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Jack the Ripper's true identity and overgrown grave in south London 'revealed by historian'

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 30/09/2017 Tom Powell

© Provided by Independent Print Limited A historian claims to have discovered the final resting place of Jack the Ripper – and it’s in an overgrown cemetery in south London.

Author David Bullock believes Thomas Cutbush, a Londoner who died in Broadmoor after being sent there for violent attacks on women, is the “most viable” of hundreds of suspects.

Having spent 26 years researching Cutbush, he has finally tracked down his grave to a family plot in Nunhead Cemetery, Lewisham.

Mr Bullock, 41, said the major breakthrough came after he was granted access to Broadmoor files after three years of dialogue with the high-security psychiatric hospital in Berkshire.

He told the Standard: “I was blown away by the file and how much it told me about Cutbush. It became very clear that he was not buried in Broadmoor despite what most people had told me.”

In his book, The man who would be Jack, Mr Bullock sets out the case for Cutbush being the most likely of the many Jack the Ripper suspects.

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He worked in Whitechapel, where at least five women were stabbed to death in 1888, and he had an “obsession with surgery”.

He was also associated with prostitutes - as confirmed by his family - and developed a hatred for them after believing he had contracted a disease from one.

Cutbush was arrested in 1891 for attacking two women and ended up in Broadmoor because he was “extremely violent and demented”.

The author said he took an “unbiased approach” to the evidence but it all added up to make Cutbush the clear prime suspect.

However, finding his final resting place proved to be the trickiest part of the puzzle.

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Mr Bullock began looking in cemeteries in London for the name Cutbush, as his family had been living in Kennington around the time he died.

He said: “He hailed from a quite wealthy middle class family, so I started looking at the so-called Magnificent Seven cemeteries built in London during the Victorian era.

“I walked around cemeteries literally just looking for his headstone but I was having no joy.

“Then I worked backwards and started looking at the wider family members and they provided the answer. His mum and aunt were buried in a family plot in Nunhead Cemetery.”

He added: “Persistent hard work and dedication eventually paid off. It really felt for me like a momentous realisation of something that I had been trying to gain for so long.”

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The grave has been overtaken by ivy and the words etched into the headstone are no longer visible. It is surrounded by the eerie remains of other headstones and a statue of an angel.

The 52-acre Nunhead cemetery was consecrated in 1840 but abandoned to nature and vandalism after funding dried up.

However, in the 1980s, the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery was formed to renovate and protect the site.

“If there was such a thing as the perfect setting it’s Nunhead Cemetery, because it’s got that sort of mysterious atmosphere,” Mr Bullock added.

“Cutbush is known to have attacked his family members but they still had love for him enough to pay for his body’s removal from Broadmoor and the burial.”

The mystery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity has sparked hundreds of theories and books ever since the grisly killing spree in the East End shocked Victorian London.

In 2014, another author claimed that forensic evidence proved Polish-born Aaron Kosminski was the real killer.

A shawl found next to the body of Catherine Eddowes was analysed by Dr Jari Louhelainen, who found DNA from the alleged killer alongside the victim’s blood.

But according to Andrew Smith, a Gothic expert and leading authority on the Ripper murders, the DNA was contaminated and therefore the evidence is “very shaky”.

Most historians agree that no totally conclusive evidence will ever be found.​

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