By Tim Lambert
Jack the Ripper stalked the East End of London in 1888. However to this day we do not know his real name and it is unlikely we will ever know.
The Victims of Jack The Ripper
Martha Tabram (?)
It is not certain how many women Jack the Ripper killed. Most people believe there were 5 victims but its possible there were others. Martha Tabram may have been a victim. Martha was born in 1849 and she married in 1869. However she separated from her husband in 1875 and in the end she began selling herself. On 6 August 1888 Martha Tabram was with a woman known as Pearly Poll. They met two soldiers in a pub. At 2 pm on 7 August 1888 PC Thomas Barrett saw a soldier in George Yard. The soldier said he was waiting for a friend who had gone with a girl. Very likely the 'girl' was Martha.
The body of Martha Tabram was found early in the morning of 7 August on the stairs of a tenement block called George Yard Buildings. At 3.30 am a cab driver who lived in George Yard Buildings came home from work and saw what he thought was a woman sleeping on a first floor landing. At 4.45 a man named John Reeves left for work. By then it was getting light and Reeves saw the body of a woman in a pool of blood. Dr Timothy Killeen examined the body and he estimated Martha had been killed about 2.30 am.
Martha Tabram had been stabbed 39 times. The two soldiers were obvious suspects but they were never identified. However its possible that she was not killed by a soldier. Maybe she parted from him and met Jack The Ripper.
Mary Ann Nichols
Mary Ann Nichols also known as Polly Nichols was the first definite victim of Jack the Ripper. Mary Ann or Polly was born in 1845. When she was 19 she married a printer named William Nichols. They had 5 children named Edward, Percy, Alice, Eliza and Henry. However by 1880 the couple were separated. For a time William Nichols paid Polly 5 shillings a week but he stopped it in 1882 when he learned she was selling herself. Polly spent much of the next 8 years in the workhouse. However in April 1888 Polly found a job as a maid to a couple called Cowdray who lived in Wandsworth, London. But in July 1888 Polly ran off with clothes worth 3 pounds and 10 shillings (a considerable sum in 1888). By August 1888 Polly was living in doss houses in Whitechapel. At 1.20 am on Friday 31 August 1888 Polly went to a doss house in Thrawl Street but she was turned away because she did not have the money for a bed. She said 'I'll soon get my doss money, see what a jolly bonnet I've got now'. At 2.30 am Polly met a woman named Ellen Holland. Polly said she had earned her 'doss money' (money for a bed in a doss house) 3 times that day but had spent it on drink. Ellen tried to persuade Polly to return to the doss house in Thrawl Street but she refused. Instead Polly went off to earn more money.
At about 3.40 am the body of Mary Ann Nichols was found in Bucks Row (now called Durward Street). The body was taken to Whitechapel Mortuary. There were two cuts in her throat and several cuts in her abdomen. Mary Ann Nichols aka Polly was buried in the City of London Cemetery on 6 September 1888.
The next victim of Jack the Ripper was called Annie Chapman. She was born Eliza Ann Smith in London in 1841. In 1869, aged 28 Annie married a coachman named John Chapman. They had 3 children but 1 daughter died in 1882. By then Annie was separated from her husband and he died in 1886. Annie lived by selling crochet work or flowers but sometimes she was forced to sell herself. At the time of her death Annie was living at a common lodging house in Dorset Street. At 11.30 pm on Friday 7 September Annie was allowed into the kitchen of the lodging house but at 1.35 am she was made to leave because she didn't have the money for a bed. She was last seen alive shortly before 5.30 am on Saturday 8 September. A woman saw Annie Chapman with a man in Hanbury Street. The man said 'will you?' and Annie replied 'yes'. The man was facing away from the witness but she said he had a deerstalker hat on and was 'shabby genteel' in appearance.
Then at about 5.25 am a man called Albert Cadosh went into the backyard of 27 Hanbury Street. He heard a woman in the backyard of no. 29 say 'no'. Then at about 6 am John Davis went into the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street and discovered the body of Annie Chapman. The body was taken to Whitechapel Infirmary and it was examined by Dr George Bagster Phillips. The murderer cut her throat. He also cut out her intestines and laid them on her shoulder. Annie Chapman was buried on 14 September 1888 at Manor Park Cemetery in Forest Gate.
Then on 27 September 1888 a letter arrived at the Central News Agency in London (which provided stories to London newspapers). The writer claimed he was the murderer. However it is generally believed the letter was a hoax. However the letter was signed Yours Truly Jack the Ripper. That became the name of the unknown murderer.
It is not certain if Elizabeth Stride was a victim of Jack the Ripper. She was born Elizabeth Gustafsdottir in Sweden in 1843. In 1865 she had a stillborn daughter. Then in 1866 Liz moved to London. In 1869 she married John Stride. They separated about 1877 and John died in 1884. Liz became known as 'Long Liz' because of her surname Stride.
At 11 pm on Saturday 29 September 1888 2 laborers saw Liz leaving a pub called the Bricklayers Arms in Settles Street. At 11.45 pm another laborer saw Liz with a man in Berner Street (now called Henriques Street). The man said 'You would say anything but your prayers'. Then at 12.30 PC Smith saw Liz with a man in Berner Street. The man was about 28. He was about 5 feet 7 inches tall and he was wearing a dark coat and a deerstalker hat. He was carrying a parcel wrapped in newspaper.
We are not certain what happened next. At 12.45 am a man named James Brown said he saw Liz with a man in nearby Fairclouth Street. The woman said 'No, not tonight. Maybe some other night'. However at the same time a man called Israel Schwartz claimed he saw Liz with a man in Berner Street. The man pushed Liz to the ground. Schwartz said he then saw a man on the other side of the street with a pipe. The man attacking Liz shouted 'Lipski!' (Israel Lipski was a murderer and his name was a term of anti-Semitic abuse). Schwartz fled from the scene. Obviously one of these witnesses was mistaken so we are not sure what happened.
At any rate the body of Elizabeth Stride was found at 1 am in Dutfields Yard off Berner Street A man called Louis Diemschutz was driving a pony and cart but when he tried to enter the yard the pony shied. It was very dark but when he lit a match Diemschutz saw the body of a woman. Her throat was cut but her body was not mutilated. Possibly Jack was interrupted before he could mutilate Liz Stride.
Dr Frederick Blackwell arrived at the scene at 1.10 am. He said Liz had been dead for no more than 20 minutes. If Israel Schwartz was right the man who pushed Elizabeth to the ground might have later murdered her. It is also possible she left the man who pushed her over and immediately afterwards she met Jack the Ripper.
The next victim of Jack the Ripper was Catherine or Kate Eddowes. She was born in Wolverhampton in 1842. Her family moved to London in 1843. When she was young Catherine Eddowes lived with a man named Thomas Conway and they had 3 children in 1863, 1868 and 1873 but the couple separated in 1880. From 1881 Catherine lived with a laborer named John Kelly. In September 1888 they went hop picking in Kent but when they returned to London at the end of the month they separated. At 8.30 pm on Saturday 29 September Catherine Eddowes was arrested for being drunk in Aldgate High Street. She was taken to Bishopsgate Police Station and locked in a cell to sober up. PC Hutt released Catherine at 1.00 am on Sunday 30 September. Catherine said 'I shall get a damn fine hiding when I get home'. PC Hutt replied 'And serves you right. You have no right to get drunk'. Her last words were 'Alright. Good night old cock'.
At 1.35 am 3 men said they saw Catherine Eddowes at the entrance to Church Passage (now called St James Passage). Eddowes had her hand on the man's chest. He was about 30 and was 5 feet 7 or 8 inches tall. He was of medium build and had a mustache. The body of Catherine Eddowes was found in a corner of Mitre Square by PC Watkins at 1.44 am.
The body was examined by Dr Frederick Brown. Her throat had been cut. Her intestines were drawn out and placed over the right shoulder. (Although a piece about 2 feet long had been cut off and placed between the body and the left arm). The left kidney was also missing from the body. Jack also made several cuts on her face.
Meanwhile at 2.55 am PC Long found a piece of apron at the bottom of the staircase of Wentworth Model Buildings in Goulston Street. The piece of apron had been cut from an apron worn by Catherine Eddowes. Above the piece of apron somebody had written the words 'The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing' in chalk. However it is not clear if Jack the Ripper wrote those words or if somebody else did so some time before the murder.
On 16 October 1888 George Lusk Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee received a letter and a parcel. In it was half a human kidney. The writer claimed the kidney was from Catherine Eddowes. He said he fried and ate the other piece. It is generally believed it was a hoax. Catherine Eddowes was buried on 8 October 1888.
Mary Jane Kelly
The last definite victim of Jack the Ripper was an Irish woman named Mary Jane Kelly. Not much is known about her for sure. She was younger than the other victims and was about 25 when she died. Mary Jane was born about 1863 in Limerick, Ireland and it is said her family moved to Wales when she was small. By about 1884 Mary was living in London.
Mary lived in a single room in a building in Millers Court. That was a group of buildings arranged around a small courtyard. Millers Court was off Dorset Street and it was reached through an alley about 3 feet wide and 20 feet long. Her only furniture was a bed and a washstand and 2 small tables. Her body was found in this hovel.
At 2.00 am on Friday 9 November a man named George Hutchinson met Kelly in the street. She asked to borrow 6 pence but he did not have the money. As she walked away a stranger approached Mary. Hutchinson heard him say to her 'You will be alright for what I have told you'. He said the man was about 34 or 35 and was 5 feet 6 inches tall. Hutchinson described the man as 'shabby genteel'. He followed them to the entrance of Millers Court where Mary said to the man 'Alright my dear. Come along you will be comfortable'. She kissed the man and said she had lost her red handkerchief. The man gave her one to replace it. Hutchinson hung around for 45 minutes then left the area.
At about 3.45 am 3 people in Millers Court heard a cry of 'Oh murder!'. Nobody took any notice as such cries were common. Then at 10.45 the landlord sent a man to collect rent Mary owed. He reached through a broken windowpane and moved a coat hung as a curtain. He saw the mutilated body of Mary Jane Kelly.
Her breasts were cut off and the internal organs were removed from her abdomen. Her uterus, kidneys and breast were found under her head. Her other breast was found by her right foot. Her liver was placed between her feet. Her intestines were on the right side of the body and the spleen was on the left. Her face was obliterated. Jack had also cut the flesh off her thighs.
Mary Jane Kelly was buried in St Patrick's RC Cemetery in Leytonstone on 19 November 1888.
On the morning of 9 November Mrs Paumier was selling hot chestnuts on the corner of Widegate Street and Sandys Row. A man approached her and said: 'I suppose you have heard about the murder in Dorset Street?'. Mrs Paumier replied that she had. The man grinned and said: 'I know more about it than you do'. She said the man was about 5 feet 6 inches tall and he had a mustache. He wore a black coat and hat and he carried a black bag. However we do not know if he was Jack the Ripper or not.
Alice McKenzie (?)
Several months after the murder of Mary Jane Kelly a woman named Alice McKenzie was murdered. However it is unlikely she was a victim of Jack the Ripper because her throat was not cut. Instead she was stabbed in the neck twice and the body was not mutilated (although there were cuts in her abdomen). Alice was from Peterborough. She was born about 1849. She was known as Clay Pipe Alice because she smoked a pipe. At the time of her death Alice McKenzie was living in Gun Street with a man named John McCormack. However at 2.50 am on 17 July 1889 PC Andrews discovered the body of Alice McKenzie in Castle Alley. In July 1889 Alice McKenzie was buried in Plaistow cemetery.
The Pinchin Street Torso 1889 (?)
On 10 September 1889 PC Pennett found a woman's torso with its head and legs cut off covered by a piece of women's clothing under a railway arch in Pinchin Street. The abdomen was mutilated. The victim was never identified and the murderer was never caught. However it is unlikely the woman was a victim of Jack the Ripper because the killers method of dealing with the body was quite different.
Frances Coles 1891 (?)
A woman called Frances Coles was murdered in 1891 (she was also known as Carroty Nell). However it is unlikely she was a victim of Jack the Ripper because she was still alive when she was found, which does not sound like Jack. PC Thompson discovered the Frances Coles at 2.15 am on Friday 13 February in Swallow Gardens (which no longer exists). He shone his torch in her face and she opened one eye. However she died shortly afterwards. The murderer was never caught.
What Kind of Man Was Jack the Ripper?
Jack the Ripper must have been a local man since he knew his way in the streets and alleys. Jack probably had a job as he usually killed at the weekends. He was probably working class. People who probably saw Jack said he was not particularly well dressed. Furthermore if he lived locally it is unlikely he was well off as most people who lived in Whitechapel were working class. Jack the Ripper probably lived alone as he went out in the early hours of the morning and returned without arousing any suspicion. Witnesses said Jack was in his late 20s or early 30s and that is the age at which serial killers usually murder people.
Some people at the time thought he had some surgical skill but others disagreed. Jack the Ripper may have been a slaughter man. If he was he would be able to walk through the streets with blood on him without arousing suspicion. Lastly Jack obviously had a hatred of women. Why is not known but it has been suggested he was abused by his mother.
Some Jack the Ripper Suspects
In 1888 William Bury lived in Bow London and he sold sawdust. In January 1889 he moved with his wife Ellen to Dundee. In February 1889 he strangled her with a rope then cut her body several times with a knife. Bury then went to the police but he claimed his wife committed suicide. Not surprisingly they did not believe him. Bury was hanged in April 1889. However it seems unlikely Bury was Jack the Ripper. Bury killed by strangulation with a rope while Jack the Ripper cut his victims throats. Jack also killed strangers while Bury killed his own wife. Furthermore it does not seem likely that Jack the Ripper would just go to the police and hand himself in.
George Chapman was born in Poland in 1865 (his real name was Severin Klosowski). He moved to London in the 1880s and later killed three women. He poisoned all three of them with antimony. (They were murdered in 1897, 1901 and 1902). Chapman was hanged in 1903. Again there is no evidence to link Chapman to Jack the Ripper and the murders he committed are obviously different. Jack killed strangers by cutting their throats and then mutilated them. Chapman poisoned women he knew. Furthermore in 1888 Chapman was only 23, which makes him younger than the man eyewitnesses saw.
On 7 December 1888 David Cohen was arrested as a lunatic wandering at large. He was sent to Whitechapel Workhouse Infirmary then to an asylum. Cohen was violent but he died of natural causes in October 1889. However there is nothing to link Cohen with Jack the Ripper and he was probably too deranged to have carried out the murders. Jack was cunning and he must have been able to act normally when not killing people to avoid suspicion. Cohen sounds as if he was too disorganized to have been Jack the Ripper.
Montague John Druitt
Montague Druitt was born in 1857 into a wealthy family in Dorset. In 1888 he was a barrister in London. He also worked part time in a school but for some reason he was dismissed from there on 30 November. Druitt committed suicide at the beginning of December 1888 by jumping in the Thames and his body was found on 31 December. Druitt left a note saying he feared he was going to be like his mother (she was mentally ill). He may also have been depressed about losing his job at the school. However there is no evidence that Druitt was Jack the Ripper. He seems to have become a suspect only because he killed himself about a month after the last murder.
On 7 February 1891 Aaron Kosminski was sent to an asylum and he stayed there until his death in 1919. Kosminski heard voices and ate food from the gutter. Obviously Kosminski was mentally ill but while he was in an asylum he was never violent (except once when he attacked somebody with a chair). It is said that Kosminski once threatened his sister with a knife. It seems likely it was a domestic argument. There is no evidence that Kosminski was Jack the Ripper.
Michael Ostrog was born in Russia about 1833. He was a con man and a thief. However Ostrog was never violent. He was also tall and stood about 5 feet 11 inches tall, which makes him much too tall for any of the witness's descriptions of Jack the Ripper. Ostrog was also much older than the man seen by witnesses. Furthermore it is not certain if Ostrog was in London at the time of the murders. He was sentenced to 2 years for theft in Paris on 18 November 1888. All of which makes it very unlikely Ostrog was Jack the Ripper.
Francis Tumblety was born in 1833. He was a quack doctor. Tumblety was in London in 1888. However he was in his mid 50s in 1888 and witnesses saw a much younger man. Furthermore he was 5 feet 10 inches tall. Tumblety was a rogue but there is no evidence that he was violent and there is nothing to link him with Jack the Ripper.
Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence
Prince Albert Victor was the grandson of Queen Victoria. He was born in 1864 and he died of influenza in 1892.
However Albert Victor was taller than the man seen with victims of Jack the Ripper. And he had an alibi for the nights of the murders. When Polly Nichols and Annie Chapman were killed he was in Yorkshire. He was in Scotland when Liz Stride and Kate Eddowes were murdered and he was in Norfolk when Mary Kelly died. So it is very unlikely that Prince Albert Victor was Jack the Ripper.
Unfortunately we will probably never know Jack the Ripper was. Too much time has now passed.
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