The following is a recent interview of Dane Ladwig, author of Dr. H. H. Holmes and The Whitechapel Ripper, which offers evidence linking American serial killer Dr. H. H. Holmes to London’s infamous Jack the Ripper.
Q) What is it about Jack the Ripper that you were compelled to write a book about the murders?
I have been following the Jack the Ripper case for decades. The Ripper has held a certain mystical fascination with me and with many other people; we have always wanted to know who the enigma behind the Boogeyman is… the man who has captured our imaginations for over a century. I have always wanted to know what it is about this particular killer that has gripped the world and held it spellbound.
Q) What is it about this “mystical fascination” that intrigued you?
On one hand, you have the Ripper. He is a name without a face. Go anywhere in the world and the Ripper has visited the nightmares and campfire tales of tale-tellers, spooksters, adults, and children everywhere; however, the Ripper is nothing more than a faceless name who killed five people. Then you have the perfect dichotomy in Dr. H. H. Holmes. Holmes killed upwards of 200 people, and nearly no one has heard of him.
Q) What surprised you the most as you researched the case?
When I first decided to really dig into the case and study the evidence as it related to various suspects over the years, many discrepancies did not seem to unite. Not one suspect from the long list of suspects corresponded with the hardened evidence. But when you look the Ripper evidence, it leads directly to Holmes. He was in London at the time of the murders, and he had a residence in Whitechapel. Holmes, a doctor skilled in articulation of skeletons, had the medical knowledge necessary to carry out the murders according to the coroner’s reports. Holmes was also known to sell his specimens to the London Infirmary and the London Medical University, as well as the Whitechapel Medical School.
Q) What was the most surprising aspect of the case you came across?
With other suspect’s the investigation always ended shortly after it began. With Dr. H. H. Holmes every time I located a new piece of evidence or a lead, there were numerous other leads to follow. Every lead directed me to another, which sent me from Holmes right back to London.
Q) Do you feel your research is conclusive and prove Holmes is Jack the Ripper?
There is so much more about Holmes that I was not able to put in the book, I feel another book about Holmes could be written without repeating any of the information in this book. The man was a remarkable swindler and fraud. He was very business savvy. Any cliché that categorizes high-pressure auto salesmen, could have definitely been created as a result of Holmes business dealings.
Q) What do you hope the reader gets out of your book?
If readers take from my book that Jack the Ripper, the Boogeyman who terrorized London and held the world at bay in 1888 and beyond, could finally be connected to an actual suspect – a criminal whom was never considered in the past; Holmes – then every cold case file throughout history offers victims, family and friends the hope that killers can be caught.
Q) What has been the most rewarding about this book?
This might sound corny, but the book trailer video broke records and I never expected it to get the views it received in its first six months (over 400,000). It kind of set new standards for book trailers. In addition, receiving a commendation from the General Assembly for my literary achievements, that was cool too.
Q) What is next for you?
I have entered a contract to ghostwrite several memoirs for legendary music icons. That goes well into 2016. In the meanwhile, I do have a serial killer anthology in December of this year (’14) and I am sure there will be something else thrown in just for fun. I have entertained the idea of a fiction at some point; I received great reviews on a short piece of fiction I wrote in my first publication.
Q) What was the most difficult part of writing the book?
Sifting through the newspaper articles and statements and deciphering which were sensationalized and genuine. Out of the hundreds of articles, I examined, only a small handful appeared to demonstrate accuracy and support truth integrity. However, those sources led to more sources that had to go through rigorous scrutiny.
Q) Will you write a follow up book to Dr. H. H. Holmes and The Whitechapel Ripper?
I have given it some consideration. However, I am not sure when or how I would want to do it. I may write a novel about the exploits of Holmes, or I may just dig deeper into the nature of the crimes of both Holmes and the Ripper. That is something to consider down the road.
Q) If there were one thing you could express to your readers about the book, what would that be?
To remember that these crimes took place over twelve decades ago. The technology back then was not as advanced as we know it to be now. Back then, really was the dawn of investigation. The evidence we have to go on now is minimal at best, and as such, we are at a gross disadvantage. Lifestyle and society was very different too. What we accept as appropriate and suitable was not the case in the late 1800’s.
Q) What advice would you give to anyone taking on a project such as this?
I found out the hard way when researching cases of this magnitude, time works against you. Researching the Ripper, the case has been worked to death. However, when investigating Dr. Holmes, he has slipped through the cracks of time, relatively all evidence and data has never been examined or explored extensively. My advice, do yourself a favor; if you are investigating crimes, do not back yourself into corners by setting deadlines, you will net make them.
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