Not the Hand of a Woman

In a slow news month, you can rely on a tabloid newspaper to recycle an untenable theory about Jack the Ripper. This week the Sun reinterviewed John Morris who wrote a book in 2012 accusing Lizzie Williams, wife of Sir. John Williams. She was not the first woman to be accused, and sadly won’t be the last. I discussed all the female suspects in my book, finding no evidence against any of them, but the myth of Jill the Ripper lingers.

Lizzie Williams was only connected because of a 2005 book that accused Sir John. The evidence linking him to Whitechapel and the victims was subsequently shown to be false and/or exaggerated.  Yet the Sun still states that he ran an abortion clinic in Whitechapel and had an affair with a victim. It makes no attempt to evaluate or question the information, even though it contradicts other articles published in the same newspaper.

In recent years The Sun has mentioned various other suspects, including Francis Thompson, HH Holmes and Walter Sickert. In each case it has provided a publicity platform for the theorist. When it first cover Morris’s claims the Sun’s circulation was 2.3 million. It is now 1.4 million and still falling. Lazy journalism that presents speculation as fact is being rejected by readers and that should serve as a warning for authors seeking to name Jack or Jill the Ripper.

 

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