The Byron Bay healer investigating Jack the Ripper
MASSAGE and murder mysteries have made an unconventional match in the form of an alternative healer from Byron Bay about to publish his twenty-year investigation of Jack the Ripper.
In the heart of Byron Bay's industrial arts estate, dressed in natural fibres with clear skin and bright eyes - no sign of crime investigator fatigue - Richard Patterson spoke excitedly about his upcoming trip to the United Kingdom where he will present cold, hard facts on his 'who dunnit' theory to Jack the Ripper historians from all over the world.
"Corruption and decay is part of life.... it's an affirmation of life" he said when asked to explain his interest in the morbid case.
Mr Patterson has gathered a wealth of evidence suggesting one of the world's most infamous serial killers was actually "the most famous catholic poet of the twentieth century", Francis Thompson.
His theory was met with scepticism at first and some accused him of "cherry-picking" facts from Thompson's records but Mr Patterson said he "knew nothing about" the poet before coincidentally picking up an anthology of his work around the same time he'd begun to research Jack the Ripper for a contribution to a book on philosophy.
"I wanted to see how the police and how the press were looking at the case back then and whether there is any change in how we look at cases now.
"My theory was that... they were assuming that the killer was someone very foreign to them, not necessarily foreign in mind.
"I got to maybe the second last poem [of Thompson's anthology] and I thought 'this is a really evil poem, who's this guy?'
"People said if he was famous he wouldn't go around killing people... but at the time of the murders most people thought he was dead; he'd been homeless for about three years and wasn't famous until about 50 years after he'd died.
"I had no idea he'd had such an influence on the twentieth century.
"Gandhi kept a copy of his book, Martin Luther King quoted him, the US Supreme Court... quoted him in their de-segregation laws, Tolkien used the words that my suspect coined in the names of the cities in The Lord of the Rings.
"People were baptised with [Thompson's] poetry and christened and married.
"I decided not to look at the mask of the person because everyone, inside, is equal."
Mr Patterson travelled to the UK where he uncovered some of Thompson's unpublished work.
"He wrote essays on 'why I should kill'. He wrote essays on prostitutes and why he hated prostitutes. He wrote... pretty gory poems, horrible revelations about himself."
As his epic research continued, Mr Patterson discovered he was not the first to suspect Thompson as "the world's first terrorist who made five million people scared".
In 1967 a biographer of the famous poet included a footnote suggesting Thompson could be questioned as Jack the Ripper and in 1988 a Texan pathologist published an article called 'Was Francis Thompson Jack The Ripper', said Mr Patterson.
He and the pathologist, Dr Joseph Rupp, were now speaking daily and the original article would be included in Mr Patterson's book, he said, which he hoped to share with readers in the Northern Rivers at next year's Byron Bay Writers Festival.