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Ripper was William Belcher who fled London in 1888 and changed his name, a distant relative says
JACK the Ripper was a milkman who lived in Hartlepool, the author of a new book has claimed.
Dianne Bainbridge started researching her family history several years ago - and is now convinced that distant relative William Belcher was the notorious serial killer who struck terror into London’s Whitechapel in the 19th century.
Belcher was a milkman so kept odd hours without rousing suspicion, had experience of butchery, lived in the middle of Whitechapel and left just as the murders appeared to end, moving to Hartlepool with his wife and daughter and changing his surname to Williams.
He also had a history of violence against women.
Forensic expert and ex-Northumbria police inspector Norman Kirtlan, who has spent years investigating the five Ripper murders, said the new suspect was his “favourite” to date.
Mrs Bainbridge and Mr Kirtlan have self-published a book on the research, called Jack the Ripper: In My Blood and they will appear in a murder casebook show on cable television next week.
She said that Annie and William Belcher lived in Whitechapel with their four-year-old daughter Kate until 1888, when they seemed to vanish.
She then found Annie, William and Kate “Williams” living in Hartlepool from 1888 onwards, with the same middle names, dates and places of birth as the Belchers and could find no trace of them before this date.
They allegedly told relatives they had lived in Devon before moving to Hartlepool.
Mrs Bainbridge said: “It felt like they were trying to write off their lives in London and rewrite their history. They were clearly running from something.
“I went out of my way to prove they were not involved with the Ripper, but every time I entered new details, links came up.”
She said the path William took to work every day in Whitechapel had “murders to its left and right”.
And Mrs Bainbridge, 55, says he could be linked to two similar murders in the north of England, both near the train route between London and Hartlepool.
Hundreds of books and TV programmes have named more than 100 different men as “Jack” – including Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, who grew up in Croft-on-Tees, near Darlington; child charity campaigner Dr Barnardo and Queen Victoria’s grandson the Duke of Clarence.
*Mrs Bainbridge will appear on Fred Dineage: Murder Casebook on the Crime and Investigation Network at 9pm on November 5.
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