15. Sir Melville Macnaghten contributed much to Ripper lore
Sir Melville Macnaghten was not in London at the time of the five so-called canonical murders attributed to Jack the Ripper. He did participate in the investigation of those murders, as well as subsequent killings in Whitechapel and other nearby locales beginning in 1889. It was he, in a report written in 1894 while he served as Chief Constable and Head of Scotland Yard’s Criminal Investigation Division, who created the canonical five. In his report he opined, “â¦the Whitechapel murderer had 5 victims – &5 victims only”. The report, which remained confidential for decades, named three suspects. Another version of the report Macnaghten sent to his daughter who copied it with evidently some modifications. Why he sent his daughter a copy of the classified report has never been fully explained.
Sir Melville’s three suspects were Michael Ostrog, another man he identified only as Kosminski, and Montague John Druitt, a barrister and assistant schoolmaster. Macnaghten named Druitt as the prime suspect, and claimed the murders stopped when Druitt committed suicide in 1888. Interestingly, Frederick Abberline, the lead investigator on the ground, dismissed Druitt as a suspect. Ostrog was in a French prison cell at the time of the murders, and had not been in Britain since when the report was written. Macnaghten evidently wrote the report from memory, without referring to the extensive files built by investigators. Several factual errors appeared in the report. But the reference to Kosminski has remained intriguing ever since. Though Macnaghten believed Druitt to have been Jack the Ripper, Frederick Abberline’s prime suspect was a Polish Jew named Severin Klosowski, also known as George Chapman.