Jack the Ripper killed his victims while they were sleeping, historian claims

Jack the Ripper killed his victims while they were sleeping, historian claims

Dr Rubenhold, whose previous work inspired ITV drama Harlots, said: “The fact that this evidence that they were killed in their sleep hasn’t been discovered before is really surprising. 

“It makes no sense that someone who was soliciting wouldn’t scream.

“Police conflated female homelessness with prostitution.”

While one of the victims, Mary Jane Kelly, was killed while in bed asleep, the rest were found dead in the street.

This led police to believe they were soliciting on street corners, but Dr Rubenhold said this was a “Victorian attitude” to vulnerable women and added that the places they were found were known rough sleeping spots.

She added: “There is so much more evidence to suggest they were killed in their sleep over working as prostitutes, but the narrative has always gone with the latter view.

“People are always surprised when I remind them that most of the victims were in their 40s. Their sexual capital was extremely reduced so they would have found it difficult to ‘turn tricks’ in those days. 

“People make these statements without having the faintest idea about how sex work worked in those times.

“They were depicted in the sensationalist Victorian media as struggling, but there was no evidence of any struggle.

“There renderings were in newspapers at the time, and people throughout history have relied on conflicting newspaper reports as the police files are missing.”

Her book is the first time any historian has looked into the backgrounds of the five victims of Jack the Ripper, as much of the work throughout history has been focused on discovering the identity of the serial killer.

Dr Rubenhold explained: “Ripper experts ask ‘what were they doing in those dark corners if not soliciting?’. That is tarring them all with the same brush and stereotyping. You can’t assume that all women running around Whitechapel at the time were selling sex without evidence.”

The Five is out on the 28th February.

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