The Jack the Stripper/Nude Killings case of the early 1960s was a huge deal at the time. Seven murders, hundreds of policemen deployed, masses of press coverage. But it was never solved. And the culprit is the most prolific, never caught serial killer in Britain of the Twentieth Century. Actually, he would seem to be the most prolific never caught serial killer this country has ever produced. Ahead even of the other more famous Jack. It is strange how little this case is remembered. Even ten years later it had apparently largely been forgotten
Between 1962 and 1965 (although there may have been another victim in 1959), the bodies of seven murdered prostitutes were found in West London. Initially their bodies were left in The Thames, but then the killer changed M.O slightly and abandoned them outside various commercial premises. One of the biggest manhunts in British history was launched, but despite the arrived of legendary Chief Superintendent John Du Rose, the killer just vanished into the ether.
Robin Jarossi’s book is the best guide to the case I have ever come across. One which examines it in a great deal of detail and with a magnificent amount of empathy.
That last point is important, as Jarossi really does go far out of his way not to portray the victims as just victims, but actual people themselves. That’s particularly hard to do (and thus particularly impressive) as it seems the police at the time, and the press reporting on it, often saw them as nothing more than common prostitutes and not people to be mourned. They were still condemned, even as their deaths were being investigated. But Jarossi does his best – sometimes with only scattered fragments of information to go on – to make them real and not just grainy photos on a police investigation room wall.
Of course, he doesn’t solve the case, but he sets up some interesting theories and dismisses some other theories, and – without a doubt – gives the best oversight to this strangely forgotten case there’s ever been.
My new thriller, EDEN ST. MICHEL – the second in my ‘Screen Siren Noir’ series – is available for pre-order now. You can reserve your copy here.