Infamous murderer Jack the Ripper killed at least five London female prostitutes in 1888. Never captured, his identity is one of English’s most famous unsolved mysteries.

From August 7 to September 10 in 1888, “Jack the Ripper” terrorized the Whitechapel district in London’s East End. He killed at least five prostitutes and mutilated their bodies in an unusual manner, indicating that the killer had a knowledge of human anatomy. Jack the Ripper was never captured, and remains one of England’s, and the world’s, most infamous criminals.

Known for committing gruesome murders from August 7 to September 10 in 1888, “Jack the Ripper”—a moniker for the notorious serial killer, who was never identified—remains one of England’s, and the world’s, most infamous criminals.

The culprit responsible for the murders of five prostitutes—all took place within a mile of each other, and involved the districts of Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Aldgate and the City of London—in London’s East End in the autumn of 1888 was never apprehended. Despite countless investigations claiming definitive evidence of the brutal killer’s identity, his name and motive are still unkown. The moniker “Jack the Ripper” originates from a letter written by someone who claimed to be the Whitechapel butcher, published at the time of the attacks.

Adding to the mystery of the affair is the fact that several letters were sent by the killer to the London Metropolitan Police Service, also known as the Scotland Yard, taunting officers about his gruesome activities and speculating on murders to come. Various theories about Jack the Ripper’s identity have been produced over the past several decades, which include claims accusing the famous Victorian painter Walter Sickert, a Polish migrant and even the grandson of Queen Victoria. Since 1888, more than 100 suspects have been named, contributing to widespread folklore and ghoulish entertainment surrounding the mystery.

In the late 1800s, London’s East End was a place that was viewed by citizens with either compassion or utter contempt. Despite being an area where skilled immigrants, mainly Jews and Russians, came to start a new life and start businesses, the district was notorious for squalor, violence and crime. Prostitution was only illegal if the practice caused a public disturbance, and thousands of brothels and low-rent lodging houses provided sexual services during the late 19th century.

At that time, the death or murder of a working girl was rarely reported in the press or discussed within polite society. The reality was that “ladies of the night” were subject to physical attacks, which sometimes resulted in death. Among these common violent crimes was the attack of English prostitute Emma Smith, who was beaten and raped with an object by four men. Smith, who later died of peritonitis, is remembered as one of many unfortunate female victims who were killed by gangs demanding protection money.

However, the series of killings that began in August 1888 stood out from other violent crime of the time: They were marked by sadistic butchery, suggesting a mind more sociopathic and hateful than most citizens could comprehend. Jack the Ripper didn’t just snuff out life with a knife, he mutilated and humiliated women, and his crimes seemed to portray an abhorrance for the entire female gender.

When Jack the Ripper’s murders suddenly stopped, in the fall of 1888, London citizens wanted answers that would not come, even more than a century later. The ongoing case—which has spawned an industry of books, films, TV series and historical tours—has met with a number of hindrances, including lack of evidence, a gamut of misinformation and false testimony, and tight regulations by the Scotland Yard. Jack the Ripper has been the topic of news stories for more than 120 years, and will likely continue to be for decades to come.


In Recent Years

More recently, in 2011, British detective Trevor Marriott, who has long been investigating the Jack the Ripper murders, made headlines when he was denied access to uncensored documents surrounding the case by the Metropolitan Police. According to a 2011 ABC News article, London officers had refused to give Marriott the files because they include protected information about police informants, and that handing over the documents could impede on the possibility of future testimony by modern-day informants.

In 2014, Russell Edwards, an author and amateur sleuth claimed that he has proven the identity of Jack the Ripper by DNA results obtained from a shawl belonging to one of the victims, Catherine Eddowes. The reports have yet to be verified, but Edwards asserts they point to Aaron Kosminkski, a Polish immigrant and one of the prime suspects in the grisley murders.



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A man’s genetic make-up may play a role in whether he has sons or daughters, a study of hundreds of years of family trees suggests.

Newcastle University researchers found men were more likely to have sons if they had more brothers and vice versa if they had more sisters.

They looked at 927 family trees, with details on 556,387 people from North America and Europe, going back to 1600.

The same link between sibling sex and offspring sex was not found for women.

The precise way that genes can influence baby sex remains unproven.

But the Evolutionary Biology study could clear up a long-standing mystery – a flood of boy babies after World War I.

While a woman will always pass a female “X” chromosome via her egg to her child, the father effectively “decides” the sex of the child by passing on either another “X” in his sperm, making a girl, or a “Y” chromosome, making a boy.

While the birthrate is almost 50/50, suggesting that overall men will deliver equal amounts of “X” sperm and “Y” sperm, scientists have suspected that in some individual couples the balance is shifted in favour of either boys or girls.

Various explanations have been put forward for this, ranging from differences in the time in the woman’s monthly cycle that sex happens, to the amount of time that sperm spend waiting in the testicles.

The Newcastle study, by Dr Corry Gellatly, is strong evidence that there is a genetic component.

He found that within families, boys with lots of brothers were more likely to have a higher number of sons themselves and those with lots of sisters were more likely to have lots of daughters.

War babies

Dr Gellatly said it was likely that a genetic difference affected the relative numbers of “X” and “Y” sperm within those produced by the man.

This gene, while only active in the man, could be carried by men and women.

“The family tree study showed that whether you’re likely to have a boy or a girl is inherited.”

He said that the effect was to actually balance out the proportion of men and women in the population.

“If there there are too many males in the population, for example, females will more easily find a mate, so men who have more daughters will pass on more of their genes, causing more females to be born in later generations.”

In the years after World War I, there was an upsurge in boy births, and Dr Gellatly said that a genetic shift could explain this.

The odds, he said, would favour fathers with more sons – each carrying the “boy” gene – having a son return from war alive, compared with fathers who had more daughters, who might see their only son killed in action.

However, this would mean that more boys would be fathered in the following generation, he said.

son_of_samTHE SON OF SAM, 1977

New York seemed to be going to hell in the summer of 1977. Already in perpetual fiscal crisis the city was plunged into a 25-hour blackout on July 13 that saw massive looting and arson. And the Son of Sam killer was still out there after more than a year, waiting to kill again, sending his perverse missives to the police and to New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin. The killer had called himself the Son of Sam in his letters, which spoke of Papa Sam as a drinker of blood and master of Satanic mayhem. And on July 31, the Son of Sam struck again, shooting a young woman, who was killed, and her male companion, who would be blinded. But it would be the last attack. A witness on the night of that shooting saw a man in the neighborhood remove a parking ticket from a Ford Galaxie. The police tracked their records and found 24-year-old David Berkowitz, a dweeby, pudgy employee of the U.S. Postal Service. Trained as a sharpshooter with the M16 rifle in the U.S. Army, he had used a .44 pistol in all the shootings, killing six and wounding seven. Who was Sam? Sam, said Berkowitz, was a cantankerous former neighbor. But Berkowitz said he was the devil and that he transmitted his orders through the infernal and incessant barkings of his dog, Harvey.


Actor Brad Pitt has visited the New Orleans neighbourhood where families are moving into six homes built by his charity following Hurricane Katrina.

The star said he was pleased for them, but was thinking of those people who have yet to settle into new houses.

“The excitement is that it’s being proven, but the frustration is that it’s a long way to go,” he said.

Pitt’s Make It Right foundation is planning to build 150 eco-friendly houses in the area devastated in 2005.

‘Rich home’

The actor says it is “amazing” that the city’s Lower 9th ward, which was one of New Orleans’ most deprived areas, is destined to become one of the largest green neighbourhoods in the US.

One of the residents, Inez Converse, said she is pleased to have returned to the neighbourhood she lived in for 35 years before Katrina struck, and thanked Pitt in person.

“He didn’t have to do this. I’m just grateful that he is,” said the 71-year-old.


Later on Tuesday, Pitt appeared on NBC’s Today programme and said spoke about the six children he has with partner Angelina Jolie.

“It’s a rich home, and each one of them offers so much to the mix,” he said, but added: “Six kids is not as easy as you’d think.”

When asked if he and Oscar-winning actress Jolie would consider marriage, he said: “If we feel it’s important to our kids, we’ll do so.”

The couple have a home in New Orleans which was recently refurbished to accommodate their growing family.

On Monday night, a special screening of Pitt’s latest film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button took place in the city, where it was filmed.

Pitt has called the movie “a love letter to New Orleans”.


The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has declared a fiscal emergency, amid fears the state could run out of cash by early next year.

He has ordered lawmakers to hold a special session to tackle the $11.2bn (£7.5bn) deficit in California, one of the world’s biggest economies.

Across the US, state tax revenues are down because of the economic slump.

State governors are to meet President-elect Barack Obama later on Tuesday to press the case for federal help.

Governor Schwarzenegger on Monday invoked powers allowing him to declare a fiscal emergency as the new state legislature was sworn in.

“Without immediate action, our state is headed for a fiscal disaster,” Mr Schwarzenegger said, saying that the current $11.2bn shortfall could swell to “a staggering $28bn” over the next 18 months.

“I compare the situation that we are in right now to finding an accident victim on the side of the road that is bleeding to death,” the Republican governor told a news conference in Los Angeles.

“We wouldn’t spend hours debating over which ambulance we should use, or which hospital we should use…No, we would first stop the bleeding, and that’s exactly the same we have to do here.”

He said the state was already drawing up plans to lay off public employees.

Spending cuts

Under the fiscal emergency, lawmakers have 45 days to pass legislation addressing the budget crisis. If they miss the deadline, 15 January, they have to stay in session without considering any other business until agreement is reached.

The previous state legislature failed to reach agreement on a series of spending cuts and tax increases.

However, the elections in November produced little change in the legislature’s political make-up, with the Democrats three seats short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass fiscal measures.

“It’s our job as legislators working with the governor to try to make a major dent in the problem, and we can only do so by cutting expenses and by raising addition revenue,” the Senate president, Democrat Darrell Steinberg, told the BBC.

But Republicans indicated their continued opposition to both Mr Schwarzenegger’s and the Democrats’ proposals.

“This is not blind ideology on the part of Republicans, but our sincere belief that higher taxes will hurt the economy and lead to more uncontrolled spending,” Republican minority leader Mike Villines said.

Governors from across the US are set to meet Mr Obama later on Tuesday in Philadelphia to discuss ways of tackling the budget shortfalls many states are experiencing.

“Without federal help…what we will have to do is just make continuing cuts and/or raise taxes, both of which would have further deleterious effect on our states’ economy. We simply need help,” Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said.

But as he left for the National Governors’ Association meeting in Philadelphia, Mr Schwarzenegger said he would not be asking for federal help until California’s lawmakers addressed the budget crisis.

“The federal government shouldn’t give us a penny until we straighten out our mess and we can live within our means,” he said.