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February 28, 2021

Jack the Ripper mystery ‘solved’ by Byron shire teacher

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Richard Patterson, a Mullumbimby local who believes he has solved the Jack the Ripper mystery. (supplied)
Richard Patterson, a Mullumbimby local who believes he has solved the Jack the Ripper mystery. (supplied)

Darren Coyne

A Mullumbimby local believes he has finally solved one of the most enduring murder mysteries of our time – the identity of London’s notorious ‘Jack the Ripper’.

English poet, Francis Thompson, has been named as a likely killer, Jack the Ripper. (Wikipedia)
English poet, Francis Thompson, has been named as a likely killer, Jack the Ripper. (Wikipedia)

Richard Patterson, a Byron shire English teacher, has reignited interest in the 1888 murders of five prostitutes in London with his claim that the serial killer was in fact a respected English poet named Francis Thompson.

Mr Patterson, who has spent more than 20 years researching his theory, claims that Thompson, a failed medical student, had the surgical skills and motivation to be the killer.

Mr Patterson claims Thompson, from Preston, Lancashire, not only wrote about killing women, but also had close links to at least one prostitute in the area.

According to the theory, Thompson had moved to London and formed a relationship with the prostitute while he was destitute, but was dumped by her after his poems began to be published.

This sparked his hatred for the city’s sex workers, which led to the killings of at least five in various parts of the city.

Mr Patterson first developed the theory in 1997 when he was a student at Melbourne’s La Trobe University after reading a collection of Thompson’s poems.

It was not until two years later that he discovered that Thompson had been named as a possible suspect by another person –American pathologist Dr Joseph Rupp.

Rupp, who Patterson has since spoken to a number of times, had published an article in the Criminologist magazine, naming Francis Thompson as the likely killer.

But the theory failed to gain traction back then, and remained forgotten or disregarded for many years, with others, including members of the Royal family, being named as suspects.

Mr Patterson, however, was determined to investigate further.

He has traveled to the UK, where he visited Thompson’s hometown of Preston, and to America, to view a collection of the poet’s letters.

‘The big discovery came this year when I was able to establish that Thompson was there (in the areas the murders took place), and that he always carried a knife,’ Mr Patterson told Echonetdaily.

Mr Patterson’s theory has sparked interest across the United Kingdom this week.

Articles have appeared in some of the UK’s largest newspapers, including the UK Daily Mail, which has a readership of 7.5 million people, and the UK Express newspaper, which goes out to 6.8 million people.

His theory has also been the subject of a report on the BBC.

Now Mr Patterson is hoping to find an Australian publisher to help him finish his proposed book, Francis Thompson – Ripper Suspect.

‘I want an Australian publisher because I like the idea that through the Internet we can now have world-wide influence,’ he said.

‘I want an editor who can help me in the traditional way of preparing a book.’

Mr Patterson has been invited to a Jack the Ripper conference in London next year, and is hoping to have his book published.

He has created a website that details his theory, and provides a first chapter, but promises that there is much more to the story waiting to be told.

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  1. I was very interested to read this informative story.

    Maybe it’s time you got honest with yourself Len and went and did something constructive with your time, some volunteer work perhaps, helping others instead of dissing others efforts.

  2. I read WITH INTEREST the above story until I got to the comments at the bottom.
    Dear Len, you must have had some interest to read the story, otherwise you would have passed it over. Just wondering, have you had any theories lately that have been subject to a report by the BBC? I have learnt something new about the mystery of Jack. Thanks for publishing this story.

  3. I fled Him, down the nights and down the days ;
    I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
    I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
    Of my own mind ; and in the mist of tears
    I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

    Thompson was perhaps weird enough to have been the Ripper. Research from our local teacher interesting enough to cause waves in the UK, and certainly interesting enough for local readers. I rather hope that Francis was innocent though; poets already have a bad name!

  4. Hi. Richard here. I see David quotes some of Thompson’s poem ‘The Hound of Heaven’ Here’s some of his unpublished poem,’Nightmare of the Witch Babies Poem’. It was submitted it to his editor on 23 February 1887.

    ‘A lusty knight
    Ha! Ha!
    On a swart steed
    Ho! Ho!
    Rode upon the land
    Where the silence feels alone’

    As he rides through a desolate landscape, the knight catches sight of a beautiful woman.

    ‘What is it sees he?
    Ha! Ha!
    There in the frightfulness?
    Ho! Ho!
    There he saw a maiden
    Fairest fair:
    Sad were her dusk eyes,
    Long was her hair;
    Sad were her dreaming eyes,
    Misty her hair,
    And strange was her garments’ flow’

    Soon he begins to stalk her.

    ‘Swiftly he followed her
    Ha! Ha!
    Eagerly he followed her.
    Ho! Ho! ‘

    But then he discovers she is unclean.

    ‘Lo, she corrupted!
    Ho! Ho!’’

    He decides to kill her by slicing her stomach open in the pretence of finding and killing any unborn offspring she may have. It ends with his rapture at finding not just a single foetus but two.

    ‘And its paunch [stomach] was rent [ripped]
    Like a brasten [bursting] drum;
    And the blubbered fat
    From its belly doth come
    It was a stream ran bloodily under the wall.
    O Stream, you cannot run too red!
    Under the wall.
    With a sickening ooze – Hell made it so!
    Two witch-babies, ho! ho! ho!’

    I know that this is not a Mullumbimby story, but as a Mullumbimby resident, who just may have solved the greatest mystery in modern history, I’m glad some people here are happy to talk about it. Thanks to the Echo for running my story. The first Australian newspaper that I wrote to. The biggest little newspaper in Australia. 🙂


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