Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper killed five women between the 31st of August 1888 and the 9th of November 1888. They were murdered in Whitechapel and Spitalfields in the East End areas of London, England. The killer was never caught and because of this there are hundreds on his personality and motives. No other killer in the British history rivaled that of the gruesome, mocking, utterly superior Jack the Ripper, a multiple murderer whose arrogance and boldness deified the entire police department of London and held in terror a great city for as long as he cared to roam its streets and slay at will.
Mary Ann ‘Polly’; Nichols, aged 42, was the first of the Ripper victims, according to dedicated Ripperologists. Her body was found on Buck’s Row by a patrolling constable at 3:15 a.m. on August 31st 1888. The ripper had slashed her throat twice, and her abdomen had been savagely cut exposing the intestines. Her vaginal area had also been mutilated. The woman approximately five feet two inches tall with brown graying hair, brown eyes, and several missing teeth. Mary Ann Nichols had a drinking problem and spent most of her life making her earnings as a prostitute. She was a sad, destitute woman, but one that most people liked and pitied.
Annie Chapman, known to her friends as ‘Dark Annie’;, was a 47 year old homeless prostitute. Suffering from depression and alcoholism, she did crochet work and sold flowers. Eventually she turned to prostitution despite her plain features, missing teeth and plump figure. She was found murdered on Saturday, September 8, 1888. Hey throat was cut and she had been very mutilated. Her abdomen had been cut open and the intestines had been removed and placed on her shoulder. The contents of the pelvis including her female organs and the bladder had been removed. No trace of these parts was found. The incisions were cleanly cut, the work obviously of an expert who had knowledge of anatomy and physiology
Elizabeth Stride was born on November 27, 1843 in Gothenburg, Sweden. She was a well-liked woman who people nicknamed ‘Long Liz’;. While she may have occasionally prostituted herself, for the most part she earned a living by doing sewing or cleaning work. She had blue eyes and wavy brown hair. She was also plump and missing several teeth. She was found murdered on Sunday, September 30, 1888. Her throat had been cut from ear to ear to the back of the spine, but she had not been mutilated.
Catherine Eddowes, called by Kate by all that knew her, had a periodic drinking problem like the other victims which led to quarrels with her companions and family. Kate was born on April 14, 1842 at Gaisley, Wolverhampton. Her friends described her as ‘an intelligent, scholarly woman, but of fiery temperament’; though there is reason to believe that she occasionally prostituted herself, perhaps when under the influence of alcohol. As in the deaths of ‘Polly’; Nichols and Annie Chapman, Kate’s throat had been deeply slashed from left to right and the resulting wound was the cause of death. Her abdomen had been entirely laid open with the intestines detached.
The next victim was Mary Jane Kelly. She was about 25 years old, five feet two inches tall, stout, with blond hair and blues eyes, and a fair complexion. She lived with her cousin in Cardiff and worked as a prostitute. On of her acquaintances said she was abusive when drunk, but ‘one of the most decent and nice girls you could meet when sober’;. On Friday, November 9, 1888, she was found with the skin peeled back from her face and her ears and nose cut off. There was a deep cut on her neck from ear to ear. Her abdomen had been cut across and downward with most of the internal organs removed. Both breasts had been cut off and her left arm was hanging by skin only. Her thighs down to her feet had no skin on them.
From the testimony of the various eyewitnesses certain probabilities emerge about the killer. No one ever saw the Whitechapel murderer. Many homicidal maniacs were suspected, but no proof could be thrown on anyone.
Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward, the Duke of Clarence, was known as Eddy. He was the grandson of Queen Victoria born in 1864. The first idea that he was a suspect came in 1970. Dr. Thomas Stowell published an article accusing Eddy of being Jack the Ripper, basing his theory upon some papers of Sir William Gull, the physician of Queen Victoria. Stowell claimed that Gull was Eddy’s doctor and was treating the prince for syphilis. The disease supposedly caused Eddy to go insane and commit the Whitechapel murders. The killings, which Stowell claimed were committed by Prince Eddy, were to be in retaliation for contracting syphilis contracted during sexual activities. The murders started, according to Stowell, as Eddy’s infected brain started to deteriorate. None of this can be proven since Stowell died shortly after publishing his theories and burned his papers. Dr. Gulls papers have not been found. Scholars have examined this theory and discredited it. One important factor is that royal records show that Eddy was not anywhere close to London when the most important murder dates occurred. Also, Eddy, who was not considered to be a very intelligent man, did not possess the medical knowledge to be a Ripper suspect.
Aaron Kosminski is described as a ‘Polish Jew and resident of Whitechapel, insane owing to many years indulgence in vices. He had a great hatred of women, especially of the prostitute class and had strong homicidal tendencies. The only bit of evidence against Kosminski was a positive identification by one of the eyewitnesses.
George Chapman was born in Poland in 1865. He was apprenticed to a surgeon and later went on to complete his studies at a hospital in Warsaw. He first showed his violent streak when he attacked his wife. She later left him and George lived in common law arrangements with other women that he also treated badly. Three of these women had been poisoned and died. While Chapman was charged with three murders, he was convicted only of the last one and was hanged on April 7, 1903. There were other factors that led to Chapman being a suspect. He was single at the time of the murders and had the freedom to roam around at all hours of the night and morning. He also worked a regular job, which kept him occupied during the week but allowed him weekends free when the murders occurred. He was violent and homicidal with women and committed multiple murders of women.
Montague John Druitt was born in 1857 in Dorset. His father was a surgeon. Druitt graduated with a degree in classics and went to teach boarding school. In 1885 his father died and a couple of years later his mother was institutionalized for depression and paranoid delusions. His family had a very pronounced history of depression and suicide. His body was found floating in the Thames River in December 1888. He had been dismissed from his teaching position in November. He had left a suicide note found by his brother expressing a fear that he was going to be like his mother and that it was best for him to die. There seems to be little evidence as to why he was considered a suspect. It seems that the inspectors supposedly had private information that his family believed that he was the murderer.
Colby-Newton, Katie. Jack the Ripper. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1990.
The Diary of Jack the Ripper. New York: Hyperian, 1993.
Begg, Paul. Jack the Ripper: The Uncensored Facts. New York: Robson, 1989.
Sharkey, Terence. Jack the Ripper: 100 Years of Investigation. London: Ward Lock, 1987.