Many people do not realize that Sherlock Holmes was based on a real person: Dr. Joseph Bell, one of the world’s first forensic pathologists. In more than one case Bell’s careful forensic method led to hanging a murderer who would have otherwise gone free. In many instances police called on Bell when they were stuck, just as Lestrade and other members of the force depicted in the Sherlock Holmes stories. Even fewer people know that Bell was part of the police net that was thrown around the Ripper, in spite of the fact that Dr. Bell lived hundreds of miles from the Ripper murders in London.
In the 1880s Edinburgh was even farther from London, in terms of travel time. Dr. Bell was set up in Edinburgh while the Ripper murders took place in London. However, the London force was under so much pressure, they were ready to try just about anything. The 1880s were a time of great social unrest in the metropolis. There was the great docker’s strike. Trafalgar Square was occupied by the poor and when they were dispersed, tens of thousands of pounds of damage was done in the affluent west end by the demonstrators. The Ripper murders took place in what was actually some of the most profitable rental areas in London. Because they were never empty, the rooming houses and the improvised lodgings set up in Whitechapel lanes were enormously profitable for their owners and the Ripper murders sent a shock wave of fear through the area. The Metropolitan Police was desperate to defuse the situation. Dr. Bell was given all the facts of the case by the Metropolitan Force. Based on this, he wrote a report which named the suspect he believed was the Ripper. However, Dr. Bell’s report disappeared and has never been found.
However, when John Chapman a.k.a Stanislas Kosloski, was hanged at Wandsworth Prison in 1903, Detective Abberline, chief investigator of the Ripper murders told Ike Godley, Chapman’s arresting office, “Well you finally got Jack the Ripper.”