DID BEN THOMPSON KNOW 
JACK THE RIPPER?

A newspaper article published in the Yorkshire Evening Post, Saturday 20th January 2001, made claims that allegedly link Ben Thompson to the notorious 'Jack The Ripper' murders in London's East End during 1888.  To understand a little more about this claim we need to go back to Austin, Texas in 1884/5 where the story first begins.

Between 30th December 1884 and 24th December 1885, shortly after the death of Ben Thompson, a vicious serial killer haunted the streets of Austin, Texas, claiming the lives of seven women and one man.  He became known as the Midnight Assassin due to the time that the murders were believed to have been carried out. The first five victims were female black servants who were each attacked with an axe in their living quarters behind the homes where they worked.  The boyfriend of victim number five was bludgeoned to death as he lay beside her.  The final two victims were white women who were also killed in similar attacks.

These serial killings bear striking similarities to the London murders, more famously known as the work of 'Jack the Ripper'  It is not certain exactly how many victims are believed to have perished at the hands of Jack the Ripper, though it is generally accepted that there were five.  The murders were carried out over a short period between 31st August 1888 and November 9th 1888 and occurred within a one mile area.  All the victims were female prostitutes and all were horribly mutilated.  As early as 1888 there were claims of a link between the murders in Texas and those in London, all were perpetrated in the same mysterious and impenetrable silence

Though in each of these cases there have been many suspects, neither the Midnight Assassin or Jack the Ripper were ever apprehended and the murders remain to this day, unsolved. 

"Texan, Allan McCormack, who is researching a book about Thompson, has discovered that Ben Thompson is revered in Austin, Texas, as the man who kept America's first serial killer at bay.  And that serial killer, whose identity Mr. McCormack will reveal in his book 'The Midnight Assassin' due to be published later this year, could have been Jack The Ripper.  According to records uncovered by Mr. McCormack, Ben Thompson protected Austin when he was City Marshall, from a killer who became known as the Midnight Assassin........One of the theories police in England worked on was that the Midnight Assassin then moved to London and murdered as Jack the Ripper in 1888 before returning to the US........And he (McCormack) says it is certain that Thompson, who was baptised at St. Botolph's Church in Knottingley, and whose reputation briefly eclipsed Wild Bill Hickok and Wyatt Earp, knew the Midnight Assassin - although he didn't suspect him of being a serial killer.  Ben Thompson never suspected the man of being a serial killer because the man was afraid, terrified to kill women while Thompson was still alive."  Yorkshire Evening Post, 20th January 2001

It is quite feasible that at some time during his life in Texas, Ben Thompson did indeed know the person later to become known as The Midnight Assassin and if the murders in Texas could be connected with the murders in London, then we could say that Ben may also have known the identity of the person responsible for the Jack the Ripper murders in London.  Many people have their theories about who was responsible for the slayings, but whether Mr. McCormack's 'records' can provide the answers that have eluded everyone before him to these century old mysteries remains to be seen.  

In a letter from Mr. McCormack, I was promptly directed to his website, where I could review press releases regarding the killings in Austin.  The site also leads with the title of his forthcoming book which promises (according to the article in the Yorkshire Evening Post) to identify the person responsible. 

Casebook: Jack the Ripper, gives a detailed account of the murders in London's East End and is well worth a visit.

 

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