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Was America's first serial killer really Jack the Ripper as well?

By Greg Goodsell
December 3rd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Two human monsters prowled both sides of the Atlantic in the Victorian Era. Jack the Ripper, or Springheel Jack murdered five prostitutes in foggy London town at the end of the Nineteenth century. He was never caught. At the same time, H. H. Holmes, aka Henry Mudgett turned his Chicago hotel into a massive killing machine, thought to have killed more than 200 people. An ancestor of Mudgett has now come forward to say that Mudgett and the Ripper, were indeed the same man.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Jeff Mudgett, the great-great-great-grandson of the Chicago killer, has submitted handwriting samples from both Holmes and Jack the Ripper for review. Handwriting experts have confirmed the likelihood they could stem from the same hand.

"Jeff had H.H. Holmes' handwriting compared to the infamous Jack the Ripper letter. One expert, recommended by the British Library, concluded both were written by the 'same hand,' while a computer program used by the Postal Service and Department of Justice stated it was a 97.95 per cent match."

Herman Webster Mudgett, was a prosperous doctor in Chicago, where he moved in 1884 from his native New Hampshire. He eventually became owner of a drugstore and opened a hotel in Englewood, a suburb of the Windy City.

Mudgett's 60-room boarding house was a human slaughterhouse. The building had been constructed to allow the proprietor easy access to his victims.

Dubbed ''the murder castle," Mudgett designed the structure with windowless rooms equipped with gas lines and body chutes. Dead or weakened guests of the hotel would be sent via chute to the basement of the hotel, where Mudgett would butcher the remains - selling the skeletons to medical schools.

Mudgett was finally caught and admitted to killing 27 people, though some suspect he was to blame for 200 deaths. He was hanged by the neck until dead in May of 1896.

Jeff Mudgett learned of his family history at the age of 40, and it "left him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself and his family. The new information forever changed him, propelling him down a new path in search of the truth," according to an interview he gave to Ancestry.com.

He began looking into the heinous crimes of his ancestor and the inquiry took a turn, when he began to notice similarities in Mudgett's modus operandi and that of Jack the Ripper.

Jack the Ripper was the title given to the unidentified killer who preyed upon the poor and immigrant communities of London in 1888, killing five prostitutes in the Whitechapel area. The Ripper was never caught, and speculation has been rife ever since to his identity. Many candidates, such as British loyalty, to a surgeon infected with syphilis have since been trotted out as possible suspects. The Ripper case inspires frisson to this very day, and many true crime buffs make Whitechapel a "must see" on their tours of Great Britain.

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