The diary of James Maybrick, an affluent merchant, was discovered in the floorboards of his estate (called Battlecrease House) back in 1992.
The electrical workers who found it somehow handed it over to former scrap metal dealer Mike Barrett, who kept it a secret for some time due to worries (one can assume) over explaining just exactly how it came to be in his possession in the first place.
Why is any of this important, you ask?
Well, I’ll tell you.
In it, the wealthy cotton salesman recounts intimate details of the murders of six women – five in London’s East End, where the Ripper claimed his victims.
He finishes the 9,000 word volume like this: “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 seems like pretty damning evidence, but even though scholars have been aware of the document since 1993, its authenticity is just now on the verge of being universally acknowledged. The delay has been the result of the diaries origins (the whole story I told you about the floorboards and the electricians and the scrap metal dealer) being unclear until very recently.
If the diary is indeed proven to be authentic and traceable to Maybrick (who, incidentally, died in 1889 – one year after the last Ripper murders), then one of the most enduring crime mysteries of our time might well be coming to a close.
It’s sort of sad the mystery may die, but the story is fascinating as well. I’m sure there will soon be a rush to learn more about James Maybrick and what drove him to commit the heinous crimes that held a city in the grip of fear – and our modern society in the grip of curiosity.
You can read the transcript of Maybrick’s diary, along with the dissemination of the new information, in researcher Robert Smith’s book, 25 Years of The Diary of Jack the Ripper: The True Facts by Robert Smith (available on September 4, 2017).
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