The real Question is did Jack the Ripper travel north?
By the winter of 1888 Jack the Ripper had murdered Martha Tabram, Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly, or so the story goes. Question then is did he suddenly die, emigrate, go to prison, go to sea and sail away or just carry on killing?
For many the idea he never stopped has real merit. Serial killers never stop. They may pause but they always return, or so current thinking dictates. So, would it be fair to argue Jack did not drown in the Thames, get himself sectioned, murdered by his family or go off to kill in another country? If it is, then his killing spree just continued, how or where is not known. Why? Simply because those he murdered after the Whitechapel killings were never attributed to him. Police maybe had a vested interest in ending the Ripper era. Finding and arresting him had been an abject failure. Public confidence in their ability to solve the 1888 murders severely rocked. So, why not just refuse to accept his involvement in any other unsolved murder case. JTR would then no longer dominate newspaper headlines, his reputation would wane and everything associated with his name automatically consigned to the dustbin of history.
Certainly the record of his involvement in murder anywhere in the world seems to end in November 1888. How or why he disappeared is never explained and his identity, almost by default is therefore, protected. So, if the idea was to simply erase him from the list of unsolved murders after that month, it worked. As far as most people are concerned today our man Jack did, without question, stop murdering after the death of Mary Jane Kelly. But is that true?
John Gill was brutally murdered on 27 December 1888. He was 8 years-old. Lived in Manningham, on the outskirts of Bradford, a long train ride from the streets of Whitechapel, but the manner of his death raised questions at the time and still does today. When found John Gill’s body had been drained of blood, ripped open, dissected, and had been thoroughly washed clean inside and out. It had been carefully bundled together, wrapped inside an old overcoat and placed outside a stable in daily use. In other words in a place where it was certain to be found.
Police suspected and charged the local milkman, William Barrett. The boy had been seen riding on his milk cart on the morning of his disappearance. But never found any evidence in support of their case. He was freed before his trial in Leeds three months later. So where does Jack the Ripper come in?
On Boxing Day (26 December), the day before the murder, a family named Cahill attended the servants ball at the Alexandria Hotel. When they returned home the following day, it was to find their home had been visited by a man claiming to be Jack the Ripper. He had arranged certain objects within the house in a strange way and left a short note claiming credit for the Whitechapel murders. Obviously police rejected the notion that London’s killer had travelled north, which on the face of it seems sensible. But in London at that time, something Bradford police were possibly unaware of, were a number of similarly dissected bodies scattered around the Thames shoreline. London’s torso murders, maybe also a part of the Jack the Ripper legend, were beginning to be investigated. Press speculation began to emerge that tried to link the Cahill’s late night caller and the manner of Gill’s death to that new investigation. Speculating that it was not beyond the realms of possibility that the London serial killer had indeed begun to kill far beyond the boundaries of the Capital.
Possibly, yes. Certainly the John Gill murder raises questions as do other murders that took place after the initial murder spree at the end of the summer of 1888. Rose Mylett, Alice McKenzie, Frances Coles, Elizabeth Jackson to name a few. So, it has to be possible, remotely or not, that John Gill did meet with the world’s most famous serial killer. But, as I comment on in ‘Britain’s Unsolved,’ his killing, like many others, will always remain strange, odd, baffling and definitely unexplained.