Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jack the Ripper

New Chapter - Red Jack and the Occult

While the crimes of Jack the Ripper may never be solved, it's also clear that people will continue to try to do so, some with new ideas about former suspects and some with new suspects.

Jack the Ripper's Black Magic Rituals by Ivor Edwards
Jack the Ripper's Black Magic
by Ivor Edwards
Ivor Edwards's 2003 book, Jack the Ripper's Black Magic Rituals, makes a contribution in the latter genre, and his ideas certainly make us rethink the crimes. One might believe that with the vast popularity of Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, a book like this that relies on codes, ciphers, and sacred geometry would be like a nightlight to moths, but the Introduction by occult scholar Charles Henry makes it seem rather daunting. It's much clearer when Edwards later lays it out, but this is no fast-paced, factoid-laden riddle. Instead, reading this theory requires sustained concentration to follow the logic from one crime to another, and it's reminiscent of the way die-hard fans of the Zodiac killer have created intricate games out of his alleged convoluted formulas.

In short, Jack the Ripper now comes across as an intelligent magician with a clear sense of purpose, an understanding of geographical geometry, and the graceful movements of a cat.

Edwards begins by claiming that in the entire history of the investigation of the Whitechapel crimes, both then and now, no one before him had ever thought to measure the actual distance from one crime scene to another. He does so and his results are startling. The distances are strikingly consistent, as if these could not possibly have been random murders but were planned for those locationsincluding the room where Mary Kelly died. Like a spider waiting for passing flies, the violence was situation specific. And it had a sinister program.

After detailing each murder within this new framework, Edwards claims that most of the theories about the Ripper's motives and behavior are erroneous. He was not a sexual killer, his behavior was not escalating, and he did not end the spree for any reason other than that he was finished with what he had set out to do. He had set the number at five and he had accomplished that.

In fact, this suspect was twice questioned by the police, and many people who knew him believed he was Jack the Ripper, including his lover.

Edwards makes a case that Jack the Ripper was a man named Dr. Robert D'Onston Stephenson, a former military surgeon who had studied the Black Arts in Africa and had published an article about it. He eluded the law in London so easily, in part because his movements were inherently quiet, and in part because he was a self-committed patient at a hospital in Whitechapel, with easy access for getting out and in again. It was close to the crime scenes.

Prior to killing anyone, he had walked the Whitechapel streets to learn how they lay, mapping locations according to the shape of a sacred symbol known as the Vesica Piscis, a design that had purportedly been used for the Great Pyramid, Stonehenge, and the Jerusalem Temple, among others. He'd apparently told others that the murders had been by design at that, with five, they were finished.

Stephenson, known to his associates as D'Onston, had met Madame Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, and was apparently easily swayed by the idea that there are hidden laws of nature which magicians and occultists can manipulate for greater power. He liked people to know that he was such a person. In fact, he claimed to have murdered a female witch doctor and may have murdered his own wife just a year before the Whitechapel killings began. She disappeared in 1887and no one knows what happened to her.

While this is not the first time that D'Onston has been proposed as a candidate for Red Jack, it may be the first time someone has made a point of tracing out the murders in a manner the supports the idea of occultic sacrifices instead of serial sexual murders. Edwards provides maps and photographs to show how the murders actually lay out according to a complex symbolic design. He also provides a detailed account of D'Onston's whereabouts (he was indeed a resident of the hospital throughout the period), and uses the man's ideas from his later publications to explain why he did what he did with each victim.

Essentially, female organs were considered a source of power in an inherently progenerative universe (both the symbol and the real thing), so D'Onston had sliced these organs from two victims and taken samples for his own dark purposespossibly for making ceremonial candles. He was not attempting to relive the crimes in some sick fantasy, as some have said, but allegedly to offer the universe a way to channel its power through him.

Why select Whitechapel, one might yet ask? Apparently D'Onston had contracted VD from a prostitute. Whether this prostitute-thick area was coincidentally part of his plan or he chose it from some need for revenge is anyone's guess. Certainly, the after-dark times he chose for his attacks made it more likely that his victims would be from this class of women.

Ironically, five years after the murders, D'Onston converted to Christianity, and the person who was instrumental in that process had once been a prostitute.

While Edwards takes pot shots at other theories and Ripperologists, no doubt his idea will get its share of pokes and jabs. Nevertheless, given the measurements he makes (if they are indeed accurate) and the known facts about his suspect, at the very least it's a theory to be given due consideration.

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