The Unfortunates – Jack’s Victims
Polly Nichols (aka Mary Ann Nichols)
The first canonical victim of Jack the Ripper. In some accounts she is either the second or third, but it is widely accepted that Polly Nichols was the first to die at the hands of the Ripper. It seemed to be common for women to be separated from their husbands, with alcohol being the main reason for the split. Polly Nichols had a fairly normal life. She was married, had five children. For reasons that remain unclear, she and her husband separated because she “liked the drink too much”. She was a part-time prostitute (meaning she also had other jobs, when she could find them). Her body was found around 3:40 AM in Buck’s Row by Charles Cross on 31 Aug. Her throat was slit and her abdomen had been ripped open. She also had bruises on her face, suggesting that someone had grabbed her. Polly’s wounds are what would become the characteristic MO for the Ripper.
“Dark Annie” Chapman
Annie was married and had children, but Annie left the family and moved to London. She had an allowance from her husband, but still lived in poverty. Their split was, once again, blamed on Annie and her alcoholism. There are varying reports of when she was last seen alive, and what her actual time of death was. She was found with her throat slit, left to right, and with her stomach cut open. Her intestines were draped over her shoulder and it appeared that her body had been “posed” in a certain position. Dr. Phillips examined the body.
The Double: Elizabeth Stride and Catharine Eddowes
At this point the police and press had received many letters claiming to be the Ripper. It is believed that the Ripper was interrupted as he was murdering Elizabeth Stride, and that he killed Eddowes as retaliation or to “finish the job”. Since Stride’s murder was interrupted, she hadn’t been as cut up as the previous victims. Along with being cut up, disemboweled, having parts of her genitals removed, her kidney removed, Eddowes also suffered severe facial mutilation. It is believed that at least one of the Ripper letters is authentic because it foretold this mutilation – or it could be coincidence, as the Ripper could have bought the early edition of the paper that printed the letter. There is much speculation.
The Last: Mary Jane Kelly (Marie Jeanette)
Mary Kelly’s murder is the one that most people remember, simply because of the sheer violence of it. This is the only Ripper murder where he had the privacy of a room. Her body was so severely mutilated that it is hard to tell it was ever a person. Bits of her were spread all over the room. She was posed, pieces that had been cut off were placed on the bedside table, and there was blood everywhere. It is a mystery why Jack stopped after this climax, or if he did stop and the other murders went under the radar.