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Jack the Capitalist?

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  • Jack the Capitalist?

    Excerpted from Murder Most Foul in Ripper Notes:

    “This multiple murder for profit is merely one form of making a living, one in which the murder is incidental to the goal. Those who practice this "profession" would undoubtedly follow another if they were offered more money.”
    - Elliott Leyton, Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer

    The most famous example of someone – in this case a pair – who murdered prostitutes for profit is that of Burke and Hare, of the early 19th century. Indeed, one of the earliest motives attributed to the Ripper was that of profit; what else could he be doing with the body parts that he took? – or so the thinking went. Even today, one hears tales of the ‘mysterious American doctor’ who was in the East End at the time of the murders, seeking to buy ‘pathological specimens’. If profit of this nature alone had been the Ripper’s motive, then a poor job it was, since two of the Canonical Five had no organs whatsoever abstracted. In this case, the potential reward hardly warranted the incredible risks, and very few Ripperologists today lend any credence to ‘profit’ as a motive.

    Yet, there were other, less obvious methods of profiting from these crimes. Could the Whitechapel Murders have been the work of a Victorian hit man, for example, someone who had been hired to do grisly deeds that another was himself afraid, unable, or unwilling to do? Or were the murders committed merely to drum up business in some other area such as with private detective or security firms like Pinkerton’s? Or were they calculated to drive down property values in the East End so that they could be bought for a fraction of their former value? After all, the Victorian Era was also the age of J.P. Morgan and other flinthearted businessmen, many of whom were enormously wealthy, worth many millions of dollars at a time when an ordinary working man made considerably less than $2.00 a day. If such a businessman or a developer were to have coveted the East End property due to its proximity, say, to the Bank of England, then such a plot could have conceivably arisen. This theory is supported by a similar situation found in Houston today. Houston’s 4th Ward, actually within walking distance of present downtown and close to the exclusive Theatre District, is an old slum that has been encroached upon by urban sprawl to the West. Properly developed, this land would become immensely valuable, and developers have in the past tried various and devious means to gain title to it, the last of which was to have many nearby inhabited apartment buildings condemned, the working-poor occupants forcibly evicted, and the buildings quickly razed. Political outcry was so great that too many people took notice of what was going on and so these attempts have quieted for the while. But the land is simply of too great a potential value for avaricious developers to ignore for very long.

    Those who are familiar with the plot of Jack, the Musical know that an enterprising reporter had become the Ripper in a concerted effort to bolster his own career and increase circulation, and thereby profits, both corporate and personal. With these and numerous other profit possibilities feasible, one must wonder if this motive should be seriously reconsidered, this time looking for a different kind of evidence.

    Conclusion – if the Ripper were motivated entirely by profit, he would not have hesitated to kill, probably being limited only by time. His other motives for mutilation and leaving of the victims in public could have been as follows:
     Jack the Capitalist

    Public Display

     Jack the Practical Man
     Jack the Litterbug
     Jack the Blind Man
     Jack the Capitalist

    The Ripper’s leaving of the victims in public could be attributed to numerous possibilities, depending on the exact mode by which profit would be derived. If sale of body organs were the mode, then such public display would be paradoxical and dangerous for the end buyer. For the other ‘profit’ modes mentioned, the public display would have been calculated to make these grisly crimes as notorious as possible, in order to cause widespread panic among the East End citizenry and an attendant drop in the property values there.