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The serial killer Jack the Ripper

Updated on August 26, 2014

The Whitechapel Murderer

The best known name given to a serial killer who is unidentified, Jack the Ripper was largely active in areas that were impoverished around and in the London district of Whitechapel in the year eighteen eighty-eight. Originally, the name was in a written letter by someone who claimed to be the killer. In the media, this was disseminated. The letter is believed widely to be one of the hoaxes and could have been by journalists who made deliberate attempts to heighten the story’s interest. Within the case files of the crime and the accounts of journalism, “Jack the Ripper” was actually known as “Leather Apron” or “The Whitechapel Murderer.”


Ascribed to Jack the Ripper were attacks involving prostitutes who were female working and living in the London slums who got cut in the throat before mutilations that were abdominal. The internal organs were removed from a minimum of 3 of the victims, leading to a proposal that the killers possessed surgical or anatomical knowledge. Some of the murder rumours were that these were connected and these intensified in the year eighteen eighty-eight between the months of Sept and Oct. Scotland Yard and media outlets also received letters from writers claiming to be the murderer. The letter “From Hell” was received by the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee’s George Lusk and made an inclusion of half of a human kidney that had been preserved, reportedly from 1 victim. Due to the brutal murder characters and due to the events and the way the media treated this, the public eye believed increasingly in one serial killer with “Jack the Ripper” as the name.

Brutal Killings

Newspaper coverage that was extensive bestowed enduring and widespread notoriety on the Riper internationally. One investigation into a brutal killing series up to the year eighteen ninety-one in Whitechapel was not able to make connections to all the murders conclusively to the 1888 murders. However, the Jack the Ripper legend became more solid. As there was never a solution to the murders, the surrounding legends became combinations of true research into their history, pseudo-history or folklore.


Ripperology was a coined term that gave a description of the analysis and the study of the cases of Ripper. At the moment there are hundreds of Jack the Ripper identity theories and the deeds he committed have been the inspiration for many fictional works.


In the middle of the nineteenth century, an influx of immigrants who were Irish was experienced in England, swelling in population in the major cities of England including London’s East End. From the year eighteen eighty-two, refugees who were Jewish from Tsarist Russia pogroms and other Easter Europe areas began to emigrate to this area as well. Whitechapel’s civil parish in the East End of London became overcrowded increasingly. There was a worsening of housing conditions and working conditions and there developed a significant underclass economically. Alcohol dependency, violence and robbery where not uncommon and poverty that was endemic resulted in many women becoming prostitutes. In October of eighteen eighty-eight, the Metropolitan Police Services of London made an estimate of there being over one thousand prostitute women in sixty-two brothels just in Whitechapel. The problems of the economy came with a steady social tension rise. Between the years eighteen eighty-six to eighteen eighty-nine, demonstrations were not infrequent including the one of the thirteenth of November the following year, leading to further public unrest and intervention by police. Severe deprivation, social disturbance, racism, nativism, crime and anti-semitism fed the perception of the public that Whitechapel was a notorious immoral den. In the year eighteen eighty-eight, this perception was reinforced with a string of grotesque, vicious murders blamed on Jack the Ripper receiving unprecedented media coverage.


The attack against East End women in this year has made it uncertain about how many were murdered by 1 person. The 11 separate murder victims stretching from April third of eighteen eighty-eight to the February thirteenth the year after were part of the investigation of the services of the London Metropolitan Police. Collectively, these were known in the docket of the police as the murders of Whitechapel. There are varied opinions as to whether the same culprit committed the murders. Five of the murders of Whitechapel are called the “Canonical Five” and are thought widely to be Ripper’s work. Many theorists point to the slashes on the throat which were deep, mutilation of the genital area and mutilation of the abdomen. The 1st couple of cases on the file of Whitechapel were not included in the Canonical 5.

Canonical 5

The ripper victims that are most famous include the Canonical Five. The body of MaryAnn Nichols was found at a little after half-past three in the morning on the thirty-first of August 1888 on Friday. This occurred in the Whitechapel Street of Durward, formerly known as Buck’s Row. There were severe, deep cuts on the throat and the lower abdominal part was openly ripped by a jagged, deep wound. Many other abdominal incisions were a result of the same weapon.

Annie Chapman

The body of Annie Chapman was discovered on the eighth of September of the same year near a backyard doorway in Spitalfields’ Hanbury Street. In the same way that Nichols’ throat was cut, so was Chapman’s severed by 2. There was an open slash in the abdomen, and later it was found that there had been a removal of the uterus. When questioning occurred, 1 person gave a description of seeing her at half past five in the morning with a shabby-genteel dark-haired man.

Catherine Eddowes and Elizabeth Stride

Catherine Eddowes and Elizabeth Stride were killed on the thirtieth of September in the early morning. The cause of death was an incision that was clear cut severing the left side of the neck’s main artery. There is no certainty about whether the murder of Stride should be blamed on Jack the Ripper or whether there was an interruption, since there were no abdominal mutilations. Earlier that night witnesses claim they saw here with a companion some say was dark, some say fair, some say he was dressed well and others say he was dressed shabbily. The body of Eddowes was found in Mitre Square with a ripped abdomen and a severed throat. There was a removal of the uterus and the left kidney. Shortly before the murder, Joseph Lawende, a local man passed through and gave a description of seeing a shabbily dressed fair haired man with someone who could have been the victim. A double event is what some call the murders of both Stride and Eddowes.

Mary Jane Kelly

The mutilated, gruesome body of Mary Jane Kelly was found lying in a single room’s bed at her home. There was a severity of the mutilations when the murders went one for all the canonical five, except for Stride’s whose attacks could have gotten an interruption. There were no missing organs on Nichols but the uterus of Chapman was removed. Eddowes had hare face mutilated, her kidney removed and also her uterous. The face of Kelly was hacked and her body eviscerated, but her heart was taken from the scene of the crime.

Later Murders

Generally, Kelly is thought to be the last of the Ripper’s victims and there are assumptions that each crime ended due to the emigration, institutionalization, imprisonment or death. The murders of Whitechapel in the file do detail an extra 4 murders that occurred after the canonical 5. These include France Coles, the Pinchin Street torso, Alice Mckenzie and rose Mylett.


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      5 years ago

      I like your article for it's "downtoearthness". I'd like to see some research done on the "canonical five". What little I've learned indicates that only two of them were full time prostitutes. Catherine Eddowes worked at least part time picking hops up north. Elizabeth Stride did charity work with the Salvation Army. Annie Chapman did work as a flower girl. Little is known about Mary Kelly except that she was from Limerick, Ireland and was illiterate. The police file on Mary (Polly) Nicoles makes reference of her exceptional personal hygiene which is notable considering the filth of East London at the time. Chapman's husband had left her because of her drinking yet three years before her murder he himself had died from pserosis of the liver (too much tea and milk I guess). Women in those times were subject to much uncalled for discrimination, something I'd like to see more authors consider when writing their books about the Whitechapel murders.


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