During the Autumn of 1888 five women were brutally murdered, all were prostitutes and all were murdered in Whitechapel, London.
The first murder was on the 31st August 1888, the victim was 43 year old Mary Ann Nichols, last seen around 2:30AM, apparently she had drunk the money she earned that night working the streets, so she went back to try and find another customer, unlucky for her that customer was Jack the Ripper. Her body was found at Bucks Row at 3:45AM by Robert Paul and Charles Cross as they made their way to work. PC John Neil was the first policeman at the scene. Her throat had been cut and her groin and torso repeatedly stabbed.
The second murder was on the 8th September 1888, the victim was 47 year old Annie Chapman. She was last seen talking to an unidentified man at 5:30AM down Hanbury Street, her body was found less than half an hour later by a neighbour. Her throat had been cut and her body sliced open, part of her intestines were over her shoulder and her uterus was missing.
Jack the Ripper helped sell Newspapers, and there was an abundant amount of letters the media received, who sent them is unknown, it could have just been the journalists sending themselves letters to boost sales, but one letter signed Jack the Ripper created an identity for the murderer, from then on he was known as Jack the Ripper.
The third murder was on the 30th September 1888, the victim was 44 year old Elizabeth Stride. A passer-by Israel Schwartz later told the police that he saw Elizabeth at about 12:45AM with a man, who appeared to push her down to the floor. Her body was found 15 minutes later at 1:00AM by a jewellery salesman Louis Diemschutz, but only her throat had been cut, it seemed as though the killer had been disturbed – maybe Schwartz interrupted the murder. Schwartz later went on to identify the body and confirmed it was Stride whom he saw earlier.
The fourth murder was also on the 30th September 1888, the victim was 46 year old Catherine Eddowes . PC Louis Robinson arrested Catherine at 8:00PM for being drunk and disorderly. Once she sobered up she was released at 1:00AM. Passer-by Joseph Lawende told the police he noticed a man and a lady (believed to be Catherine Eddowes ) at about 1:35AM by the entrance of Church Passage, a narrow alley which led to Mitre Square. PC James Harvey was on the beat but stopped at the entrance of Mitre Square at 1:40AM as it was not part of his beat -had he have entered he might have seen the murder and possibly caught Jack the Ripper. Catherine Eddowes body was found at Mitre Square at 1:45AM by PC Edward Watkins, 45 minutes after the murder of Elizabeth Stride, he noted “she was ripped up like a pig in a market”. Her throat was cut, and her body was disembowelled, her uterus was removed and her left kidney was missing.
The fifth victim was on the 9th November 1888, the victim was Mary Jane Kelly, she was only 25. Last seen by George Hutchinson at 2:00AM, She briefly spoke to him and then walked off, she returned with another man and Hutchinson witnessed them walk inside her door. At about 4:00AM a neighbour – Elizabeth Prater heard someone screaming murder, but she ignored this as this was a common thing in the East End of London. At 10:45AM an agent sent by Mary Jane Kelly’s landlord knocked on her door to collect the rent, when nobody answered, he looked through the window. What he saw was the remains of Mary Jane Kelly. He told the press it was “the work of the devil”. The body had been hacked into pieces, body parts removed and placed around the room. She was almost unrecognisable.
Jack the Ripper was never found and to this day the case remains a mystery. There are over a hundred Ripper suspects, just to mention a few, Aaron Kosminski, Prince Albert Victor, James Maybrick, Francis Tumblety, Montague Druitt and more recently Carl Feigenbaum. Many people have tried to discover the truth by using modern forensic science to try and uncover the real Jack the Ripper, but unfortunately with over 100 years gone, it seems that we will never know the truth. Nevertheless, hopefully the world will continue to be intrigued by the mysterious Jack the Ripper who infamously avoided the police and murdered his helpless victims in the labyrinths of Whitechapel.
Sources – National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Channel 5. The victim photographs are from Casebook.