Jack the Ripper suspects have ranged from the painter Walter Sickert, Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, to the wife of an eminent Victorian surgeon.

But latest theory as to the mysterious identity of the East End killer is… that he didn’t exist at all.

That’s a proposal of former Bedfordshire murder squad detective Trevor Marriot.

jack the ripper

A (fanciful) engraving of Jack the Ripper being apprehended by police

Marriot, who has been conducting an 11-year cold case review of the killings, believes the legend of “Jack” came to be after a "drunken" journalist wrote a forged letter to Scotland Yard in order to secure himself a scoop.

He told The Express: “The reality is there was just a series of unsolved murders and they would have sunk into oblivion many years ago, but for a reporter called Thomas Bulling.”

Bulling, Marriot says, worked for a London-based news agency and was paid to supply crime stories to newspapers.

He added: "Police got a letter that Bulling had written about the murders which he signed Jack the Ripper. It has kept this mystery alive for 125 years. You have to ask yourself if Jack is a myth... There just isn't a Jack the Ripper as such."

Marriot further speculates Bulling was behind the "Saucy Jack" postcard sent to the Central News Agency in October 1888, which was also signed 'Jack the Ripper.'

"The handwriting on both has many similar characteristics and is strikingly similar to the handwriting of Bulling which Bulling wrote in the normal course of his daily press work in 1888," Marriot writes on his official website.

As for the five murders attributed to the Ripper, Marriot believes at least some of them were committed by a German merchant seaman called Carl Feigenbaum.

jack the ripper letter

A letter allegedly written by Jack the Ripper and sent to a London news agency in September 1888

In 2011 Marriot created an e-fit of Feigenbaum, a crew member on ships that regularly docked at Whitechapel, for a BBC television programme.

He was a suspect at the time of the murders and reportedly told his lawyer that he had a "desire to kill and mutilate every woman who falls in my way." He was later convicted of killing his landlady in Manhattan, and died in the electric chair in New York's Sing Sing prison.

Last weekend, amid the 125-year anniversary of the grisly “Ripper” crimes, Marriot claimed to have discovered 17 unsolved “Ripper-esque” murders committed in Britain, Germany and America, between 1863 and 1894 – of which some, but not all, he believes can be attributed to Feigenbaum.

The "Ripper" victims were all prostitutes, murdered and mutilated in the foggy alleyways of Whitechapel. By the surgical nature of the wounds, the killer was assumed by some to have surgical knowledge.

A myriad of further theories abound and hundreds of individuals have been named as suspects – including the wife of Royal gynaecologist Sir John Williams - who was later considered a suspect himself.

Last year author John Morris put together his suspicions against Lizzie Williams in his book Jack the Ripper: The Hand of a Woman.

elizabeth ripper

Lizzie Williams named as a suspect in John Morris's book Jack The Ripper: The Hand Of A Woman

Yet this theory was challenged more recently by the claims of a Uruguayan mathematician, who says the killer was male and a left-handed surgeon from Essex.

Eduardo Cuitiño identifies Whitechapel Hospital doctor Stephen Herbert Appleford as the man who murdered five women, following the death of his mother in 1881.

In a paper entitled Travelling Through Time To Trap Jack The Ripper, he claims Appleford was left-handed, like the killer, who cut the throats of his victims from right to left.

He says his conclusions come from analysis of the doctor’s handwriting.

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  • The murder of Catherine Eddowes by Jack the Ripper. A sketch by Dr F Gordon Brown made on the spot to show the postition of the body and significant details.

  • The hand written note in the back of the book by Donald Swanson naming Life to the Crime Museum at New Scotland Yard. Picture Date: Thursday 13 July 2006. After Jack the Ripper's suspected true identity has revealed, more than 100 years after his gruesome series of murders. Chief Inspector Donald Swanson never caught the killer, who stalked Whitechapel, east London, in 1888. The Ripper claimed the lives of at least five women, all prostitutes, during his reign of terror.

  • Jack the Ripper An 1880 map of the East End of London where the murders occured.

  • Dutfield's Yard, off Berner Street (since renamed Henriques Street) in Whitechapel, the scene of the rippers third murder, that of Swedish-born prostitute Elizabeth "Long Liz" Stride.

  • Jack the Ripper A knife found at the scene of one of the murders.

  • 13 Miller's Court, off Dorset Street, London Spitalfields, the site of the last and most terrible of Jack theRipper's murders, that of Mary Jane Kelly

  • The unrecognisable remains of the Ripper's last victim, Mary Jane Kelly.

  • Jack the Ripper Victim (Elizabeth Stride) From a sketch taken at the mortuary by Mr F W Foster 3:45 AM Sunday 30th September 1888

  • ack the Ripper A Metropoliotan Police sign in an attempt for information including a letter and postcard supposedly written by the murderer. 3rd October 1888

  • Mary Ann Nicholls, murdered in Bucks Row on 31st August 1888, seen in this mortuary photograph.

  • The back yard of the house at 29 Hanbury Street where the mutilated body of Annie Chapman was found on the morning of 8th September 1888.

  • A letter with the signature of an individual calling themselves 'Jack the Ripper' is seen during a press preview for the exhibition "Jack the Ripper and the East End" at the Museum in Docklands, London, Wednesday, May 14, 2008.

  • A person holds a knife allegedly used by Jack the Ripper during his East End London murders, which forms part of the Jack the Ripper exhibition in the Museum in Docklands opening tomorrow. Picture date: Wednesday May 14, 2008.