Did Jack the Ripper move to Hartlepool after infamous murders?

TOWN LINKS: A poster featuring Jack the Ripper
TOWN LINKS: A poster featuring Jack the Ripper

JACK the Ripper may have moved to Hartlepool after his notorious crimes according to a woman who discovered she is a distant relative of a man who fits the profile of Britain’s most notorious serial killer.

Dianne Bainbridge says distant relative William Belcher matches every characteristic of the man whose five gruesome murders terrorised London’s Whitechapel area and ended in 1888.

He had left London as the Ripper’s murders appeared to end, moving to Hartlepool with his wife and young daughter and changing his surname to Williams.

He can then be linked to two similar murders in the North of England, both near the train route between London and the town.

Mrs Bainbridge, 55, from Northumberland, started her research three years ago after a relative gave her a memento card for a boy called James Walter Robert Webber, who died aged seven in 1888.

The mum-of-three obtained the boy’s birth certificate and found he had an older sister, Annie Belcher, who was married to William and lived in Whitechapel in 1888 with him and their four-year-old daughter Kate, but then 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 no trace of them before this date.

Mrs Bainbridge said: “It felt like they were trying to write off their lives in London and rewrite their history. They were clearly running away from something.

“It was bizarre to discover this. 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.

“Where William was living in Whitechapel was right in the middle of the murders and the path he took to work every day had murders to its left and right. His father-in-law was a butcher, William was involved in the family business and as a milkman he could go out in the early hours without raising suspicion.”

Mrs Bainbridge talks about her discovery in Fred Dinenage: Murder Casebook, on the Crime & Investigation Network at 9pm on November 5. Her self-published book on her research, Jack The Ripper: In My Blood, is available from Hartlepool’s Central Library or by emailing jacktheripperinmyblood@gmail.com