Was Jack the Ripper an urban myth?

Lindsay Jolivet
Daily Buzz
An engraving from 1889 showing Jack the Ripper being caught with one of his victims. The caption reads: 'The Whitechapel murder, The cry is Jack The Ripper !!'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A new book contends that Jack the Ripper, the notorious Victorian serial killer that has become the stuff of scary stories and nightmares, never existed.

The book Jack The Ripper: A 21st Century Investigation by former police detective Trevor Marriott argues the mysterious figure known as Jack is largely an urban myth, spawned by a journalist's lie and a public's imagination.

Marriott told Express the 1888 stabbings and mutilations attributed to Jack The Ripper, five women in Whitechapel and sometimes others abroad in the U.S. and Germany, were likely cold cases tied together by similarities after a journalist, Thomas Bulling, wrote a letter to Scotland Yard and signed it with the infamous pseudonym to fabricate a scoop.

[ Related: 'Jackie' the Ripper: was the infamous serial Killer a woman? ]

However, Marriott said the five original Whitechapel victims from 125 years ago, prostitutes Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly, may have been killed by a merchant sailor named Carl Feigenbaum, who was executed in the U..S for a different murder in 1896, according to Express.

The theory is one among a sea of others, the most outrageous of which have suggested Jack could have been Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, or a relative of Queen Victoria.

Last year, another book contended Jack the Ripper was actually a woman, the wife of an obstetrician who had been implicated by other Ripperologists in the past, according to LiveScience.

The evidence is scarce and theories abundant, but at least one idea is plausible: the well-known image of Jack the Ripper, terrorizing the streets of London with a cloak and dagger, likely contains a healthy dose of folklore with its historical fact.