Best-selling crime writer Patricia Cornwell promises to provide more evidence of the real identify of legendary 19th century serial killer Jack the Ripper in her new book debuting this week.
He was a man turned into a monster, she says.
She dove headfirst down the dark wormhole of this old mystery in 2002 with the release of “Portrait of a Killer: Jack The Ripper – Case Closed.”
Now, with her second Ripper book coming out Feb. 28, she is “more convinced than ever” the real Ripper was British impressionist painter Walter Sickert, who died in 1942, she tells The Times in London.
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She believes that the real Ripper killed more than the assumed five women in the slums of Whitechapel. “I put his toll at a dozen, maybe as many as 20, or possibly more,” Cornwell told the Times.
She offers Sickert’s confession to a friend that he “would not mind having to kill and eat raw flesh,” which echoes, she suggests, Ripper’s infamous references to cannibalism.
Sickert’s name floated to the surface of Ripper conspiracy theories as early as the 1970s, according to the BBC, long before Cornwell took on the case and mainly because of the curiously accurate sketches and paintings he made of Ripper’s bloody devastation.
“There are lots of reasons that make sense that this man could have turned into a monster,” Cornwell says in a teaser video she tweeted for her new book, “Ripper: The Secret Life Of Walter Sickert.”
Ripper’s identity remains one of the greatest crime mysteries of all time. Consensus and agreement are elusive among so-called “Ripperologists” and innumerable theories.
Hundreds of suspects have been named and researched over the years. Four years ago the BBC presented the “Five Craziest Jack the Ripper Theories.” Among the names: Lewis Carroll, the author of the “Alice in Wonderland” books.
Sickert became a serious Ripper suspect in the early 1990s with the release of Jean Overton Fuller’s “Sickert and the Ripper Crimes,” according to the BBC.
Cornwell ran into entrenched resistance to the Sickert theories she presented in her first book, with some reviewers charging that her assertions were “improbable.”
“When Patricia Cornwell first named the artist Walter Sickert as Jack the Ripper, she sparked outrage from art historians and Ripperologists,” the Times noted.
But she doubles down on her theory in her new work, which she says is based on mostly new material. Key to her premise is scientific analysis, using modern forensic tools, of stationery used by Sickert.
She found that three letters from Sickert and two letters Ripper sent to police came from the same limited paper run of just 24 sheets, according to The Huffington Post UK.
She also presents evidence showing that Sickert was in Britain at the time of at least three of the Ripper murders — when he claimed to be in France.
She also suggests that Sickert’s sexually motivated wave of terror could have been incited by alleged congenital abnormalities of the artist’s penis.
She argues Sickert’s art work of women being brutalized, attacked and decapitated as more proof. “One of them is tied up in a chair and being stabbed,” she told the Times.
Some of Cornwell’s new evidence — especially the “small batch of stationery” — cannot be dismissed, Ripper historian Paul Begg told the Times.
He added, though, it would take “an awful lot” to convince him of any theory.