He was Britain’s most notorious serial killer, who terrorised the streets of London in 1888 – slaughtering five women and leaving their mutilated corpses in the street.
But despite his infamy, the nightmare butcher Jack the Ripper was never caught and little is known about what he actually looked like.
Now, the answer to that century-old mystery may finally have been answered after a walking stick believed to have his face engraved on it was rediscovered.
The cane was unearthed by researchers at the College of Policing and is believed to contain the only known composite of the killer, who prowled the lanes of Whitechapel.
The suspected face of Jack the Ripper has been revealed after police rediscovered a cane handed to Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline, one of the officers working on the notorious murder case
Carved onto the handle of the cane is the face of a drawn, haggard old man, whose eyes appear to glare out menacingly underneath a long, brown hood.
The walking stick, previously thought to have been lost, is believed to have been a gift to Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline, who had been tasked of hunting down the illusive murderer.
It was presented to Mr Abberline as a macabre leaving present by his team of seven officers after he was pulled from the investigation for failing to crack the case.
Police researchers rediscovered the cane buried in archives at Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwickshire.
Labelling it as bearing the ‘only reported facial composite’, they believe the face etched into the handle was one of Mr Abberline’s prime suspects: Dr Alexander Pedachenko.
Although this claim is disputed by other Ripper researchers, who say the walking stick had been one of many sold by street merchants seeking to cash in on the mysterious murder’s notoriety.
Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly were all murdered during the killing spree between 31 August and 9 November 1888. All five women worked as prostitutes
Dr Pedachenko, described as a ‘lunatic’, was a Russian anarchist who had been living in London at the time of the killings.
Jack the Ripper’s bloody crime wave took place between August 31 and November 9, 1888.
Five women, Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly were all brutally hacked to death.
The women, who worked as prostitutes, had their throats slashed with three of them having their organs removed.
From one of the victims, half a kidney was removed and sent to police officers along with a series of notes, signed off from the Ripper.
Mr Abberline led the ground investigation during the winter of 1888, arresting and interviewing suspects.
His cane is now on display at Bramshill Police Staff College alongside original news cuttings about the murders.
There are many theories as to who the infamous serial killer was, from Queen Victoria’s surgeon Sir John Williams, who had a surgery in Whitechapel at the time, to her Grandson Prince Albert Victor who was taken to an asylum
Antony Cash, of the College of Policing, said: ‘Finding this cane was an exciting moment for us. Jack the Ripper is one of the biggest and most infamous murder cases in our history and his crimes were significant in paving the way for modern policing and forensics as it caused police to begin experimenting with and developing new techniques as they attempted to try and solve these murders, such as crime scene preservation, profiling and photography.
‘This walking cane is such a fascinating artefact which represents such a historically significant time in policing, and it’s amazing that we can put it out on display here in Ryton, alongside the original newspaper cuttings, so that our officers can see first-hand how far we’ve advanced in policing since then.’
The claim that the walking stick contains the face of the cold-blooded killer, however, is controversial among Ripper historians.
Some suggest the stick was one of many carved by cash-hungry salesmen seeking to cash in on the Ripper’s notoriety.
Other research, documented in The Curse Upon Mitre Square, claim it was the face of a mad monk character.
Mr Abberline had climbed up the ranks of Scotland Yard, becoming the chief detective in the criminal investigation department.
But mistakes were made during initial inquiries into the murders, with no fingerprinting being able to distinguish the difference between even human and animal blood, let alone the differences between people.
This means the true identity of Jack the Ripper could never be revealed, leaving it as one of the world’s unsolved cold cases.
There are many theories as to who the infamous serial killer was, from Queen Victoria’s surgeon Sir John Williams, who had a surgery in Whitechapel at the time, to her Grandson Prince Albert Victor who was taken to an asylum and died in 1892.
From hell: The infamous serial killer who terrorised Victorian London… but who was he (or she)?
One book named Queen Victoria’s surgeon Sir John Williams (above), who had a surgery in Whitechapel at the time, as Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper is thought to have killed at least five young women in Whitechapel, East London, between September and November 1888, but was never caught.
Numerous individuals have been accused of being the serial killer.
At the time, police suspected the Ripper must have been a butcher, due to the way his victims were killed and the fact they were discovered near to the dockyards, where meat was brought into the city.
There are several alleged links between the killer and royals. First is Sir William Gull, the royal physician. Many have accused him of helping get rid of the alleged prostitutes’ bodies, while others claim he was the Ripper himself.
A book has named Queen Victoria’s surgeon Sir John Williams as the infamous killer. He had a surgery in Whitechapel at the time.
Another theory links the murders with Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence.
At one point, cotton merchant James Maybrick was the number one suspect, following the publication of some of his diary which appeared to suggest he was the killer.
Some believe the diary to be a forgery, although no one has been able to suggest who forged it.
Other suspects include Montague John Druitt, a Dorset-born barrister. He killed himself in the Thames seven weeks after the last murder.
George Chapman, otherwise known as Severyn Kłosowski, is also a suspect after he poisoned three of his wives and was hanged in 1903.
Another suspected by police was Aaron Kosminski. He was admitted to Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum and died there.
Dr Thomas Neill Cream poisoned four London prostitutes with strychnine and was hanged in 1892.
Some of the more bizarre theories about who the murder was include author Lewis Carroll (pictured)
Some of the more bizarre links include Lewis Carroll, author of the Alice in Wonderland books, who taught at Christ Church until 1881 – which was at the forefront of the Ripper murder scenery.
Winston Churchill’s father – Lord Randolph Churchill – has also been named as a potential suspect.
Crime writer Patricia Cornwell believes she has ‘cracked’ the case by unearthing evidence that confirms Walter Sickert, an influential artist, as the prime suspect. Her theories have not been generally accepted.
Author William J Perring raised the possibility that Jack the Ripper might actually be ‘Julia’ – a Salvation Army soldier.
In The Seduction Of Mary Kelly, his novel about the life and times of the final victim, he suggests Jack the Ripper was in fact a woman.
In February 2019, it was suggested that Jack the Ripper may have been a sinister Dutch sailor who murdered two ex-wives in his homeland and bludgeoned to death two other women in Belgium.
Crime historian Dr Jan Bondeson has named Hendrik de Jong as a prime suspect for the most notorious set of unsolved murders in history.
At the time of the Whitechapel murders, de Jong is believed to have worked as a steward on board a ship which made frequent trips from Rotterdam to London, providing him with the perfect means of getting out of the country after his heinous crimes.
He later murdered two of his ex-wives in his native Netherlands in 1893 and bludgeoned to death two women above a pub before attempting to set their bodies on fire in Belgium in 1898.
Police discovering the body of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, probably Catherine Eddowes