Whitechapel district, London, 1880’s. Population swell to approximately 80,000 people. Mostly lower class, working, immigrants from Ireland, Tsarist Russia, and other Eastern European locations. Robbery, violence, and alcohol dependency were common. An estimated 62 brothels operated in this area, and 1200 women were working as prostitutes to simply survive. And for three years, a series of savage murders took place that received unprecedented media coverage, labeling the killer as, “Jack The Ripper“.
**Warning: This post may contain graphic details of crime scenes, images of victims, and other uncomfortable situations. Reader discretion is suggested.**
It is rather uncertain how many victims were murdered by the same person, labeled as Jack the Ripper. Eleven murders were collectively known as the ‘Whitechapel Murders’ by the police. The victims had deep slash wounds to the throat, extensive abdominal and genital mutilation and, the removal of internal organs. There was also progressive facial mutilations.
The first two murders, those of Emma Elizabeth Smith, and Martha Tabram, were not included in the Ripper murders as Emma, who died of her attack the next day said three men attacked her. Martha, who wasn’t able to provide information except on the autopsy table, showed multiple stab wounds, but no slash wounds to the throat. Because of these differences, experts agree they weren’t connected to the Ripper murders. But maybe he was developing his skill?
1888, Buck’s Row, Whitechapel. Mary Ann Nichols was last seen alive, around 2.40 am August 31, by Mrs. Emily Holland. Mary Ann’s throat was severed by two deep cuts, one of which severed all tissue to the vertebrae. Her genital area had been stabbed twice, and lower abdomen was partly ripped open.
One week later, on September 8, the body of Annie Chapman was discovered at approximately 6 am near the steps to the doorway of the back yard to a house on Hanbury Street. Similar to Mary Ann, her throat was severed by two deep cuts, her abdomen was entirely open. Autopsy revealed that some of her internal organs had been removed.
Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were both killed in the early morning of September 30, 1888. Elizabeth was discovered at 1 am in Dutfields Yard, off Berner Street. Her cause of death was a single clear cut incision, 6 inches across her neck which severed her carotid artery. No further mutilations to the body made authorities question if this was by the same person or if he was interrupted in the attack.
Catherine was found in Mitre Square in the City of London. She was discovered approximately 45 minutes after the discovery of Elizabeth Stride. Her throat was severed, and abdomen ripped open. Many of her internal organs had been removed and left outside her body, her face had been disfigured with her nose being severed, her cheek slashed, and her eyelids vertically incised. These two murders later became known as the “double event.”
The extensively mutilated and disemboweled body of Mary Jane Kelly was found in her bed at 13 Miller’s Court. She was found on November 9, 1888 at 10.45 am. Mary Jane’s face was unrecognizable, her throat severed down to the spine, her abdomen was almost empty of her organs. Her uterus, kidneys, and one breast were placed beneath her head. Her heart was missing from the scene.
These five crimes, called the canonical five, were committed at night, on or close to a weekend. The mutilations became more severe as the murders progressed, except for Elizabeth which her attacker may have been interrupted. It is strongly believed that these five women were the Ripper’s only victims.
But who was Jack the Ripper? There are five suspects as to who the real Ripper was:
Montague John Druitt, an Oxford educated man from a fairly good family. Some believe he was sexually insane, and lived on the other side of the Thames from Whitechapel. He had committed suicide around the time of Mary Jane Kelly’s murder and after his death, the murders stopped.
Carl Feigenbaum, a 54 year old German merchant sailor. He was a psychopath who confessed to mutilating women. He worked on ships that docked near Whitechapel, records show he was in Whitechapel on all five dates of the murders. After emigrating to America in 1890, he was convicted of a woman’s murder that resembled Jack The Ripper.
A Polish barber named, Aaron Kosminski was also suspected. The fact that his mitochondrial DNA was on Catherine Eddowes shawl, isn’t helping to prove his innocence. He carried a strong hatred of women, and had homicidal tendencies. He was sent to an asylum in 1889 where he died shortly after.
Francis Craig, a reporter, who covered the police courts and the Whitechapel murders, but who is also the husband of Elizabeth Weston Davies, aka Mary Jane Kelly. It’s suspected that when Francis learned his wife worked as a prostitute, he began to plot her murder and she went into hiding under her pseudonym. Francis disguised his involvement by murdering other prostitutes in the area beforehand.
Walter Sickert, an artist and native of Germany, he is believed to be behind the Whitechapel murders. He was also pinpointed as the Ripper, in the book Jack the Ripper – Case Closed, by Patricia Cornwell. There is belief that he inserted clues and symbols about Jack he Ripper into his own artwork. It is also believed that Walter was impotent, and experts suggest that Jack also had an impotence problem, and why he targeted prostitutes so violently. Patricia Cornwell found mitochondrial DNA on several Jack the Ripper letters, that match Walter. But it wasn’t enough to convince experts. Walter passed away in 1942, taking any secrets about Jack to the grave.
So who do you think was Jack the Ripper? Do you think it was one of these five men? Could it have been a woman? Let me know your thoughts on this case.
Be ever alert, make good choices, stay safe