Yesterday's Myths & Mysteries

Jack the Ripper: The “From Hell” Letter

News hit this week that Jack the Ripper may not have existed in the way we’ve always believed, with yet another investigation claiming to reveal who the true Ripper was. According to the Huffington Post, new documents have appeared that “seem to disprove the theory that the victims had their organs cut out by their killer.” This has lead one researcher to believe that Jack the Ripper may have in fact been “a traveler.”

Of course, there have been so many theories and attempts to unravel the mystery of old Jack, I think it’s unlikely we’ll ever know the truth. What is true? In 1888, the bodies of five women were found mutilated in the Whitechapel district of London between the months of August and November. 125 years on, and the murders remain unsolved.

The “From Hell” Letter

One of the more haunting chapters of the Jack the Ripper story, I think, involves a letter that was postmarked on October 15, 1888.

Addressed to George Lusk, head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, the letter arrived wrapped in brown paper and inside a small box, accompanied by half a human kidney, preserved in ethanol. The contents of the letter were as follows:

A scan of the original From Hell letter
Image: Wikipedia/Public Domain

From hell


Mr Lusk
I send you half the
Kidne I took from one women
prasarved it for you tother piece
I fried and ate it was very nise. I
may send you the bloody knif that
took it out if you only wate a whil


Catch me when
you Can
Mishter Lusk.

Lusk himself believed the letter was a hoax; the kidney could have been acquired by medical students or in some other manner. Perhaps it was merely coincidence, then, that one of the Ripper’s victims, Catherine Eddowes, had been discovered with one of her kidneys removed.

Other letters and postcards were sent by someone claiming to be Jack, as well. Some believe the “Dear Boss” and “From Hell” letters, as well as the Saucy Jack postcard, were authentic, but we honestly don’t know if any of them were truly written by the individual who committed the murders.

Unfortunately, many of the letters, including “From Hell,” have been lost. Only photographs remain.

Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.