|Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide|
|This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.|
Born in the Ukraine in 1847, Nicolai Wassili or Nicolai Vasiliev, as the British press referred to him at the time, was educated in Tiraspol and at Odessa university. He inherited sufficient income for him to support himself without the need to work. As a young man he joined one of the many fanatical sects which lay outside the Russian Orthodox Church, the Skoptsy, referred to as the Shorn, in English language newspapers.
The Shorn condemned all sexual relations, even within marriage, as impure. The Russian church's attempts to suppress the sect resulted in Wassili going into exile in Paris, where in the daytime he would toil away amongst piles of religious books, and at night would wander the streets calling on prostitutes to repent and join the Skoptsy.
It was in 1872 that he met and fell in love with a young prostitute called Madeline, whom he had tried to reform. It was her rejection of him which contributed to his mental breakdown, and the start of a killing spree which left Madeline and four prostitutes dead within two weeks. All were stabbed in the back, though none were mutilated. He was arrested after a streetwalker he had attempted to kill cried out for help. He was committed to an asylum in Bayonne, and was released as cured on 1 January 1888, whereupon he declared his intention to go to London.
The press, noticing the similarities with the Whitechapel murders, theorised that Wassili may have been Jack the Ripper. There is however no evidence Wassili ever existed. There are no records of his arrest or committal to an asylum. There is also no evidence to confirm that a series of murders actually occurred in Paris. The only crimes which bore any similarity to the Whitechapel murders happened in 1875 in the district of Rochechouart, when five or six women were assaulted, though none were murdered. The reports of his supposed murders in Paris are from European newspapers who often garbled their account of events, and very often resorted to copying each other without accurately checking their facts. Wassili was described as tall, lean with a brawny form, burning black eyes and a pale waxy complexion.
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