Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jack The Stripper

"Big John"

For a long time after the last murder, it was widely felt that the police had failed in their attempts to find the man who at that time was Britain's worst ever serial killer. That perception may partly explain why five years after the last murder, the by-then retired Du Rose claimed in a BBC television interview that he knew the identity of Jack The Stripper.

Furthermore, he said, detectives had been preparing to make an arrest in March, 1965 when news reached them that the suspect had committed suicide, gassing himself in a lock-up garage in South West London. He explained that the press and television publicity had been orchestrated "to frighten him and make him run." "Eventually," he said, "it had the effect we desired. He became so frightened he took his own life."

In his 1971 memoir, Murder Was My Business, Du Rose repeated this claim, saying the man had left a suicide note explaining that he was "unable to take the strain any longer."

Author Brian McConnell fleshed out the suspect further in his 1974 book, Found Naked And Dead. He nicknamed the murderer as "Big John," a respectable man in his 40s, with a wife and several children. He had suffered a grim childhood in Scotland, characterized by extreme puritanism and frequent beatings. While serving in World War Two, he developed a habit of using prostitutes, and would often turn to violence when drunk to give vent to his feelings of self-loathing. He later joined the police force, but was turned down for promotion to the detective ranks, turned to drink again and eventually quit. "John" eventually found work as a security guard, and worked on the Heron Trading Estate where the bodies were believed to have been stored. McConnell claimed he nursed a grudge against his former colleagues which formed part of the motive for the killings.

Both Du Rose and McConnell refused to reveal "Big John's" true identity, for the sake, they claimed, of the killer's living relatives, who remained oblivious of the suspected killer in their midst.

But if they thought these "revelations" would finally bring the story of Jack The Stripper to a close, they were mistaken.

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