The Victims of Jack the Ripper Jack the Ripper is remembered as one of history's most famous serial killers. His technique of getting his victims to lay down before he slashed their throats, then disemboweling them in a matter of a minute or two with as little blood flow as possible distinguishes him as one of the most methodical, ruthless killers to ever live. He even performed some of his gruesome murders right in the street and left his victims to be found minutes later by people or policemen passing by. This demonstrates what extremes he would actually go to fulfill his desire for killing. Through my report I will create a brief profile of Jack's victims as well as explore the methodical and horrendous ways they were murdered.
Mary Anne "Polly" Nichols Mary Anne Nichols was found dead on Aug. 31, 1888 between 3:30 and 4:00 A.M. by a porter on his way to work.
At first, it appeared to the porter that the woman was just laying down in the street unconscious. Police officer John Neil was summoned to the scene minutes after the body was found. The light from his lamp revealed that the woman was in fact dead with a slashed throat. Dr. Rees Ralph Llewellyn was performing a surgery when he was called to make an official examination of the body. After the examination was complete he pronounced the woman dead by means of a slashed throat. He also took special note that the body was still warm, indicating that the victim had been dead perhaps only minutes before being discovered.
The body was removed to the mortuary shed at the Old Montague Street Workhouse Infirmary to be autopsied. Only then was the unusually large puddle of blood that had collected beneath the body seen. Once at the mortuary, Dr. Llewellyn performed a full autopsy, which revealed more about the manner of the murder that was not acknowledged during the street examination. Not only was her throat slashed, but also her abdominal area and sexual organs had been brutally sliced and mutilated, which explained the large puddle of blood beneath the body. Furthermore, there were many bruises on the sides of her face, which indicated that she had been knocked unconscious before being mutilated. The murder was believed to have been committed with a stout-handled blade of six to eight inches long (Geary, p.7).
Mary Anne Nichols was the first victim of Jack the Ripper who was deliberately mutilated. She was known as "Polly" by her friends, and was a drunken street prostitute in her early forties. She married at the age of nineteen to a printer named William Nichols. They had five children together. The two eventually separated shortly after Mary Anne developed a drinking problem. William took custody of all of their children, except for the oldest, Edward, and paid Mary a weekly allowance of $5.25 until he learned of her lifestyle as a street prostitute. Mary Anne was last seen by a friend named Ellen Holland at 2:30 a.m. on the corner of Osborn Street and White chapel High Street. It was noted that she was drunk and staggering at the time. After a weekend of investigation, the Metropolitan Police Force was unable to come up with much useful information regarding the murder of Mary Anne Nichols.
On Sept. 8, 1888, a little before 6:00A.M.; Annie Chapman was found laying dead at the foot of steps at the back of a lodging house by a lodger named John Davis. The first sight of the dead body sent Davis screaming down his street, alarming the whole neighborhood. Inspector Joseph Luniss Chandler of the Commercial Street station arrived with his men to seal off the scene and the building from the large crowd that had already gathered before their arrival. Dr. Wynne Baxter-Phillips was summoned to the scene to examine the body. His brief examination revealed that the woman's throat was cut with two deep slashes, so deep, that the woman was almost beheaded. A scarf had been tied around her neck as if to hide the slashed throat. Her skirt was lifted just above her knees and her legs were bent up and cut. After her skirt was lifted up, it revealed that her entire body cavity was opened up, with the entrails entirely scooped out and placed over her right shoulder. This was an even worse mutilation than the previous victim. The body was brought to the same mortuary as before, where Dr. Baxter-Phillips performed a full autopsy. He discovered something that surprisingly had not been noticed at the scene of the crime; her sexual organs were completely missing. She had bruises on her face and chest, which implied that there had been a struggle, and like Polly Nichols, she was probably knocked unconscious before being mutilated. Again, it was believed that the murder was committed with a stout- handled knife with a blade of six to eight inches.
Annie Chapman was another drunken street prostitute. She was short, stout, and in her mid-forties. At the age of twenty-eight, she married John Chapman in London and moved to Windsor. They had two daughters, although one died, and a crippled son. She abandoned her family shortly before her daughter died and returned to London. She received sporadic allowances from her husband until he died. It was allegedly her alcoholism and immorality that broke up their marriage. She made a living by selling flowers and matches, soliciting as a prostitute, and living off of male friends.
Inspector Frederick Aberline of the Great Scotland Yard was assigned to supervise the investigation, which involved hundreds of policemen. Little information was found though, due to the lack of cooperation of citizens of the neighborhood. 3. Elizabeth Stride, 4. Catherine Eddows Elizabeth Stride was found dead in a dark alley off of Berener Street on Sept. 30, 1888. At 1:00 a.m., Mr. Louis Diemschutz was driving a horse cart when he turned into the dark alley to see a figure laying on the ground in his path. As he looked closer, he saw that it was a woman on her back, either dead or just merely drunken. As a few men arrived on the scene from down the court, the light revealed her slashed throat and the large puddle of blood around her. Police arrived to the scene quickly and sealed it off. Dr. William P. Blackwell, a physician in the neighborhood, was first to examine the body, and was later joined by Dr. Baxter-Phillips. They observed that the body was still warm, with a single slash to the throat. But surprisingly, no other mutilations were found. This gave them the idea that the murderer had been interrupted in his process of mutilating the woman by the entrance of Mr. Diemschutz's cart into the alley. Since the alley was very dark, it would have made it easy for the killer to flee the scene. The body was removed to the same mortuary where Dr. Baxter-Phillips, this time assisted by Dr. Blackwell, once again performed the autopsy. Besides the slashed throat, no other violations could be found by either of the doctors. The general feeling about Elizabeth Stride's murder was that it was indeed the work of Jack the Ripper, and that because he was interrupted, he did not finish the job. There were two other theories though: (1) this murder was just the work of an imitator, and (2), it was the result of a private dispute totally unconnected to the Ripper murders.
Elizabeth Stride was another street prostitute in her early forties, but unlike the first two victims, she was not known to have a drinking problem. At the age of twenty-three, she started the life of a prostitute and gave birth to a stillborn baby. She was also admitted twice into the hospital for venereal diseases. At the age of twenty-seven she married John Thomas Stride and had two children with him. In 1878, when the steamer Princess Alice sunk off of Woolrich, Elizabeth claimed her husband and two children had tragically died in the catastrophe, however, research by Dr. Baxter-Phillips revealed that John Thomas Stride had actually died in Bromley in 1884, a few years after their marriage had broken up. His research revealed no evidence of their two children. On the night of Stride's death, in Mitre Square, no more than a ten-minute walk from the scene of her murder, the body of Catherine Eddows was found. At 1:45 A.M., police officer Edward Watkins was walking his routine route when he saw a woman lying on her back.
Her body had been ripped open," Like a pig in the market," as officer Watkins colorfully put it (Geary, p.26). The officer had passed through the square just fifteen minutes earlier, and at that time all seemed quiet and well. Minutes after the body was found, Dr. George Esquire arrived on the scene from a nearby surgery to examine the body. City police surgeon Dr. Frederick Brown accompanied him. They discovered that her throat had been opened with one deep slash, and her face had several small cuts and nips with a long diagonal slash that severed the tip of her nose and a piece of her right ear. Her body had been completely ripped up the middle. As with Annie Chapman, her internal organs had been completely scooped out and placed over her right shoulder. Both doctors agreed that by the look of it, the disembowelment had been done in a hurry, but there were no signs of a struggle.
As with the previous victims, there was no spattering or spewing of blood, but instead just a large puddle of blood that had slowly collected under the body. That afternoon, Doctors Brown and Sequira performed the autopsy on the body, and found that her uterus and one of her kidneys were completely missing. This led to a theory that the murderer was actually just after women's organs to sell them on the black market and make a big profit. Catherine Eddows was an alcoholic in her early forties who made a living from prostitution. According to her friends, she claimed that she had married a man named Thomas Conway, and had three children (1 daughter, 2 sons). There were, however, no traces of their marriage found on registers. The two eventually separated, her daughter, Annie, saying that it was because of her mother's drunkenness and periodic absences, and her sister, Elizabeth Fisher, saying that it was because of Conway's drinking and violence. The two boys went to live with their father, and Annie went to live with Catherine. Annie would eventually marry Louis Phillips. She and her husband would frequently move around to avoid her mother.
The police last saw Catherine at 1:00 A.M., roughly forty-five minutes before her death. She was brought in to the police station after being found passed out in an alley at about 8:00 P.M. The police released her at 1:00 A.M. Witnesses claimed to have seen a man with a woman, who most certainly looked like the victim, standing in Mitre Square at 1:30 A.M. They described the man as about thirty years old, with a fair complexion and a light mustache. He wore a loose jacket and a "reddish-brown" handkerchief with a peaked cloth cap. He had the overall look of a sailor. The police investigated the whole morning under the supervision of Sir Henry Smith, the assistant city police commissioner. They were able to find a blood-smeared knife and blood-smeared clothing, which matched the fabric of the victim's skirt.
On Nov. 9, 1888, the body of Mary Jane Kelly, the Ripper's last victim, was found in a room on Miller's Court, a filthy alleyway off of Dorsey Street. At about 10:30 A.M., Mr. McCarthy, the landlord, sent his assistant to collect past-due rent from Kelly. After receiving no answer from within the room and finding that the door was locked, the assistant looked in through a broken windowpane. One glimpse of the scene inside the room and the assistant was running in horror to the police. Inspector Walter Beck arrived first at the scene shortly after 11:00 A.M. to seal off the court, and about thirty minutes later Mr. McCarthy broke open the door to the room. The first few to enter the room were completely unrepentant of the degree of carnage with which they were faced. One officer was reported to vomit violently outside in the gutter after a first glimpse.
Dr. Baxter-Phillips arrived at the scene to make an initial examination of the remains. The bed of the victim was completely soaked with blood, and the carcass of the victim was literally carved to pieces (Geary, p.52). Baxter-Phillips estimated that the killer was busy on the body for at least two hours, and that the victim had been deceased for seven to eight hours. The mid-section had been completely emptied out and the internal organs were arranged around the body on the bed. Large sections of flesh and muscle tissue had been stripped from the bone and placed on the bedside table. The front of her upper body had been completely carved off, except for her eyeballs, which were left in their sockets. From the looks of the room, no signs of a struggle appeared to have taken place; in fact, the victim's clothes were neatly folded and stacked on a chair.
At 3:30 P.M., Dr. Baxter-Phillips proceeded to reassemble the remains with the help of police surgeon Dr. Thomas Beck, and several other assistants. They labored for several hours, assembling the body together," Like a jig-saw puzzle," as one of the assistants put it (Geary, p.54). They also found that there were cuts on her hands, indicating that she had offered some resistance to her killer, and that none of her organs were found missing. Despite that she was in her early twenties, Mary Jane Kelly seemed to be no different from the other victims of the Ripper. She had married at the age of nineteen to a collier named Davies, who died two or three years later in a mine explosion. They had no children together, or at least there aren't any records that they did. Shortly after her husband's death, she began her career as a prostitute in a London brothel, and she also started her life as an alcoholic. The police's investigation found that Mrs. Mary Anne Cox, a local resident, had seen Mary Jane Kelly in the evening at about 11:45 P.M. entering her room with a short, stout man with a "carroty" mustache. Ms. Sarah Lewis, who entered the court at about 2:30 A.M., said she had passed a man loitering outside the entrance of Dorsey Street, and that somewhere around 4:00 A.M. (about the hour that the doctors placed the time of death), they heard a woman's voice cry "Oh Murder!" (Geary, p. 57) from somewhere in the court. Neither of the women took the cry to be of great importance, since such exclamations were quite common in the neighborhood. Police believed that the same killer, Jack the Ripper, performed the murders of all off these victims.
All of the victims' lifestyles and age were the same, which led investigators to believe that there was a certain personal profile for the Ripper's choice of victims. All of the victims, with the exception of Kelly, were in their mid-forties. They were all prostitutes and most of them lived their lives as alcoholics. They all had been previously married, and most had children. All of their marriages had fallen apart after a few years. They eventually chose alcoholism and prostitution for their lifestyle, and practically lived their lives in the gutter. A profile such as this led investigators to believe that it was personal frustration that the Ripper was venting against these women. The manner of the murders also led investigators to believe that they were all done by the same killer, in that they all fell prey to a distinct style of mutilation. A slashed throat, and mutilations of both the internal and sexual organs were all trademark methods of Jack the Ripper. The extremities of these methods also indicated an obvious hatred towards these victims, most likely because of their lifestyles.
Although the dismemberment was shocking, it showed a precision that indicated a knowledge of human and, perhaps, medical training. Although there were many suspects in question, there was not enough evidence to convict any one of them. As a result of the lack of evidence, the true identity of Jack the Ripper, to this day, still remains a mystery. However, it is possible to form a personal profile of the London East-end slashed based on the evidence, just as investigators have formed profiles of modern serial killers such as Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer or the Son of Sam. Based upon the information that was gathered by investigators from eyewitnesses, the victims that were last seen alone with someone were last seen with a man. Also, since the victims were all prostitutes, the killer was probably a man who acted like he was interested in what they had to offer, and then caught them off guard to perform his gruesome task. This man was probably a loner, or very prominent and had freedom to move around unquestioned. He was also probably a local man who had lived in the area for quite a while, and was very familiar with the alleys and streets, which would explain why he was able to flee from the murder scene of Elizabeth Stride.
One theory of what his motives were for the murders was that perhaps he was a customer of prostitution and happened to become infected with a disease, so decided to have his revenge by violently murdering a handful of prostitutes. Another theory was that maybe he was taking revenge for a family member who was in a similar situation, or that he came from the same situation as some of the children of the prostitutes and was also left by his mother who ended up as a prostitute. Or maybe he just felt that he was merely cleansing society and doing it a favor by killing off a handful of people who he felt were scum who corrupted society. The ideal profile of Jack the Ripper was a single man, probably a doctor, who had bad experiences with prostitutes in the past, and had lived in London long enough to become familiar with its streets and alleys. He was obviously very daring and nerveless to commit such crimes in the streets, because he could have been caught at any time by anyone who happened to be passing by.
Bibliography ÃÂ· Beg, Paul, Martin Fido and Keith Skinner. The Jack the Ripper A-Z. London: Headline Book Publishing, 1991.
ÃÂ· Geary, Rick. Jack the Ripper A Journal of the White Chapel Murders. New York: Nantier Beall Minoustchine Publishing, Inc., 1995.
ÃÂ· Sugden, Philip. The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.