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 A Ripperoo Article 
This article originally appeared in Ripperoo, the flagship magazine of the Australian Cloak and Dagger Club. For more information, view our Ripperoo page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperoo for permission to reprint this article.
By Leanne Perry

The typical serial killer follows seven key-phases or steps when committing their evil crimes. These steps have been identified and charted by Dr. Joel Norris, who is the world’s leading expert on serial sexual murder. His findings were taken from interviews with modern killers, so lets see if they fit what little we know about JtR:

STEP 1. ‘The Aura Phase’.

The first step that the potential killer takes occurs when he begins to withdrawal from reality and enter into his own private world of perverted fantasy. Friends, family and those who encounter the person, may not be able to detect this person’s change in personality. Time can slow down in his/her mind, colours tend to become vivid, sounds more intense and the person becomes completely cut-off from any normal stimuli. When in this phase, a killer becomes antisocial and life no longer has meaning to him/her.

The killer’s thought process at this time involves looking around for someone on whom to lay the blame for his/her anger and hatred. The Whitechapel Murderer of 1888 obviously had a low view of ‘unfortunate’ women. Some researchers have suggested that Jack may have acquired a sexually transmitted disease from one and was seeking revenge. He may have been mentally fighting a dominant woman in his life, perhaps his mother, (hence the age of his first four victims). It has been revealed since, that most serial killers had experienced emotional problems in their own childhoods. Ed Kemper, a Californian serial killer, lived and quarreled incessantly with his divorced, dominant mother, until he decapitated her.

STEP 2. ‘The Trolling Phase’.

The killer next begins to seek out his victim, focusing on those venues he is most likely to find the type of person he has chosen to prey on. For some this may be schoolyards, car parks or in Jack the Ripper’s case public doss-houses in London’s East End.

Trolling does not consist of random or accidental encounters. Jack the Ripper knew exactly where to find desperate women. William Booth founder of the Salvation Army, declared there were between 60,000 and 80,000 prostitutes in London in the 1880s, and in 1888 there were 149 registered doss-houses in Whitechapel. Four of ‘Jacks’ five canonical victims were living in such places. I believe that he had previous knowledge of these crime scenes, obtained well before his vile acts. This is evident in the fact that he was able to move through the areas to make speedy, perfect escapes, not drawing attention to himself as an unfamiliar face.

One could ask: How did he know that no one was going to reach through Mary Kelly’s window, before he’d finished? Surely his earlier near-exposure at Dutfields Yard made him more cautious.

STEP 3. ‘The Wooing Phase’.

Most serial killers once they have identified their victim-to-be, then try to win his/her confidence and like a fisherman, lure their ‘catch’ into a trap.

Jack the Ripper more likely than not let the poor unfortunate women lead him to their usual secluded place, away from the prying eyes of the law and others. In so doing, they chose where they were to die. To my mind Jack the Ripper would not have had the look of a suspicious character. That is, he was likely a regular and trusted customer of theirs.

The last man seen with Annie Chapman before her death asked: “will you?”. Her reply was: “yes”. This sounds like a conversation between two completely trusting, relaxed people.

The last man seen with Elizabeth Stride said: “You would say anything but your prayers.” This sounds like an obvious intimate conversation. One someone has with a person they’ve spoken to before.

George Hutchinson heard Mary Jane Kelly say to a suspect: “All right my dear. Come along you will be comfortable.” Mary sounded extremely comfortable.

STEP 4. ‘The Capture Phase’.

This is the phase or step in which the killer springs the trap he has set for his victims.

Researchers believe that ‘Jack’ struck his victims from behind, to catch her by surprise and to minimize the chances of her crying for help. He grabbed her throat with his bear hands, strangling her to unconsciousness. None of his victims appeared to have any time to put up much of a struggle.

STEP 5. ‘The Murder’.

The moment of actually causing the victims death, is normally the emotional high for most confessed serial killers. In these seconds, some killers have reported spontaneous orgasms to signify their moment of triumph.

The fact that the Whitechapel murderer appeared to strangle his victims to unconsciousness first, slash her throat to render her dead, before performing the mutilations, suggests that his prime goal was not to merely cause death but to satisfy some grizzly lust of his.

STEP 6. ‘The Totem Phase’.

The serial killer’s feeling of triumph normally fades rapidly once the victim is dead, so to prolong his/her pleasure, he/she will often remove and take a souvenir or totem associated with the victim.

Often the killer’s intention is to retain certain body parts as a big-game hunter mounts the head of his prey on a wall. John Christie stored his naked victims in his kitchen cupboard not only as trophies but as sexual partners. As Robert Hansen was a married man with a family, it would have been impossible for him to store human body parts, so instead he stole his victims jewelry. Other serial killers have collected footwear, clothing, nylon stockings, suspender belts, brassieres and panties.

In the case of the Whitechapel Murderer of 1888, his second victim, Annie Chapman was found to be missing two brass rings that she habitually wore. If we take the later case of Robert Hasen as a guide, the taking of his victims jewelry would indicate that he was not living alone. However her killer also took with him her womb, part of her vagina and part of her bladder. To me this indicates that there was a woman in his life, while he had a second lodgings to store the body parts.

Catharine Eddowes was the Ripper’s fourth victim, who was found to have had one kidney removed from her corpse. Dr. Gordon Brown who performed her autopsy concluded that the murderer possessed great surgical skill, but as motiveless murders were uncommon, (and taking note of later serial killers), the possession of body parts as trophies was a common step in the killer’s triumph.

The Ripper’s fifth and final victim, Mary Jane Kelly, had her heart removed and taken from the crime scene, which to me and others suggests the murderer was closer to Mary. The killer stole Mary’s heart!

STEP 7. ‘The Depression Phase’.

Dr. Joel Norris writes that after a killer causes a death, ‘post-homicidal depression’ sets in and triggers the cycle of steps to beginning all over again. This is why a serial killer kills more than once and isn’t known to stop killing until he/she is caught or dies.

Serial killer Ted Bundy confessed that he never really got what he had hoped for out of his murders. Kallinger reported the same, as did Henry Lee Lucus and others. After the most recent murder, the serial killer experiences an emotional let-down and will inhabit a shadowy world of gloom until that person again begins to enter their own world of perverted fantasy, as described in ‘Step 1.’


* ‘The Many Faces of Jack the Ripper’
- M.J. Trow.

* ‘A-Z Encyclopedia Of Serial Killers’
- Harold Schechter & David Everitt.

* ‘The Crime Library’

Related pages:
  Leanne Perry
       Dissertations: A Summarized History of Forensic Science 
       Dissertations: Did Jack the Ripper Use Chloroform? 
       Dissertations: Spring-Heeled Jack: Fiction Based on Fact 
       Dissertations: Terror in Whitechapel! 
       Dissertations: The Hitler Diaries 
       Ripper Media: Catch Me When You Can