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A Research of the Victims of Jack the Ripper

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Introduction

Jack the Ripper was an unidentified serial killer of an infamous serial murder case which happened back in 1888 in Whitechapel District of London’s East End, England. His/her action which took place in Whitechapel District made him/her known as ‘Whitechapel Murderer’.

During the hunt of Jack the Ripper, the police were suspecting a scary guy who was known as ‘Leather Apron’ by the people around him. The nickname ‘Leather Apron’ came from his feature which is always wearing a leather apron. He was blackmailing women late at night and was always carrying a leather knife. He was suspected as Jack the Ripper but were later set aside because of a solid alibi he had on the night of a few cases of the serial murder. But because of the great suspicion which he got during that time, people often connecting Jack the Ripper with Leather Apron.

Jack the Ripper name itself came from a letter that was sent to Central News Agency on September 27th, 1888. In the letter, the writer claimed to be the killer of the serial murder case and called him/herself ‘Jack the Ripper’. The name then got disseminated through the media, thus made the killer known as ‘Jack the Ripper’. The letter itself was said to be a hoax that was written by journalists to gain attention, but some believed that it was Jack the Ripper him/herself who wrote it.

The victims of Jack the Ripper were said to be five persons, known as the Canonical Five. All of them were women prostitutes, except for one, and lived in slum areas of London’s East End. All of their body was discovered not far from each other, just a mile away, in Whitechapel District.

This essay is intended to disclose what exactly happened to the Canonical Five – who, when, where, and how they were killed – back in 1888.

The Canonical Five

1. Mary Ann Nicholls

Mary Ann Nicholls was the first victim of Jack the Ripper. She was killed on August 31st, 1888. Her body was first discovered by a Carman named Charles Allen Cross on the ground in front of a gated stable entrance in Buck’s Row, Whitechapel at 3:40 AM. It was around 150 yards from the London Hospital and 100 yards from Blackwall Buildings.

Nicholls was last seen alive at approximately 2:30 AM by her roommate, Emily Holland, at the corner of Osborn Street and Whitechapel Road. None of the nearby residents, the slaughterers – who were working overnight at the neighbouring knacker’s yard in Winthrop Street –, nor the patrolling police officers heard or seen anything suspicious before the discovery of Nicholls’ body.

Dr. Henry Llewellyn, who arrived at 4:00 and inspected Nicholls’ body, decided that Nicholls had been dead for about 30 minutes. Which means, Nicholls was estimated to be killed around 3:30 AM, ten minutes before her body was discovered.

Nicholls’ throat was slit twice from left to right and some incisions – completely cut all the tissues down to the vertebrae – were visible on her neck. On her abdomen was found one deep jagged wound, several incisions, and three or four similar cuts on the right side. The weapon was estimated to be at least 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) long knife, used violently and downwards, and might have been done by a left-handed person. By looking at her face, it can be seen that five of her teeth were missing. There was a slight laceration of her tongue, a bruise running along the lower part of her right jaw – might be caused by a blow from a fist or pressure from a thumb – and a circular bruise on the left side of her face which suspected to be caused by pressure from the fingers.

2. Annie Chapman

A week after Mary Ann Nicholls was killed, Annie Chapman was found lifeless on the morning of September 8th, 1888. A witness, Mrs. Elizabeth Long, saw Chapman talking to a man – over forty, a little taller than Chapman, with dark hair and “shabby -genteel” appearance, wearing a deerstalker hat and dark overcoat – beyond the back yard of 29 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, at around 5:30. Mrs. Long was likely the last person to see Chapman before she was killed.

John Richardson, the son of a resident of the house, who had been in the back yard since before 5:00 to trim his boot, and a carpenter named Albert Cadosch, who entered the neighbouring yard at 27 Hanbury Street around 5:30 AM, heard voices in the yard followed by the sound of something falling against a fence. Chapman’s body was then discovered by a resident of number 29, market porter John Davis, on the ground near a doorway in the back yard, just before 6:00 AM.

Dr. George Bagster Phillips, the police surgeon who examined Chapman’s body, estimated the time of Chapman’s death was around 4:30 or before. But his prediction was contradicting witnesses’ statement which placed the murder later (as late as 5:30 AM). Phillip then decided that the body could turn much colder because of the fairly cold temperature that morning.

Chapman’s body was terribly mutilated. Her throat was cut from left to right with jagged incision and she was disembowelled. Her intestines were thrown out of her abdomen and part of her uterus was missing. She might have been asphyxiated with a handkerchief around her neck before her throat was cut by looking at her protruding tongue and her swollen face. Phillips concluded that the murderer might have possessed anatomical knowledge by looking at how the murderer could slice out the reproductive organs with a single movement. Although, his theory was later dismissed by other experts who suggested that her organ was removed by mortuary staff(s), who later sold it as surgical specimens.

The weapon used at the throat and abdomen was the same. It was a sharp knife with a thin narrow blade, at least 6-8 inches in length – the same as Nicholls’ case – or longer.

3. Elizabeth Stride

Less than a month after Annie Chapman was killed, the third victim of Jack the Ripper appeared. On September 30th, 1888, PC William Smith saw Stride with a man who was wearing a hard felt hat and was carrying a package about 18 inches (45cm) in length at 40 Berner Street, opposite the International Working Men’s Educational Club – a socialist and predominantly Jewish social club – in Whitechapel, around 12:35 AM.

At around 1:00 AM, a steward from the Workers’ Club drove into the adjacent Dutfield’s Yard with a pony and two-wheeled cart. His name was Louis Diemschutz. The yard was so dark that Diemschutz has to light a match to see what happened when his horse shied. That was when he found Stride’s body. Apparently, Stride was killed just before Diemschutz arrived and blood was still flowing from her neck when she was discovered.

Just like the previous cases, between 12:30 to 12:50 AM, none of the residents, the club’s member, and the passerby seen anything amiss nor someone entering the yard. Although there was someone named Israel Schwartz who said that he witnessed Stride being attacked and thrown to the ground outside the yard at around 12:45 AM, he did not testify in the inquest since he was a Hungarian who spoke very little English. His statement was later found by a Ripper investigator called Stephen Knights in 1970s.

There was no wound found on Stride’s body – other than a slash on her neck – unlike the previous victims who were being mutilated. Because of that, speculation that the arrival of Diemschutz interrupted the killer’s action arisen. Despite that, people still believed that the murder was done by Jack the Ripper by looking at the pattern – time, place, victims’ characteristics, and the method – of the previous killings.

4. Catherine Eddowes

Catherine Eddowes was mutilated less than an hour after Elizabeth Stride was killed on September 30th, 1888. Eddowes was estimated to be murdered between 1:35 AM – when she was last seen alive – and 1:45 AM – when she was found – at the south-west corner of the Mitre Square. According to Joseph Lawende – one of the last persons to see Eddowes alive, Eddowes was last seen talking to a man – a fair-moustached man with a navy jacket, peaked cloth cap, and a red scarf – at the entrance of Church Passage.

It was PC Edward Watkins, the square’s policeman, who discovered Eddowes’ body. He had gone into the square at 1:30 AM and entered the square again at 1:44 AM, a minute before he found Eddowes’ body. Nobody noticed something unusual, including the night watchmen and an off-duty policeman who happened to be nearby at that time.

Eddowes’ throat was cut, causing haemorrhage from the left common carotid artery, which led to an immediate death followed by mutilations. There were some incisions on her face, which crossed the bridge of her nose, on both of her cheeks, and through the eyelids of both of her eyes. The tip of her nose and part of her right ear – the lobe and the auricle – were cut off. Her intestines – smeared with something feculent – were drawn out of her body and placed over her right shoulder. A recent, reddish bruise about the size of sixpence was visible on the back of her left hand, placed between her thumb and forefinger.

5. Mary Jane Kelly

After Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes’ case on September 30th, 1888, London found its peace for a while. When people thought that the serial murder case was over, suddenly, on the morning of November 9th, 1888, Jack the Ripper launched his attack again. His/her victim this time was Mary Jane Kelly, who was found lifeless and mutilated on a bed in her room in 13 Miller’s Court, at the back of 26 Dorset Street, Spitalfields, at around 10:45 AM. She was found by her landlord’s assistant, Thomas Bowyer, who came to her room to collect the rent fee.

After some examination on Kelly’s body, she was estimated to be killed between 2:00 AM to 8:00 AM. The estimation of her time of death then dismissed witnesses’ claim about seeing her at around 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM.

By far, the mutilation of Kelly’s body was the cruellest compared to the previous victims, with the speculation that the killer got more time to commit his action by doing it in a private room rather than on the street. She was first slashed on the throat, which cuts the tissues on her neck down to the bone, causing immediate death, followed with mutilations by using a knife about 1 inch (25mm) wide and 6 inches (150 mm) long or more.

Her face was actually could not be recognized because of her nose, cheeks, eyebrows, and ears were partly removed. There were some incisions on her lips which run down obliquely to her chin and also some irregular cuts across her face.

Her breasts were cut off with circular incisions, which cut through the intercostals between the fourth, fifth, and the sixth ribs, causing the thorax being visible through the openings. One of her breasts was put under her head, and the other one was by her right foot. Her right lung was somehow adherent, but the lower part was broken and torn away, while her left one was still intact. Her heart was absent with the pericardium being opened below.

Her abdomen was emptied, with her uterus and kidneys placed under her head, intestines by the right and spleen by the left side of her body, and liver placed between her feet. On the table were found the thighs – stripped and denuded – and flaps that were removed from her body.

There was a long slash on her left calf, starting from her knee down to about five inches above her ankle, which cuts through the tissues deep into the muscle. Several jagged wounds were also found on her arms and forearm.

Conclusions

The victims of Jack the Ripper, or known as the Canonical Five, consist of five women, which is Mary Ann Nicholls, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. All of them were women prostitutes except for Annie Chapman and lived in the same area, which is the slum area of London’s East End. Their killings all took place in Whitechapel District, London’s East End, at night time close to weekends. All of them were horribly mutilated except for Elizabeth Stride, whom the killings were believed to be interrupted. All of the killings were believed to be done by a person – Jack the Ripper – by seeing the similar pattern they share, such as the location, time, victims’ characteristics, and the method of murders. Jack the Ripper him/herself was never found nor identified.

References

  • Jones, R., & Bavington, J. (n.d.). THE LEATHER APRON SCARE. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from https://www.jack-the-ripper-tour.com/leather-apron/
  • Where did the name ‘Jack the Ripper’ come from? (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2019, from http://www.historyhouse.co.uk/articles/jack_the_ripper.html
  • Jack the Ripper – Ripper Letters. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2019, from https://www.casebook.org/ripper_letters/
  • Jack the Ripper. (2014, April 2). Retrieved May 8, 2019, from https://www.biography.com/crime-figure/jack-the-ripper
  • Jack the Ripper. (2019, May 08). Retrieved May 15, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_the_Ripper
  • Annie Chapman. (2019, April 25). Retrieved May 12, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Chapman
  • Catherine Eddowes. (2019, April 26). Retrieved May 15, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Eddowes
  • Elizabeth Stride. (2019, April 28). Retrieved May 15, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Stride
  • Jones, R. (2013, July 16). The Victims of Jack the Ripper. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from https://www.jack-the-ripper-tour.com/generalnews/the-victim-of-jack-the-ripper/
  • Mary Ann Nichols. (2019, April 25). Retrieved May 12, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Ann_Nichols
  • Mary Jane Kelly. (2019, May 09). Retrieved May 15, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Jane_Kelly

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