Could ‘sinister’ Dutch sailor Hendrik de Jong have been the notorious Jack the Ripper? British tabloids The Sun and The Daily Mail think he may well have been. They base their conclusions on an article by crime historian Jan Bondeson and Dutch researcher Bart Droog in the Ripperologist, a magazine dedicated to the serial killer.
The identity of the man who killed and maimed at least five prostitutes in the working class area of Whitechapel in London in 1888 has never been discovered although not for lack of trying. The list of possible candidates is long and includes Lewis Carroll and painter Walter Sickert, one of whose paintings was allegedly destroyed by crime fiction writer Patricia Cornwell in her quest to prove his guilt.
But according to Droog the tabloids can’t have read the study through to the end. ‘I was amused at the articles in the tabloids. They obviously never read the whole thing because what we are saying is that it is highly unlikely that De Jong was Jack the Ripper,’ he told newspaper AD.
De Jong, whose work as a steward frequently took him to England, caught the attention of the British police when his English wife disappeared a month after the wedding around the time of the Whitechapel murders.
But Droog says, there is nothing to prove that the police ever seriously considered De Jong to be the Jack the Ripper.
But while he was not the notorious serial killer De Jong had convictions for defrauding a string of women and was eventually suspected of killing two ex-wives and a Belgian bar owner and her servant.
Before he could stand trial, De Jong disappeared. He was subsequently condemned to death in his absence. The ‘Dutch Jack the Ripper’, as the authors call him, may have fled to the United States where he perhaps continued his criminal activities and ended up dying in prison.
In spite of what the tabloids say, all the article does, its authors conclude, is ‘grant Hendrik de Jong membership to a select club of Ripper suspects: namely that consisting of serial killers of women who were active at the same time as Jack the Ripper, but with a different modus operandi’.