Seems a new theory has been put forward by a dood from my own hood:

http://forum.casebook.org/showthread.php?p=77337

Assuming this is true, does it matter? Hasn't J the R, the legend, far-outstripped J the R, the person? Why is it that 120 years later, he's still such an object of fascination to so many? Was he the first recorded serial killer? What was so special about him that he's still a household name today? Any thoughts?

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I think he is the first recorded serial killer. There were probably others, but Jack also taunted the police through letters. Also, his killings show a change in his killing methods. I think the first was a simple stabbing, but the seventh was a disembowelment (or dismemberment) and the victim's face was carved off. This suggests a changing psychological profile. Also, the fact that he wasn't caught meant to many that he could always show up again. Well...maybe not now, but I'm sure it was a concern for years after the last confirmed killing.

I wouldn't doubt if his case informed police departments about how to deal with the spree murderer or the serial killer - use of forensics (so many clues were left behind) and psychology (because clearly he was disturbed. Anyway, that'd be my guess.
There have been serial killers since the beginning of time, Gilles de Rais, Elisabeth of Bathoy, Vlad Tepes, just to name a few. I believe that Jack the Ripper became notorious because he not only appeared during the first real attempts at global communication through newsprint that reached every point of Victorian British Empire as well as Canada, The U.S. and Europe, but because of his uncanny ability to exploit that news communication system. His ballsiness at tweaking the cops' noses and his public audacity with each killing was unprecedented. His body count was mild, compared to the ones mentioned above, and they were all from the dark ages where in-your-face barbarity was accepeted as common-place. But his outrages in prim, proper Victorian England, where repression reigned and in which he had the gall to exhibit the most primal of all excesses, captured their imaginations and brought to light their viscerial dreams like nobody before him.
Yup, I'm a Ripper theory addict, too. No doubt I'll pick this up and read it - then it'll take its place on the shelf next to the other books I have on the Whitechapel murders. If I have a favourite, then so far it's Stephen Knight's Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, which is also the first one I read. It involves the royals (natch), the Freemasons, the art world, and a doomed blackmail attempt... wonderful material for conspiracy theorists! But yes - bring 'em on - the more the merrier!
I think part of the fascination at this point is that we never will know who he was. The letters he sent the police lend him a certain personality that most serial killers don't have. I also think that the reactions of the people of that time have influenced our feelings about Jack the Ripper. After all, we only have their writings to go by, and I'm sure they were horrified by the crimes they were seeing. Those emotions, despite all efforts to keep reports professional, would have bled through, not to mention the newspaper reports.

Why am I fascinated with Jack the Ripper? It's just an amazing case and I have to agree with William, I'm not sure I ultimately want to know who he was-I like to keep hearing the guesses.
Never underestimate the power of a catchy nickname. It's the best, The Boston Strangler coming in second.
Actually, there was a great deal of skepticism about Cornwall's conclusions.

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