The Jack The Ripper Witness That Some Think May Have Been The Real Killer

Notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper terrorized the Whitechapel area of London in the 1880s, where he's believed to have murdered at least five women. Those cases were never solved, per Britannica. More recently, in 2019, two forensic scientists published their research article "Forensic Investigation of a Shawl Linked to the 'Jack the Ripper' Murders" in the Journal of Forensic Scientists. The experts, Jari Louhelainen, Ph.D. and David Miller, Ph.D., concluded that DNA evidence definitively linked Polish barber Aaron Kosminski to the crimes of Jack of the Ripper, via USA Today. The DNA used in the 2019 forensic study, which may have identified the notorious serial killer, was gathered from a shawl that was more than 100 years old. It was evidently stained with bodily fluids found near Jack the Ripper's fourth known victim, Catherine Eddowes. That DNA was then matched with one of Kosminski's known living relatives.

In 1888, Charles Allen Lechmere, also known as Charles Cross, came to the attention of London police as a witness when he reported the body of Jack the Ripper's first known victim, Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols, according to "Jack the Ripper Suspects: The Definitive Guide and Encyclopedia." While he is now a popular Jack the Ripper suspect, he was evidently not under suspicion at that time. If Cross is the real Jack the Ripper, then the man responsible for the killings — and possibly others from that same period — could have been hiding in plain sight the whole time.

Charles Cross found the first known victim's body

According to, the first mystery surrounding Charles Allen Lechmere is why he gave his name as Charles Cross when police questioned him after he reported finding Polly Nichols' body. (Cross was the name of his stepfather, not the surname of his late father, which was Lechmere.) Could Cross have been hiding something? That's a matter of pure speculation, and the answer to that question is now lost to history. Name irregularity aside, Cross was a carman at that time, something like a driver or porter.

Cross commuted along Buck's Row where Nichols' body was found, as writes in another article. Still another article reports that Nichols, who was reportedly a sex worker, had her throat violently cut nearly to the point of decapitation, and was later found to have been disemboweled. When Cross came upon Nichols' body around 3:45 a.m. on his way to work, he reported what he had found to the police. So did another carman, Robert Paul, who came across Nichols' body moments later, per Jack the Ripper Suspects.

Inconsistencies emerged in Cross' story

In a 2012 article from The Telegraph, renowned authors and "Ripperologists" Christer Holmgren and Edward Stow claim that Charles Allen Lechmere aka Charles Cross may not have just found Polly Nichols' body on his way to work that morning: he may have also been responsible for her murder. First of all, Cross reported to the police that he stood some distance from Nichols' body. However, Robert Paul — who arrived moments later — said he saw Cross standing much closer to her. Furthermore, while Nichols' injuries were grotesque, there's the implication that Paul interrupted Cross before he was finished, per

Supporting that theory, in Cross' official inquest testimony, Paul described Nichols' cheeks as still warm when he touched them, suggesting her murder had just recently happened. Cross also said Paul touched her chest and reported she might still be faintly breathing. (Speaking with the Evening Standard, Paul reported that Nichols was cold, and that in his opinion, she had been dead for some time, or that her body had been moved there.) What's more, most known future Jack the Ripper victims were found in the area where Cross lived, or near where he had reason to be (via

Cross may have had experience with meat cutting

As The Telegraph also writes, because some organs were removed from Jack the Ripper's victims, it's long thought that the perpetrator of the crime had advanced knowledge of anatomy, and was possibly a surgeon or a physician who otherwise came from London high society. To that point, other Jack the Ripper suspects like Montague Druitt had an amateur interest in surgery, and both Michael Ostrog and Sir William Gull, also Jack the Ripper suspects, were physicians. For his part, Ostrog later wound up in an asylum, according to Britannica. Per, in Charles Allen Lechmere aka Charles Cross' case, he was thought to have worked in meat delivery, and may have even had some experience with butchering.

Is all that enough to indict Cross as Jack the Ripper? Could he possibly be responsible for the so-called Thames Torso Murders that happened in London simultaneously (via Casebook)? Though there are inconsistencies in Cross' testimony, he had reason to be in the area where the known Jack the Ripper murders happened, and we will probably never know for certain. But according to acclaimed Ripperologists Christer Holmgren and Edward Stow, who spoke with The Telegraph in 2012, the case is closed. "We think it [is] Charles Cross, the first person who found that first body. He was seen crouching over Polly Nichols and he wast trying to cover up some of the wounds ... The police at the time were looking for some sort of special individual. But most crimes turn out to be someone quite ordinary," Stow said. Cross died in 1920.