lecture24 marucci



The unsolved saga of Jack the Ripper has fascinated people for more than a century. It has all the elements of a true bizarre story:

Murders in the middle of the night;
Poverty in the midst of opulence;
A time period that captures the imagination;
And a perpetrator who has never been identified.

With all that in mind, I offer: The Ripper Strikes.


"The time is the fall of 1888 and the location is the Whitechapel section of London, an area of cheap gin shops, an area of grinding poverty, and an area where prostitutes abounded. There may be more than a dozen victims of the serial killer who has become known as Jack the Ripper, but only five have been definitely proven to be the work of him - or her."

The mage takes out a small packet of face-up cards, with the name of one victim on each card and shows them to the audience, one by one. As he shows each card, he places it face down under the stack.

"The women were all prostitutes in London's notorious east end. The first victim was Mary Nichols, also known as Polly, she was found murdered on August 31, 1888.

The second victim was Annie Chapman, known as "Dark Annie", she fell prey to the Ripper on September 8, 1888.

More than three weeks later, the Ripper struck again, on September 30, 1888. This time he killed two women in one night. The first was Catharine Eddows, known as "Kate"; the second was Elizabeth Stride, known as "Long Liz".

Just over a week later, the Ripper claimed his final confirmed victim, Mary Jane Kelly. This slaying, on Nov. 9, 1888, was the most gruesome of all. It occurred in her home and she was found slashed and dismembered almost beyond recognition. Then - nothing. Nothing, ever again."

The mage takes the packet, now face down and shuffles the cards, handing them to a spectator. 

"I would ask you to take these cards and follow my instructions exactly; that way, we may symbolically save at least one of the Ripper's victims in a re-enactment of this horrible series of crimes."

"Take the top card, say the word "saved" and place it, face down, under the packet. Take the next card, say the word "victim" and place it, face up, to one side, on the table. Continue this until you are left with one face-down card."

The spectator does so, finishing with one face-down card in her hand.

"You are left with one card; it could be the name of the one victim that you have saved tonight. Or, because we have the names of the five victims on the table already, it may be a message from the Ripper himself. Please turn the card over and lay it on the table in front of you."

The spectator does so. And the card says, in blood-red letters, "The women are mine! - Jack the Ripper".

"Over the years, and over the miles, the unknown Ripper once again speaks to us."


You'll need six pieces of cardboard, about the size of file cards. I use six blank-face cards, simply because there is a back design and it gives definition where a blank back would not.

On five of the cards, put one name each, and the pertinent information:


Mary Nichols
Also known as "Polly"
First victim, Aug. 31, 1888
Annie Chapman
Also known as "Dark Annie"
Found Sept. 8, 1888

Elizabeth Stride
Also known as "Long Liz"
Found Sept. 30, 1888.

Catharine Eddows
Also knows as "Kate"
Found Sept. 30, 1888.

Mary Jane Kelly
The final victim and most brutal murder.
Found, Nov. 9, 1888.

The sixth card is printed in red and says "The women are mine - Jack the Ripper".

The five victim cards are face up and the Ripper card is face down on the bottom of the stack.

Show the top card, read off the name, and place it face down on the bottom. Continue doing this until you come to a face-down card. It will be the Ripper card's back but, to your audience, it should look like the back of the first card you showed.

Shuffle the cards, moving the top card to second from the bottom. This is the only "move" in the entire routine. But you don't have to make a move out of it because nobody knows what is going to happen or what you are doing at the moment.

Hand the cards to a spectator, with the instructions as to how to show them. This is simply the "down and under" deal in a fancy dress! With six cards, the last card will be the second from the bottom when you begin.

When the spectator is left with one face-down card, ask her to turn it over, as you wrap up the routine.

Second thoughts:

You could deal-turn the cards yourself but I've found it is much more effective if you have a spectator, preferably female, do it.

The information is historically accurate and you can add to it, if you think that is desirable. But, remember, you are supposed to be entertaining your audience, not giving them a history lesson; so don't go on at too great a length.

Enjoy this; I am sure your audience will. Although, "enjoy" may not be the right word!

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All the material in this lecture is copyrighted with all rights reserved to Peter Marucci, 2002.