Home US The Russian con artist who Scotland Yard thought was Jack the Ripper: Unseen police archive pictures show petty thief who was eventually ruled out as Victorian serial killer when it emerged he was in French prison at the time

The Russian con artist who Scotland Yard thought was Jack the Ripper: Unseen police archive pictures show petty thief who was eventually ruled out as Victorian serial killer when it emerged he was in French prison at the time

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A never-before-seen police file on Jack the Ripper has been found 136 years later by the great-grandson of a detective who worked on the case. The fascinating archive contains two photographs of Michael Ostrog (above), an early suspect in the Victorian serial killer

A never-before-seen police file on Jack the Ripper has been found 136 years later by the great-grandson of a detective who worked on the case.

The fascinating archive contains two photographs of Michael Ostrog, an early suspect in the Victorian serial killer.

Ostrog, a Russian immigrant, was a petty thief and con artist who spent long periods in prison and a mental institution.

However, he was quickly ruled out as the Ripper when it emerged that he was in the insane wing of a French prison when the murders took place.

There is also the only existing copy of the so-called Saucy Jack postcard that the Ripper allegedly sent to the police to taunt them.

The original postcard is long lost, making this facsimile copy the only one.

The archive also contains a copy of the ‘Dear Boss’ letter, a chilling note sent by the killer to the police, which he signed as ‘Jack the Ripper’ the first time the name was mentioned.

A never-before-seen police file on Jack the Ripper has been found 136 years later by the great-grandson of a detective who worked on the case. The fascinating archive contains two photographs of Michael Ostrog (above), an early suspect in the Victorian serial killer

A never-before-seen police file on Jack the Ripper has been found 136 years later by the great-grandson of a detective who worked on the case. The fascinating archive contains two photographs of Michael Ostrog (above), an early suspect in the Victorian serial killer

The archive also contains a copy of the 'Dear Boss' letter, a chilling note sent by the killer to the police, which he signed as 'Jack the Ripper'. The letter, dated September 25, 1888, was initially thought to be a hoax, but police decided to take it seriously after the Ripper's fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes, was found with part of her right ear cut off.

The archive also contains a copy of the 'Dear Boss' letter, a chilling note sent by the killer to the police, which he signed as 'Jack the Ripper'. The letter, dated September 25, 1888, was initially thought to be a hoax, but police decided to take it seriously after the Ripper's fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes, was found with part of her right ear cut off.

The archive also contains a copy of the ‘Dear Boss’ letter, a chilling note sent by the killer to the police, which he signed as ‘Jack the Ripper’. The letter, dated September 25, 1888, was initially thought to be a hoax, but police decided to take it seriously after the Ripper’s fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes, was found with part of her right ear cut off.

The killer bragged about killing his female victims and warned police his knife was ‘still nice and sharp’.

The original letter is kept in the National Archives at Kew and there are only a few copies of it around.

And there is a grim photograph of the body of Ripper victim Mary Ann Nichols in the morgue.

The file was kept by Inspector Joseph Henry Helson, who was serving in the Metropolitan Police when the notorious serial killer murdered five women in Whitechapel in 1888.

He worked on the murder of Nichols, an East End prostitute who was the Ripper’s first victim.

She was found with her throat cut and mutilation wounds on her body in Bucks Row, Whitechapel, in the early hours of 31 August 1888.

The file was kept by Inspector Joseph Henry Helson (above), who was serving in the Metropolitan Police when the notorious serial killer murdered five women in Whitechapel in 1888

The file was kept by Inspector Joseph Henry Helson (above), who was serving in the Metropolitan Police when the notorious serial killer murdered five women in Whitechapel in 1888

The file was kept by Inspector Joseph Henry Helson (above), who was serving in the Metropolitan Police when the notorious serial killer murdered five women in Whitechapel in 1888

He died aged 75 in 1920 and his collection, which includes his handcuffs, sold for a century at

He died aged 75 in 1920 and his collection, which includes his handcuffs, sold for a century at

He died aged 75 in 1920 and his collection, which includes his handcuffs, sold for a century at

Inspector Helson took charge of the investigation and also assisted with inquiries into the murder of Annie Chapman, the Ripper’s second victim, eight days later.

His archive has passed down four generations of the Helson family and is now being sold by a relative at Whitton & Laing Auctioneers in Exeter, Devon. It has an estimate of £10,000.

Auctioneers say the previously unknown collection should spark a bidding war, as Ripper relics directly linked to his heinous crimes rarely come up for sale.

A Whitton & Laing spokesman said: “For nearly 140 years, the Jack the Ripper murders have held an enduring fascination and items directly linked to the crimes very rarely come up for sale.

“The items all belonged to Inspector Joseph Henry Helson and have been passed down through his family and are currently in the possession of his great grandson.

“Among the items to be sold is a mortuary photo of Mary Nichols which, although faded, appears to differ from the known photo with the camera at a very slightly different angle.

A photo card for early Jack the Ripper suspect Michael Ostrog

A photo card for early Jack the Ripper suspect Michael Ostrog

A photo card for early Jack the Ripper suspect Michael Ostrog

The collection of artefacts being sold at Whitton & Laing Auctioneers in Exeter, Devon

The collection of artefacts being sold at Whitton & Laing Auctioneers in Exeter, Devon

The collection of artefacts being sold at Whitton & Laing Auctioneers in Exeter, Devon

“There are also two photos of one of the prime suspects, Michael Ostrog, with notes on the back listing three of his aliases, criminal record and physical appearance.

“There is also a facsimile copy of both the infamous ‘Dear Boss’ letter and ‘Saucy Jack’ postcard, which appear to have been cut from the broadside printed in 1888 and used by the police in the hope that someone would recognize the handwriting.

“The original letter and postcard both disappeared, the letter was returned in 1988 and is now in the National Archives at Kew, but the postcard has never been seen again.

“This unique and important collection is to be offered as one lot and is expected to sell for over £10,000.

“But people shouldn’t forget that the victims were real people with real stories and we don’t want to think of this killer as an anti-hero, but for the monstrous villain that he was.”

Inspector Joseph Henry Helson (centre) and his team

Inspector Joseph Henry Helson (centre) and his team

Inspector Joseph Henry Helson (centre) and his team

Inspector Joseph Henry Helson's pensioner's stick. He died aged 75 in 1920

Inspector Joseph Henry Helson's pensioner's stick. He died aged 75 in 1920

Inspector Joseph Henry Helson’s pensioner’s stick. He died aged 75 in 1920

The ‘Dear Boss’ letter, which was dated September 25, 1888, was initially thought to be a hoax, but police decided to take it seriously after the Ripper’s fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes, was found with part of her right ear cut off.

The letter contained a promise to ‘cut off the lady’s ears’.

This prompted the police to publish several handbills containing duplicates of the letter and the postcard signed ‘Saucy Jack’ in the hope that someone would recognize the handwriting.

The original letter apparently has blood stains on it.

Inspector Helson retired from the Met Police in 1895 after 26 years’ service and returned to his native Devon to work on the railways.

He died aged 75 in 1920 and his collection, which includes his handcuffs, is being sold a century later.

The seller, who recently inherited the items, wants them to go to someone who will appreciate them.

The sale takes place on March 22.

From Hell: The Notorious Serial Killer Who Terrorized Victorian London… But Who Was He (or She)?

One book named Queen Victoria's surgeon Sir John Williams (above), who was undergoing surgery in Whitechapel at the time, as Jack the Ripper

One book named Queen Victoria's surgeon Sir John Williams (above), who was undergoing surgery in Whitechapel at the time, as Jack the Ripper

One book named Queen Victoria’s surgeon Sir John Williams (above), who was undergoing surgery in Whitechapel at the time, as Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper is believed to have killed at least five young women in Whitechapel, East London, between August 31 and November 9, 1888, but was never caught.

Several people have been accused of being the serial killer.

At the time, the police suspected that the Ripper must have been a butcher, due to the way his victims were killed and the fact that they were discovered close to the yards where meat was brought into the city.

There are several alleged connections between the killer and royalty. First is Sir William Gull, the Royal Physician. Many have accused him of helping dispose of the bodies of the alleged prostitutes, while others claim he was the Ripper himself.

A book has named Queen Victoria’s surgeon Sir John Williams as the infamous killer. He was operated on in Whitechapel at the time.

Another theory links the murders to Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence.

At one point, cotton merchant James Maybrick was the number one suspect, following the publication of some of his diary, which seemed to suggest he was the murderer.

Some believe the diary is a forgery, although no one has been able to suggest who forged it.

Other suspects include Montague John Druitt, a Dorset-born barrister. He killed himself in the Thames seven weeks after the last murder.

1710425543 719 The Russian con artist who Scotland Yard thought was Jack

1710425543 719 The Russian con artist who Scotland Yard thought was Jack

George Chapman, otherwise known as Severyn Kłosowski, is also a suspect after he poisoned three of his wives and was hanged in 1903.

Another suspect by the police was Aaron Kosminski. He was admitted to Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum and died there.

Dr. Thomas Neill Cream poisoned four London prostitutes with strychnine and was hanged in 1892.

Some of the more bizarre theories about who the killer was include author Lewis Carroll

Some of the more bizarre theories about who the killer was include author Lewis Carroll

Some of the more bizarre theories about who the killer was include author Lewis Carroll

Some of the more bizarre links include Lewis Carroll, author of the Alice In Wonderland books, who taught at Christ Church until 1881 – who was at the forefront of the Ripper murder scene.

Winston Churchill’s father – Lord Randolph Churchill – has also been named as a potential suspect.

Crime writer Patricia Cornwell believes she has ‘cracked’ the case by uncovering evidence that confirms artist Walter Sickert was the prime suspect. Her theories have not been generally accepted.

Author William J Perring raised the possibility that Jack the Ripper could actually be ‘Julia’ – a Salvation Army soldier.

In The Seduction of Mary Kelly, his novel about the life and times of the last victim, he suggests that Jack the Ripper was in fact a woman.

In February 2019, it was suggested that Jack the Ripper may have been a sinister Dutch sailor who murdered two ex-wives in his homeland and bludgeoned two other women to death in Belgium.

Criminal historian Dr. Jan Bondeson has named Hendrik de Jong as the prime suspect in the most notorious set of unsolved murders in history.

At the time of the Whitechapel murders, de Jong is believed to have been working as a steward on a ship that made frequent trips from Rotterdam to London, giving him the perfect means of getting out of the country after his heinous crimes.

He later murdered two of his ex-wives in his native Holland in 1893 and threw two women to death over a pub before attempting to set fire to their bodies in Belgium in 1898.

The police discover the body of one of Jack the Ripper's victims, probably Catherine Eddowes

The police discover the body of one of Jack the Ripper's victims, probably Catherine Eddowes

The police discover the body of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, probably Catherine Eddowes

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