This week I had the opportunity to write a short piece on James Kelly for a feature looking at the main Jack the Ripper suspects. Kelly, who stabbed and killed his wife, escaped from Broadmoor in 1888, the year of the ripper murders, and remained at liberty until 1927 when he appeared at the gates of the asylum.
The main secondary sources are a pamphlet by John Morrison and a book by James Tully. Revisiting both has been a pleasure that shows the good and bad side of research. Morrison’s enthusiasm cannot be faulted, and one feels that he would have produced a more professional piece if given access to today’s self-publishing software. The problem is that he gets his facts wrong and does not credit his sources when making serious allegations.
Tully’s work is a joy to read. Most writers get their accounts of the murders from those who have written about them before. Tully revisits the sources, checking his information and he makes a reasoned balanced case for Kelly being Jack the Ripper.
My original view remains unchanged. Kelly is one of the more plausible suspects but there is no actual evidence against him.
Paul Williams is a writer of fiction and non-fiction best known for his Jack the Ripper Suspects: The Definitive Guide and Encyclopedia.