Joe Silver: Was he Jack the Ripper?

Robert M. Kaplan

Affiliation: University of Wollongong, Sydney, Australia

Keywords: Jack the Ripper, Whitechapel, Serial Murder, Aaron Kosminski, Joseph Lis, Joe Silver, Spacial hypothesis

Categories: Humanities, Social Sciences and Law

DOI: 10.17160/josha.9.6.866

Languages: English

Over ten weeks in Whitechapel in the Autumn 1888, five women (the ‘Canonical Five’) were brutally murdered by a mutilating serial killer. The murders represented a new form of killing. Jack the Ripper, the accepted metaphor for the killer, has become a cultural meme, with a new candidate surfacing every decade or so, without any solution as yet. A review of the killings is provided, followed by new forensic techniques that can be used to investigate the crimes. As it is accepted that new evidence will not arise after all this time, historians recommend a psychological approach as the only option to discover the killer. A promising approach, overcoming the limitations of profiling, is the spatial hypothesis developed by David Canter. This shows the likely base of the killer and posits that Aaron Kosminski, who died in an asylum, was the killer. An alternate candidate is Joseph Lis, aka Joe Silver, who meets all the criteria for a serial killer who operated in that location but was unaware to historians until 2007. The likelihood of Silver/Lis being the killer is outlined. While it cannot be confirmed beyond certainty that Lis/Silver was the Ripper, he must now be considered as a serious candidate.

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