(WARNING: Graphic photos included)
Prior to reading Patricia Cornwell’s Portrait of a Killer, my only theory about Jack the Ripper was that he really disliked women. There is a popular theory that he had medical knowledge due to the “unusual” manner in which the victim’s bodies were mutilated, so that seemed a reasonable concept as well. The thought that he could possibly be a doctor made the murders that much more macabre; i.e. “do no harm.”
Portrait of a Killer is the only Cornwell book I’ve read, which is surprising, because I very much enjoyed it and made a mental note to read more! I found it to be very thorough regarding the research she did for the book. But, despite all those facts and figures, her writing style keeps the reader interested and engaged. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys true crime, forensic science, or Jack the Ripper enthusiasts (for lack of a better word.)
Cornwell’s theory that the killer was Walter Sickert, a British painter, is backed up with a lot of scientific proof presented in her book. He attacked prostitutes in London’s East End, an impoverished area of the city. Whoever he was, I believe he felt a superiority over his victims and an intense hatred for women.
The very graphic photos below depict the inhuman brutality of this killer. He didn’t just murder his victims; he eviscerated them. While they’re pretty horrifying to look at, it gives you an idea of what a sadistic maniac this person was.
(Official police photograph of the corpse of Catherine Eddowes taken in 1888)
(Official police photograph of Mary Kelly’s murder scene in 13 Miller’s Court)
There’s a lot of information on Britain’s most famous unsolved crimes. For a quick and dirty summary check out Jack the Ripper biography.