Track the Trail of Jack the Ripper

Wander away from London's museums and tea shops and into the streets of a serial killer on a "Jack the Ripper Walk."

While London's streets are filled with elegance and history, as the sun goes down, the hustle and bustle fades and they become the setting of one of the world's most famous unsolved murder mysteries.

"Jack the Ripper" is the name given to the mysterious man who in 1888 brutally murdered five East End women. Between August 31 and November 30 this killer meticulously "ripped" open London prostitutes from the groin to the breast-bone leaving their butchered bodies in plain sight.

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Despite a thorough investigation police never found the killer...there were countless rumors about his identity some even said he was The Prince Regent.

London offers many tours with guides to lead you into the Ripper's slashing grounds to see if you can solve the mystery.

Just as the night sets in meet your guide at London's Tower Hill tube station. Standing right on the boundary between Scotland Yard territory and that of City of London Police, you'll learn that it was this conflict of police forces that made it easier for the Ripper to slip through the police dragnet.

Zigzagging between the two forces' territories, the killer struck weekend after weekend with the press documenting every attack. At a time when the general populace had become literate, the murders created what was called the "Autumn of Terror" in London.

Murdering Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols Friday, August 31, 1888, Annie Chapman the Saturday after, Elizabeth Stride two Saturdays later and then just 40 minutes later Catherine Eddowes, you'll get a sense of the fear locals felt as you walk amidst shadows on London's East End streets.

It is believed the serial killer's last murder was Mary Jane Kelly on Friday, November 9, 1888...or was it? This walk is your chance to visit and investigate Jack the Ripper's murder sites, and the little evidence he left to remain a mystery.

Your guide will take you through the dark, crooked, cobbled alleyways of Whitechapel where you can discover the eeriness that lies beside London's landmarks. You'll learn that Spitalfield's Market is not just a place to get fresh fruit and vegetables, but where prostitute Annie Chapman picked up the wrong customer and was later slain.

Adding an Eerie Edge to Your Vacation

A walk like this is sure to add an eerie edge to your vacation. But the tour is not just for tourists. Many tours are filled with Londoners curious to finally see the trail of Jack the Ripper in their neighborhoods.

"I go to the markets and bars around here and have always heard the stories, but it's nice hearing it on a tour, not just bits and pieces," says Juliet McInes who went on the tour after living in London for five years.

Many tour companies offer Jack the Ripper walks, although Frommer's London Travel Guide cites "London Walks" as "the best." Their walks are frequently guided by Donald Rumbelow, Britain's most distinguished crime historian and the author of best-selling The Complete Jack the Ripper. Donald has also been the chief consultant for every major film and television treatment of the Ripper for the last 25 years including the recent Johnny Depp film on the Ripper, called "From Hell..."

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