The Ripper’s Victims

Mary Ann Nichols

Also known as Polly, she is generally acknowledged to be the first victim of Jack the Ripper.The daughter of a locksmith and a laundress, she married printer William Nichols. The marriage later split up in 1880 due to his extramarital affairs and her hard drinking. William kept all three of their children. Like many of the unskilled women in the East End, she eventually turned to prostitution when she was unable to find the money for the rent (or for the gin). On 20 August, 1888, Nichols sought sanctuary in the lodging house at Thrawl Street. She was kicked out due to her inability to pay the rent, but was certain she would be able to “solicit” the money because she had a “jolly new bonnet.” She was last seen walking the streets in this bonnet by an Emily Holland at 2:30 a.m.
Her body was found at 3:45 a.m. by Charles Cross. The police soon arrived and determined her to be dead. Her throat had been slit from the left to the right twice and both incisions were deep enough to reach to her spinal cord. There was also bruising on her face and throat and more jagged wounds on her abdomen. It was determined that she had been killed about half an hour prior to the discovery of her body and at a different site (there was very little blood around the body for the nature of her wounds). The police suspected her death to be gang related. Annie’s drinking caused their sometime during 1882, despite their three children

Annie Chapman

A soldier’s daughter, Chapman entered domestic service and later married coachman John Chapman. They separated sometime during 1882 because of Annie’s heavy drinking, despite their three children. Chapman then flitted about London, living with a series of men. It was only after her husband died and her allowance stopped that she turned to prostitution.

Chapman left her usual boarding house at 1:45 a.m. on Friday, 7 September, 1888. When unable to pay her rent, she told her landlord, “Never mind, Tim; I shall soon be back. Don’t let the bed.” Her body was found at 5:45 by John Davis. Her body showed signs of suffocation and bruising along with the a slitting of the throat similar to that of Nichol’s but violent enough to practically behead her. Some speculated that the killer had put the scarf around her neck in order to keep her head on, but later testimony showed that Chapman had indeed been wearing the scarf that night. Her abdomen had also been mutilated. Some of her intestines had been pulled out and draped over her left shoulder while a large portion of her vagina and her bladder had been completely removed and were missing. The blood smears around the body indicated that she had been killed at the crime site. The police no longer knew who to suspect, but they thought it very likely that the same man had brutally killed both women.

Double Murder- Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes

On Saturday, 29 September, 1888, the Ripper struck twice, leaving the remains of two women on the East End Streets. These women were Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes.

Stride was the daughter of a Swedish farmer. After loosing her job as a maid, she rapidly lost control of her life. A stillborn bastard child, genital herpes, and symptoms of syphilis were included in her spiraling decline. She emigrated to London in 1866, and then married carpenter Joseph Stride three years later. They opened a coffee shop, but due to her husband’s illness and her heavy drinking, they permanently separated in 1881. After that, she lived on and off with dock labourer Michael Kidney and indulged regularly in drink funded by prostitution.

On the night of the murders, Stride was last seen leaving the Bricklayer’s Arms with a man at about 11 p.m. Shortly after 1 p.m., Louis Diemshutz discovered her body. Unsure if she was asleep, dead, or just passed out drunk, he went into a nearby club for assistance. When the area was lit, blood could be seen trickling through the gutter and into the drain from Stride’s slit throat. Stride had a cleanly cut six inch laceration on her throat, running from left to right. She had been slashed violently enough for her windpipe to be cut nearly in two, but only her left veins had been severed, casing her death to be slower. Her shoulders and collar bone were bruised (whether or not that was an act of the murderer is up for debate.) Her right hand had been smeared with blood and lay across her chest. The warmth of the body and still flowing blood suggested her death had been very recent. About an hour later, Eddowes’ body was found.

Eddowes was born the daughter of a tinplate worker and a cook in Wolverhampton. After being orphaned, she worked in the fact tinplate factory until she was caught stealing. She later moved to London with Irishman and ex-soldier Thomas Conway. They had three children, but to due Eddowes heavy drinking and Conway’s abusive nature the relationship ended, and Eddowes alone moved to the East End in 1880. There she began a long friendship with odd jobber John Kelly.

At 1:35 a.m. on the morning of her death, Eddowes was seen for the last time in the streets of the East End with an unknown man. P.C. Watkins found her body at about 1:45 that morning. She had been ferociously attacked. Her throat was cut to the vertebrate, and her vocal chords were completely severed. Due to the cutting of her left carotid artery, her death had been almost instantaneous. After the death, the killer had moved on to mutilate her abdomen and face. A piece of her intestines were removed and placed over her shoulder and another piece of her intestines had been draped between her body and her left arm. Her ears, cheeks, and eyelids had been slit, and part of her nose had been cut off. The death was estimated to have occurred at about 1:40, less than an hour after Stride had been killed.

Mary Jane Kelly

Kelly was born an iron-worker in Ireland, but soon moved to Wale as her father looked for work in the ironworks there. She married at sixteen, but was then widowed at nineteen and moved to Cardiff where she began her career as a prostitute. In 1884, she moved to London to work in a West End brothel. She also spent time working in France, but preferred to return to London. Sometime soon after that she began living with Joe Barnett.

She was last seen around Thrawl Street with a man at 2 a.m. on 9 November, 1888. Her body was found at 10:30 that morning by Thomas Bowyer, her friendly neighborhood rent man. The mangled body was barely recognizable as human. The severance of the right carotid artery was thought to be the immediate cause of death, but her other injuries had been violent enough to splurt blood all over her wall. Her face was cut and gashed beyond recognition. Pieces, of her noes, ears, nose, and eyebrows had been completely removed. Her throat was severely hacked, and her voice-box was close to being cut in half. Her arms had numerous jagged lacerations on them. The breasts were cut off and placed by the head and the feet. Parts of the lung had been removed and the heart had possibly been completely removed. The abdomen and the thighs were severely slashed and the contents of the abdomen were placed around the body.

Reflections

It seems to me that it would be very unlikely that all of these woman would be linked at all (as suggested in “From Hell”). Their ethnic backgrounds (Irish/Welsh, Swedish, and English) would have served well enough to keep them apart. Also, it almost seems is if Kelly’s murder was unrelated. It occurred much later, was considerably more violent, she was significantly younger than the other women, and the only one to work full time as a prostitute. It was quite possible with her background that she could have found enemies in other places.

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