Supernatural Creature of the Week: Who was Frances Tumblety?

Supernatural -- "Raising Hell" -- Image Number: SN1503A_0153b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Lane Davies as Francis Tumblety and Osric Chau as Kevin Tran -- Photo: Colin Bentley/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Supernatural -- "Raising Hell" -- Image Number: SN1503A_0153b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Lane Davies as Francis Tumblety and Osric Chau as Kevin Tran -- Photo: Colin Bentley/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /
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In the wake of Hell’s gates opening and billions of ghosts getting set loose on Supernatural, we get to meet the spirit of none other than Jack the Ripper.

It’s the final season of Supernatural and they’re already pulling out the big guns. Last week, we got to see the return of some old villains from Season 1, including Mary Worthington, aka “Bloody Mary,” and Constance Welch, aka “The Woman in White.” However, this week’s episode introduced the ghost of Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper as a new minor antagonist, and Supernatural did the honor of unmasking him.

There have been many films and series that have tried to name the Ripper over the years and in the case of Supernatural, they’ve identified him as Francis Tumblety. One of the most popular unsolved cases in true crime history, Jack the Ripper, the original Zodiac, was a violent serial killer who roamed the streets of London in 1888. Also referred to as “The Whitechapel Butcher”, he targeted prostitutes (likely for their easy access) and left no clues behind except for a series of letters written to the police.

The victims all worked in the slums of the East End of London and were all found with their throats slashed and with gruesome postmortem abdominal mutilations. Although there has been much speculation over exactly how many victims there were, the five that can be confirmed are Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly.

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Nichols was the first. Her body was found on Aug. 31, 1888, with her throat nearly severed in half and her lower abdomen partly ripped open. The murders only got more gruesome after that with his next victim found on Sept. 8. Annie Chapman’s throat was also slashed but her abdomen was opened completely and her uterus removed.

Stride and Eddowes were killed days later on the 30th, both with their throats cut but only one suffered postmortem mutilation. Stride was found intact, but Eddowes was found without one of her kidneys and without part of her uterus. The worst of them all, however, had been final victim Mary Jane Kelly found on Nov. 8.

Kelly’s throat had been severed down to the spine, and her horribly mutilated abdomen was almost emptied of its organs. All were found near or under her body except for her heart, which was missing.

The killer was never found but eye-witness accounts identified the man as being fair-haired and shabby. The removal of organs led the police to assume that their killer had some sort of surgical knowledge and was of high status, and clearly someone who hated the female gender.

When news of the murders started to spread, newspapers, as well as the police, received letters from an unknown person claiming to be the murderer. The most famous letter is probably the “From Hell” letter that was sent in the post along with half of a human kidney, but it was in the Ripper’s first letter, “Dear Boss” where he first refers to himself as “Jack the Ripper.” The name was used by the media and became the killer’s official name.

Illustration shows the police discovering the body of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, probably Catherine Eddowes, London, England, late September 1888. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Illustration shows the police discovering the body of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, probably Catherine Eddowes, London, England, late September 1888. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) /

Who was Francis Tumblety?

There were multiple prime suspects in the Ripper case; James Thomas Sadler, John Pizer, Michael Ostrog, Aaron Kosminski, Seweryn Kłosowski, Montague John Druitt and Supernatural‘s pick, the “medical quack” Francis Tumblety.

Tumblety was no stranger to police investigations. He was known to be an eccentric entrepreneur who made himself a small fortune by posing as an “Indian Herb” doctor. He treated his patients with herbal remedies and sometimes abjectly performed surgery.

He was arrested multiple times for many reasons, including for accidentally killing a patient under the knife and for having a suspected involvement in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Then again in 1881 for pickpocketing and then once again in 1888 for engaging in an alleged homosexual act.

During the initial investigation, there were several similarities made between Tumblety and the Ripper from his appearance to his hatred of prostitutes. He had a collection of uteruses preserved in glass jars in his study that he displayed at all-male dinner parties, citing them as being from “every class of woman.”

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Now despite the background in surgical work, harboring a hatred of prostitutes and keeping uteruses as a collector’s item, no presentable evidence that could’ve linked Tumblety to Jack the Ripper existed. It was all pure speculation. It was mainly Chief Inspector of the Metropolitan Police’s Secret Department, John Littlechild that was so sure of Tumblety’s guilt. No other investigator was as convinced.

Why Supernatural picked Tumblety as the Ripper’s isn’t clear since he never felt like a strong candidate. Aaron Kosminski and Montague Druitt seemed more likely. However, recent evidence offers the closest answer anyone’s ever gotten.

In March of 2019, a new genetic analysis was formed around the Ripper case using a stained scarf found beside the body of Catherine Eddowes. The scarf, speckled with what is believed to be both blood and semen, was put into a DNA database and it matched to a living relative of one of the original prime suspects, Aaron Kosminski.

This is the same method used to catch the Golden State Killer and the SoCal Rapist but the accuracy in the test is being debated.

Next. Stream Supernatural Season 15, Episode 2 online. dark

What did you think of the use fo Francis Tumblety in Supernatural? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Supernatural airs Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.