Jack The Stripper

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Jack the Stripper was a serial killer who, like the more infamous killer from which his appellation derived, killed a number of prostitutes in London in a short space of time. Like him, he also remains unidentified and has been linked to a number of potential perpetrators, some of whom hail from the circles of semi-celebrity. At the time, the police claimed to have identified the killer and it was widely announced in the press that he had committed suicide shortly after the final murder - leaving an enigmatic message in his suicide note to his wife.

Modus Operandi

The Stripper derived his name not for his method of killing, but for the manner in which he left his victims. In total, 8 victims are commonly attributed to the unknown slayer - although the status of two remains disputed on the grounds of dissimilarities.

The women were all prostitutes, presumably picked up during the course of their work, before being killed by strangulation. The Stripper then removed all or most of their clothing before dumping their bodies in essentially public spaces. It is thought that he also kept the bodies for a short while between the murder and dumping of the bodies.


The hunt for The Stripper's identity foreshadowed many of the techniques that would later be used in the search for the Yorkshire Ripper. Logs of vehicle movements in red light districts were made and regular customers of prostitutes were interviewed by the thousand by an over-stretched police force.

Appeals were made by television and radio directly to the killer, imploring him to come forward to seek absolution for his crimes - under the assurance of fair treatment and confidentiality.

In addition, the lead investigator - Detective Inspector John Du Rose - publicly put pressure on the killer following 7000 interviews with potential suspects based on the research into vehicles seen in red light districts. In series of press conferences, he first announced that the list had been shortened to 20 men, then 10 and finally just 3. None of these suspects was ever publicly identified. It has been speculated that police did not, in fact, have any real clue as to the identity of the killer and that the announcements were just a high profile bluff designed to intimidate him.

However, paint flecks found on the bodies of two of the victims were positively matched to a transformer at the nearby Heron Trading Estate, and police were certain that it was here that the bodies were kept before disposal.

The Killer's Identity?

In yet another parallel with his forebear, police were keen to claim that they had identified The Stripper and that he had committed suicide. Du Rose did not divulge the identity of his suspect, but by the early 1970s enough information was in the public domain for Mungo Ireland to be identified. He was a Scot who had worked as a security guard at the Heron Trading Estate during the murders. His suicide shortly after the last of the murders, plus his tangential connection with a location involved with the murders was enough in the eyes of some to put a cap on the crimes and declare them solved. 

This offered uncanny parallels with the earlier case of Jack the Ripper - whom was also said by detectives to have been identified and died by his own hand.

However, deeper investigation by author David Seabrook proved that Ireland had been in Scotland at the time of one of the murders and had actually only worked at the Heron Estate for three weeks. He said:

"I've proved Du Rose to be corrupt. He framed a dead man to grab a bit of glory on the cheap, and avoid being seen as having failed."

Seabrook advanced the theory that the killer was actually a police officer, but this theory was little stronger than that of Du Rose, leaving the field clear for authors and investigators to bring new names into the frame in the ensuring years.

None of the alleged suspects has ever been proven to have any connection to the killings.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 25th November 2014 | © Weird Island 2010-2019
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