For over a hundred years the identity and the motive of Jack the Ripper have filled books and inspired movies. Some accurate, others everything but, however in 2017 a discovery was made that could provide insight into who this disturbed man was.
Those suspected of killing prostitutes in Whitechapel, London during the end of the 19th century have ranged from the well-born to the guttersnipe; even women have been considered. The only common denominator among them was a twisted psyche, accompanied by intelligence and arrogance.
Then in 1992, a 9,000 word memoir by James Maybrick, a cotton merchant stunned those who had picked over any and all evidence that was tied to Jack the Ripper. In the Victorian diary he confessed to brutally murdering five women in London's East end and another in Manchester.
He signed off the diary: "I give my name that all know of me, so history do tell, what love can do to a gentleman born. Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper."
It was not unexpected that many questioned if it was authentic or not.
Mike Barrett, a Liverpool scrap metal dealer said he had come into possession of the diary through Tony Devereux, a friend. But Devereux died soon after the diary was published, so he could not explain how he came to discover it.
But not all wanted to believe it was a forgery. One of them was a researcher named Bruce Robinson who went over the story and believed he found evidence of the stories authenticity.
The diary was found in Maybrick's former Liverpool home.
Robert Smith who published the book in 1993, believes this information was withheld by Barrett because he feared being prosecuted. Smith said: "When the diary first emerged, Mike Barrett refused to give any satisfactory explanation for where it had come from, but after painstaking research, chiefly by Bruce Robinson, we can now show a trail that leads us directly to Maybrick's home."
Maybrick lived in a mansion known as Battlecrease House, located in the Merseyside suburb of Aigburth. He was a wealthy merchant who died in 1889, a year after the killings in Whitechapel.
Soon after his death, his wife, Florence, was arrested and charged with murdering him by poisoning him with arsenic.
In 1992, the property was being renovated. Electrical contractors were involved in the work. Three of them were local men named Arthur Rigby, James Coufopoulos and Eddie Lyons
They all frequented the same pub as Mike Barrett, a colorful character who boasted about being an author. When they found the diary in March, 1992 they brought it to him hoping he could find a publisher who would be interested in it.
On March 9, Barrett called Doreen Montgomery, a literary agent and asked, "I've got Jack the Ripper's diary, would you be interested in seeing it?"
In truth Barrett was not very literate, and many doubt he could produce such a sophisticated forgery.
Some said only the killer could have written the diary, others said it only provided information that was published in the newspapers.
In 1995, Mr. Barrett swore out an affidavit saying he made the whole thing up. Later he retracted it.
Rigby, Coufopoulos and Lyons the electricians working at the Maybrick property denied being involved in the discovery of the memoir, even though each has slightly different versions of what actually happened.
Robert Smith, the publisher has never wavered from the authenticity of the document. He explained:
I have never been in any doubt that the diary is a genuine document written in 1888 and 1889.
In a totally different version of events, Anne Barrett who was married to Michael Barrett at the time the book was offered to a publisher, said it had been in her family 'for as long as she could remember' and it was she who gave it to Mr. Deveraux. The reason she gave for not giving the book directly to her husband is that she did not what him to question her estranged father about it. She didn't expect that eventually he would claim that he wrote it himself by dictating it to his wife. Later he recanted on that story.
In 1999, Anne after her divorce, authored her own book using her maiden surname of Graham, titled The Last Victim: The Extraodinary Life of Florence Maybrick, the Wife of Jack the Ripper. Her research led her to believe she was related to Florence Maybrick. Allegedly Florence gave birth to an illegitimate child when she was 15 years old by a man named Henry Flynn.
According to her book, when Florence Maybrick was released in 1904, she started using the surname of Graham. Her son by Flynn was named William Graham, who was Anne's father.
The link was Edith Formby, who according to the Graham family had attended Florence's trial each day with the nurses in charge of caring for Florence. Her daughter Elizabeth would go on to marry William "Billy" Graham.
TO READ THE FULL STORY OF FLORENCE MAYBRICK & HER MOTHER CAROLINE HOLBROOK
A version of this article appeared in the telegraph
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer