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Jack the Ripper case remains unsolved, files to remain secret

The case of Jack the Ripper may be simultaneously one of the coldest and hottest homicide cases that exists. The case of five murdered prostitutes in London's East End has gone unsolved for 123 years, but it remains one of the most talked about and intriguing cases for armchair detectives and the public. A guided walk in the East End that discusses the unsolved murders remains a highly popular tourist activity.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times discusses the efforts of one retired homicide detective to finally solve the crime. The detective brought Scotland Yard to court in order to try to get the police force to open their files on the cold case. Scotland Yard prevailed and will keep the records private. They argued to the court that they needed to protect the informants in the case even if the informants were no longer alive.

They said that not revealing the names of the informants is in line with maintaining the integrity of their police work today and shows their commitment to keeping those identities hidden. They also expressed concern for the safety of the descendants of informants in the case.

The detective has spent his retirement looking into the Jack the Ripper case and trying to solve it once and for all. The murders occurred over two months and involved the murders of five prostitutes in London's red-light district, the Whitechapel district. Someone slit the throats of the women and also mutilated some of them.

The detective has a theory on the crimes. He believes that the murders of the prostitutes may have been committed by a sailor from Germany. The man later moved to New York and was put to death in the electric chair after being convicted of the murder of his landlady.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "The cold, cold case of Jack the Ripper," Henry Chu, Sept. 20, 2011

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