Jack the Ripper

***warning some descriptions and photos may be disturbing to some readers***

Jack the Ripper is the best known name given to an unidentified man or woman who had committed several murders in 1888 in the area in and around the Whitechapel district of London, England. The name had originated from a letter that was written by someone that claimed to be the notorious murderer. The letter is widely thought to have been a hoax, and might have been written by journalists in an attempt to heighten the interests in the story and increase the newspapers’ circulation.

The killer was also known as “The Whitechapel Murderer” and also “Leather Apron” within the crime case files and contemporary journalistic accounts. The attacks that would be ascribed to “Jack” had typically involved female prostitutes who were living and working in the slums of the East End of London. The women’s throats were cut prior to the mutilation of their abdomen. From at least three of the women that were killed, their internal organs were also removed. This led to proposals that the murderer had some sort of anatomical or surgical knowledge.

There were letters that were received by some media outlets and Scotland Yard from a writer or writers, claiming to be the murderer, but didn’t identify their actual name. The “From Hell” letter would be received by a George Lusk of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee and included half of a preserved human kidney, which was purportedly removed from one of the victims. The public would increasingly come to believe that their was a single serial killer that was being named “Jack the Ripper”. This was mainly because of the extraordinarily brutal characteristics of the murders, and caused by how the media would treat the events. There was quite extensive newspaper coverage, of which bestowed widespread and enduring international notoriety on the Ripper and his legend would solidify.

Police would initially investigate eleven brutal killings up until 1891 in Whitechapel, but they were not able to connect all of the killings conclusively to the murders of 1888, therefore only five of the eleven are attributed to Jack. These five victims would come to be known as the “canonical five”, their murders took place from August 31 until November 9 of 1888. Later we will discuss these women in more depth, as I believe that their names and who they were should not be forgotten to history. The murderer should not be the one who gets all of the recognition.

The Jack the Ripper murders were never solved. There are now over one-hundred theories as to who Jack the Ripper actually was. Many works of fiction have also been inspired by the crime.

What Led to These Crimes?

In the mid 19th century, Britain was experiencing a large influx of Irish immigrants. These people would swell the population of major cities, including that of the East End of London. From 1882, Jewish refugees were also coming to the area from Tsarist Russia and other areas around Eastern Europe. The parish of Whitechapel would grow to be overcrowded and work and housing conditions became a problem. A large economic underclass would develop in Whitechapel. Robbery, violence, and alcohol dependency would become commonplace. The endemic poverty would end up driving women into becoming prostitutes.

In October of 1888, the London Metropolitan Police Service, had estimated that there were sixty-two brothels and twelve hundred women that were working in the prostitution field in Whitechapel. The economic problems would be accompanied by a steady rise in social tensions. From 1886 until 1889 there would be frequent demonstrations that would lead to the police intervening and public unrest.

On the 13th of November 1887, anti-Semitic views, crime, nativism, racism, social disturbances and severe deprivation would feed the public’s perceptions that the area was a notorious den of immortality. In the next year these such perceptions would be made stronger when a series of vicious and despicable murders, that would be attributed to “Jack the Ripper” would receive unprecedented coverage in the media.

Victim One: Mary Ann Nicholsmary-ann-nichols

Mary Ann Nichols was born on the 26th of August of 1845 on Dean Street in London, England. She was the daughter of Edward Walker, a locksmith, and his wife Caroline. Miss Walker, would marry a William Nichols, who was a printer’s machinist on the 16th of January in 1864 at the age of eighteen. Together the couple would have five children, who were born between 1866 and 1879. Their names were Edward John, Percy George, Alice Esther, Eliza Sarah and Henry Alfred.

The marriage would eventually end in 1880 or 1881. Causes for the marriage ending were disputed. Mary’s father had accused William of leaving her after he had an affair with a nurse that had attended the birth of their final child. Nichols would claim that he had proof that their marriage had continued for at least three years after the date of the alleged affair. He would maintain that his wife had deserted him and was a prostitute. However, police reports state that the couple was separated because of Mary’s drunkenness. Legally, William was required to support his estranged wife and he would pay her an allowance of five shillings per week until 1882. It was at this time that he had heard that she was working as a prostitute and therefore he was not required to support her.

Mary would spend most of her remaining years in the career field of a prostitute in the workhouses and boarding houses. She would live off of charitable handouts and her little earnings. Mary had also lived at one time with her father for about a year, maybe more, but she left after they got into a quarrel with one another. Her father had said that he had heard that she moved in with a blacksmith named Drew in Walworth.

Early on in 1888, she was placed into the Lambeth workhouse after she was found sleeping in Trafalgar Square. In May she would leave the workhouse so she could take a job as a domestic servant in Wandsworth. This position did not fulfill Mary, she was an alcoholic and her employer, Mr. Cowdry, and his wife were teetotallers, she would leave the job after just two months. Mary would not leave empty handed though, she stole clothing that was worth three pounds and ten shillings. At the time of her death, Mary was living in a Whitechapel common lodging house in Spitalfields. She would share a room with a woman by the name of Emily “Nelly” Holland.

It was August 30th 1888 and the time was 11:00 pm, when Mary was seen walking along Whitechapel Road. A half an hour later on August 31st she was seen leaving a pub on Brick Lane in Spitalfields. She was told to leave from 18 Thrawl Street an hour later, implying by her last recorded words that she would soon earn the money on the street with the help of a new bonnet she had acquired, of which she lacked four pence that was needed for a bed that night. At 2:30 am she was seen by her roommate, Emily Holland, standing at the corner of Osbern Street and Whitechapel Road. To Emily, Mary had claimed that she had earned enough money to pay for the bed she was turned down earlier, three times over, but had repeatedly spent money on alcohol instead.

Buck’s Row location where Mary was found

At about 3:40 am a cart driver by the name of Charles Allen Lechmere, also known as Charles Cross, had discovered her lying on the ground in front of a gated stable entrance in Buck’s Row, about 150 yards from the London Hospital and 100 yards from the Blackwall Buildings. She was in a state of disarray with her skirt pulled up. Another cart driver that was passing by her on his way to work, Robert Paul, would approach Mr. Cross and pointed out her body. The men pulled her skirt back down, so as to cover her lower body and went in search for a policeman. Upon encountering PC Jonas Mizen, Mr. Cross informed the constable that “she looks to me to be either dead or drunk, but for my part, I believe she’s dead.” The two men then continued on their way to work, leaving PC Mizen to inspect Mary’s body. As he approached her, PC John Neil came from the opposite direction on his beat and by flashing his lantern called over a third officer, PC John Thain.

As news of Mary’s murder spread, three horse slaughterers from the neighboring knacker’s yard on Winthrop Street who’d been working overnight came to look at the body. None of these slaughterers, policemen patrolling the streets, nor any residents of the houses along Bucks’ Row had reported hearing or seeing anything suspicious before Mary’s body was discovered. PC Thain would fetch the surgeon, Dr. Henry Llewellyn who would arrive at 4:00 am and decided that Mary had been deceased for about 30 minutes. Her throat was slit twice from the left to the right, her abdomen was mutilated with one deep jagged wound and several incisions were made across her abdomen. Three or four similar cuts were made on the right side and were caused by the same knife, estimated to be at least six to eight inches long and used violently and downwards.

Surgeon Llewellyn had expressed his surprise at the small amount of blood that covered the crime scene. “About enough to fill two large wine glasses, or half a pint at the most” he would explain. This led to supposition that Mary was not killed where her body was found, but the blood from her wounds had soaked into her clothes and hair and there was, but a small doubt, that she had been killed at the crime scene by a swift slash to the throat. Her death would have been instantaneous and the abdominal injuries, which would have taken less than five minutes to perform, were made by the murderer after she was dead. When a person is killed, further wounds to their body do not always result in a large amount of blood loss.

When Mary’s body was lifted from the ground a “mass of congealed blood”, in PC Thain’s words, had been beneath her body. Although she was carrying no identification, a Lambeth workhouse laundry mark on her petticoats gave the police enough information to eventually identify her. Nelly Holland and Mr. William Nichols would confirm the identification. The coroner of Mary’s inquest, which had started on September 1st, at the Working Lads’ Institute on Whitechapel Road, was Wynne Edwin Baxter.

A report in “The Times” newspaper stating testimony said:

“Five of the teeth were missing, and there was a slight laceration of the tongue. There was a bruise running along the lower part of the jaw on the right side of the face. That might have been caused by a blow from a fist or pressure from a thumb. There was a circular bruise on the left side of the face which also might have been inflicted by the pressure of the fingers. On the left side of the neck, about 1 in. below the jaw, there was an incision about 4 in. in length, and ran from a point immediately below the ear. On the same side, but an inch lower, and commencing about 1 in. in front of it, was a circular incision, which terminated at a point about 3 in. below the right jaw. That incision completely severed all the tissues down to the vertebrae. The large vessels of the neck on both sides were severed. The incision was about 8 in. in length. The cuts must have been caused by a long-bladed knife, moderately sharp, and used with great violence.

No blood was found on the breast, either of the body or the clothes. There were no injuries about the body until just about the lower part of the abdomen. Two or three inches from the left side was a wound running in a jagged manner. The wound was a very deep one, and the tissues were cut through. There were several incisions running across the abdomen. There were three or four similar cuts running downwards, on the right side, all of which had been caused by a knife which had been used violently and downwards. The injuries were from left to right and might have been done by a left- handed person. All the injuries had been caused by the same instrument.”

After several adjournments, to allow the police to gather further evidence, the inquest was concluded on September 24th. Upon the available evidence, Coroner Baxter found that she had probably been murdered just a little after 3:00 am where she had been found.

Mary Nichols Autopsy Photo

Mary would be laid to rest on September 6, 1888. That afternoon her body was transported in a polished elm coffin to Mr. Henry Smith, the Hanbury Street undertaker. Her cortege consisted of a hearse and two mourning coaches that carried William Nichols and Edward John Nichols, Mary’s eldest son, who was then about twenty-two years old. She was buried at the City of London Cemetery in public grave number 210752, on the edge of the current Memorial Garden. In late 1996, the cemetery authorities decided to give her grave a marker with a plaque.mary_nichols-grave

Victim Two: Annie Chapman

Annie Chapman was born in about 1841 in London, England. She was born with the name of Eliza Ann Smith as the daughter of George Smith of the 2nd Regiment Life Guards and Ruth Chapman. Her parents had married on February 22nd of 1842 in Paddington, England, after Annie was born. Her father was a soldier at the time of the marriage and later became a domestic servant. Through Annie’s life she would be a flower seller, crocheter, and a casual prostitute.annie-chapman

On the 1st of May 1869, Annie would marry her maternal relative, John Chapman. The couple would marry at All Saints Church in the Knightsbridge District of London. Together they would have three children: Emily Ruth Chapman, Annie Georgina Chapman and John Alfred Chapman. In 1881, the family would move to Windsor in Berkshire, England. John would take on the job as a coachman to a farm bailiff. Their son John was born disabled and their first born, Emily Ruth, had died of meningitis shortly after she turned twelve years of age. After her death, both Annie and her husband took to heavy drinking and then separated in 1884. Annie would eventually move to Whitechapel.

During 1886, Annie was living with a man who made wire sieves, and she would often be called Annie “Sievey” or “Siffey”. After her separation from her husband, she had received an allowance of ten shillings a week from him. However, at the end of 1886 the payments suddenly stopped. She would inquire about the payments ending and found that John Chapman had passed away from alcohol-related causes. The sieve maker would leave not long after the payments ended. One of her friends would later testify that Annie then became very depressed and had seemed to have given up on life.

Two years after her husband’s death, Annie was living in common lodging houses in Whitechapel. She would occasionally stay with Edward “The Pensioner” Stanley who was a bricklayer’s laborer. Annie would earn some income from doing crochet work and selling flowers, supplemented by casual prostitution. An acquaintance would describe Annie as “very civil and industrious when sober”, but then noted “I have often seen her the worse for drink.”

A week before Annie’s murder she was feeling ill after she was bruised in a fight with Eliza Cooper, a fellow resident in Crossingham’s lodging house at 35 Dorset Street in Spitalfields. The two women would reported rivals for the affections of a local hawker named Harry. Eliza would claim that the fight was over a borrowed bar of soap that Annie hadn’t returned to her.

According to a lodging house deputy named Tim Donovan and a watchman named John Evans, at about 1:45 am on the morning of Annie’s death, she found herself without the money she needed for her lodging fee and took to the streets to make it. At the inquest of Annie’s death, one witness, Mrs. Elizabeth Long had testified that she had seen Annie talking to a man at about 5:30 am just beyond the back yard of 29 Hanbury Street in Spitalfields. Mrs. Elizabeth Long would describe the man as over forty years old and a little taller than Annie, with dark hair and of foreign “shabby-genteel” appearance. She said he was wearing a deer-stalker hat and dark overcoat. If this was a correct identification of Annie, it is likely that Long was the last person to have seen her alive, besides her murderer.

Crime scene at 29 Hanbury Street

Annie’s body was discovered just before 6:00 am on the morning of September 8, 1888 by a resident of number 29, market porter John Davis. She was found lying on the ground near a doorway in the back yard. John Richardson, a son of a resident of the house had been in the back yard shortly before 5:00 am. He was there to trim a loose piece of leather from his boot. A carpenter named Albert Cadosch had entered the neighboring yard at 27 Hanbury Street at about 5:30 am and had heard voices in the yard that were followed by a sound of something falling against the fence. Two pills that Annie had been taking for a lung condition, part of a torn envelope, a piece of muslin, and a comb were recovered from the yard. Brass rings that Annie had been wearing earlier in the evening were not recovered, either because she had pawned them or they were stolen. All of the pawnbrokers in the area were searched for the rings without success. The envelope bore the crest of the Sussex regiment, and was briefly thought to have been related to Stanley who had pretended to be an army pensioner, but the clue was eliminated from the inquiry after it was later traced to Crossingham’s lodging house, where Annie had received the envelope for re-use as a container for her pills. The press would claim that two farthings were found in the yard, but they are not mentioned in any of the surviving police records.

A local inspector with the Metropolitan Police, Edmund Reid of the H Division of Whitechapel was reported as mentioning them at an inquest in 1889, and the acting Commissioner of the City Police, Major Henry Smith also mentioned them in his memoirs. Major Smith’s memoirs, however, are unreliable and embellished for dramatic effect and were written more than twenty years after the murders. He had claimed that medical students had polished farthings so they could be passed off as sovereigns to unsuspecting prostitutes, and so the presence of farthings would suggest that the culprit was a medical student. However, the price of a prostitute in the East End was likely to be much less than a sovereign.

The first officer on the scene of Annie’s death was inspector Joseph Luniss Chandler of H. Division, but Chief Inspector Donald Swanson of Scotland Yard was placed in overall command on the 15th of September. The murder was quickly linked to the similar murders in the district, particularly to Mary Ann Nichols that had occurred just a week before.

Annie had also suffered a slash to her throat and abdominal wounds. A blade of similar size and design was used in the crime. Swanson had reported for an “immediate search inquiry” to be made at all of the common lodging houses to see if anyone had entered in the morning with blood on his hands or on his clothes, or even under suspicious circumstances. Annie’s body was taken later that day to the Whitechapel mortuary, in the same police ambulance, a handcart just large enough for one coffin, that had been used for Mary Nichols by the Sergeant Edward Badham. Mr. Badham would be the first to testify at Annie’s subsequent inquest.

Her inquest would be opened on September 10th at the Working Lad’s Institute in Whitechapel, by the local coroner Wynne Edwin Baxter. Evidence would show that she may have been killed as late as 5:30 am in the enclosed back yard of the house that was occupied by sixteen people. No one had seen or heard anything at the time of her murder. The passage through the house to the back yard was not locked since it was frequented by residents at all hours of the day and the front door was also wide open when the body was discovered.

Richardson had also said that he had often seen strangers, both male and female, in the passage of the house. Dr. George Bagster Phillips, a police surgeon, had described the body as he had seen it at 6:30 am in the back yard of the house at 29 Hanbury Street as follows:

“The left arm was placed across the left breast. The legs were drawn up, the feet resting on the ground, and the knees turned outwards. The face was swollen and turned on the right side. The tongue protruded between the front teeth, but not beyond the lips. The tongue was evidently much swollen. The front teeth were perfect as far as the first molar, top and bottom and very fine teeth they were. The body was terribly mutilated…the stiffness of the limbs were not marked, but was evidently commencing. He noticed that the throat was dissevered deeply; that the incision through the skin were jagged and reached right round the neck…On the wooden paling between the yard in question and the next, smears of blood, corresponding to where the head of the deceased lay, were to be seen. These were about 14 inches from the ground, and immediately above the part where the blood from the neck lay.

The instrument used at the throat and abdomen was the same. It must have been a very sharp knife with a thin narrow blade, and must have been at least 6 to 8 inches in length, probably longer. He should say that the injuries could not have been inflicted by a bayonet or a sword bayonet. They could have been done by such an instrument as a medical man used for post- mortem purposes, but the ordinary surgical cases might not contain such an instrument. Those used by the slaughtermen, well ground down, might have caused them. He thought the knives used by those in the leather trade would not be long enough in the blade. There were no indications of anatomical knowledge…he should say that the deceased had been dead at least two hours, and probably more, when he first saw her; but it was right to mention that it was a fairly cool morning, and that the body would be more apt to cool rapidly from its having lost a great quantity of blood. There is no evidence…of a struggle having taken place. He was positive the deceased entered the yard alive…

A handkerchief was round the throat of the deceased when he saw it early in the morning. He should say it was not tied on after the throat was cut.”

Annie’s throat had been cut from the left to the right and she had been disemboweled, with her intestines thrown out of her abdomen and then over each of her shoulders. The morgue’s examination would reveal that part of her uterus was also missing.

Annie’s protruding tongue and swollen face had led Dr. Phillips to think that she may have been asphyxiated with the handkerchief that was around her neck before her throat was cut. Since there was no blood trail leading to the back yard he was certain that she was killed where she had been found. He would conclude that she had suffered from a long-standing lung disease, but she was sober at the time of her death and had not consumed any alcoholic beverages for at least some hours before her death.

Dr. Phillips was also under the opinion that whoever the murderer was he must have possessed anatomical knowledge to have sliced out the reproductive organs in a single movement with a blade that was about six to eight inches long. As Annie’s body was not examined extensively at the scene, it’s also been suggested that the organ was removed by the mortuary staff who had taken advantage of bodies that had already been opened to extract organs for them to sell as surgical specimens.

In his conclusion, Coroner Baxter had raised the possibility that Annie was murdered deliberately to obtain the uterus, on the basis that an American had made inquiries at a London medical school for the purchase of such organs.

A newspaper called “The Lancet” rejected Baxter’s suggestion scathingly and pointed out “certain improbabilities and absurdities” and said it was “a grave error of judgment”. The “British Medical Journal” was similarly dismissive and had reported that the physician who requested samples was a highly reputable doctor, unnamed, who had, 18 months prior to the murder, left the country. Baxter dropped his theory and never referred to it again. “The Chicago Tribune” claimed that an American doctor from Philadelphia and later speculated that man to be the notorious Francis Tumblety. Dr. Phillips’ estimated Annie’s time of death to be 4:30 am, which contradicted the testimony of witnesses Richardson, Long and Cadosch, which had placed the murder at a later time. Victorian methods of estimating time of death, such as measuring body temperature, were crude and Philips had highlighted at Annie’s inquest that her body could’ve been cooled more quickly than normally expected.

Annie Chapman Autopsy Photo

Annie was laid to rest on September 14th 1888. At 7:00 am, a hearse that was supplied by Hanbury Street undertaker H. Smith went to Whitechapel Mortuary on Montague Street. Utmost secrecy had been observed and no one but the undertaker, police and relatives of Annie had known about the arrangements. Her body was placed in a black-draped elm coffin and was then driven to Harry Hawes, a Spitalfields undertaker, who had arranged the funeral. At 9:00 am the hearse, without the accompaniment of mourning coaches, so as not to raise the public’s attention, took her body to Manor Park Cemetery on Sebert Road, in Forest Gate in London, where she was buried in public grave 78 square 148. Annie’s relatives, who had paid for the funeral had met the hearse at the cemetery. Upon request, the funeral was kept secret and the family were the only mourners to attend. Her coffin had the words “Annie Chapman, died Sept. 8, 1888, aged 48 years” engraved on it.

After Annie had died, her son John was said to have been in the care of a charitable school and her only surviving daughter, Annie Georgina was then an adolescent and was traveling with a circus in the French Third Public.annie_chapman_grave

Annie’s grave no longer exists as it has since been buried over. However, in 2008, the cemetery decided to mark her grave with a plaque.

Victim Three: Elizabeth Strideelizabeth-stride

Elizabeth Stride was born on the 27th of November 1843 in Torslanda Parish, west of Gothenburg, in Sweden as Elisabeth Gustafsdotter. She was the daughter of a Swedish farmer, Gustaf Ericsson and his wife Beata Carlsdotter.

In 1860, Liz took on a domestic job in the Gothenburg parish of Carl Johan. She would move again in the next few years to other Gothenburg districts. Unlike most of the Whitechapel murder victims, she did not fall into prostitution due to poverty or failed marriage, she had taken up the career earlier on.

During March of 1865, she was registered by the Gothenburg police as a prostitute. She would also be treated twice for sexually transmitted diseases. On the 21st of April of that same year, Liz gave birth to a stillborn girl. In the following year she decided to move to London, possibly in domestic service with a family there.

Almost four years later, Liz would marry John Thomas Stride, a ship’s carpenter from Sheerness who was thirteen years her senior. The couple had a coffee room for a time in Poplar, in the East of London. In March of 1877, Liz had been admitted to the Poplar Workhouse, this suggests that the couple had separated. However, by 1881 they had apparently reunited and then permanently separated by the end of that same year.

She would tell her acquaintances that her husband and two of their nine children had drowned in the sinking of the Princess Alice in the River Thames in 1878. In the accident, according to her story, she had supposedly been kicked in the mouth by another of the victims as they had both swam to safety, which had caused her to stutter ever since. However, on October 24th of 1884, John Stride had died of tuberculosis in Poplar and Stepney Sick Asylum, more than five years after the Princess Alice disaster. The couple, in reality, had no children together. After her and her husband parted ways, she would live in a common lodging house in Whitechapel, with the help of charitable assistance once or twice from the Church of Sweden in London.

In 1885 until her murder she lived most of the time with a local dock laborer by the name of Michael Kidney on Devonshire Street, earning some income from sewing and housecleaning work. An acquaintance had described Liz as having had a calm temperament, though she had appeared at the Thames Magistrates Court numerous times for being drunk and disorderly, giving her name as Anne Fitzgerald. During her life she had also learned to speak Yiddish, as well as English and Swedish. Her relationship with Mr. Kidney would continue in an on-and-off fashion.

In the month of April 1877, Liz would file an assault charge against him but ended up failing to pursue the charge any further in court, but still ended up leaving him just a few days before her murder. Dr. Thomas Barnardo, a leading social reformer, had claimed that he had met her at the lodging house at 32 Flower and Dean Street on the 26th of September.

On September 29, a night before her murder, she was wearing a black jacket and a skirt, with a posy of a red rose in a spray of maidenhair fern or asparagus leaves and then complemented by a dark crepe bonnet. Liz may have been seen with a client at about 11:00 pm near Berner Street with a short man with a dark mustache, wearing a morning suit and bowler hat. She would be seen again at about 11:45 pm with a man that was wearing a peaked cap. A little less than an hour later, at 12:30 am, PC William Smith had seen Liz with a man that was wearing a hard felt hat across from the International Working Men’s Educational Club at 40 Berner Street, which has since been renamed Henriques Street, in Whitechapel. The man was carrying a package that was about eighteen inches in length.

Berner’s Street in 1888

Liz’s body was discovered near 1:00 am on Sunday, the 30th of September, 1888 by Louis Diemschutz, a steward of the Worker’s Club in the adjacent Dutfield’s Yard. Diemschutz would drive into the yard with a pony and his two-wheeled cart, when his horse shied. The yard was dark and he was unable to see her body without lighting a match. With blood still flowing from a wound in Liz’s neck, it had appeared that she was killed just a few moments before he had arrived. Between 12:30 and 12:50 am, departing club members, who had attended a debate on “The Necessity of Socialism Amongst Jews”, followed by community singing, had seen nothing out of the ordinary in the yard. Mrs. Mortimer who had lived just two doors away from the club, was standing in Berner Street listening to the singing about the same time. She didn’t see anyone entering the yard either. However, she did report that she saw a man with a shiny black bag race past, which would be reported widely in the press. One of the club’s members though, Leon Goldstein, would identify himself as the man that Mrs. Mortimer had seen and he was eliminated from inquiry. The police would search the remaining club members, adjacent properties, and interviewed residents of the area.

One witness, Israel Schwartz had reported that he had seen Liz being attacked and thrown to the ground outside of Dutfield’s Yard at about 12:45 am. Her attacker may have called out “Lipski” to a second man that was standing nearby, which was thought to have been an anti-Semitic taunt that was derived from the name of a notorious poisoner, Israel Lipski. Mr. Schwartz didn’t testify at Liz’s inquest though, possibly because he was Hungarian and had spoke very little, if any English. Stephen Knight, a Ripper investigator, had found Mr. Schwartz’s statement in the case files in the 1970s.

At about the same time that Mr. Schwartz had seen Liz, she, or someone that had matched her description, was seen by James Brown rejecting the advances of a stoutish man, slightly taller than her, in an adjacent street to Berner Street (Fairclough Street). A note in the margin of the Home Office files on the case points out that there was time for her to meet another man between her death and the latest sightings of her. The Steward Diemschutz later said he had believed that the killer was still in the yard when he had driven into it. No money had been found on Liz’s body, so it is possible that her night’s earnings were stolen from her, either in the attack that was seen by Schwartz or by her murderer. Either way, she seems to have gone into the yard with her murderer alive and well, presumably on the basis that he was a client.

Liz’s murder had occurred in the midst of the Jack the Ripper scare, however, unlike at least six of the other victims, who had abdominal injuries in addition to a slash across the neck, she had no mutilations beyond her slit throat. Her murder does share some similarities to the pattern of the Ripper killings, such as the day of the week, time, type of site, characteristics of the victim and the method of the murder. It is possible that the killer was interrupted before he had the opportunity to mutilate Liz’s body. Catherine Eddowes was also murdered within walking distance, less than an hour later. Both women had lived on Flower and Dean Street. Their deaths would send London into a panic, being that it was the first time that two murders ascribed to the Ripper had occurred in one night.

A local doctor, Frederick William Blackwell had attended the scene, shortly before the arrival of Dr. George Bagster Phillips, who had handled the previous Whitechapel murder victim, Annie Chapman. He would also tend to the later case of Mary Jane Kelly. He reported:

“The body was lying on the near side, with the face turned toward the wall, the head up the yard and the feet toward the street. The left arm was extended and there was a packet of cachous in the left hand…The right arm was over the belly; the back of the hand and wrist had on it clotted blood. The legs were drawn up with the feet close to the wall. The body and face were warm and the hand cold. The legs were quite warm. The deceased had a silk handkerchief round her neck, and it appeared to be slightly torn. I have since ascertained it was cut. This corresponded with the right angle of the jaw. The throat was deeply gashed, and there was an abrasion of the skin about one and a quarter inches in diameter, apparently stained with blood, under her right brow. At 3 p.m. On Monday at St. George’s Mortuary, Dr. Blackwell and I made a post-mortem examination. Rigor mortis was still thoroughly marked. There was mud on the left side of the face and it was matted in the head…The body was fairly nourished. Over both shoulders, especially the right, and under the collarbone and in front of the chest there was a blueish discolouration, which I have watched and have seen on two occasions since. There was a clear-cut incision on the neck. It was six inches in length and commenced two and a half inches in a straight line below the angle of the jaw, three quarters of an inch over an undivided muscle, and then, becoming deeper, dividing the sheath. The cut was very clean and deviated a little downwards. The arteries and other vessels contained in the sheath were all cut through. The cut through the tissues on the right side was more superficial, and tailed off to about two inches below the right angle of the jaw. The deep vessels on that side were uninjured. From this it was evident that the haemorrhage was caused through the partial severance of the left carotid artery and a small bladed knife could have been used. Decomposition had commenced in the skin. Dark brown spots were on the anterior surface of the left chin. There was a deformity in the bones of the right leg, which was not straight, but bowed forwards. There was no recent external injury save to the neck. The body being washed more thoroughly, I could see some healing sores. The lobe of the left ear was torn as if from the removal or wearing through of an earring, but it was thoroughly healed. On removing the scalp there was no sign of bruising or extravasation of blood….The heart was small, the left ventricle firmly contracted, and the right slightly so. There was no clot in the pulmonary artery, but the right ventricle was full of dark cloth. The left was firmly contracted as to be absolutely empty. The stomach was large and the mucous membrane only congested. It contained partly digested food, apparently consisting of cheese, potato, and farinaceous powder [flour or milled grain]. All the teeth on the lower left jaw were absent.”

Blackwell thought that Liz may have been pulled backwards onto the ground by her neckerchief before her throat was cut. Dr. Phillips concurred she was likely to be on the ground when she was killed by a swift slash left to right across her neck. Bruising on her chest might also suggest that she was pinned to the ground during her attack.

The inquest on Liz’s murder started on October 1st at Vestry Hall on Cable Street in St. George’s in the East. The next day, conflicting testimony as to Liz’s identity was heard. Police seemed to be certain that she was the Swede Elisabeth Gustafsdotter. Mrs. Mary Malcolm swore that the body was that of her sister, Elizabeth Watts. Over the course of the inquest other witnesses would identify the dead woman as Stride, including the clerk of the Swedish Church in Prince’s Square, Sven Ollsen. Malcolm’s story was finally dismissed on October 24th, when Elizabeth Watts disproved her. PC Walter Stride, Liz’s nephew-by-marriage, confirmed her identity.

Coroner Baxter believed that Liz had been attacked with a swift but sudden action. The murderer could have taken advantage of a checked scarf she had been wearing to grab her from behind before slitting her throat, as was suggested by Blackwell. Baxter, however, thought that the absence of a shout for assistance and the lack of obvious marks of struggle had indicated that Liz had lied down willingly. She was still holding a packet of cachous (breath freshening sweets) in her left hand when her body was discovered, which had indicated she had no time to defend herself.

A grocer, Matthew Packer, had implied to two private detectives employed by the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, Le Grand and Batchelor, that he had sold some grapes to Liz and the murderer. However, he had told police sergeant Stephen White that he had shut his shop without seeing anything of suspicion. Pathologists at the inquest stated emphatically that Liz had not held, swallowed, or consumed grapes, they instead described her stomach contents as “cheese, potatoes, and farinaceous powder”. Nevertheless, Mr. Packer’s story appeared in the press and private detectives did discover a grape stalk in the yard. When he was interviewed by the police, Mr. Packer described the man as being between twenty-five and thirty years of age, slightly taller than Liz, wearing a soft felt hat. He had also told the private detectives that the man was middle-aged and heavy set. Neither of his descriptions would match the statements by other witnesses who might have seen her with other clients shortly before her murder, but all of the descriptions had differed.

Elizabeth Stride Autopsy Photo

On October 1st, Michael Kidney walked drunk into the Leman Street police station and stated how he thought the police were incompetent. The next year, Mr. Kidney appears in records of the Whitechapel Workhouse Infirmary three times for syphilis in the month of June, in August he was treated for lumbago and in October he was treated for dyspepsia. Mr. Kidney has come under suspicion for Liz’s murder cause of their turbulent relationship and there is no record of his alibi. However, police appear to have eliminated Mr. Kidney from their inquiry and his decline in health and distress at the police station indicates that he took Liz’s death badly.

Liz was laid to rest on Saturday, the 6th of October 1888 in the East London Cemetery in Plaistow, London, England, in public grave #15509, square 37. She had a sparse funeral that was provided at the expense of the parish by undertaker, Mr. Hawkes. On October 19th, Chief Inspector Swanson would write a report detailing that 80,000 leaflets requesting information had been distributed around the neighborhood and 2,000 lodgers had been examined, along with other lines of inquiry.

Victim Four: Catherine Eddowescatherine-eddowes

Catherine was born on the 14th of April 1842 in Graisley Green in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England. She was also known in life as “Kate Conway” and “Kate Kelly”, after her two successive common-law husbands. Kate’s father was a tinplate worker by the name of George Eddowes and his wife Catherine Evans. Together the couple had ten other children besides Kate. Her family had moved to London a year after she was born. Kate would later return to Wolverhampton to work as a tinplate stamper. Upon losing her job, Kate took up with an ex-soldier named Thomas Conway in Birmingham. She moved to London with Mr. Conway and they had a daughter and two sons together.

In 1880, Kate took to drinking and left her family. In the following year she would live with a new partner, John Kelly at Cooney’s common lodging house at 55 Flower and Dean Street in Spitalfields, at the cent of London’s most notorious criminal rookery. It was here that she would take to casual prostitution so as to pay her rent. To avoid contact with his former partner, Mr. Conway drew his army pension under the assumed name of Quinn. He kept their two sons’ addresses a secret from her as well.

Kate was the second woman killed in the early hours of the night that she had died. The night had already seen the murder of Elizabeth Stride an hour earlier than Eddowes. These two murders are commonly referred to as the “double event”. At the time of her death, Kate was described as being five feet tall, with dark auburn hair, hazel eyes, and a tattoo in blue ink on her left forearm that read “TC”, for Tom Conway. Friends of Kate had described her as “intelligent and scholarly, but possessed of a fierce temper” and “a very jolly woman, always singing”.

In the summer of 1888, Eddowes, Kelly and their friend Emily Birrell took on casual work, hop-picking in Kent. At the harvest’s end they returned to London and quickly went through their pay. Eddowes and Kelly split their last six pence between them. He took four pence to pay for a bed in a common lodging house. Kate took the other two pence, just enough for her to stay the night at Mile End Casual Ward in the neighboring parish. The two would meet up the next morning, September 29th, and in the early afternoon, Kate told Kelly she would go to Bermondsey to try and get money from her daughter, Annie Phillips, who was married to a gun-maker in Southwark. With the money from pawning his boots, the bare-footed Kelly took a bed at a lodging house just after 8:00 pm. According to a deputy keeper he remained there all night.

At 8:30 pm on Saturday, September 29th, Kate would be found lying drunk in the road on Aldgate High Street by PC Louis Robinson. She was taken into custody and then was taken to Bishopsgate police station, where she was detained, giving her name as “Nothing”, until she was sober enough to be released at 1:00 am on the morning of September 30th. When she was released she gave her name and address as “Mary Ann Kelly of 6 Fashion Street”. When she left the station, instead of taking a right to take the shortest route to her home in Flower and Dean Street she turned left towards Aldgate. At 1:35 am, Kate was last seen alive by three witnesses who had just left a club on Duke Street, Joseph Lawende, Joseph Hyam Levy and Harry Harris.

Kate was standing and talking with a man at the entrance to Church Passage, which led to the southwest from Duke Street to Mitre Square along the south wall of the Great Synagogue of London. Lawende was the only one who could furnish a description of the man she was talking with. He would describe him as a fair-mustached man, wearing a navy jacket, peaked cloth cap and a red scarf. Chief Inspector Donald Swanson wrote in his report that Lawende’s identification of the woman he had seen was doubtfully Eddowes. He wrote that Lawende had said that some of the clothing of the deceased that he was shown had resembled that of the woman he saw–”which was black…that was the extent of his identity”.

Patrolling policeman, PC James Harvey, walked down Church Passage from Duke Street very shortly after but his beat would take him back down Church Passage to Duke Street, without entering the square. Kate was killed and mutilated in the square between 1:35 and 1:45 am. At 1:45, her body was found in the southwest corner of Mitre Square, by the square’s beat policeman, PC Edward Watkins. PC Watkins said he entered the square at 1:44 am, having previously been there at 1:30 am. He then called for assistance at a tea warehouse in the square, where the night watchman George James Morris had noticed nothing out of the usual. Another watchman, George Clapp, at 5 Mitre Square and an off-duty policeman, Richard Pearse of 3 Mitre Square also noticed nothing out of the ordinary.

Police surgeon, Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown, who had arrived after 2:00 am, said this of the scene:

“The body was on its back, the head turned to left shoulder. The arms by the side of the body as if they had fallen there. Both palms upwards, the fingers slightly bent. A thimble was lying off the finger on the right side. The clothes drawn up above the abdomen. The thighs were naked. Left leg extended in a line with the body. The abdomen was exposed. Right leg bent at the thigh and knee. The bonnet was at the back of the head—great disfigurement of the face. The throat was cut. Across below the throat was a neckerchief. The intestines were drawn out to a large extent and placed over the right shoulder—they were smeared over with some feculent matter. A piece of about two feet was quite detached from the body and placed between the body and the left arm, apparently by design. The lobe and auricle of the right ear were cut obliquely through. There was a quantity of clotted blood on the pavement on the left side of the neck round the shoulder and upper part of the arm, and fluid blood-coloured serum which had flowed under the neck to the right shoulder, the pavement sloping in that direction.
Body was quite warm. No death stiffening had taken place. She must have been dead most likely within the half hour. We looked for superficial bruises and saw none. No blood on the skin of the abdomen or secretion of any kind on the thighs. No spurting of blood on the bricks or pavement around. No marks of blood below the middle of the body. Several buttons were found in the clotted blood after the body was removed. There was no blood on the front of the clothes. There were no traces of recent connection.”

Brown would conduct the post-mortem exam that afternoon and also noted:

“After washing the left hand carefully, a bruise the size of a sixpence, recent and red, was discovered on the back of the left hand between the thumb and first finger. A few small bruises on right shin of older date. The hands and arms were bronzed. No bruises on the scalp, the back of the body, or the elbows…The cause of death was haemorrhage from the left common carotid artery. The death was immediate and the mutilations were inflicted after death…There would not be much blood on the murderer. The cut was made by someone on the right side of the body, kneeling below the middle of the body…The peritoneal lining was cut through on the left side and left kidney carefully taken out and removed….I believe the perpetrator of the act must have had considerable knowledge of the position of the organs in the abdominal cavity and the way of removing them. The parts removed would be of no use for any professional purpose. It required a great deal of knowledge to have removed the kidney and to know where it was placed. Such a knowledge might be possessed by one in the habit of cutting up animals. I think the perpetrator of this act had sufficient time…It would take at least five minutes…I believe it was the act of one person.”

Police physician, Thomas Bond had disagreed with Brown’s assessment of the killer’s skill level. His report would state that:

“In each case the mutilation was inflicted by a person who had no scientific nor anatomical knowledge. In my opinion he does not even possess the technical knowledge of a butcher or horse slaughterer or any person accustomed to cut up dead animals.”

Local surgeon, Dr. George William Sequeira, who was the first doctor at the scene of Kate’s murder, and the city medical officer, William Sedgwick Saunders, who also was present at the autopsy, also thought that the killer had lacked anatomical skill and didn’t seek particular organs.

Corner where Kate was killed in Mitre Square

In addition to her abdominal wounds the murderer cut Kate’s face across the bridge of her nose, on both cheeks, through her eyelids and both eyes, the tip of her nose and part of one of her ears had been cut off. The Royal London Hospital on Whitechapel Road preserves some of the crime scene drawings and plans of the Mitre Square murder by the City Surveyor, Frederick Foster. They were first brought to the public’s attention in 1966 by Francis Camps who concluded that “the cuts shown on the body could not have been done by an expert.”

Kate’s inquest was opened on the 4th of October by Samuel F. Langham, the coroner for the City of London. A search from house to house was conducted, but nothing suspicious was ever discovered. Brown had stated that he had believed that Kate was killed by a slash to the throat as she was laying on the ground and then she was mutilated.

A mustard tin that contained two pawn tickets that were issued to Emily Birrell and Anne Kelly was discovered on Kate’s body. These would eventually lead to her identification by John Kelly, as his common-law wife, after he had read about the tickets in the newspapers. His identification was confirmed by Catherine Eddowes’ sister, Eliza Gold. No money was found on her either. Even though they murder had occurred within the City of London, it was close to the boundary of Whitechapel, where the previous murders had occurred.

Catherine’s body at autopsy

The mutilation of Kate’s body and the extraction of her left kidney and part of her womb by the killer bore the signature of Jack the Ripper and was very similar in nature to that of the earlier victim, Annie Chapman. Due to the location of Mitre Square, the City of London Police under Detective Inspector James McWilliam had joined the murder inquiry alongside the Metropolitan Police who had been engaged in the previous murders. At about 3:00 am, on the same day as Kate’s murder, a blood-stained fragment of her apron contaminated with fecal matter was found lying in the passage of a doorway leading to Flats 108 and 119, Model Dwellings, Goulston Street, in Whitechapel. Above it on the wall was a graffito in chalk, commonly held to have read:

“The Juwes are the men that Will not be Blamed for nothing”.

The writing may or may not have been related to the murder, however, it was washed away before dawn on the orders of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Charles Warren. He had feared that it would spark anti-Jewish riots.

Mitre Square had three connecting streets. Church Passage was to the northeast, that night PC Harvey had seen no one from this area, Mitre Street to the southwest, which PC Watkins saw no one from this area and St. James’s Place c-eddowes2to the northwest, which the murderer must have left the square then through this street towards Goulston Street. This street was within fifteen minutes from Mitre Square and on a direct route to Flower and Dean Street, where Kate had lived. This hinted that her murderer also lived nearby and headed back there after the killing. Major Henry Smith, the acting Commissioner of the City Police had claimed in his memoirs to have discovered bloody water in a public sink in the court off of Dorset Street. As the water was slowly running out of the basin, he had calculated that the Ripper had been there only moments before. Martin Fido, a Ripper author, thought that it was unlikely that the culprit would have waited to wash his hands in a semi-public place about forty minutes after the crime. Smith’s memoirs are both unreliable and embellished for a dramatic effect. There is no mention of the sink in the official police reports.

Kate was laid to rest on Monday, the 8th of October 1888 in an elm coffin in the City of London Cemetery in an unmarked, public grave #49336, square 318. Kate’s sister and Kelly would attend the funeral. Today, square 318 has been re-used for part of the Memorial Gardens for cremated remains. Kate lies beside the Garden Way in front of Memorial Bed 1849. In late 1996, the cemetery authorities had decided to mark Kate’s grave with a plaque.catherine_eddowes-grave

During 2014, mitochondrial DNA that had matched one of Kate’s descendants was extracted from a shawl that was aid to have come from the scene of the murder. The DNA match was based on one of seven small segments that were taken from hypervariable regions. One segment contained a sequence variation that was described as 314.1C and had claimed to be uncommon with the frequency of only 1 in 290,000 people worldwide. However, Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys and others had pointed out this was in fact an error in nomenclature for common sequence variations 315.1C, which is present in over 99% of sequences in the EMPOP database. Other DNA on the shawl matched the DNA from a relation of Aaron Kosminski, one of the suspects of the murders. This match was also based on a segment of mitochondrial DNA, but no information was given that would enable to commonness of sequence to be estimated. The owner of the shawl, British author Russell Edwards, claimed that the match had proved that Kosminski was Jack the Ripper. Other people, such as Donald Rumbelow, disagree. Rumbelow criticized Edwards claim, saying that no shawl was listed among Kate’s effects by the police. Mitochondrial DNA expert, Peter Gill, also disagreed, saying that the shawl “is of dubious origin and has been handled by several people who could have shared that mitochondrial DNA profile”. Two of Kate’s descendants are known to have been in the same room with the shawl for three days back in 2007, and, in the words of one critic, “The shawl has been openly handled by loads of people and been touched, breathed on, spat upon.”

Victim Five: Mary Jane Kelly

Mary Jane Kelly Facial Reconstruction

The fifth victim of Jack the Ripper was Mary Jane Kelly, who was born in about 1863 in Ireland. She was also known as Marie Jeanette Kelly, Fair Emma, Ginger and Black Mary. She was only about twenty-five years old at the time of her death and was living in poverty. She has been variously reported to have been blonde or a redhead. Whereas, her nickname “Black Mary” would suggest that she was a dark brunette. Her reported eye color was blue. Detective Walter Dew, in his autobiography had claimed to have known her well by sight and had described her as “quite attractive” and “a pretty, buxom girl”. He also said that she had always worn a clean white apron but never wore a hat. A Sir Melville Macnaghten of the Metropolitan Police Force, who had never seen Mary in the flesh, reported that she was known to have “considerable personal attractions” by the standards of the time. “The Daily Telegraph”, of November 10th of 1888 described Mary as “tall, slim, fair, of fresh complexion, and of attractive appearance”.

Compared with the other victims, Mary’s origins are obscure and undocumented, much of what we do know is possibly embellished. She might have herself fabricated many details of her earlier life, as there is no corroborating documentary evidence, but there is no evidence to the contrary either.

According to a man named Joseph Barnett, the man she most recently had lived with prior to her death, she had told him that she was born in Limerick, Ireland in about 1863. Whether she had referred to the city or the county is not known. She also told him that her family had moved to Wales when she was a young girl. Mr. Barnett would report that she said that her father was named John Kelly and had worked in iron works in either Caernarfonshire or Carmarthenshire, and he also recalled her mentioning having had seven brothers and at least one sister. One of her brothers, Henry, had supposedly served in the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards. She had also once stated to her personal friend, Lizzie Albrook, that a family member of hers was employed at the London theatrical stage.

Mary’s landlord, John McCarthy would claim that she received infrequent correspondence from Ireland, but Barnett denies this. Both Mr. Barnett and a reported former roommate named Mrs. Carthy had claimed that Mary came from a family of “well-to-do people”. Carthy would report that Mary was “an excellent scholar and an artist of no mean degree”, but at the inquest, Barnett informed the coroner that she would often ask him to read newspaper reports to her about the murders, suggesting that she was in fact illiterate.

In about 1879, Mary was reportedly married to a coal miner named Davies, but he was killed two or three years later in a mine explosion. Mary would claim to have stayed for eight months in an infirmary in Cardiff, Wales, before she moved in with a cousin. Although there is no contemporary records of her presence in Cardiff, it is at this time in her life that she is considered to have started her career in prostitution.

During 1884, Mary apparently left Cardiff for London and would find work in a brothel in the more affluent West End of London. Reportedly she was invited by a client to France, but had returned to England after just being there for two weeks because she didn’t like her life in France. It’s believed that at this time, Kelly chose to adopt the French name “Marie Jeanette”. By some other people, Mary was also known as “Fair Emma”. Although it is unclear whether this applied to her hair color, skin color, her beauty, or whatever other qualities that she had possessed, some newspapers also claim that she went by the nickname “Ginger” as well. This was allegedly after her ginger-colored hair. Sources disagree even on this point, therefore leaving a large range from ash blonde to dark chestnut being her hair color. Another paper also claimed that she was known as “Mary McCarthy”, which might have been a mix up with the surname of her landlord at the time of her death.

Gravitating towards the poorer East End of London, Mary reportedly lived with a man with the name Morganstone, near the Commercial Gas Works in Stepney. She later lived with a mason’s plasterer named Joe Flemming. When Mary was drunk, she would be heard singing Irish songs, when in this state she would quite often become quarrelsome and even abusive towards those around her, earning her the nickname “Dark Mary”. Her landlord, Mr. McCarthy said “she was a very quiet woman when sober but noisy when in drink”.

Mr. Barnett first met Mary in April of 1887, they had agreed to live with one another after their second meeting the day after they met. Early in 1888 they both moved into 13 Miller’s Court, which consisted of a single room at the back of 26 Dorset Street in Spitalfields. The apartment was a single twelve-foot square room, with a single bed, three chairs and a table. Above the fireplace hanged a print of “The Fisherman’s Widow”. Mary’s door key had been lost so she bolted and unbolted the door from the outside by putting her hand through a broken window beside the door. Her German neighbor, Julia Ventumey, claimed that she had broken the window when she was drunk one time. Mr. Barnett had worked as a fish porter at Billingsgate Fish Market. When he had fallen out of regular employment and tried to earn money as a market porter, Mary had turned to prostitution again. A quarrel would ensue over her sharing the room with another prostitute who Barnett knew only as “Julia” and he would leave on the 30th of October, more than a week before her death, though he did continue to visit her.

On November 8th, Mr. Barnett would visit Mary for the last time. He found her in the company of Maria Harvey, a friend of hers. Harvey and Barnett would leave at about the same time and Mr. Barnett returned to his lodging house. It was there that he would play cards with other residents until he fell asleep at about 12:30 am. A fellow Miller’s Court resident and prostitute, Mary Ann Cox, who had described herself as “a widow and unfortunate” reported that she had seen Mary returning home drunk, in the company of a stout ginger-haired man, wearing a bowler hat and carrying a can of beer at about 11:45pm. Cox and Kelly would wish each other goodnight and Kelly went to her room with the man and then started to sing the song “A Violet I Plucked from Mother’s Grave When A Boy”. She would still be singing when Cox went out at midnight, as well as when she returned an hour later at 1:00 am. Elizabeth Prater who had a room above Mary’s said that when she had gone to bed at 1:30 she noticed that the singing had stopped.

George Hutchinson, a laborer that had known Mary, reported that she had met him at about 2:00 am and asked him if he would loan her six pence. He said that he was broke and as she went on her way she was approached by a man of “Jewish appearance”. Mr. Hutchinson would later give police an extremely detailed description of the man right down to the color of his eyelashes, even though it was the middle of a dark winter night. He also reported that he had overheard the two talking in the street opposite of the court where she was living. She complained of losing her handkerchief and the man ended up giving her a red one of his own. Mr. Hutchinson then claimed that she and the man headed towards her room and that he had followed them and saw neither of them again after about 2:45 am. His statement appears to partially be corroborated by laundress Sarah Lewis.

Sarah would report that she saw a man watching the entrance of Miller’s Court as she had passed into it at about 2:30 am, so as to spend the night with some friends, the Keylers. Mr. Hutchinson claimed that he was suspicious of the man because, although Mary seemed to know him, his opulent appearance made him seem very unusual in the neighborhood. This was only reported to police after the inquest on Mary had been hastily concluded.

Mary’s home where she was murdered

Abberline, a detective in charge of the investigation thought that Mr. Hutchinson’s information was important and sent him out with some officers to see if he could see the man again. His name doesn’t appear again in any existing police records. Therefore, it is possible that his evidence was ultimately dismissed, disproved, or corroborated. In Walter Drew’s memoirs, he discounts Mr. Hutchinson on the basis that his sighting may have been on a different day and not on the morning of the murder.

Robert Anderson, the head of the CID, later claimed that the only witness who had a good look at the killer was Jewish. Mr. Hutchinson was not a Jew, and thus was not a witness. Some modern scholars have suggested that he may have just been an attention seeker who had made up his story in hopes to sell to the press. Cox had returned home again at 3:00 am, she reported that she had heard a faint cry of “MURDER!!” at about 4:00 am, but didn’t react because it was common to hear such cries in the East End. She did however hear someone leave Mary’s residence at about 5:45 am. Prater had left at 5:30 am to go to Ten Bells public house for a drink of rum and didn’t see anything suspicious.

The sight Thomas Bowyer would have seen when he entered Mary’s home

On the morning of November 9th 1888, the day of the annual Lord Mayor’s Day celebration, Mary’s landlord, John McCarthy sent his assistant, an ex-soldier named Thomas Bowyer to collect the rent. Mary was six weeks behind on her payments, owing twenty-nine shillings. Shortly after 10:45 am, Bowyer had knocked on her door but received no response. He then reached through the crack in the window, pushed aside a coat that was being used as a curtain, he then peered inside, discovering Mary’s horribly mutilated body lying on the bed.

The “Manchester Guardian” of November 10, 1888, reported that Sergeant Edward Badham accompanied Inspector Walter Beck to 13 Miller’s Court after they were notified of Mary’s murder by a frantic Mr. Bowyer. Mr. Beck would tell the inquest that he was the first police officer at the scene and Badham may have accompanied him, but there are no official records to confirm Badham being with him. Edward Badham was on duty at the Commercial Street police station on the evening of November 12th. The inquest into Mary’s death had been completed earlier that day, and around 6:00 pm, George Hutchinson arrived at the station to give his initial statement to Badham.

The wife a local lodging house deputy, Caroline Maxwell, would claim to have seen Mary alive at about 8:30 am on the day of her murder, though she did admit to only meeting her once or twice before then. Moreover, her description didn’t match the statements of those who knew Mary more closely. Maurice Lewis, a tailor, reported that he saw her at about 10:00 am, that same day, at the pub, both statements would be dismissed by the police since they didn’t fit the accepted time of death. Moreover, they could find on one else to confirm these reports. Maxwell, may have either mistaken someone else for Mary or mixed up the day that she had seen her.

The scene would be attended to by Superintendent Thomas Arnold and Inspector Edmund Reid from Whitechapel’s H. Division, as well as Frederick Abberline and Robert Anderson from Scotland Yard. Mr. Anderson had the room broken into at 1:30 pm, after the possibility of tracking the murderer from the room with bloodhounds was dismissed as impractical. A fire fierce enough so as to melt the solder between a kettle and its spout had burnt in the gate, apparently fueled with clothing. Inspector Abberline thought that Mary’s clothing was burned by the murderer to provide light, as the room was otherwise only dimly lit by a single candle.

The mutilation of Mary’s body was by far the most extensive of any of the Whitechapel murders, probably because the killer had more time to commit his atrocities in a private room, rather out in the street. Dr. Thomas Bond and Dr. George Bagster Phillips would examine her body. Drs. Phillips and Bond would place her time of death to about twelve hours before their examination. Dr. Phillips suggested that the extensive mutilations would’ve taken two hours to have performed. Dr. Bond noted that rigor mortis had set in as they were examining the body, indicating that her death had occurred between 2:00 and 8:00 am.

Dr. Bond’s notes would read as follows:

“The body was lying naked in the middle of the bed, the shoulders flat but the axis of the body inclined to the left side of the bed. The head was turned on the left cheek. The left arm was close to the body with the forearm flexed at a right angle and lying across the abdomen. The right arm was slightly abducted from the body and rested on the mattress. The elbow was bent, the forearm supine with the fingers clenched. The legs were wide apart, the left thigh at right angles to the trunk and the right forming an obtuse angle with the pubis.

The whole of the surface of the abdomen and thighs was removed and the abdominal cavity emptied of its viscera. The breasts were cut off, the arms mutilated by several jagged wounds and the face hacked beyond recognition of the features. The tissues of the neck were severed all round down to the bone.

The viscera were found in various parts viz: the uterus and kidneys with one breast under the head, the other breast by the right foot, the liver between the feet, the intestines by the right side and the spleen by the left side of the body. The flaps removed from the abdomen and thighs were on a table. The bed clothing at the right corner was saturated with blood, and on the floor beneath was a pool of blood covering about two feet square. The wall by the right side of the bed and in a line with the neck was marked by blood which had struck it in several places.

The face was gashed in all directions, the nose, cheeks, eyebrows, and ears being partly removed. The lips were blanched and cut by several incisions running obliquely down to the chin. There were also numerous cuts extending irregularly across all the features.

The neck was cut through the skin and other tissues right down to the vertebrae, the fifth and sixth being deeply notched. The skin cuts in the front of the neck showed distinct ecchymosis. The air passage was cut at the lower part of the larynx through the cricoid cartilage.

Both breasts were more or less removed by circular incisions, the muscle down to the ribs being attached to the breasts. The intercostals between the fourth, fifth, and sixth ribs were cut through and the contents of the thorax visible through the openings. The skin and tissues of the abdomen from the costal arch to the pubes were removed in three large flaps. The right thigh was denuded in front to the bone, the flap of skin, including the external organs of generation, and part of the right buttock. The left thigh was stripped of skin fascia, and muscles as far as the knee.

The left calf showed a long gash through skin and tissues to the deep muscles and reaching from the knee to five inches above the ankle. Both arms and forearms had extensive jagged wounds.

The right thumb showed a small superficial incision about one inch long, with extravasation of blood in the skin, and there were several abrasions on the back of the hand moreover showing the same condition. On opening the thorax it was found that the right lung was minimally adherent by old firm adhesions. The lower part of the lung was broken and torn away. The left lung was intact. It was adherent at the apex and there were a few adhesions over the side. In the substances of the lung there were several nodules of consolidation.

The pericardium was open below and the heart absent. In the abdominal cavity there was some partly digested food of fish and potatoes, and similar food was found in the remains of the stomach attached to the intestines.”

Dr. Phillips believed that Mary was killed by a slash to the throat and the mutilations were performed after she was already dead. Dr. Bond would state in his report that the knife that was used was about an inch wide and at least six inches long, but he did not believe that the murderer had any medical training or knowledge.

Bond would write:

“In each case the mutilation was inflicted by a person who had no scientific nor anatomical knowledge. In my opinion he does not even possess the technical knowledge of a butcher or horse slaughterer or a person accustomed to cut up dead animals.”

Mary’s body would be taken to the mortuary in Shoreditch, rather than to the one in Whitechapel. This meant that the inquest was opened by the coroner for North East Middlesex, Dr. Roderick MacDonald, MP, instead of Wynne Edwin Baxter, the coroner who had handled many of the other Whitechapel murder victims. The speed of the inquest had been criticized by the press. Dr. MacDonald heard the inquest in a single day at the Shoreditch Town Hall on November 12th. Mary would officially be identified by Mr. Barnett, who had said he recognized her by “the ear and the eyes”. McCarthy was also certain that the body was Mary’s, her death was registered under the name “Marie Jeanette Kelly” at the age of twenty-five.mary-kellys-grave

Mary was buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Leytonstone on November 19, 1888. Her obituary read as follows:

“The funeral of the murdered woman Kelly has once more been postponed. Deceased was a Catholic, and the man Barnett, with whom she lived, and her landlord, Mr. M. Carthy, desired to see her remains interred with the ritual of her Church. The funeral will, therefore, take place tomorrow [19 Nov] in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Leytonstone. The hearse will leave the Shoreditch mortuary at half-past twelve. The remains of Mary Janet Kelly, who was murdered on Nov. 9 in Miller’s-court, Dorset-street, Spitalfields, were brought yesterday morning from Shoreditch mortuary to the cemetery at Leytonstone, where they were interred.

No family member could be found to attend the funeral.”

More about the Investigations

Surviving police files on the murders allow a detailed view into the investigation procedure in the Victorian era. A large team of policemen conducted house-to-house inquiries throughout the area of Whitechapel. Forensic materials were collected and examined, suspects were identified, traced, and either examined more closely or eliminated from inquiry. Police work today still follows the same pattern as it did back then, just with some more technology. More than 2,000 people were interviewed, around 300 were investigated and at least eighty people were detained. Since London was so on edge about the murders, a group of volunteer citizens in London’s East End, known “Whitechapel Vigilance Committee” took to the streets patrolling for suspicious characters. This was also partly done because of their dissatisfaction with the police efforts. They petitioned the government to raise a reward for any information about the killer and hired private detectives to question witnesses independently.

Butchers, slaughterers, surgeons, and physicians were all suspects because of the manner of the mutilations. A surviving note from Major Henry Smith, the Acting Commissioner of the City Police, indicate that alibis were investigated of all local butchers and slaughterers, with the result being that they were eliminated from inquiry. The report from Inspector Swanson to the Home Office confirms that seventy-six butchers and slaughterers were visited and that inquiry encompassed all of their employees for the previous six months. Even some contemporary figures, including Queen Victoria, thought the pattern of the murders indicated that the culprit was a butcher or cattle drover on one of the cattle boats that plied between London and mainland Europe. Whitechapel was close to the London Docks and usually such boats would dock on Thursday and Friday and then departed on Saturday and Sunday. Cattle boats were thus examined but the dates of the murders didn’t coincide with a single boat’s movements and transfer of crewmen between boats and thus was ruled out.

As for criminal profiling, at the end of October, Robert Anderson had asked police surgeon Thomas Bond to give his opinion on the extent of the murderer’s surgical skill and knowledge. His opinion would be the earliest surviving offender profile and his assessment was based on his own examination of the most extensively mutilated victim and post mortem notes from four of the previous canonical murders. He would write:

“All five murders no doubt were committed by the same hand. In the first four the throats appear to have been cut from left to right, in the last case owing to the extensive mutilation it is impossible to say in what direction the fatal cut was made, but arterial blood was found on the wall in splashed close to where the woman’s head must have been lying.

All the circumstances surrounding the murders lead me to form the opinion that the women must have been lying down when murdered and in every case the throat was first cut.”

He was also strongly opposed to the idea that the killer had possessed any kind of scientific or anatomical knowledge, or even “the technical knowledge of a butcher or horse slaughterer.” In Bond’s opinion , the killer must have been a man of solitary habits, subject to “periodical attacks of homicidal and erotic mania”, with the character of the mutilations possibly indicating “satyriasis”. Bond would also state that “the homicidal impulse may have developed from a revengeful or brooding condition of the mind, or that religious mania may have been the original disease but I do not think either hypothesis is likely.”

There was also no evidence of any sexual activity with any of the victims, yet psychologists suppose that penetration of the victims with a knife and “leaving them on display in sexually degrading positions with the wounds exposed” indicating that the perpetrator derived sexual pleasure from the attacks. This view however, has been challenged by others who dismiss such a hypothesis as insupportable supposition.


These five murders may have happened over a hundred years ago, but shouldn’t the crimes still be solved? In my opinion, the victims should never be thought about, even if they were prostitutes, they had families and friends, and were after all still humans. Even people that are killed today by serial killers have had their cases solved, and there are still people out there who have been killed who have not had their cases closed, and more occur every day. These cases may be old, but they still deserve resolution. The technology that we have now and that we may have in the future should be used to solve these women’s cases and give their souls rest and their descendants closure. Who do you think Jack the Ripper was?

7 thoughts on “Jack the Ripper”

  1. I really enjoyed reading your detailed and well-researched overview of these famous murders, Christina.
    I originally come from one of the areas mentioned in your text, Bermondsey. This is just across the River Thames from the scenes of the murders, so I know the locations well. As a young man, I read many books about the Ripper case, perhaps a dozen or more. I have also walked around the area, and even had a drink in the pub mentioned, The Ten Bells, which still stands.

    After reading those books, and watching the many TV and film stories about the Ripper, I still have no idea who the killer was of course. I tend to agree that the murders displayed no anatomical skill or training, and could have been carried out by anyone, though were surely all done by the same person, acting alone.

    It is worth paying attention to the power of newspapers at the time. There was no TV or radio, and many newspapers were available, offering numerous updated daily editions, evening versions, and even ‘Special’ printings concentrating on the gorier stories of the time. They were cheap to buy, and widely available on any street corner, sold by small boys and old men. They started the ‘Tabloid’ tradition of sensational reporting; unreliable facts, and the interviewing of so-called ‘witnesses’, without checking on their stories. They also paid money for ‘exclusives’, either to these bogus ‘witnesses’, or family members. With this in mind, I feel that any contemporary newspaper reporting should be discounted as unreliable at best, and complete fabrication at worst.

    When I worked for the Metropoiltan Police in London, from 2001-2012, I was granted access to the Crime Museum. (Formerly known as the ‘Black Museum’.) They hold many of the items relating to the Ripper case, including the famous letters sent to the police, (the originals) and the crime scene photos ( also originals) which require a string stomach to view in detail.

    The case continues to fascinate many, and there are still guided walks for tourists, showing the original sites of the murders, though many have obviously changed considerably, since the 1880’s. This is a link to one of the current tours.

    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even now the newspapers will one leave stuff out and two not print all of the truth, same as the news though they can be a bit better. I learned that being a firefighter as well as through some other experiences with friends and family. I think you are lucky to have been able to have been able to have seen the original files, I bet that there is a lot that still is not fully available to the public. I too think that it was not someone with medical experience as it was more slashing and destroying the body rather than taking the time and perfection that a surgeon may have done, then again maybe the person thought that they did not have enough time to be perfect. However, from watching things about other killers, I do think it could quite possibly had been someone police did talk to as killers are usually very smart people too and swift with words where they could be confident enough to not be caught…basically could fool the police, especially when police didn’t have the access to technologies that we have now. More on your comment later I have to meet some people for dinner.


  2. I just have one question to ask you as you have seen the available evidence that still exists…is there any technologies that police have now that could maybe solve the case? Maybe with the witness statements of those who might have seen the person that killed the women, police could take the descriptions, combine them and come up with a face of someone who could have done it. Then again, all the people then that may have known the person are long gone. Another question to you, do you think that the case will ever be solved or do you think that there is just too much evidence that is gone now? Another possibility I thought of is maybe it was one of the lodging owners in the area. I hope that maybe one day the case will be solved so that those women can finally rest peacefully and their descendants can get answers. Most police would say that there is no perfect murder, but this person who committed these crimes seems to have committed the perfect murders since they have not been caught for over a hundred years. To me even though the women were in the career that they were, they were still human and deserve to have their case solved you know. They shouldn’t be forgotten to history…no one should just be forgotten about and as there are so many cold cases both here in America and I am sure in Britain and other places in the world they should still be worked until answers are found.

    Liked by 1 person

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