DURING THE autumn of 1888, a killer terrorized London. He chose as his victims mostly older, decrepit, drink-ridden prostitutes from the East End district of Whitechapel. The name "Jack the Ripper" appeared on a number of letters mailed to the police and to various news agencies. The publication of several of these letters, in the hope that someone would recognize the handwriting, vastly increased the killer's fame. It has never been established that the murderer wrote any of the letters. Nevertheless, without them, the memorable appellation would never have been attached to the killer, and the murders themselves would probably now be long forgotten. The question of who performed the brutal killings and sexual mutilations has baffled later writers as much as it did the London Metropolitan Police in 1888. Many authors have posited theories, but no one hypothesis has been proven conclusively.

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