DID JACK THE RIPPER END UP IN WALES?
W AS Jack The Ripper from Wales?
There have certainly been plenty of theories in the past regarding possible local links to that most notorious of serial killers.
There’s even a suggestion the killer – who murdered a number of prostitutes in the Whitechapel area of East London in the late 1800s – may have been a former Swansea GP who killed his victims in a crazed attempt to cure infertility .
However, according to one expert, the infamous figure may have ended up amongst the ranks of a vicious gang that ruled the docks area of Barry back in the dying days of the 19th century.
Former mayor turned town councillor Nic Hodges spotted the possible link when he and his wife Shirley were researching material for the free historic walking tours he regularly holds around the seaside town.
Spanning the years 1890 to 1910, he discovered, in amongst the tales of prostitution, stabbings, illegal drinking dens and criminal groups, a dangerous crew called The High Rip Gang – so named because of their predilection for slicing rival villains from ear to ear.
“They came from Liverpool originally, probably because the police were starting to breathe down their necks,” says Nic.
“So they chose Barry to rebuild their criminal empire - an extremely violent bunch who’d rip off visiting sailors, run brothels and get up to all sorts of no good.”
But it was the leaders – George Baker and brother John – who drew Nic’s attention.
“They’d grown up in various borstals and jails around Merseyside, but, prior to coming here, there were a number of years where they seemed to disappear altogether.”
And it was during this point that a letter, dated October 1888 and allegedly penned in a mix of red ink and blood, was printed in a number of national newspapers, including The Dundee Courier & Argus in Scotland.
In it George Baker talks of his participation in a two man reign of terror being conducted across London.
“Two more and never a squeal,” it reads, boasting of the body count of disembowelled victims. “O, I am a master of the art.”
It continues: “I am going to be heavy on the gilded whores now. Some duchess will cut nicely.
“No education like a butcher’s! No animal like a nice woman; the fat are the best.”
He goes on the write about moving on from the bright lights of the West End to try ‘holidaying’ in Brighton - “Splendid high class women there - my mouth waters” - before adding that his “pal” will continue plying his own grisly trade “in the East.”
He finishes: “When I get a nobility womb I will send it on as a keepsake. Oh, it is jolly!”
After signing the letter, Baker adds that it was written in “red ink, but with a drop of the real in it”, meaning blood.
Meanwhile, underneath the words is what the newspaper describes as “a rude drawing of a sharp pointed knife”.
And, for Hodges, the significance of the reference to “my pal in the East” is clear.
“George must have been talking about the East End in that part of the letter, while the publication date – 1888 – is relevant because that was when the Ripper began his killing spree,” he says, adding that the murders would end a few years before the Bakers arrived in South Wales.
“As for ‘my pal’, that probably refers to his brother John – and what’s the general nickname for John? That’s right, it’s Jack. “I know, spooky isn’t it?” “Every time we mention that bit to people on the tour they tend to go quiet,” he laughs.
The link is the latest connection between the Ripper story and Wales. It’s also been speculated that his final victim was from Carmarthen, which this video looks into.
Did Jack the Ripper cast his shadow over Wales?
Thompson Street, Barry – probably the first sight George and John Baker of the High Rip Gang saw when they arrived in town in 1894