14. Could the Ripper have been an artist?
Walter Sickert was a prolific painter and printmaker in the late 19th through the mid-20th century. He is considered a leader in the transition from the Impressionist style to that of Modernism. At one time he resided in London lodgings he claimed had been occupied by Jack the Ripper. In the late 20th century, speculation arose indicating the serious and influential artist had been Jack the Ripper. However, Sickert resided in France at the time of the killings and did not acquire his first London studio until 1890, after the Ripper killings had allegedly ceased. Though it is possible he traveled back and forth between France and Britain to commit the murders, no evidence establishes that he did. And since Jack the Ripper has never been positively identified, how could the painter live in rooms formerly occupied by the killer? He couldn’t unless, of course, he was the killer himself.
By the late 20th century several writers produced books claiming to have positively identified Walter Sickert as Jack the Ripper. Among the evidence cited is mitochondrial DNA obtained from Ripper’s letters to the police and press at the time of the killings. Comparing the DNA to letters known to have been written by Sickert established an irrefutable link between the murderer and the painter. However, the Ripper letters were handled by hundreds of investigators and researchers over the decades. In addition, most of the letters allegedly written by Jack the Ripper were dismissed as hoaxes by investigators of the day and in the years that followed. Most were linked with authors not involved in the case, other than in reporting it to the public. And another Ripper suspect was later linked, using DNA, with the murder of Catherine Eddowes, although those findings are disputed as well.