At one point or another, most of us have heard of the notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper. For those few unfamiliar with who he is, most Ripper experts say he killed five victims in London’s East End in 1888. Of course, there is the potential that he killed more, as there were several more unsolved murders at the time, but those five murders are clearly linked to one another more so than the rest. Police were never able to uncover the true identity of the Ripper and as such it became one of the greatest unsolved cases of all time. Of course, the public have had their own theories that have come out throughout the years. One such theory is explored in the eight-part documentary series American Ripper.
On July 11 of this year, the History Channel aired the first episode of American Ripper, a new investigative show starring ex-CIA operative Amaryllis Fox and former attorney Jeff Mudgett. The show follows these two investigators’s journey to prove that the notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper is none other than America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes. As it turns out, H.H. Holmes, born Herman Webster Mudgett, is the great-great-grandfather of lead Jeff Mudgett. Mudgett learned of this family secret when he was 40 years old and has spent years researching Holmes. As he did his research, he discovered information that led him to believe that the true identity of Jack the Ripper is his great-great-grandfather.
Honestly, I was lucky to even find this show. On a fateful July night, I was playing a game on my phone while my mom was watching some show that I didn’t really have much interest in. Throughout that show, I kept hearing ads for a show titled American Ripper and thought, “Huh, that sounds pretty cool”. Despite this, I still had no intention of actually watching it. I wasn’t paying that much attention to the ads, so I was unaware that the show started that night. My mom went to bed a couple of minutes before the show started and forgot to turn the TV off. So, there I was playing a game on my phone and listening to the first couple minutes of the show when I decided that it was way more interesting than I thought it was going to be. I ended up deciding to put my phone away and really start to pay attention, and from that point forward, I was hooked. Every week dragged on as I waited for the following Tuesday to see what would happen next in Mudgett and Fox’s investigative journey.
I continued to watch American Ripper for a few core reasons. Personally, this show features some of my favorite things. For one, I love mysteries. This ranges anywhere from fictional mystery books to television shows to even nonfiction mysteries. The show brings up many compelling leads and dates that could very well help its point, however most of these are hypothetical or coincidental. Nonetheless, everything presented still manages to thrill me. It is out of this hobby of mine that I found listening to stories about serial killers, how they kill, and their motivations interesting. Sure, it may be a weird hobby (and not one that I have partaken in regularly) but it really is a defining reason as to why this series gripped me from the start.
In addition, H.H. Holmes isn’t exactly a new name for me either. A few years ago, I binged the CW’s Supernatural and the episode “No Exit” was centered around the leads of the show investigating a string of disappearances in an apartment building. During the episode, we discover that the kidnapper is none other than H.H. Holmes’ ghost. Additionally, H.H. Holmes and his “Murder Castle” play a central role in the eleventh episode of NBC’s Timeless. This ended up being one of my favorite episodes of that show to date. Thanks to Supernatural and Timeless in particular, H.H. Holmes was a figure I was interested in recently.
As I stated above, I am hooked on this show. The different ways that Fox and Mudgett use to try to prove that Jack the Ripper and H.H. Holmes are one and the same are really interesting. Additionally, they are trying to solve a case that has remained unsolved since the Ripper killings ended over a hundred years ago. Every episode I learn a little more about Holmes and certain investigative techniques, which I won’t spoil here in case you decide to give it a try. However, not everyone feels the same way.
The major complaint people have with this show is the current lack of physical evidence. Of course, this complaint is undoubtedly justified. I can see why people would be turned off by this, it is an investigative show after all, physical evidence should be present when trying to prove a theory. Although, physical evidence is always going to be a challenge for investigators investigating a case that has gone cold for over a hundred years. Despite this, the hypothetical evidence that they do have now is still interesting nonetheless.
Other people complain about the detective work that is being done. For instance, one Twitter user said that the goal of the investigators should be the reverse of what they are doing now. This would mean finding a piece of evidence that would eliminate him from being the Ripper rather than looking for ways they could be the same person. While a fair thought, doing this would take away from the journey and thus entertainment that the show provides, along with the variety of investigative techniques showcased on the show. One of the reasons I enjoy the show are the different uses of these techniques and their results.
The History Channel’s American Ripper does a fantastic job of interesting me and many others. Am I saying the show is perfect? Am I saying there is no better way this investigative series could have been done? Of course not. The show may have flaws on that front, but the content of the show is something that many fans enjoy watching. I believe that people are entitled to their own opinion. You make the choice on whether or not you like something. I was never one to shy away from a good mystery, no matter how it ends.
Written by @ChodnaZoop on Twitter