The Five Known Victims of Jack the Ripper (Caution - Some pictures are graphic and gruesome)
Jack the Ripper is the infamous serial murderer who victimized women in the Whitechapel area of London in the 1880’s. Inhabitants of the Whitechapel area were destitute. Their living conditions were deplorable. Whole families lived in one filthy room. It was not uncommon to find the rotting remains of dead rats, a pig, or a human body lying next to a naked, malnourished child. It was poverty at it’s most cruel. Adults and children alike did whatever it took to eke out an existence; to earn the cost of a night’s lodging and a chunk of bread to share with whomever they spent the night.
It was in this disgusting and hellish corner of London that Jack the Ripper gave these desperate women the one chance of escape they did not want.
Victim #1 Mary Ann Nichols Body Found August 31, 1888
Description at time of Murder: Age 45, Height 5’2”, Complexion Dark, Eyes Brown, Hair Brown turning grey.
Apparel at time of Murder: Brown dress with 7 large brass buttons, Grey woolen petticoats (reportedly recorded as being stenciled with “Lambeth Workhouse”), Flannel drawers and white chest flannel, Brown stays, Black ribbed woolen stockings, Men’s spring-sided boots and a Black straw bonnet trimmed with black velvet.
Mary Ann Nichols was the wife of William Nichols of 37 Coburg Street, Old Kent Road, though the couple had actually been separated for nine years due to Mrs. Nichols drunkenness and immoral habits. During their separation Mary was an inmate at several workhouses, the last of which was Lambeth Workhouse. She left Lambeth Workhouse in May of 1888 and entered the service of Mr. Cowdry. On July 12 of that same year she left there after helping herself to a number of items of wearing apparel. After that she spent nights in common lodging houses.
On the night of August 31, 1888, Mary Ann Nichols told the manager of the lodging house at 18 Thrawl Street to save her bed. It was 1:40 am and she had no money, so she set out to earn her night’s lodging. She was drunk at the time.
At 2:30 a.m. Ellen Holland who was staying at 18 Thrawl Street saw Mary Ann Nichols at the corner of Osborn Street and Whitechapel Road. She tried to get the drunken woman to return to the lodging house with her, but instead Mary Ann walk toward Buck’s Row where her dead body was later found.
At 3:15 a passerby named Charles Cross found the body of Mary Ann Nichols on the Buck’s Row walkway. He left to inform the police. In his absence Constable John Neil came upon the body. It had not been there during his last walk by one- half hour earlier. That fact coupled with there being very little blood at the scene lent the police to deduce the body was transported there after the murder.
Mary Ann Nichols was pronounced dead by Dr. Llewellyn who took her body to the mortuary. Her throat had been cut as had been her abdomen. Inquiries at the murder site offered no clues to the murder.
Victim # 2 Anne Chapman Body Found September 8, 1888
Description at time of Murder: Age 45, Complexion Fair, Eyes Blue, Hair Dark Brown Wavy, 2 Missing Lower Teeth, Large Thick Nose
Apparel at time of Murder: Black figured jacket, Brown bodice, Old dirty, laced boots
Anne Chapman had been residing at Timothy Donovan’s lodge house at 35 Dorset Street. On September 8, 1888 at 1:45 a.m. Anne was in the Donovan Kitchen. She was drunk and had no money. She soon left declaring she would be back and she would have money.
Back Yard No.29 Hanburg
At 6:10 a.m. Anne Chapman lay dead in the back yard at No. 29 Hanburg Street. According to Inspector Joseph Chandler she was “lying on her back, dead, left arm resting on left breast, legs drawn up”. Her throat was “cut deeply from left and back in a jagged manner right around the throat”. Inspector Chandler’s report also indicated her abdomen had been cut with her entrails on the ground above her right shoulder. The wall and fence near where the body was laid out was spattered with blood.
Dr. Phillips pronounced Anne Chapman dead and took her to the mortuary. His notes included a lot of information that never made it into police records.
The following are the clues that were overlooked or ignored:
Ø A piece of muslin fabric, a comb and a paper case were left by the body
Ø Two rings from Anne’s fingers, some pennies and two new farthings were left at the foot of the body
Ø An envelope and a piece of paper containing two pills were at the head of the body
On the back of the envelope was the seal of the Sussex Military Regiment
On the front of the envelope was a letter “M” and a postage stamp
Ø A leather apron soaked with water was found near a faucet two feet away
Some accounts have it as a partial apron
Though the apron was, for a while, considered a viable clue, all other items were discounted despite their being carefully arranged around Anne’s slain body.
Victim # 3 Elizabeth Stride Body Found September 30, 1888
At 1 a.m. behind a workmen’s club inside the gates of Dutfield’s yard in Bermer Street, Commercial Road East, Louis Diemshutz, Secretary to the Socialist Club, found the body of Elizabeth Stride. He rushed to report the incident. Constable Lamb returned to the scene with him, and then sent for Dr Blackwell and Dr Phillips who pronounced her dead at 1:10 a.m. The immediate area was searched, but no weapon was found.
The following outlines the doctors’ report on Elizabeth Stride:
Ø She was found lying on her left side with left arm extended from the elbow with small candies in her hand
Ø Her right arm was over her stomach – back of hand and inner wrist dotted with blood
Ø Her legs were drawn up, knees fixed, feet close to the wall
Ø Slightly torn silk handkerchief around her throat with throat being deeply gashed and showing a skin abrasion about 1 ¼ inches in diameter
The Evening News reported Elizabeth Stride also had grapes in her right hand claiming a man seen with Stride earlier had purchased grapes from a local vendor. Even though police reports stated two private detectives found grape stems in the debris swept from the site of the murder, the clue was dismissed as unimportant. (It is thought grapes were quite expensive during that time period and an unfortunate would not have access to them unless a wealthy person were to provide them)
Victim #4 Catherine Eddows Body Found September 30, 1888
After being in the Billingsgate Street Police Station for drunkenness, Catherine Eddows was released at 1 a.m. on September 30, 1888. At 1:45 a.m. Constable Watkins found her mutilated body at Mitre Square. Her face was unrecognizable from acts perpetrated by the murderer.
The following describes her injuries:
Ø A part of her nose was missing
Ø Her right earlobe was barely attached
Ø Her throat was cut
Ø Her abdomen was laid open and one kidney had been removed
It has long been assumed Catherine Eddowes’ body was placed at Mitre Square after the murder and mutilation was performed in an empty building nearby. This conclusion was drawn from the report that at 2:55 a.m. a constable found a blood-stained apron next to a wall where the phrase “The JUWES are not the men That Will be Blamed for nothing” had been written in chalk. Nothing of import was derived from the phrase, but the apron and the removal of the kidney led Drs Brown and Phillips to suggest Jack the Ripper may have been “a hunter, a butcher, a student in surgery or a properly qualified surgeon”.
Victim #5 Mary Kelly Body Found November 9, 1888
Mary Kelly met her end in her own room at the 16 Dorset Street boardinghouse, No. 13. True to form, her throat had been sliced open, her body mutilated. In a strange twist, some skin had been removed from her legs.
Mary Kelly is considered to be the last of the Jack the Ripper victims, but little detail was reported of her or her death as compared to the previous murders contributed to Jack the Ripper.
It was said she was seen on the night of November 9, 1888 in the presence of a man with a mustache wearing a bowler style hat who was carrying a small, long, leather bag.
At this time in Whitechapel it was a belief, in the event of a violent death, the last image seen would be indelibly etched on the retina. Therefore, an industrious photographer took pictures of the dead eyes of Mary Kelly hoping to be able to finally learn the true identity of the elusive Jack the Ripper. Of course, this was to no avail.
Dorset Street in Whitechapel
Suspects were numerous. Some were considered suspects totally due to general speculation, others because of descriptions, locations or occupations.
A popular theory named Queen Victoria’s grandson who was known as Eddy. From there it was then suspected Eddy’s friend and tutor committed the murders hoping Eddy would be blamed. The next link to Eddy was Dr. William Gull. Some theorized Dr. Gull killed women so they could not be connected to immoral liaisons with Eddy. His wife, however, claimed Dr. Gull was given to sporadic “manias for inflicting pain” and she had no idea where he’d been on the nights of each murder.
Coincidentally, another suspect, Montague John Driutt, who was rumored to have law offices and had been know to rent rooms in the Whitechapel area, bore an astonishing resemblance to the grandson of Queen Victoria, the notorious Eddy. Druitt took his own life in 1888; after which no further Jack the Ripper killings were reported.
In spite of more than a century of research, investigation and being the subject of numerous books and films, Jack the Ripper and his five victims remain a most ugly part of the Whitechapel/London history as the most infamous cold case in Scotland Yard’s files.