died shortly thereafter, leaving a big fat hole in the chain of evidence. It was controversial even at the time, with many alleging that it was a hoax, citing anachronistic word usage, for instance. (Barrett reportedly later recanted, but recanted his recantation.)
However, a group now insists once more that the document is the real deal and they’ve unearthed evidence that the book was found in Maybrick’s old home. Their argument seems to revolve around the local pub:
In 1992 a local firm of electrical contractors, Portus & Rhodes Ltd, were working at the property [once belonging to Maybrick] carrying out various renovations.
Among the workers were three local men, Arthur Rigby, James Coufopoulos and Eddie Lyons.
Mr Lyons was a regular in The Saddle Inn public house in Anfield, where Mr Barrett was also well known character.
According to timesheets obtained from Portus & Rhodes Ltd, Mr Rigby and Mr Coufopoulos were both at work on the morning of March 9 1992, the very day that Mr Barrett contacted London literary agent Doreen Montgomery with the immortal words, “I’ve got Jack the Ripper’s diary, would you be interested in seeing it?”
This comes via Robert Smith, who originally published the diary back in 1993 and has a new book out. He argues the trio that found the book were worried about landing in legal trouble and wanted to stay off the radar. He also insists that Barrett “was not very literate and the idea that he would have been capable of producing such a sophisticated and credible forgery is not remotely plausible.” No offense, but I’ve seen a more convincing argument that Stevie Wonder isn’t actually blind.
What’s really weird about the Maybrick theory in the first place is that after he died, his young wife Florence was sensationally tried and convicted of poisoning him to death, and then later released.
Anyway, Amelia Earhart died on that island and we’ll never know for certain who Jack the Ripper actually was, other than a notorious killer of women. The end!