The Jack the Ripper murders occurred in London more than one hundred years ago and is one of the world’s most talked-about cases. The methods used in the investigation were years before their time but still, the infamous serial killer was never found. Since then, evidence has been lost and facts have been muddled. Thus, the true story of Jack the Ripper takes a careful, conscious effort to sort through the specifics to determine what happened and why.
A Quick Introduction to Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper murdered a number of prostitutes in the East End of London in the late 1880s. The Jack the Ripper moniker originates from a letter written by a person who claimed to be the killer. All of the murders took place within a mile area within the London districts of Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Adgate, and the City of London proper.
The Jack the Ripper case was unique in several aspects. The severity of the mutilations was shocking to a culture that considered itself to be “refined”. In addition, Victorian-era media outlets, including newspapers and photography, provided unique documentation of the events, including some of the earliest crime scene photos ever taken.
The Five Canonical Jack the Ripper victims
It is unclear just how many women the Ripper killed. It is generally accepted that he killed at least five, though the number of victims may include seven or more. The five that are generally accepted as the work of the Ripper (the “canonical victims”) are:
- Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols, murdered Friday, August 31, 1888.
- Annie Chapman, murdered Saturday, September 8, 1888.
- Elizabeth Stride, murdered Sunday, September 30, 1888.
- Catharine Eddowes, also murdered that same date.
- Mary Jane (Marie Jeanette) Kelly, murdered Friday, November 9, 1888.
In addition to the above-mentioned five “canonical” victims, there is much evidence pointing to the first victim being Martha Tabram who was murdered Tuesday, August 7, 1888.
All victims were prostitutes and were thought to be drunk at the time that they were killed. All but Tabram and Kelly were killed outdoors. They vary in age and appearance, and there is little evidence to suggest that they knew each other.
If the list of five canonical victims is truly accurate, the case presents another fascinating aspect – all the murders occurred within a time period of about two months. During that period, the murders grew in intensity, then suddenly stopped.
Jack the Ripper’s Method of Operation
Surprisingly, a full understanding of the Ripper’s modus operandi was not established until the late 1990’s. What we know now is that as the event began, the Ripper and his victim stood facing each other. He waited until the victim began to lift her skirt. With both hands occupied, Jack the Ripper would then grab the woman around the throat and strangle her until she lost consciousness. Once unconscious, Jack would then lower his victim with their heads tilted to the left. This was determined by modern forensic investigators who noted that in many cases, there were walls and fences that demonstrated the Ripper had virtually no room to attack the body from the left side. The lack of bruising on the back of the victim’s head indicated they had been gently lowered rather than letting them fall to the ground. In addition, given the weather conditions (rain) at the time of some of the murders, it is presumed that they would not have attempted intercourse on the ground. Once the victim was laid to the ground, Jack the Ripper would commence his dastardly work, cutting and slicing the women’s throats while they lay unconscious. Splatter stains show the blood pooled under the head of the victim rather than in front (which is where it would have flowed if they had been standing up). In addition, in one case, blood was found on a nearby fence and about 14 inches above the ground indicating the blood spurted from the neck wound while the body was in a prone position on the ground.
Forensic scientists also note that this method of operation would prevent the killer from being unduly blood-stained, which would likely have been noticed by witnesses. By reaching over the victim’s right side to cut the left side of her neck, the blood spurt would be directed away from the Ripper. Also, if the strangulation resulted in death, the blood flow itself would be reduced. The additional mutilations performed were most likely conducted from the same position or possibly by straddling the victim. It is noted that in some cases, the victim’s legs were pushed up, which would provide Jack room to work from the area of the victim’s feet.
Jack the Ripper did not have sexual intercourse with the victims – no sperm residue was found in any of the cases. As is common with serial killers, he did take trophies with him – reminders of the crime. In most cases, it was the victim’s viscera (internal organs). It is the opinion of many that Jack the Ripper had anatomical knowledge and was experienced with a knife, possibly a butcher, tailor, or surgeon. In one case, the Ripper took a kidney from the front rather than the side and did not damage any of the surrounding organs while cutting it out. In another case, he removed the sexual organs with one clean stroke of the knife. In many of the cases, he conducted these anatomical removals in near or total darkness and within very tight time constraints.
Jack the Ripper Letters create a legend
Much of Jack the Ripper’s infamy originated from his use of letters to authorities and media outlets. The following letters provoked great interest from the police and later investigators (complete text and transcriptions of Jack the Rippers letters are located towards the end of this article).
The Dear Boss letter
The “Dear Boss” letter, dated September 25, 1888, postmarked and received September 27, 1888, by the Central News Agency, was forwarded to Scotland Yard on September 29. Initially, it was considered a hoax, but when Eddowes was found with one ear partially cut off three days after the letter was sent, the letter’s promise to “clip the ladys (sic) ears off” garnered suspicion. The name “Jack the Ripper” was first used in this letter by the signatory and gained worldwide notoriety after its publication. Most of the letters that followed copied this letter’s tone, and “Jack the Ripper” supplanted “Leather Apron” (the original moniker applied to the killer) as the name adopted by the press and public to describe the killer.
The Saucy Jack postcard
The “Saucy Jack” postcard, postmarked and received October 1, 1888, by the Central News Agency, had handwriting similar to the “Dear Boss” letter. It mentions that two victims were killed very close to one another: “double event this time”, which was supposed to refer to the murders of Stride and Eddowes (see details below). It has been argued that the letter was mailed before the murders were publicized, making it unlikely that a crank would have such knowledge of the crime, but it was postmarked more than 24 hours after the killings took place, long after details were known by journalists and residents of the area.
The From Hell letter
The “From Hell” letter, also known as the “Lusk letter”, was postmarked October 15, 1888, and received by George Lusk of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee on October 16, 1888. The letter came with a small box in which Lusk discovered half a human kidney, later said by a doctor to have been preserved in “spirits of wine” (ethanol). One of Eddowes’ kidneys had been removed by the killer. The writer claimed that he “fried and ate” the missing kidney half. The handwriting and style are unlike that of the “Dear Boss” letter and postcard.
Jack the Ripper – the (clumsy) gathering of evidence
In a time before forensic science and even fingerprinting, the only way to prove someone committed a murder was to catch him or her in the act or get the suspect to confess. Very little new evidence has been found which would assist modern-day investigators with the Jack the Ripper case. One interesting feature of this case is that not one, but two police forces carried out investigations. The Metropolitan Police, known as Scotland Yard, was responsible for crimes committed in all the boroughs of London except the City of London proper. The single square mile in the heart of London, known as the City of London, had their own police force. When Catherine Eddowes was killed, it was in their territory, and this brought them into the Ripper case. It is believed that the rank and file of the two forces got along and worked well together, but there is evidence that the seniors in each force did not. To what effect, if any, their failure to cooperate had on solving the case is not known.
Most sources do not fault either police force for failing to solve the Jack the Ripper mystery, rightly pointing out that catching serial killers is still a hard task even with today’s modern science and technology methodologies. Other than autopsies and taking statements from everybody who might know something, there was little else that the Metropolitan police force could do. The attitude of the people at the time was that the police were incompetent and that the Commissioner, Sir Charles Warren, was a poor leader. He was especially criticized for not offering a reward in the hope that a confederate or accomplice would come forth and inform against the Ripper. In fact, Warren had no objections to a reward being offered, and it was his superior, Henry Matthews, the Home Secretary, who refused the sanction of a reward.
The City of London Police seem to have done a better job, although they were unable to apprehend the killer too. City police officers made crime scene drawings, took many photographs of the victim Eddowes, and even though she was not in their jurisdiction, they took photographs of the Kelly victim. She is the only victim who was photographed at the crime scene.
One of the splits between the leadership of the two forces was over graffito found in Goulston Street on the night of the “double event”. A piece of Eddowes’ apron, which the Ripper used to wipe off his knife, was found by a constable near a doorway that had a chalked message over the door. This message, “The Juwes are the men That Will not be blamed for nothing”, may have been written by the Ripper, and the City police officers wanted to photograph it. Warren felt that leaving it until it was light enough to be photographed might cause riots against the Jews living in Whitechapel, whom the bigoted English residents already believed were responsible for the murders. Warren would not even compromise by erasing or covering up the word “Juwes” only.
In the end, the police never charged any suspect with the murders committed by the Ripper, which shows they did not have a sufficient amount of evidence that would gain a verdict of guilty in criminal court.
Jack the Ripper primary suspects
In 1894, Sir Melville Macnaghten, then Chief Constable, wrote a confidential report in which he named the three top suspects. Although some information concerning the suspect he believed most likely to have been the murderer had been available before the turn of the century, the name of that suspect was not made public until 1959. Macnaghten’s suspect was M.J. Druitt, an attorney turned teacher who committed suicide in December 1888. However, most ripperologists believe Druitt is an unlikely suspect.
Severin Klosowski (aka George Chapman)
In 1903, Frederick Abberline, a retired detective who had been in charge of the Ripper investigation, stated that he thought that multiple wife poisoner Severin Klosowski, alias George Chapman, might be Jack the Ripper. As with Macnaghten, no other officer has concurred with his opinion, and modern criminal profiling science tends to reject Klosowski as a serious candidate.
The name of Macnaghten’s second suspect was confirmed as Aaron Kosminiski in the early 1980s when a researcher came upon Donald Swanson’s personal copy of Robert Anderson’s book of memoirs. Both Swanson and Anderson were officers who participated in the Ripper investigation. Anderson had written in his memoirs (which appeared for the first time in 1910) that the police knew who the Ripper was. According to Anderson, Jack the Ripper was a Polish Jew who had fled Russia and the early 1880’s and was put away in an insane asylum shortly after the Jack the Ripper crimes where he then died soon after (Kosminski died in the Leavesden Asylum for Imbeciles on March 24, 1919 from gangrene). No other officer supports Anderson’s allegation, and Swanson’s notes seem to question his superior’s claims rather than support them. Aaron Kosminski was a real person and was indeed placed in an insane asylum. His records however, show him to be a docile and harmless lunatic hairdresser that heard voices in his head and would only eat food from the gutter.
Kosminski was 23 when the murders took place, and living with his two brothers and a sister in Greenfield Street, just a short distance from where the third victim, Elizabeth Stride, was killed. In his notes, Macnaghten’s commented that Kosminski “ad a great hatred of women…with strong homicidal tendencies.” In September 2014, author Russell Edwards put forth DNA evidence he claimed tied Kosminski to the murder of Jack the Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes.
Dr. Francis Tumblety
Dr. Francis Tumblety, the most recent serious suspect, only became known to students of the Jack the Ripper murders in 1993. A collector of crime memorabilia obtained a cache of letters belonging to a crime journalist named G.R. Sims. Among the letters was one from John Littlechild, who had been in charge of the Secret Department in Scotland Yard at the time of the murders. Dated 1913, Littlechild writes to Sims: “I never heard of a Dr. D. (which many assume is a reference to Druitt as Macnaghten thought Druitt was a doctor), in connection with the Whitechapel Murders but amongst the suspects, and to my mind a very likely one, was a Dr. T . . . He was an American quack named Tumblety . . . “
A book by the collector who found the letter goes to great lengths in trying to prove that Tumblety is the final solution to the mystery. Unfortunately, he fails to do so. There is no doubt that Tumblety was a legitimate suspect and that when he fled to America. Scotland Yard detectives even travelled to the United States to investigate him further. Still, it is unlikely that Scotland Yard continued to view him as a serious suspect.
The Jack the Ripper Murders – a complete timeline
Below is a description of the Jack the Ripper murders as they occurred in chronological order. The map below shows where each of the Jack the Ripper murders occurred.
Martha Tabram (August 6, 1888)
On the Bank Holiday Monday of August 6, 1888, Martha Tabram (also known as Turner), a local prostitute in her late thirties, went soliciting on Whitechapel Road with Mary Ann Connolly, a very manly looking prostitute who was better known in the area as “Pearly Poll.” They met with two guardsmen, a corporal and a private, and went drinking with them in several pubs along the Whitechapel Road.
At some stage between 11.30 pm and 11.45 pm, the group split into couples, a quick round of bargaining took place, prices were agreed upon, and Martha disappeared with her client through the sinister arch that led into George Yard (today known as Gunthorpe Street), whilst Pearly Poll led her client into the next dark thoroughfare along, Angel Alley. According to the East London Advertiser George Yard was “…one of the most dangerous streets in the locality…” But for a seasoned streetwalker like Martha Tabram, it offered a reasonable amount of privacy for quick sex acts, which were known as four-penny knee tremblers.
Towards the top of George Yard, on the left, there stood a block of cheap apartments known as the George Yard Buildings. The buildings were occupied by tenants whom the East London Observer described somewhat unflatteringly as ‘people of the poorest description.’ When its staircase lights had been extinguished at 11 pm, the landings were cast into an impenetrable darkness that made them ideal for use by prostitutes and their clients. Martha would no doubt have been well aware of this tucked-away spot, and it was for one of the building’s dark and secluded landings that she headed with the soldier.
In the early hours of the morning, Mrs Hewitt, wife of Francis Hewitt, the building superintendent, returned to George Yard buildings, having been out with some friends to celebrate the Bank Holiday. She afterward went out again to buy some supper at a chandler’s shop in nearby Thrawl Street. She was back within ten minutes and noticed nothing untoward or suspicious as she ascended the staircase (although she later admitted that the stairs were unlit, so she probably wouldn’t have noticed a body if one had been lying there). Once in bed, she and her husband slept soundly and heard no noise in the night.
At half past three in the morning, Alfred George Crow, a cab driver, of 35 George Yard Buildings, returned home from work and, on his way upstairs, saw somebody lying on the first-floor landing. It was, however, quite common for people to sleep on the building’s landings, and so he thought nothing of it and continued home to bed.
A little after 5:00 AM, John Saunders Reeves, a waterside laborer, left his home in George Yard Buildings and came down the stairs. He too noticed the prone form, but as it was now getting light, he was able to see that it was a woman who was lying on her back in a pool of blood. He hurried off to find a policeman and returned with Constable T. Barrett, whom he had encountered patrolling in the vicinity of George Yard.
Barrett sent Reeves for local medic Dr. Killeen, who, having carried out an examination of the woman, pronounced life extinct and gave it as his opinion that she had been brutally murdered.
The attack on Martha Tabram had been a frenzied one. Thirty-nine stab wounds pepper-dotted her body from her throat to her lower abdomen. Dr. Killeen later told the inquest that the killer had used two different blades, the majority of the wounds having been inflicted with an ordinary pocket knife, whilst a deep wound to her breast had been dealt by “some long, strong instrument…[which could have been]… a sword bayonet or dagger.” Significantly, he was also of the belief that sexual intercourse had not recently occurred, thus ruling out rape as a motive for the murder.
The viciousness of the killing, coupled with that fact that the murder had been carried out without anyone hearing a sound, was the subject of considerable puzzlement and disquiet around the area in the days and weeks that followed. The East London Advertiser commented:
“The circumstances of this awful tragedy are not only surrounded with the deepest mystery, but there is also a feeling of insecurity to think that in a great city like London, the streets of which are continually patrolled by police, a woman could be foully and horribly killed almost next to the citizens peacefully sleeping in their beds, without a trace or clue being left of the villain who did the deed. There appears to be not the slightest trace of the murderer, and no clue has at present been found.”
George Collier, the deputy coroner for the district, would later express the feelings of many who lived in the area when he called the crime “…one of the most dreadful murders anyone could imagine” and said of the perpetrator, “The man must have been a perfect savage to inflict such a number of wounds on a defenseless woman in such a way.”
Today there is considerable debate as to whether or not Martha Tabram was a victim of Jack the Ripper. The investigating officers at the time certainly seem to have believed that she was. Inspector Walter Dew, who had been transferred to the Metropolitan Police’s H Division in 1887, and was one of the detectives who worked on the case, later stated in his autobiography:
“Significantly, her killer had targeted Martha’s throat and lower abdomen, just as the Ripper would do with his victims. It is therefore possible that Martha Tabram, murdered in the early hours of August 7th 1888 on the dark, first floor landing of George Yard Buildings, was the first victim to die at the hands of Jack the Ripper.”
Mary Ann Nichols (August 31, 1888)
When three weeks later, the mutilated body of Mary Nichols was discovered, again lying on her back with her skirts pulled up around her waist and in an almost identical pose to that of Martha Tabram’s body, the realization began to dawn – prematurely as it now transpires – that a repeat killer was loose in the streets of Whitechapel. For the people of London, their autumn of terror was about to begin.
Mary Ann Nichols was killed on Friday, August 31, 1888. Her body was discovered at about 3:40 AM on Buck’s Row (now Durward Street), Whitechapel. Her throat was severed deeply by two cuts; the lower part of the abdomen was partly ripped open by a deep, jagged wound. There also were several incisions running across the abdomen and three or four similar cuts on her right side caused by the same knife used violently and downwards.
At around 3.40 AM on August 31st, 1888, a carter named Charles Cross was making his way to work along Bucks Row – a narrow, cobbled Whitechapel street that was lined on one side by dark, imposing warehouse buildings and on the other by a row of two-story houses. As Cross approached the looming bulk of the 1876 Board School that dominated (and still dominates) the western end of Bucks Row, he noticed a dark bundle lying in a gateway on the left side of the street. Like so many of the district’s alleyways and passageways, street lighting in Bucks Row was minimal, so at first, Cross could not be sure what exactly the bundle was. It looked something like a discarded tarpaulin, and thinking that it might prove useful for his job, Cross went to inspect it. But as he drew closer, he realized it was in fact, the prone form of a woman, who was either dead or drunk.
As Cross stood rooted to the spot, unsure of what to do next, he heard footsteps behind him. Turning, he saw another carter, Robert Paul, walking towards him. “Come and look over here,” Cross called, “there is a woman lying on the pavement.” The two men stepped gingerly over the road and stooped down over her.
She was lying on her back, her legs straight out, and her skirts were raised almost over her waist. Charles Cross reached out and touched her face, which was warm, and her hands, which were cold and limp. “I believe she is dead,” he observed. Robert Paul, meanwhile, placed his hand on the woman’s chest, and thought he felt a slight movement. “I think she’s breathing,” he said, “but very little if she is.” Paul suggested that they sit the woman up, but Cross refused to touch her again.
So, deciding, perhaps somewhat callously, that they were late for work and had done as much as they could, they pulled her skirts back down to her knees to cover her decency and set off for their respective places of employment, agreeing to tell the first policeman they encountered of their find. But what neither man had noticed in the pitch darkness of Bucks Row was that the woman’s throat had been slashed so savagely that her head had almost been cut from her body.
That discovery was made by beat officer Police Constable John Neil, who turned into Bucks Row and proceeded to walk past the Board School shortly after Cross and Paul had left the scene. “There was not a soul about,” he later told the inquest into the woman’s death. “I had been round there half an hour previously and saw no one then. Below is his firsthand account of the discovery.
“I was on the right side…when I noticed a figure lying in the street. It was dark at the time…I examined the body by the aid of my lamp, and noticed blood oozing from a wound in the throat. She was lying on her back, with her clothes disarranged. I felt her arm, which was quite warm from the joints upwards. Her eyes were wide open. Her bonnet was off and lying at her side.”
As Neil stooped down over the body, he noticed PC John Thain passing the end of the street and flashed his lantern to attract his attention. “Here’s a woman with her throat cut,” he called to his approaching colleague, “run at once for Dr. Llewellyn.” As Thain hurried off to fetch the medic, PC Mizen, who had been alerted by Cross and Paul, arrived at the scene. Neil sent him to bring reinforcements and asked him to fetch the police ambulance.
When Dr. Llewellyn arrived at around 4:00 AM, he carried out a cursory examination of the body and, noting the severity of the wounds to the throat, pronounced life extinct. On closer examination, he also observed that the deceased’s body and legs were still warm, although her hands and wrists were quite cold. This led him to surmise that she could not have been dead for more than half an hour.
As Llewellyn went about his grim business, news of the murder was beginning to filter through the immediate neighborhood. In adjacent Winthrop Street, there stood a horse slaughterers yard where three slaughter-men, Harry Tomkins, James Mumford, and Charles Britten had been working throughout the night. They had heard nothing and knew nothing of the murder until informed of it by PC Thain as he passed their premises en route to fetch Dr. Llewellyn. They had gone around to view the body and remained at the scene until the woman was removed to the mortuary. The three men would later find themselves under suspicion and be interrogated separately by the police before being eliminated as suspects.
They were joined at the murder site by Patrick Mulshaw, a night watchman, who was working at the nearby sewer works. Although he did confess that he sometimes dozed on duty, he was emphatic that he had been awake between 3:00 AM and 4:00 AM and that he had not seen or heard anything suspicious. But around twenty minutes to five O’clock, a passing stranger had told him, “Watchman, old man, I believe somebody is murdered down the street,” and he immediately went round to Buck’s Row. The police appear to have made attempts to trace Mulshaw’s mystery informant, but their inquiries proved unsuccessful.
Annie Chapman (September 8, 1888)
Annie Chapman was killed on Saturday, September 8, 1888, a little over a week after the Nichols murder. Her body was discovered about 6 a.m. near a doorway in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields. Like Mary Ann Nichols, her throat was severed by two cuts. Her abdomen was slashed entirely open, and it was later discovered that the uterus had been removed.
Like Mary Nichols, Martha Tabram, and Emma Smith, Annie Chapman, led a somewhat nomadic existence around Spitalfields. She was 45 years old, a short, plump, ashen-faced consumptive who for four or so months prior to her death, had been living at Crossingham’s lodging house at number 35 Dorset Street, where she paid eight pence a night for a double bed to rest her weary head.
Chapman appears to have enjoyed a cordial relationship with the other tenants, and the deputy keeper, Timothy Donovan, remembered her as being an inoffensive soul whose main weakness was a fondness for drink. Like many of the women in the area, Annie supplemented the meager income she obtained from crochet work and making and selling artificial flowers with prostitution.
She appears to have had two regular clients, one known as Harry the Hawker, and the other a man named Ted Stanley, a supposed retired soldier who was known to her fellow lodgers as “the Pensioner.” As it later transpired, Stanley was neither a retired soldier nor a pensioner but was in fact a bricklayer’s laborer who lived at number 1 Osborn Place, Whitechapel. According to Timothy Donovan, Stanley would frequently spend Saturdays to Mondays with Annie at Crossingham’s. He also claimed that Stanley had told him to turn Annie away should she ever arrive at the lodging house with other men. Stanley vehemently denied this and claimed to have visited Annie only once or twice.
Whatever Annie’s relationship with the “Pensioner,” he seems to have been the cause of the only trouble that Timothy Donovan could remember her being involved in during all her time at Crossingham’s. At some stage in the month before her death (different witnesses remembered different dates), there had been a fracas between Annie and fellow lodger Eliza Cooper. The full details of the argument told by the different witnesses are confusing and contradictory, with some even claiming that Harry the Hawker was the cause. According to Eliza Cooper in her inquest testimony, she had loaned Annie Chapman a bar of soap, which Annie had given to Ted Stanley, who then went to wash with it. Over the next few days, Eliza asked several times for the return of the soap, only to be dismissed by Annie, who on one occasion contemptuously tossed a ha’penny onto the lodging house kitchen table and told her to “Go and get a halfpenny of soap.”
The animosity was still evident when the two women met a few days later in the Britannia pub on the eastern corner of Dorset Street. However, on this occasion, Annie slapped Eliza across the face screaming as she did so, “Think yourself lucky I don’t do more.” Eliza retaliated by punching Annie in the eye and then hard across the chest. Annie appears to have come off worse from the exchange of blows, and the bruises she sustained were still evident when Dr Phillips carried out her post-mortem. Of course, it should be remembered that this is the account given by Eliza Cooper at Annie Chapman’s inquest, and she was no doubt anxious to portray herself as the injured party.
Whatever the cause of the argument, Annie Chapman’s last days were spent bruised and in pain, her health rapidly failing. On Monday, 3rd September, when she met her friend Amelia Palmer on Dorset Street, the bruising to her right temple was more than evident. “How did you get that?” Amelia Palmer asked. Annie’s response was to open her dress and show her the bruising on her chest.
Amelia bumped into Annie again the next day close to Spitalfields church and commented on how pale she looked. Annie told her that she felt no better and that she might admit herself to the casual ward for a few days. When Amelia asked if she had had anything to eat that day, Annie replied, “No, I haven’t had a cup of tea today.” Amelia handed her two pence to buy some food and warned her not to spend it on rum.
Three days later, at around 5:00 PM on 7th September, Amelia again saw Annie in Dorset Street. She looked even worse and complained of feeling “too ill to do anything.” She was still standing in the same place when Amelia passed her again ten minutes later, although she was now trying desperately to rally her spirits. “It’s no use giving way, I must pull myself together and get some money, or I shall have no lodgings,” were the last words Amelia Palmer heard Annie Chapman speak.
Elizabeth Stride (September 30, 1888)
Elizabeth Stride was killed nearly a month later, on Sunday, September 30, 1888. Her body was discovered about 1 AM., in Dutfield’s Yard, off Berner Street (now Henriques Street) in Whitechapel. There was one clear-cut incision on the neck; the cause of death was massive blood loss from the nearly severed main artery on the left side. Some uncertainty about the identity of Stride’s murderer, along with the suggestion her killer was interrupted during the attack, stem from the absence of mutilations to the abdomen.
Elizabeth or “Long Liz” Stride spent the last afternoon of her life cleaning rooms in the lodging house at number 32 Flower and Dean Street, where she had lived on and off for the previous six years. The deputy keeper, Elizabeth Tanner, paid her sixpence for the chores, and by 6.30 pm Elizabeth was slaking her thirst in the nearby Queen’s Head pub at the junction of Fashion and Commercial Streets.
By 7 pm she had returned to the lodging house and was, according to fellow resident Charles Preston – from whom she borrowed a clothes brush – dressed “ready to go out”. Having chatted briefly with another lodger, Catherine Lane, Liz Stride left the lodging house at around 7.30 pm
It rained heavily that night, and the next sighting of her was at eleven o’clock when J. Best and John Gardner were certain that they saw her sheltering in the doorway of the Bricklayer’s Arms on Settles Street. She was in the company of a man who was about 5’ 5 inches tall. He had a black mustache, sandy eyelashes and was wearing a black morning suit together with a billycock hat.
According to Best “… they did not appear willing to go out. He was hugging and kissing her, and as he seemed a respectably dressed man, we were rather astonished at the way he was going on with the woman.” The two men couldn’t resist a little light-hearted banter at the couple’s expense and remarked to the woman, “Watch out, that’s Leather Apron getting round you.” Embarrassed by the chaffing, the couple “went off like a shot,” and Best and Gardner watched them hurry off through the rain towards Commercial Road.
At around 11:45 pm, William Marshall, a laborer who lived at number 64 Berner Street, was standing outside his lodgings when he noticed a man and woman outside number 63. They both seemed quite sober and as he watched them begin to kiss, Marshall heard the man remark to the woman, “You would say anything but your prayers.”
The couple then moved off, heading in the direction of Dutfield’s Yard. Marshall described the man as being middle-aged and stout and had the appearance of a clerk. He was around 5 feet 6 inches tall clean shaven, and respectably dressed. He wore a Small, black, cutaway coat, dark trousers, and a round cap with a small sailor-like peak.
At 12.30 am PC William Smith proceeded along Berner Street on his beat and noticed a man and a woman on the opposite side of the road to Dutfield’s Yard, where Elizabeth Stride’s body was later discovered. The man was approximately 28 years old, with a dark complexion and a small dark mustache. He was about five foot seven inches tall, and had on a dark overcoat, a hard, felt deerstalker, dark hat, and dark clothing. The woman, whom Smith later identified as Elizabeth Stride, had a flower pinned to her jacket. However, the couple was doing nothing that aroused Smith’s suspicions, so he continued on his beat, keeping ahead onto Commercial Road.
At number 40 Berner Street was the International Working Men’s Educational Club, which had been founded in 1884 by a group of Jewish Socialists. Member Morris Eagle had left the club at around 12.15 am to walk his “young lady” home.
Returning to the club at 25 minutes to one, he found the front door locked, so he went through the gates into Dutfield’s Yard and entered the club via its back door. He noticed nothing on the ground by the gates as he passed through them and was sure he would have noticed if a man and woman had been in the yard at the time. However, since the yard itself was pitch-black, he was not able to say for certain if the body of Elizabeth Stride could have been there at that time.
The most important witness to have seen Elizabeth Stride in the 30 minutes before her body was discovered in Dutfield’s Yard, was a Hungarian Jew by the name of Israel Swcharz. He turned into Berner Street at around 12.45 am and noticed a man walking ahead of him. The man stopped to talk to a woman who was standing in the gateway of Dutfield’s Yard.
Schwartz was later emphatic that the woman had seen was Elizabeth Stride. Since it is likely that Israel Schwartz witnessed the early stages of Elizabeth Stride’s murder and is, therefore, possibly the only person ever to have seen one of Jack the Ripper’s victims in the act of being murdered, his statement is worth close scrutiny, albeit he spoke no English, and therefore gave his evidence through an interpreter.
It is also worth noting that his statement to the police and the interviews he subsequently gave to journalists do differ in certain details. However, the police do seem to have taken him very seriously as a witness. According to Schwarz, the man was about 5 feet, 5 inches tall, aged around 30, with dark hair, a fair complexion, a small brown mustache. He had a full face, broad shoulders and appeared to be slightly intoxicated.
As Schwartz watched, the man tried to pull the woman into the street but then spun her around and threw her onto the footway, whereupon the woman screamed three times, but not very loudly. Israel Schwartz appears to have believed that he was witnessing a domestic attack and so crossed the road to avoid getting involved.
As he did so, he saw a second man standing, lighting his pipe. As Schwartz passed him, the man who was attacking the woman called out, apparently to this second man, the word ‘Lipski,’ at which point the second man began to follow him. Schwartz panicked and began to run, and had managed to lose his apparent pursuer by the time he reached the nearby railway arch. This second man, Schwartz said, was aged about 35, around 5 feet, 11 inches tall, had a fresh complexion, light brown hair, a brown mustache, and wore a dark overcoat with an old, black, hard felt hat.
The presence of the second man is something of a mystery. It has suggested to some that the killer had an accomplice. However, the evidence seems to suggest that the police traced the second man and eliminated him as a suspect. Indeed in a report dated the 19th of October 1888, Chief Inspector Swanson wrote that ‘the police apparently do not suspect the second man,’ although we do not know why this should be.
Since her body was discovered at 1 am, Elizabeth Stride was murdered between 12.245am and 1 am. For two violent attacks to have taken place on the same woman in the same gateway in the space of those 15 minutes is too much of a coincidence, so there is a high probability that the man that Israel Schwartz saw was the murderer of Elizabeth Stride.
At 1 a.m. Louise Diemshutz, the steward of the International Working Men’s Educational Club, returned to Dutfield’s Yard from Westow Hill Market, near Crystal Palace, where he had spent the day hawking cheap jewelry.
As he turned his pony and cart into the yard, his pony shied to the left and refused to go any further. Looking into the yard, Diemshutz saw a dark object lying on the ground close to the wall of the club. Leaning forward, he prodded it with his whip and tried to lift it. When this proved unsuccessful, he jumped down to investigate and struck a match to get a better view.
It was windy that night, and the match was extinguished almost immediately. But in the brief seconds of flickering light, he saw that it was a woman lying on the ground. Thinking it might be his wife, he went into the club by the side entrance and finding his wife safe, told several club members, “There’s a woman lying in the yard, but I cannot say whether she is drunk or dead.”
Taking a candle, Diemshutz returned to the yard with several other club members. Now he noticed blood by the body, and those present winced in horror when they saw that the woman’s throat had been cut.
The various club members rushed from the yard and hurried off into the surrounding streets to find a police constable. Deimschutz and a companion headed along Fairclough Street shouting “Murder” and “Police.” At its junction with Christian Street, they met Edward Spooner. He asked what all the fuss was about, and when they told him, he returned with them to Dutfield’s Yard, where around fifteen people were gathered. Spooner stooped down, lifted the woman’s chin, and found it to be slightly warm.
As Spooner tilted the head back, Diemschutz got his first glimpse of just how terrible the wound to her throat was. “I could see that her throat was fearfully cut,” he told a journalist later that day. “There was a great gash in it over two inches wide.” A stream of blood ran from the woman’s throat and up the yard towards the door of the club. There was also a doubled-up piece of paper in the woman’s right hand, which as it later transpired, was a packet of cachous, or breath fresheners.
Morris Eagle and another club member had headed out of Berner Street and gone right along Commercial Road. Here they met PC Henry Lamb and told him, “Come on! There has been another murder.” Lamb alerted PC Edward Collins and together, they followed the two men back to Dutfield’s Yard, where the crowd had now swelled to some 20 or 30 people. Lamb ordered the bystanders to keep back lest they get blood on their clothing and “find themselves in trouble” and told Collins to go at once for Dr. Frederick William Blackwell, who lived at 100 Commercial Street.
He then sent Morris Eagle to Leman Street Police Station to summon further assistance. As the two men headed off, Lamb stooped down and felt the woman’s face; it was still slightly warm. However, when he felt her wrist, he could detect no sign of a pulse. When asked by the Coroner at the subsequent inquest whether the woman’s clothing had been disturbed, Lamb replied, “No. I could scarcely see her boots,” and added, “She looked like she had been quietly laid down.”
Dr. Blackwell arrived in the Yard at 1.16 am and, having pronounced the woman dead, gave his opinion that she had been dead for between 20 – 30 minutes. He noted that the woman was wearing a check silk scarf, the bow of which was turned to the left and pulled tightly. At the inquest, he stated that he had formed the opinion that the killer had first taken hold of the back of the silk scarf, and pulled his victim backward onto the ground. He, however, couldn’t be certain whether the woman’s throat was cut whilst she was standing or after she had been pulled backward. Once the killer had cut her throat, slicing through the windpipe, she would not have been able to cry out and would have bled to death within about a minute and a half.
Shortly after Dr. Blackwell’s arrival PC Lamb gave orders to close the gates into Dutfield’s Yard and told everybody to remain where they were. He then carried out a search of the club premises, examining people’s hands and clothing for bloodstains in the process. Having found nothing suspicious, he went round to the cottages at the rear of number 42 Berner Street and woke the residents who had apparently remained asleep throughout the excitement of the previous 30 or so minutes. The residents appeared very frightened, and when they asked Lamb what had happened, he told them “nothing much,” as he didn’t want to alarm them further.
Lamb then returned to the body to find that Inspector West, Inspector Pinhorn, and Dr. Phillips had arrived at the scene. Inspector Reid was alerted by telegram at 1.25 am and headed directly to Berner Street from Commercial Street Police Station. When he arrived, Phillips and Blackwell were examining the woman’s throat. All the people in the yard were then interrogated, and their names and addresses were taken. Once they had given a satisfactory account of themselves and their movements, and their hands and pockets had been inspected and searched, they were allowed to leave.
A more thorough search was then made of the cottages, and the names of the residents were ascertained. Hopes of apprehending the killer in his hiding place were briefly raised when the door of a loft was found to be locked from the inside. But on forcing it open, the police found it empty. Reid then minutely inspected the wall near where the body was lying and found no traces of blood on it.
At 4.30 am the body was removed to St George’s Mortuary in Cable Street, and at 5 am PC Albert Collins washed the blood away from the yard.
Catherine Eddowes (September 30, 1888)
Catherine Eddowes was, like Elizabeth Stride, was killed on Sunday, 30 September 1888. Her body was found in Mitre Square, in the City of London, three-quarters of an hour after Stride’s. The throat was, as in the former two cases, severed by two cuts; the abdomen was ripped open by a long, deep, jagged wound. The left kidney and the major part of the uterus had been removed. Her and Stride’s murders were later called the “double event.”
At more or less the exact moment that the body of Elizabeth Stride was being discovered in Dutfield’s Yard, another prostitute named Catherine or “Kate” Eddowes, was being released from Bishopsgate Police Station in the City of London. At around 8.30 pm the previous evening, she had been entertaining a delighted crowd of onlookers outside number 29 Aldgate High Street with a spontaneous, though drunken, imitation of a fire engine.
Having taken a bow, she lay down on the pavement and went to sleep! PC Robinson of the City Police arrived on the scene and asked if any of the onlookers knew who she was or where she lived. None of them did. So Robinson hauled her to her feet and leaned her against the wall. She promptly slid back down onto the pavement, no doubt to the further amusement of the crowd.
Robinson summoned a colleague, PC George Simmons, to his assistance, and together they manhandled her around to Bishopsgate Police Station. Here, when asked her name Kate replied, “Nothing.” The officers placed her in a cell and left her to sober up. She had soon fallen into a comatose sleep.
PC George Hutt came on duty at 10 pm and took over the responsibility for the Prisoners in the cells. He checked on her several times over the next few hours and found her still fast asleep each time he did so.
But by 12.15 am she had woken, and Hutt heard her singing softly. Fifteen minutes later, she called to him and asked when she would be allowed to leave. “When you can take care of yourself,” Hutt called back. “I can do that now,” came her reply. At 12.55 am, he brought her from the cell and told her she could go. When he asked her name and address for the release papers, she told him it was ‘Mary Ann Kelly of 6 Fashion Street.’ In an odd coincidence (or not), the next victim would have a nearly identical name to Eddowe’s made-up alias.
Discharging her from custody, Hutt pushed open the swing door to the passage and said, ‘This way Misses.’ As she walked along the passage to the outer door, she asked him what time it was. “Too late for you to get any more drink,” observed Hutt. “I shall get a Damned fine hiding when I get home,” she sighed as she opened the door. Hutt was not in the least bit sympathetic “And serve you right,” he replied, “you have no right to get drunk.”
As Kate left the station, Hutt asked her to shut the door behind her. “All right,” she chirped. “Good Night, Old Cock.” So saying, she turned left and headed off toward Houndsditch. According to Hutt’s later estimation, it would have taken her around eight minutes of “ordinary walking” to reach Mitre Square, during which time the murderer of Elizabeth Stride was also heading towards the square from the opposite direction.
Mitre Square, situated about half a mile to the west of Berner Street, lay just inside the City of London boundary. It was then an enclosed square over which towered three imposing warehouse buildings. Three uninhabited houses and a shop backed onto its southwest corner, whilst two further houses, one of which was occupied by a City Policeman, Richard Pearse, nestled between the warehouses. The square was bordered by Mitre Street to the west, Aldgate High Street to the south, and Dukes Place to the east. Nearby stood the Great Synagogue on Bevis Marks, whilst a stone’s throw away was the church of St Botolph, beyond which the south side of Aldgate High Street was lined with butchers shops and slaughterhouses and was ironically known as Butchers Row.
There were three entrances into the square – a fairly wide one that came in from Mitre Street; the narrower St James Place (known locally as the Orange Market) in the square’s northeast corner; and the long, narrow Church Passage in the southeast corner that came in from Duke’s Place.
At 1.30 am, PC Watkins of the City Police passed this southeast corner on a beat that brought him through Mitre Square every twelve to fourteen minutes. He had his lantern on and fixed to his belt. He was later emphatic that the square had been quite deserted and that no one could have been hiding in the square without him seeing them. He left the square and turned right towards Aldgate.
Five minutes later, three Jewish gentlemen, Harry Harris, Joseph Hyam Levy, and Joseph Lawende, left the Imperial Club on Duke Street and, as they passed its junction with Church Passage, noticed a man and woman talking quietly together. The woman had her back to them, but they could see that her hand was resting on the man’s chest. Levy was immediately convinced that the couple were up to no good and announced brusquely, “I don’t like going home by myself when I see these sorts of characters about.” In his hurry to get away, he paid the couple scant attention and was unable to furnish a description of either of them, although he did say that the man may have been three or so inches taller than the woman.
Joseph Lawende, however, was a little less disgusted and a little more observant. Although he hadn’t seen the woman’s face, he was almost certain that her clothing was that worn by Catharine Eddowes when he was later shown it at the police station. Although the street lighting wasn’t particularly good, he caught a brief glimpse of the man’s face and was able to provide police with a description. He had the appearance of a sailor and was aged about 30. He was around 5 feet 9 inches tall, of medium build. He had a fair complexion and a small fair mustache. He sported a reddish neckerchief, tied in a knot, wore a pepper-and-salt colored, loose-fitting jacket, and had on a grey, peaked, cloth cap. However, it should be noted that Lawende obtained only a quick glimpse of the man as he passed by, and since the couple was doing nothing particularly suspicious, he later maintained that he would not be able to recognize or identify the man were he to see him again.
Mary Jane Kelly (November 9, 1888)
Mary Jane Kelly was killed on Friday, 9 November 1888. Her gruesomely mutilated body was discovered shortly after 10:45 a.m., lying on the bed in the single room where she lived at 13 Miller’s Court, off Dorset Street, Spitalfields. Her throat had been severed down to the spine, and her abdomen virtually emptied of its organs. Her heart was missing.
Kelly is generally considered to be the Ripper’s final victim, and it is assumed that the crimes ended because of the culprit’s death, imprisonment, institutionalization, or emigration. The Whitechapel murders file does, however, detail four murders that happened after the canonical five.
On the morning of 9 November 1888, the day of the annual Lord Mayor’s Day celebrations, Kelly’s landlord John McCarthy sent his assistant, Thomas Bowyer, to collect the rent. Kelly was several weeks behind on her payments. Bowyer knocked on her door but received no response. He reached through a crack in a window and pushed aside a coat being used as a curtain, and peered inside. What he saw caused his knees to go weak.
Kelly’s body was discovered shortly after 10:45 am. Her body was found lying on the bed in the single room where she lived off Dorset Street in Spitalfields, London. Neighbors’ reports of hearing a solitary scream in the night suggested she may have been killed sometime around 4:00 am. Reports have it that a woman was heard to shout simply: ‘Murder!’
The Manchester Guardian of 10 November 1888 reported that Sgt Edward Badham accompanied Inspector Walter Beck to the site of 13 Miller’s Court after they were both notified of the murder of Mary Kelly by a frantic Thomas Bowyer. It is generally accepted that Beck was the first police officer to arrive at the Kelly crime scene, and Badham is believed to have accompanied him, but there are no official records to confirm Badham being with him.
A woman named Caroline Maxwell claimed to have seen Kelly alive at about 08:30 on the morning after the murder, though she admitted to only meeting her once or twice before; moreover, her description did not match that of those who knew Kelly more closely. Maurice Lewis, a tailor, reported seeing Kelly at about 10:00 that same morning in a pub. Both statements were dismissed by the police since they did not fit the accepted time of death. This contradiction was used as a plot device in the graphic novel From Hell (and subsequent movie adaptation), in which someone else is mistaken for Kelly and murdered in her place.
Edward Badham was also on duty at Commercial Street police station on the evening of 12 November 1888. The inquest into the death of Mary Kelly had been completed earlier that day when around 6 pm, a man named George Hutchinson arrived at the station claiming he had seen Kelly with a man of ‘respectable appearance’ on the night of her death. Badham took Hutchinson’s initial statement that evening.
Dr. Thomas Bond and Dr. George Bagster Phillips examined the body. Her death certificate was registered on 17 November, naming her “Marie Jeanette Kelly otherwise Davies”.
Other potential Jack the Ripper Victims
Rose Mylett (December 20, 1888)
Rose Mylett was reportedly strangled “by a cord drawn tightly round the neck” on 20 December 1888, though Sir Robert Anderson believed that she had accidentally suffocated herself on the collar of her dress while in a drunken stupor. Her body was found in Clarke’s Yard, High Street, Poplar.
Alice McKenzie (July 17, 1889)
Alice McKenzie was killed on 17 July 1889. She died from the severance of the left carotid artery, and several minor bruises and cuts were found on the body, discovered in Castle Alley, Whitechapel. One of the examining pathologists, Dr. Thomas Bond, believed this to be a Ripper murder, though another pathologist, Dr. Phillips, who had examined the bodies of three previous victims, disagreed. Later writers are also divided between those who think that an unknown murderer tried to make it look like a Ripper killing to deflect suspicion from himself and those that ascribe it to the Ripper.
Pinchin Street Torso (September 10, 1889)
“The Pinchin Street Torso” was a headless and legless torso of an unidentified woman found under a railway arch in Pinchin Street, Whitechapel, on 10 September 1889. It seems probable that the murder was committed elsewhere and that parts of the dismembered body were dumped at the crime scene.
Frances Coles (February 13, 1891)
Frances Coles was killed on 13 February 1891. Minor wounds on the back of the head suggest that she was thrown violently to the ground before her throat was cut. Otherwise, there were no mutilations to the body. Her body was found under a railway arch at Swallow Gardens, Whitechapel. A man named James Thomas Sadler, seen earlier with her was arrested by the police and charged with her murder and was briefly thought to be the Ripper himself. However, he was discharged from court due to lack of evidence on March 3, 1891. After this eleventh and last Whitechapel Murder, the file was closed.
In addition to the eleven murders officially investigated by the Metropolitan Police as part of the Ripper investigation, various Ripper historians have at times suggested a number of other contemporary attacks as possibly being connected to the same serial killer. In some cases, the records are not clear if the murders had even occurred or if the stories were fabricated later as a part of Ripper lore.
Fairy Fay (December 26, 1887)
“Fairy Fay”, a nickname for an unknown murder victim allegedly found on 26 December 1887 with “a stake thrust through her abdomen.” It has been suggested that “Fairy Fay” was a creation of the press based upon confusion about the details of the murder of Emma Elizabeth Smith with a separate non-fatal attack the previous Christmas. The name “Fairy Fay” was first used for this alleged victim in 1950. There were no recorded murders in Whitechapel at or around Christmas 1886 or 1887, and later newspaper reports that included a Christmas 1887 killing conspicuously did not list the Smith murder. Most authors agree that “Fairy Fay” never existed.
Annie Millwood (February 25, 1888)
Annie Millwood (born c. 1850) was reportedly admitted to the hospital with “numerous stabs in the legs and lower part of the body” on 25 February 1888. She was discharged but died from apparently natural causes on 31 March 1888.
Ada Wilson (March 28, 1888)
Ada Wilson was reportedly stabbed twice in the neck on 28 March 1888. She survived.
The Whitehall Mystery Murder (October 2, 1888)
“The Whitehall Mystery” a term coined for the headless torso of a woman found on 2 October 1888 in the basement of the new Metropolitan Police headquarters being built in Whitehall. An arm belonging to the body was previously discovered floating in the river Thames near Pimlico, and one of the legs was subsequently discovered buried near where the torso was found. The other limbs and head were never recovered and the body was never identified. The mutilations were similar to those in the Pinchin Street case, though in that case the hands were not severed. “The Whitehall Mystery” and “The Pinchin Streets Murderer” have been suggested to be part of a series of murders, called the “Thames Mysteries” or “Embankment Murders”, committed by a single serial killer, dubbed the “Torso Killer”. Whether Jack the Ripper and the “Torso Killer” were the same person or separate serial killers active in the same area has long been debated. As the modus operandi of the torso killings differs from that of the Ripper, crime writer Don Rumbelow discounted any connection between the two.
Annie Farmer (November 21, 1888)
Annie Farmer, born c. 1848, reportedly survived an attack on 21 November 1888 with only a superficial cut on her throat, apparently caused by a blunt knife. Police suspected that the wound was self-inflicted and did not investigate further.
Elizabeth Jackson (May 31, 1889)
Elizabeth Jackson, a prostitute whose various body parts were collected from the River Thames between 31 May and 25 June 1889, was reportedly identified by scars she had had prior to her disappearance and apparent murder.
Carrie Brown (April 24, 1891)
Carrie Brown (nicknamed “Shakespeare,” reportedly for quoting Shakespeare’s sonnets) was strangled with clothing and then mutilated with a knife on 24 April 1891 in Manhattan. Her body was found with a large tear through her groin area and superficial cuts on her legs and back. No organs were removed from the scene, though an ovary was found on the bed. Whether it was purposely removed or unintentionally dislodged during the mutilation is unknown. At the time, the murder was compared to those in Whitechapel though the Metropolitan Police eventually ruled out any connection.
Jack the Ripper Witness Descriptions
Below is a table of Jack the Ripper witness descriptions listing the witness and a brief account of their description of Jack the Ripper.
|Witness Name||Height||Weight||Facial Appearance||Hat||Dress||Other Attributes|
|John Reeves||5’8″||Medium||Dark complexion, dark moustache||None||Dark clothes, long dark coat||Carried a small package or bag|
|George Hutchinson||5’5″ – 5’6″||Slim||Pale complexion, dark hair, small dark moustache||Wore a deerstalker hat||Dark clothes, long overcoat, white scarf with red border||Carried a small parcel|
|Elizabeth Long||5’6″ – 5’7″||Medium||Fair complexion, light moustache and beard||None||Dark clothes, black jacket, black cap||None|
|Joseph Lawende||5’8″||Medium||Fair complexion, dark hair and moustache||None||Dark clothes, long dark coat, black cap||None|
|Israel Schwartz||5’5″||Slim||Fair complexion, dark hair and moustache||None||Dark clothes, long dark coat, black cap||None|
|Thomas Bowyer||5’7″||Medium||Dark complexion, dark hair and moustache||Wore a black felt hat||Black clothes, dark jacket, black felt hat||None|
|Henry Cox||5’6″||Medium||Fair complexion, light hair and moustache||None||Light clothes, light waistcoat||Carried a parcel|
|James Brown||5’6″||Medium||Dark complexion, dark hair and moustache||None||Dark clothes, dark jacket||None|
Patrick Mulshaw (Polly Nichols) 4:00 A.M.
“Watchman, old man, I believe somebody is murdered down the street.”
Emily (Annie Chapman) 2:00 A.M.
Foreigner aged 37, dark beard and mustache. Wearing a short dark jacket, dark vest, and trousers, black scarf and black felt hat. Asked witness to enter the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street.
Elizabeth Long (Annie Chapman) 5:30 A.M.
Dark complexion, brown deerstalker hat, possibly a dark overcoat. Aged over 40, somewhat taller than Chapman. A foreigner of “shabby genteel.” “Will you?”
J. Best and John Gardner (Elizabeth Stride) 11:00 P.M.
5’5″ tall, English, black mustache, sandy eyelashes, weak, wearing a morning suit and a billycock hat.
William Marshall (Elizabeth Stride) 11:45 P.M.
Small, black coat, dark trousers, middle-aged, round cap with a small sailor-like peak. 5’6″, stout, appearance of a clerk. No mustache, no gloves, with a cutaway coat.
“You would say anything but your prayers.” Spoken mildly, with an English accent, and in an educated manner.
Matthew Packer (Elizabeth Stride) 12:00 – 12:30 P.M.
Aged 25-30, 5’7″, long black coat buttoned up, soft felt hawker hat, broad shoulders. Maybe a young clerk, frock coat, no gloves. Quiet in speaking, with a rough voice.
P.C. William Smith (Elizabeth Stride) 12:30 A.M.
Aged 28, clean-shaven and respectable appearance, 5’7″, hard dark felt deerstalker hat, dark clothes. Carrying a newspaper parcel 18 x 7 inches.
James Brown (Elizabeth Stride) 12:45 A.M.
5’7″, stout, long black diagonal coat which reached almost to his heels.
Israel Schwartz (Elizabeth Stride) 12:45 A.M.
First man: Aged 30, 5’5″, brown-haired, fair complexion, small brown moustache, full face, broad shoulders, dark jacket and trousers, black cap with peak. “Lipski!”
Second man: Aged 35, 5’11”, fresh complexion, light brown hair, dark overcoat, old black hard felt hat with a wide brim, clay pipe.
Joseph Lawende (Catharine Eddowes) 1:30 A.M.
Aged 30, 5’7″, fair complexion, brown mustache, salt-and-pepper coat, red neckerchief, grey peaked cloth cap. Sailor-like.
James Blenkinsop (Catharine Eddowes) 1:30 A.M.
Well-dressed. “Have you seen a man and a woman go through here?”
Mary Ann Cox (Mary Kelly) 11:45 P.M.
Short, stout man, shabbily dressed. Billycock hat, blotchy face, carroty mustache, holding quart can of beer
George Hutchinson (Mary Kelly) 2:00 A.M.
Aged 34-35, 5’6″, pale complexion, dark hair, slight mustached curled at each end, long dark coat, collar cuffs of astrakhan, dark jacket underneath. Light waistcoat, thick gold chain with a red stone seal, dark trousers and button boots, gaiters, white buttons. White shirt, black tie fastened with a horseshoe pin. Dark hat, turned down in middle. Red kerchief. Jewish and respectable in appearance.
More Transcriptions of Jack the Ripper Letters
During the Autumn of Terror hundreds of letters were sent to the police and local press purporting to be written by the Whitechapel fiend. Most of them were deemed to be fakes written by either newspaper men trying to start a story or fools trying to incite more terror. Other experts believe some (specifically the Dear Boss letter, Saucy Jacky postcard, and From Hell letter) are genuine. A select few have been reproduced below.
‘Dear Boss’ letter
Received on September 27th, 1888, at the Central News Agency, this letter was originally believed to be just another hoax. Three days later, the double murder of Stride and Eddowes made them reconsider, especially once they learned a portion of the latter’s earlobe was found cut off from the body, eerily reminiscent of a promise made within the letter. The police deemed the “Dear Boss” letter important enough to reproduce in newspapers and postbills of the time, hoping someone would recognize the handwriting.
A postcard received at the Central News Agency on October 1st, making direct reference to both the murders and the “Dear Boss” letter, is believed to have been written by the same hand. It is reproduced below.
Whether or not the letter is a hoax, it is the first written reference which uses the name “Jack the Ripper” in reference to the Whitechapel murderer.
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck.
Jack the Ripper
Dont mind me giving the trade name
PS Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now. ha ha
The “Saucy Jacky” Postcard
This letter was received on October 1st, 1888, at the Central News Agency. The handwriting is similar to that of the “Dear Boss” letter, and makes direct reference to both this letter and the murders of the previous night. Those who believe it to be genuine argue that the removal of Eddowes’s ear (it was not taken away nor mailed to the police) and the fact that the postcard mentions the double event before it was described by the press both testify to its authenticity. Others believe a hoaxer could have gleaned details of both the previous letter and the murders in an early morning paper of October 1st.
I was not codding dear old Boss when I gave you the tip, you’ll hear about Saucy Jacky’s work tomorrow double event this time number one squealed a bit couldn’t finish straight off. ha not the time to get ears for police. thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again.
Jack the Ripper
‘From Hell’ letter
On October 16th, George Lusk, the president of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, received a three-inch-square cardboard box in his mail. Inside was half a human kidney preserved in wine, along with the following letter. Medical reports carried out by Dr. Openshaw found the kidney to be very similar to the one removed from Catherine Eddowes, though his findings were inconclusive either way. The letter read as follows:
I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman and prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer
Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk
I know your address letter
6 October 1888 — this letter was received by a local paper and is believed to have been intended for either Israel Schwartz or Joseph Lawende, both of whom believe to have witnessed the Ripper and gave descriptions of the man they saw to the police. Few researchers believe this letter to be real.
You though your-self very clever I reckon when you informed the police. But you made a mistake if you though I dident see you. Now I known you know me and I see your little game, and I mean to finish you and send your ears to your wife if you show this to the police or help them if you do I will finish you. It no use your trying to get out of my way. Because I have you when you dont expect it and I keep my word as you soon see and rip you up. Yours truly Jack the Ripper.
PS You see I know your address
No Date Available — Catharine Eddowes was found murdered near the Minories on 30 September. ‘1st and 2nd inst.’ means the first and second of the month (October). Few researchers give this letter any credence.
Beware I shall be at work on the 1st and 2nd inst. in the Minories at 12 midnight and I give the authorities a good chance but there is never a policeman near when I am at work. Yours Jack the Ripper.
What fools letter
No Date Available — Prince William Street was only yards from the main road between Aigburth and the office of the Cotton Exchange. Few researchers give this letter much credence.
What fools the police are. I even give them the name of the street where I am living. Prince William Street.
Dr. Thomas Horrocks Openshaw letter, circa 1902.
29 October 1888 — this letter was sent to Dr. Openshaw, who performed the medical examination on the portion of kidney received by George Lusk in conjunction with the From Hell letter. Few researchers give this letter any credence.
Old boss you was rite it was the left kidny i was goin to hoperate agin close to you ospitle just as i was going to dror mi nife along of er bloomin throte them cusses of coppers spoilt the game but i guess i wil be on the jobn soon and will send you another bit of innerds
Jack the Ripper
O have you seen the devle with his mikerscope and scalpul a-lookin at a kidney with a slide cocked up.
Possible Hoax Letter
Dated September 17th, 1888, this letter was only recently discovered by Peter McClelland in a sealed report envelope in the British Public Record Office in 1988. Its authenticity is hotly debated, many believing it to be a recent hoax placed surreptitiously in the records. It was first published in Paul Feldman’s Jack the Ripper: The Final Chapter.
17th Sept 1888
So now they say I am a Yid when will they lern Dear old Boss! You an me know the truth dont we. Lusk can look forever hell never find me but I am rite under his nose all the time. I watch them looking for me an it gives me fits ha ha I love my work an I shant stop until I get buckled and even then watch out for your old pal Jacky.
Catch me if you Can
Jack the Ripper
Sorry about the blood still messy from the last one. What a pretty necklace I gave her.
Eight Little Whores Letter
No Date Available — one of the many verses allegedly sent to police. (It is likely, however, that this letter was a later hoax by Donald McCormick).
Eight little whores, with no hope of heaven,
Gladstone may save one, then there’ll be seven.
Seven little whores beggin for a shilling,
One stays in Henage Court, then there’s a killing.
Six little whores, glad to be alive,
One sidles up to Jack, then there are five.
Four and whore rhyme aright,
So do three and me,
I’ll set the town alight
Ere there are two.
Two little whores, shivering with fright,
Seek a cosy doorway in the middle of the night.
Jack’s knife flashes, then there’s but one,
And the last one’s the ripest for Jack’s idea of fun.
Other Jack the Ripper Suspects
To date, there are few other “major suspects” in the Jack the Ripper case. Here are a few that most researchers give credence to, along with major talking points that lend credence to their status as a suspect in the Jack the Ripper murders.
Major Suspect – Francis Tumblety
- Common belief that JTR had surgical skills – needed to remove organs and to work in the dark. Some have said, though, that the mutilations were rough and would require only minimal knowledge of human anatomy.
- Long blade knife used, like those used in amputation surgery (long thin blade)
- Genital mutilation common – killer had a hatred for women and prostitutes in particular and had some sort of problem with sex. Also, body positions and facial mutilations indicate he wanted to humiliate his victims.
- FT was a “quack” doctor and claimed medical knowledge that he did not have.
- 9/23/1913 – letter mentions Dr. T as a suspect, although there is no record of him being arrested as a suspect. It was a letter penned by Chief Inspector John Littlechild in 1913 in response to some questions asked of him by journalist G.R. Sims.
- A photo of FT does exist. Shoes him in military attire although he had no military career.
- Grew up in Rochester, New York. Birth place is unknown although possibly Canada or Ireland. He began passing himself off as a doctor as a teenager.
- Travelled to London in 1888. Was in London during the killings. Returned to U.S. after the killings under the pseudonym Frank Townshend
- Batty Street Lodge – possible that he stayed there. Batty Street is right next to Berner Street – just north of it.
- The “Batty Street Lodger” disappeared after the double murder when innkeeper found bloody material in his room. He was most likely an American. He was seen at the inn right after the double murder. Time from Mitre Square to the inn is just under 15 minute walk. There was a press release that said an American was arrested at Batty St. for “gross indecency”.
- FT was arrested on 11/7/1888 just before the last murder for gross indecency and indecent assault with arms and force. Bailed out on 11/16/1888. Committed homosexual acts with John Doughty, Arthur Brice, Albert Fisher, and one other man.
- FT admitted in 1/1889 in an interview for being there and being arrested as a suspect too. Was he arrested under a different charge (gross indecency) because of lack of evidence or was he just trying to make a name for himself?
- FT kept a collection of medical specimens including a huge collection of women’s uteruses. He classified the uteruses by social class.
- FT peddled pornography as a teen in Rochester.
- Arrested on 9/23/1857 for attempting to abort the pregnancy of a young prostitute.
- During the Civil Was he moved to the capital and passed himself off as a Union surgeon.
- Reports that he had been married but found that his wife was a prostitute.
- He was arrested in St. Louis related to the Lincoln assassination. FT chose a poor alias this time and passed himself off as J.H. Blackbum. Dr. L.P. Blackbum was wanted in connection with a plot to infect Northern soldiers with blankets carrying yellow fever.
- It is believed that Scotland Yard followed or attempted to follow FT back to the United States. U.S. officials kept an eye on him but the gross indecency crime was not an extraditable crime.
- Died on 1903 of a heart condition. Is buried in Rochester New York.
Second major suspect – Robert Mann
- Mortuary that Mann worked in located in area profiled by FBI as the most probably area killer lived in. Robert lived a bit northeast of the mortuary.
- The area Mann lived contained a population of 95%-100% Jews which coincides with the “jews will not be blamed for nothing” message left on the wall.
- Would have had experience with autopsy
- Present and testified in at least one of the inquests
- At least three of the victim’s bodies were taken to Mann’s mortuary.
Updates and Additional Information
Carl Feigenbaum proposed as Jack the Ripper suspect (Update: 9/2/2011)
Retired British police detective, Trevor Marriott, gathered together evidence and has built a case against Carl Feigenbaum, a 54-year-old German merchant seaman, and made him the top suspect for committing the horrific and notorious murders between August and November 1888.
According to Marriott, his reason for suspecting Felgenbaum was clear.
“For example, he killed a woman in ripper like fashion with a long bladed knife which he carried. It was the same type of knife used to kill the Whotechapel victims. He had been employed as a merchant seaman for The Nordeutcher Line which had a ship in London on all the murder dates.”
The murder occurred in Manhattan, and the woman was his landlady Juliana Hoffman. For the brutal killing, Feigenbaum went to the electric chair in New York in 1896.
In addition, Felgenbaum confessed to police:
I have for years suffered from a singular disease, which induces an all-absorbing passion; this passion manifests itself in a desire to kill and mutilate the woman who falls in my way. At such times I am unable to control myself.
Aaron Kosminski DNA evidence (Update: 9/8/2014)
Compelling DNA evidence surfaces suggesting Aaron Kosminski suspect is indeed Jack The Ripper. Read the full story here.