Could the most infamous serial killer in history have come from Sussex?
The crimes of Jack the Ripper have gripped audiences in terror for more than a century, as the identity of the murderer has remained a mystery.
Now one author has pointed the finger of suspicion at a Sussex barber who was proven to have a taste for blood – while other Ripperologists put their money on a Brighton man.
Jack the Ripper is believed to have killed at least five women in the Whitechapel area of London in 1888 but has been linked to more than a dozen murders.
Author Simon Webb has published a book suggesting George Chapman, who ran a shop in George Street, Hastings, was responsible for the crimes.
In his book, Severin: A Tale of Jack the Ripper, Mr Webb explains how detective Frederick Abberline became convinced that Chapman, who was eventually hanged for murdering a series of women in 2003, was their man.
He said: “He lived in Hastings with a lady called Mary Spink, whom he murdered in 1897. She used to shave men in the shop – a very unusual thing at that time – but later she took to drink and couldn’t be trusted with a cut-throat razor.
“So she started playing the piano while Chapman shaved the customers – giving them a ‘musical shave’.
“Chapman was hanged in 1903 for murdering a girl called Maud Marsh.
“He poisoned her, but he’d already got away with two other poisonings.
“All this time, he was using a bottle of poison he’d bought from a pharmacist in Hastings.”
But Brighton ghost-walker Rob Marks is convinced Robert Donston Stephenson was the infamous murderer.
Stephenson lived in Brighton for a time and his ghost allegedly haunts The Cricketers pub where he stayed.
Mr Marks said Stephenson was a trained surgeon – the Ripper removed many of his victims’ organs – and lived above the pub in Black Lion Street in the first half of 1888.
The pub was a well-known haunt for prostitutes. Stephenson was linked to murders, including one in The Royal Albion hotel in the city, but moved to Whitechapel on July 26, 1888. Just days later, the first of the Ripper’s prostitute victims was found dead in a side street.
Mr Marks said: “Some believed The Cricketers is haunted by his ghost.
“He stayed there in 1888, close to the time of the murders in Whitechapel.
“He was one of the prime suspects and remains one.”
See the latest news headlines from The Argus:
- Prolific conman on the run after allegedly defrauding lover of £850,000
- Call for greater police presence to stop neighbourhood being turned into "no-go area"
- Department of Health: ‘Allegations of illegally operating ambulances are very serious and need to be investigated’
- Bar explosion: 'We don't know why anyone would want to do this. Thankfully no-one was hurt'
- Ex-homeless entrepreneur's rags to riches story