Greg Chapman

Think serial killer and many names splatter across the psyche: John Wayne Gacy, Jeffery Dahmer, Ted Bundy, each and all memorable, but legendary?

Only one fits the definition of the Prince of Slayers….Jack the Ripper.

My on-again-off-again obsession with Jack the Ripper began as a child with Michael Caine’s portrayal of Inspector Abberline and the discovery of both victim and suspect sharing my surname…Chapman.

The murders were some of the most brutal acts ever perpetrated upon a human being. The sight of the split viscera was simultaneously horrifying and captivating; almost as if the Ripper was seeking to carve out his victims’ souls. Perhaps he did.

The mystery of the Ripper’s identity has left a stain on the world ever since, but the most significant mark it left was on the sciences of crime detection and analysis. Forensic s was in its infancy in the late 19th Century; mostly suspects were chosen, or ruled out, based on their appearance, reputation or socio-economic status. Yes, police could certainly cordon off and maintain a crime scene, remove the body and perform an autopsy to determine cause of death, but little more. The investigators had street smarts, but did they have the know-how – the ability to know a killer enough to catch him? Obviously not. If anything positive came from the Ripper killings it was the foundation of a much more methodical and scientific police procedure.

So was Jack allowed to remain undetected simply because of the era he lived in? Could he have been caught in the 20th or 21st centuries? One could argue yes, with the advances in DNA and forensics. Certainly his followers have been; if anything serial killing is dwindling out…not as common as it once was in the mid to late 20th Century.

Still Jack the Ripper will remain a mystery, the Infamous Prince stalking the streets of Whitechapel and the hearts and minds of speculators, writers and movie makers for many years to come.

Perhaps one day we will learn his identity, but we must ask ourselves do we want to know who Jack was? Are we prepared to end the long dark love affair with such a perfect stranger?

Only time will tell.

 

– Greg Chapman is an author of horror and dark fantasy fiction and a freelance horror illustrator. His first novella, “Torment” will be published by Damnation Books in March this year. An eight page comic – co-created with Mark Farrugia – will appear in Midnight Echo #5 and he is currently working on a graphic novel proposal with Rocky Wood.  http://www.wix.com/darkscribe/gregchapman

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Published on January 3, 2011 at 5:47 am  Leave a Comment  

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