The REAL reason behind Jack the Ripper's rampage
FOR Cabarita journalist Stephen Senise, the true story of Jack the Ripper is not so much a whodunnit, but a why dunnit.
And Mr Senise believes he knows the answer to both questions.
Fascinated with the world's most infamous murder case since a young boy, Mr Senise's interest in the tale was reinvigorated two years ago when his daughter, Lucy, brought home her Year 9 history assignment on the saga.
Together the father and daughter set about researching the case - following their leads on a journey which took them from the Tweed to archives in Sydney and eventually to the setting of the gruesome murders: London's East End.
What they have uncovered is remarkable: not only does their research support the theory put by others before them of who the murderer likely was, but why he undertook such horrific acts and ended up escaping the scrutiny of detectives by jumping on board a ship and escaping to Australia.
Their research is included in Mr Senise's first book: Jewbaiter Jack the Ripper - New Evidence & Theory, published this month to such acclaim that Mr Senise has been invited to address the upcoming Jack the Ripper conference in the United Kingdom.
The killing spree - which continues to intrigue punters the world over - included the sadistic and gruesome murder of at least five women (known as the "canonical” victims, although some believe additional victims may place the killer's count at seven or even up to 11 victims). The murders all took place around Whitechapel in 1888 in what became known as the "Autumn of Terror”.
A journalist and political researcher by trade, for Mr Senise the intriguing question about the case is the context and reasoning for why the murders may have occurred.
"I think this study is very different in the sense that while it acknowledges and engages with a particular suspect, I don't see this case as a whodunnit, I consider it a more of a why did it happen. We need to understand why did it happen. It didn't happen in a vacuum,” Mr Senise said.
"Ripperology is so caught up in who did it, it's just naming names. It's playing Cluedo.
"We need to come to terms with the fact it happened in a Jewish ghetto. We need to come to terms with the fact there were two select Parliamentary committees of inquiry looking into the East End at that time and we have to ask why.
"As long as we keep talking about someone with a top hat and a cape and a little doctor's bag and swirling fog and handsome cabs and Cockney street urchins and all the other stereotypes that go hand in hand with the case, then don't come and talk to be about Jack the Ripper because you can't have both.”
Stumbling fortuitously on the fact one of the main star witnesses in the Jack the Ripper case was a man by the name of George Hutchinson, who docked in the Port of Sydney in the Colony of NSW on board RMS Ormuz in October 1889.
He later fell foul of the law, and was imprisoned for two years for the indecent assault of two boys. The case pricked the interest of Mr Senise due to the presiding judge's disgust with the prisoner, stating in his sentencing he would "certainly” order Hutchinson be "whipped” should he be able to do so.
Hutchinson served two years in jail before he was released from Darlinghurst prison in August 1898, after which his trail goes cold and is perhaps the subject of a further book.
But his tale led Mr Senise to track Hutchinson's footsteps back a decade to 1888 and the slums of East London, particularly around the area of Whitechapel Rd, where poor Jewish migrants were pouring into the area fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe.
In painstaking research of the era, Mr Senise discovered growing unease and even hatred of the Jewish migrants, many of whom were competing for low- paid jobs with their English counterparts. The times were tough, and the migrants were seen as a major threat, spilling over into abuse and outright riots against the newcomers. Eventually the House of Commons established two parliamentary inquiries to look into the issue.
It was at the height of the unease, and during these inquiries, that Jack the Ripper made his mark. Providing detailed evidence, Mr Senise argues the killer was determined to frame the Jews, laying blame for the murders at their feet.
He queries the reasoning behind Hutchinson - a local who lived in the middle of the Ripper's zone - describing a main suspect as a Jew, something Mr Senise believes was a premeditated plan to influence the outcome of the investigation,
"He was a monster, he was full of hate, he was a racist,” Mr Senise said.
"But I sense he was a high-functioning sociopath at the very least and probably a high-functioning psychopath with a considerable degree of intelligence, which does not take away from the fact he was a monster and a brute.”
Mr Senise's book is available on Amazon.