THEORIES over the identity of one of Britain's most infamous serial killers have ranged from a barber to a prince.
But now a historian has come up with the name of the man he believes was the chilling killer Jack The Ripper.
Author Mei Trow claims Robert Mann, a Whitechapel morgue attendant, was the mass murderer who brought terror to the streets of London in 1888.
Using modern police forensic techniques, including psychological and geographical profiling, Mr Trow also claims the Ripper killed another two women. Martha Tabram, found with 39 stab wounds, was the first of Jack's victims, he claims, and Alice Mackenzie, brutally murdered eight months after the confirmed five killings, was his last.
Mr Trow started his investigations in 1988 when an FBI examination of the Ripper case drew up a comprehensive criminal personality profile which claims the killer was a white male from the lower social classes – probably from a broken home – with a menial job such as a butcher, mortuary or medical examiner's assistant, or hospital attendant, who because of prolonged periods without human interaction was socially inept.
After two years of research, Mr Trow decided Mann fitted this profile perfectly.
After the Ripper's first victim, Polly Nichols, was killed, Mann unlocked the mortuary for the police so they could examine the body and was subsequently called as a witness.
Most damning of all, he undressed the victim with his assistant, despite being under strict instructions from police to not touch the body, and Mr Trow suspects that this was an opportunity to admire his handiwork.
The coroner in his summation of Mann's testimony concluded that: "It appears the mortuary-keeper is subject to fits, and neither his memory nor statements are reliable."
The author believes it was his unreliability that may have allowed him to drop off the police's radar.
Mann, who lived in the impoverished Whitechapel area, was from an extremely deprived background. He was an inmate in the workhouse, where the lowest strata of society were sent.
Professor Laurence Alison, forensic psychologist at Liverpool University, said: "In terms of psychological profiling, Robert Mann is the one of the most credible suspects from recent years and the closest we may get to a plausible psychological explanation for these most infamous of Victorian murders."
Mr Trow's theory is being explored in a documentary called Jack The Ripper: Killer Revealed on the Discovery Channel on Sunday, as well as in his new book Jack the Ripper: Quest for a Killer.
IN THE FRAME
THE most high profile name suggested as being Jack The Ripper was Prince Albert Victor.
However, the most plausible suspects include Aaron Kosminski, a poor Polish Jew resident in Whitechapel, Montague John Druitt, a barrister and school teacher who committed suicide in December 1888 and Michael Ostrog, a Russian-born multi-pseudonymous thief and trickster, believed to be 55 years old in 1888, and detained in various asylums.