Jack the Ripper
The `Ripper Murders’ took place in the insalubrious Whitechapel area of East London. The world’s first serial killer was never caught. To this day, criminologists, Ripperologists, historians and amateur sleuths are no nearer discovering and proving who the murderer was.
All five of the Ripper’s victims were killed within the space of ten weeks in 1888 and were East End prostitutes . . .
Mary Ann `Polly’ Nichols, aged 42, married with 5 children was found murdered at Bucks Row, off the Whitechapel Road at 3.40am on Friday 31 August.
This first acknowledged victim of Jack the Ripper was discovered by PC John Neill who found her throat cut twice (from left to right), the second cut almost severing the head from her body. At the mortuary it was discovered that her stomach had been hacked open and her body slashed several times.
Bucks Row was renamed Durward Street in 1892 to avoid notoriety. The assault took place 70 feet west on the Board School, which has now been converted into luxury flats.
Annie Chapman, aged 47 was found in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street at 6am on Saturday 8 September. The facade of the old Truman’s Brewery on the north side of Hanbury Street conceals the murder site.
Dark Annie’s body was discovered by a Spitalfield Market porter, John Davis. Annie’s throat savagely cut, body mutilated and certain organs removed from her abdomen in a manner which suggested that her attacker had anatomical knowledge. Her rings had been torn from her fingers and a leather apron soaked in water was found nearby.
Annie had been seen at 5.30am by a park keeper’s wife. She was haggling with a shabbily but respectably dressed man wearing a deerstalker hat aged about 40. On Sunday 10 September the police arrested John Pizer, alias `Leather Apron’ but he had alibis.
Elizabeth Stride, aged 45 of Swedish descent. Long Liz was discovered by Louis Diemschutz when he turned his pony and trap into the yard behind 40 Berner Street at 1am Sunday 30 September. Elizabeth’s throat had been cut. From the position of the corpse it is presumed that the assassin had intended to mutilate it, but was interrupted by the arrival of the cart.
The street has been renamed Henriques Street after a local benefactor. The site is occupied by a former London County Council school, now known as Harry Gosling Primary School.
Catherine Eddowes, aged 46, was found less than an hour after Elizabeth Stride’s, a short walk away, inside the City of London district at Mitre Square by PC Watkins. She had been ferociously attacked, especially around the face and abdomen. Like Annie Chapman, some of her internal organs had been removed, notably her uterus and left kidney.
Crowds of people started gathering at the Whitechapel Murder Sites and a `terrible quiet’ descended. Following this double murder, a letter in red ink was sent to the Central News Agency dated 25 September 1888, signed “Jack the Ripper”. After its publication the killer’s self chosen nick-name has stayed with us to this day.
Mary Jane Kelly, aged 25 was killed at her home, Room 13, Miller’s Court, 26 Dorset Street at 4am Friday 9 November.. This was the most savage and gruesome attack where her body was horrifically mutilated and her face hacked beyond recognition after her murder.
In 1904 Dorset Street was renamed Duval Street and in 1929 the whole north side was demolished and an extension to Spitalfields Market erected. Today it is an unnamed service road next to White’s Row Car Park.
All the Ripper’s victims were reputed to drink in the Ten Bells Public House on Commercial Street. Polly Nichols, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddows lived in the Thrawl Street and Flower & Dean Street vicinity at some time. Catherine Eddows and Elizabeth Stride lodged in Fashion Street on occasions.
Though the murderer was never found there were several suspects, the most sensational being the eldest son of Edward VII, Prince Albert Victor the Duke of Clarence and Queen Victoria’s doctor, William Gull. A favoured suspect was Montague John Druitt, a 31 year old barrister of the Inner Temple and school teacher who committed suicide in December 1888.
Other suspects included John Pizer (Leather Apron); Kosminski, a poor Polish Jew resident in Whitechapel; Michael Ostrog, a Russian-born thief and confidence trickster who went under multiple pseudonyms, believed to be 55 years old in 1888, and detained in asylums on several occasions; Dr Francis J. Tumblety, 56 Years old, an American ‘quack’ doctor, who was arrested in November 1888 for offences of gross indecency, and fled the country later the same month, having obtained bail at a very high price. Other suspects included the Freemasons, a Jewish slaughterman, a doctor and a midwife.