"Jack the Ripper! Few names in history are as instantly recognizable. Fewer still evoke such
vivid images: noisome courts and alleys, hansom cabs and gaslights, swirling fog, prostitutes
decked out in the tawdriest of finery, the shrill cry of newsboys - and silent, cruel death
personified in the cape-shrouded figure of a faceless prowler of the night, armed with a long
knife and carrying a black Gladstone bag."
(Philip Sugden “The Complete History of Jack the Ripper” – first published in 1994)
By today's standards of crime, Jack the Ripper would barely make the headlines, murdering a
mere five prostitutes in a huge slum swarming with criminals: just one more violent creep
satisfying his perverted needs on the dregs of society. No one would be incensed as were the
respectable families of the pretty college students that were Ted Bundy's victims or the children
tortured and mutilated by John Wayne Gacy. We have become a society numbed by horrible
crimes inflicted upon many victims.
Why then, over a hundred years later, are there allegedly more books written on Jack than all of
the American presidents combined? Why are there stories, songs, operas, movies and a neverending stream of books on this one Victorian criminal? Why is this symbol of terror as popular a
subject today as he was in Victorian London?
In my point of view Jack the Ripper represents the classic whodunit. Not only is the case an
enduring unsolved mystery that professional and amateur sleuths have tried to solve for over a
hundred years, but the story has a terrifying, almost supernatural quality to it. He comes from out
of the fog, kills violently and quickly and disappears without a trace. Then for no apparent
reason, he satisfies his blood lust with ever-increasing ferocity, culminating in the near
destruction of his final victim, and then vanishes from the scene forever. Those might be the
perfect ingredients for the perennial thriller.
II. The First Lady
When Charles Cross walked through Whitechapel's Buck's Row just before four in the morning
Friday, August 31, 1888, it was dark and seemingly deserted. It was chilly and damp, not unusual
for London even in the summer, especially before dawn. He saw something that looked like a
tarpaulin lying on the ground before the entrance to a stable yard.
As he walked closer, he saw it was a woman lying on her back, her skirts lifted almost to her
waist. He saw another man walking the same way. "Come and look over here," he asked the man,
assuming that the woman was either drunk or the victim of an assault. As they tried to help her in
the darkened street, neither of the two men saw the awful wounds that had nearly decapitated her.
They fixed her skirt for modesty's sake and went to look for a policeman.
A few minutes later, Police Constable John Neil happened by the body while he was walking his
beat. From the light of his lantern, he could see that blood was oozing from her throat which had
been slashed from ear to ear. Her eyes were wide open and staring. Even though her hands and
wrists were cold, Neil felt warmth in her arms. He called to another policeman who summoned a
doctor and an ambulance.
Neil awakened some of the residences in the respectable neighborhood to find out if they had
heard anything suspicious, but to no avail. Soon, Dr. Rees Llewellyn arrived on the scene and
examined the woman. The wounds to her throat had been fatal, he told them. Since parts of her
body were still warm, the doctor felt that she had been dead no longer than a half-hour, perhaps
minutes after Neil had completed his earlier walk around that area.
Her neck had been slashed twice, which had cut through her windpipe and esophagus. She had
been killed where she was found, even though there was very little blood on the ground. Most of
the lost blood had soaked into her clothing. The body was taken to the mortuary on Old
Montague Street, which was part of the workhouse there. While the body was being stripped,
Inspector Spratling discovered that her abdomen had been wounded and mutilated. He called Dr.
Llewellyn back for a more detailed examination.
The doctor determined that the woman had been bruised on the lower left jaw. The abdomen
exhibited a long, deep jagged knife wound, along with several other cuts from the same
instruments running downward. The doctor guessed that a left-handed person could have
inflicted these wounds very quickly with a long-bladed knife. Later, he was not so sure about the
killer being left-handed.
Here have been several theories about how the wounds were inflicted. Philip Sugden makes a
If (the victim's) throat were cut while she was erect and alive, a strong jet of blood would have
spurted from the wound and probably deluged the front of her clothing. But in fact there was no
blood at all on her breast or the corresponding part of her clothes. Some of the flow from the
throat formed a small pool on the pavement beneath (her) neck and the rest was absorbed by the
backs of the dress bodice and ulster. The blood from the abdominal wound largely collected in
the loose tissues. Such a pattern proves that (her) injuries were inflicted when she was lying on
her back and suggests that she may have already been dead.
Identification would not be easy. All she had on her was a comb, a broken mirror and a
handkerchief. The Lambeth Workhouse mark was on her petticoats. There were no identifying
marks on her other inexpensive and well-worn clothes. She had a black straw hat with black
The woman was approximately five feet two inches tall with brown graying hair, brown eyes and
several missing front teeth .But later, as news of the murder spread around Whitechapel, the
police learned of a woman named "Polly," who lived in a lodging house at 18 Thrawl Street.
Eventually a woman from the Lambeth Workhouse identified her as Mary Ann Nichols, age 42.
The next day her father and her husband identified her body.
Polly had been the daughter of a locksmith and married William Nichols, a printer's machinist.
They had five children. Her drinking had caused their marriage to break up. For the most part,
Polly had been living off her meager earnings as a prostitute. She still had a very serious drinking
problem. Every once in a while, she would try to get her life back together, but it never worked
out. She was a sad, destitute woman, but one that most people liked and pitied.
The inspector in charge of the investigation was a police veteran named Frederick George
Abberline who had been on the force 25 years, most of which had been spent in the Whitechapel
At the time of Polly Nichols' death, the inhabitants of London's Whitechapel area had already
heard about a number of attacks on women in that neighborhood. Whether or not one or more of
these attacks was perpetrated by the man who later became known as Jack the Ripper is
controversial. However, in the minds of the people of Whitechapel, most of these crimes were
On Monday, August 6, 1888, several weeks before Polly Nichols' murder, Martha Tabram, a 39year-old prostitute, was found murdered in George Yard. The time of death was estimated to be
2:30 a.m. She had been stabbed 39 times on "body, neck and private parts with a knife or
dagger," according to Dr. Timothy Killeen's post-mortem examination report. There was no
indication that the throat had been slashed or her abdomen extensively mutilated. With the
exception of one wound that had been delivered with a strong knife with a long blade, such as a
dagger or bayonet, many other wounds had been inflicted with a penknife.
According to another prostitute, Mary Ann Connelly, known as Pearly Poll, she and Martha had
been together in the company of two soldiers until a few hours before Martha was killed. The
police took Poll to check out the soldiers at the Tower garrison, but the soldiers she identified
were cleared of the crime. A constable who had been on duty in the vicinity of George Yard also
saw a soldier in that area around the time of Martha's death, but this soldier was never properly
Some months earlier, Emma Smith, a 45-year-old prostitute, was attacked on April 2, 1888 at
seven o'clock in the evening within 100 yards of where Martha Tabram was found. The crimes
themselves were very different, as Tabram was probably murdered by one individual, while
several men assaulted Smith. Robbery was clearly the motive of the Smith assault, but not the
murder of Tabram. The nature of the wounds inflicted was quite different. Thus, it is not likely
that the same assailant was responsible for both crimes. Only the Tabram murder bears any
similarity to the work of the man eventually known as Jack the Ripper.
III. Dark Annie
Because the people of Whitechapel firmly believed that the deaths of Martha Tabram, Emma
Smith and Polly Nichols were connected, there was a great deal of pressure upon the police to
bring the criminal(s) to justice. Three theories were entertained: (1) a gang of thieves was
responsible, such as the men who robbed and assaulted Emma Smith, (2) a gang extorting money
from prostitutes penalized the three women for failing to pay, (3) a maniac was on the loose.
Considering how poor the victims were, the first two theories were not very plausible, so the
final theory became popular. The East London Observer commented on the Tabram and Nichols
The two murders which have so startled London within the last month are singular for the reason
that the victims have been of the poorest of the poor, and no adequate motive in the shape of
plunder can be traced. The excess of effort that has been apparent in each murder suggests the
idea that both crimes are the work of a demented being, as the extraordinary violence used is the
peculiar feature in each instance.
A request was made of the Home Secretary for a reward to be offered for the discovery of the
criminal. Henry Matthews, the Home Secretary, had no idea at this point what he was dealing
with and declined to offer a reward, laying responsibility at the feet of the Metropolitan Police.
While police were searching for the killer of Polly Nichols, a story surfaced about a bizarre
character named "Leather Apron." This man required prostitutes to pay him money or he would
beat them. The Star claimed the man was a Jewish slipper maker of the following description:
From all accounts he is five feet four or five inches in height and wears a dark, close-fitting cap.
He is thickset and has an unusually thick neck. His hair is black, and closely clipped, his age
being about 38 or 40. He has a small, black moustache. The distinguishing feature of his costume
is a leather apron, which he always wears...His expression is sinister, and seems to be full of
terror for the women who describe it. His eyes are small and glittering. His lips are usually
parted in a grin which is not only not reassuring, but excessively repellent. With all this publicity,
including the fear of mob violence, "Leather Apron" went into hiding.
Annie Chapman, known to her friends as "Dark Annie," was a pathetic woman. She was
essentially homeless, living at common lodging houses when she had the money for a night's
lodging, otherwise roaming the streets in search of clients to earn a little money for drink, shelter
and food. She was 47 when she died, a homeless prostitute. But her life had once been much
different in 1869 when she was married to John Chapman, a coachman. Of the three children
they had, one died of meningitis and another was crippled. The stress of illness and the heavy
drinking of both husband and wife caused the breakup of their marriage. Things became much
worse for Annie when John died and she lost the small financial security his allowance had
provided her. The emotional shock of his death was just as bad as the financial loss and she never
recovered from either.
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. For the most
part, she was very easy going. However, a week before her death, she got into a fight with a
woman over a piece of soap and Annie was struck on the left eye and on her chest.
On Friday, September 7, 1888, Annie was told her friend that she was feeling sick. Unknown to
her, she was suffering from tuberculosis. "I must pull myself together and get some money or I
shall have no lodgings," she told her friend Amelia.
Just before two in the morning on Saturday, September 8, a slightly drunken Annie was turned
out of her lodging house to earn money for her bed. Later that morning, she was found several
hundred yards away in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields.
29 Hanbury Street was just across from the Spitalfields market. 17 people made the building
their home, five of which had rooms overlooking the site of the murder. Of those five or so with
rooms overlooking the site of the murder, some had their windows open that night.
Spitalfields Market opened at 5 a.m., so there were many other people gathered that morning
with businesses in the building at 29 Hanbury preparing for the opening of the market. Residents
were leaving for work as early as 3:50 a.m. The streets around the market were filled with the
commercial vehicles delivering to the marketplace. John Davis, an elderly car man who lived
with his wife and three sons at 29 Hanbury, found Annie's body just after 6 a.m.
He noticed that her skirts had been raised up to her pelvis. He went immediately to get help and
returned with two workmen. By the time a constable was called, everybody in the house had
Yet, amazingly enough, even though the sun rose at 5:23 that morning, and so much traffic was
present at that early hour, no one heard any suspicious disturbance or cry nor was anyone seen
with bloody clothing or weapon. There was clean tap water in the backyard where Annie was
found, but the murderer did not use the water to wash the blood from his hands or knife. Also
amazing was the risk that the murderer took in this daylight crime.
Dr. Phillips estimated that Annie Chapman had been dead approximately two hours. The absence
of any cry heard by the residents of 29 Hanbury could be explained by the evidence that she was
strangled into unconsciousness and immediately thereafter had her throat slashed. She had been
murdered where she was found. While there was no sign that Annie had fought off her attacker,
there was a strange occurrence that Dr. Phillips noted near the feet of the corpse. Annie had
apparently kept in her pocket a small piece of cloth, a pocket comb and a small-tooth comb, all
of which had appeared to be purposely arranged in some order.
An envelope was found near her head containing two pills. On the back of the envelope were the
words Sussex Regiment. The letter M and lower down Sp were handwritten on the other side.
There was a postmark that said London, Aug. 23, 1888. Also, a leather apron was found along
with some other trash around the yard. The testimony that Dr. Phillips gave at the inquest gave a
more detailed view of the ferocity of the murder. The murderer had grabbed Annie by the chin
and slashed her throat deeply from left to right with the possible failed attempt to decapitate her.
This was the cause of death. The abdominal mutilations, described in the September 29 edition of
the Lancet, were post mortem. At the inquest, Phillips said, "The whole inference seems to me
that the operation was performed to enable the perpetrator to obtain possession of these parts of
the body." This police surgeon with 23 years of experience was very surprised that the
mutilations had been done so skillfully and in what must have been a short period of time, saying
that he could have not done such work in less than fifteen minutes and more likely an hour.
Phillips conjectured that the murder instrument was not a bayonet or the type of knife used by
leather workers, but rather a narrow, thin knife with a blade between 6 and 8 inches long.
The kind of knife used by slaughter men and surgeons for amputations could have been such an
instrument. Abrasions on Annie's hands indicated that her rings had been forced off her. Later,
from conversations with Annie's friends, police were able to determine that she wore cheap brass
rings, which may have been mistaken for gold .Inspector Abberline, who was in charge of the
Polly Nichols murder, was instructed to help with the Chapman murder which was in
Spitalfields, a different police jurisdiction. However, the lead inspector was Joseph Chandler of
the Metropolitan Police's H Division. There seemed common agreement among the inspectors
that the same man who killed Polly Nichols also killed Annie Chapman. The Chapman
investigation was just as frustrating as the Nichols investigation. The physical evidence - the
leather apron, a nail box and a piece of steel - were owned by Mrs. Richardson, one of the
residents, and her son. The envelope with Sussex Regiment seal on it was widely sold to the
public at a local post office. Furthermore, a man at Annie's lodging house saw her pick up the
envelope from the kitchen floor to put her pills in when her pillbox broke. Extensive
conversations with the associates of Annie Chapman yielded neither good suspects nor any
reasonable motive for the crime. Nor was there any suspicious person found escaping the scene
of the crime.
However, the investigation was not entirely fruitless and three important witnesses were found,
one of which almost certainly caught a glimpse of the murderer. The first witness, John
Richardson, was Mrs. Amelia Richardson's son. Between 4:45 and 4:50 on the morning of the
murder, he visited 29 Hanbury to check the locks on the cellar in which Mrs. Richardson kept her
tools and goods for her packing case enterprise.
He opened the yard door and sat down on the step to cut a piece of leather from his boot that had
been hurting his foot. As it was beginning to get light outside, he could see that the cellar locks
had not been tampered with while he sat fixing his boot. He could also see that at that time, there
was no body of Annie Chapman in the backyard. "I could not have failed to notice the deceased
had she been lying there then," he said at the inquest.
Another witness, Albert Cadosch, living next door to 29 Hanbury Street testified that he heard
voices coming from the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street just after 5:20 a.m. The only word he
overheard was No. A few minutes later, around 5:30 a.m., he heard the sound of something
falling against the fence.
The most important witness was Mrs. Elizabeth Long who was coming to the Spitalfields market
and passed through Hanbury Street when she heard the Black Eagle Brewery clock strike 5:30.
She saw a man and a woman talking "close against the shutters of No. 29." Mrs. Long identified
Annie Chapman in the mortuary as the woman who had been facing her as she passed down
Hanbury Street. Unfortunately, the man Annie was conversing with, who was almost certainly
her killer, had his back to Mrs. Long.
In a week or so, the bawdy nightlife of Whitechapel surged back to its normal pitch. There were
just too many people whose daily subsistence depended upon prostitution and other forms of
evening entertainment to let the pace lapse for long.
While Whitechapel was unsatisfied with the lack of results of the police investigation, it was
hard to fault the police for the quantity of work that was produced. On Tuesday, September 11, a
few days after the death of Annie Chapman, John Pizer, the famous "Leather Apron," was
Despite attempts by his family to portray Pizer as a victim of malicious rumors, there was
sufficient evidence to show Pizer was an unpleasant character with at least one documented case
of stabbing, for which he served six months at hard labor. The allegations of bullying and
extorting money from prostitutes were never proven
First of all, he had alibis for the times at which Polly Nichols and Annie Chapman were
murdered. When Polly was killed, Pizer was at a lodging house, which was corroborated by the
Pizer was released, but a number of others were picked up and questioned. Some were just
eccentric and drunken characters that shot off their mouths about the murders; others were
insane. Few were worthy of prolonged investigation, either because they lacked the medical
skills or because they had alibis for the time the women were murdered. Often the alibis
consisted of confinement in asylums or jails. Insanity and medical qualifications became the key
factors in sorting out suspects. Another factor was foreign origin, recalling Mrs. Long's
testimony in the Annie Chapman murder. The focus on medical knowledge led the police well
beyond the reaches of White chapel into the middle and upper classes of London as the eccentric
and violent behavior of some surgeons and other physicians came into question.
IV. The Double Event
Louis Diemschutz, a Russian Jew, was driving his pony cart to Dutfield Yard, off Berner Street in
Whitechapel at 1 a.m. on Sunday, September 30, 1888. Diemschutz and his wife lived at the
International Working Men's Educational Club (IWMC) and took care of the club's premises.
The IWMC was a club composed primarily of Eastern European Jewish Socialists.
In his spare time, Diemschutz sold costume jewelry at various outdoor markets and was
returning from this commercial enterprise when he pulled into the club yard. As he did so, he
saw an object on the ground near the wall of the club building. He struck a match and saw that it
was a woman.
Diemschutz rushed into the club and got a young member to help him. When they saw that the
object was a woman with a stream of blood running from her body, the two men ran screaming
for a policeman.
A few minutes later, Police Constable Henry Lamb and his associate were on the scene. Lamb
felt warmth in the woman's face, but could detect no pulse. His associate went immediately to
look for a doctor. PC Lamb did not see any signs of a struggle, nor were the woman's clothes
unduly disturbed, like the earlier victims whose skirts had been raised up past their knees.
Dr. Frederick Blackwell was on the scene at 1:16 a.m. with his assistant who had arrived a few
minutes earlier. He detailed his findings at the inquest:
"The appearance of the face was quite placid. The mouth was slightly opened... In the neck there
was a long incision ... (which) commenced on the left side, 2 inches below the angle of the jaw
and almost in a direct line with it, nearly severing the vessels on that side, cutting the windpipe
completely in two, and terminating on the opposite side..."
Dr. Phillips, the police surgeon had joined Blackwell at the scene of the crime. Between the two
of them, the estimate of her time of death was between 12:36 and 12:56 a.m.
The police continued to investigate the death scene, but nothing in the way of clues or weapon
was found. They did determine however that the chairman of the IWMC had walked through the
yard around 12:40 a.m. some 20 minutes before the body was found and saw nothing suspicious.
10 | P a g e
While the police were coping with yet another Whitechapel murder, a most extraordinary thing
happened just 1/4 of a mile away in Mitre Square. Some 24 yards square, it was generally a
respectable area surrounded by commercial buildings and warehouses, with very few residences.
At night, when the businesses were closed, Mitre Square became a dark and somewhat secluded
Mitre Square was on the beat of Police Constable Edward Watkins of the City Police. He had
been through the square at 1:30 and all was quiet. He came around again at 1:44 a.m., some 45
minutes after the discovery of the woman in Dutfield's Yard. Again, it was quiet and deserted.
When he shined his lantern in one corner of the square, he made a horrible discovery.
He described it to the coroner a few days later: "I saw the body of a woman lying on her back
with her feet facing the square, her clothes up above her waist. I saw her throat was cut and her
bowels protruding. The stomach was ripped up. She was lying in a pool of blood." He ran over to
one of the businesses on the square to get George Morris, a retired constable who worked as a
night watchman. With his whistle, he got help from a couple more policemen. The City Police
then began to search the area to see if the killer could still be found.
At 2:18, Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown got to the scene of the crime and made his examination.
Her abdomen had been ripped open and she had fearful mutilations to her face. The "body was
quite warm; no death stiffening had taken place; she must have been dead most likely within the
half hour," he later said at the inquest.
All in all, the Mitre Square event was pretty amazing, if for nothing more than the aggregation of
police in that particular area at the time of the crime. In addition to Watkins and Morris, another
policeman, whose beat included a perimeter of Mitre Square, had reached it at about 1:42 a.m.
Like the other policemen, he heard nothing and saw nobody. Also, there was a police constable
who lived on the square who slept through the entire thing.
11 | P a g e
As it turned out, the murderer got his victim into the square, killed her, carved her up silently and
completely escaped in the space of fifteen minutes. But the night was not over yet.
At 2:55 a.m. Constable Alfred Long found a piece of a bloody apron lying in the entrance to a
building in Whitechapel's Goulston Street. Just above the apron, written in white chalk on the
black bricks of the archway was the wording:
“The Juwes are
The men That
The piece of bloody apron came from the woman who had been murdered in Mitre Square and
the police believed that the writing was the killer's. A constable was left to guard the writing and
some preparations were made to have the writing photographed. But before the writing could be
photographed, it was ordered destroyed in a highly controversial move by Sir Charles Warren,
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Warren explained his rationale for an action which
would be criticized for over a hundred years:
The writing was on the jamb of the open archway...visible to anybody in the street and could not
be covered up...I do not hesitate to say that if the writing had been left there would have been an
onslaught upon the Jews, property would have been wrecked, and lives would probably have
How this murderer was able to accomplish two such murders in such a short time, particularly
with the mutilations of the second victim, without being seen by the police or anybody and then,
when the area was in a heightened state of alarm, create the chalk writing on the archway is
nothing short of amazing.
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V. Elizabeth Stride
After the murder in Dutfield's Yard, the police conducted house-to-house interviews with the
people in that neighborhood. Any bystanders that had aggregated to watch the police conduct
their examination were interrogated. After a few red herrings, she was identified as Elizabeth
Stride, who was born in 1843 in Sweden. She had most likely come to England as a domestic
This time, many witnesses came forward to claim that they had seen Liz just before her death.
One of them was Constable William Smith who was walking his beat around Berner Street and
saw Liz talking to a man around 12:30 in the morning, shortly before her death.
Another important witness was Israel Schwartz who gave this story to Inspector Swanson: At
12:45 a.m. Israel Schwartz of 22 Helen Street saw a man stop and speak to a woman, who was
standing in the gateway. The man tried to pull the woman into the street, but he turned her round
& threw her down on the footway & the woman screamed three times, but not very loudly.
Police took the evidence of Constable Smith and Israel Schwartz very seriously. Two other
important witnesses surfaced. William Marshall lived at 64 Berner Street and had been standing
near the site of the murder about 11:45 p.m., approximately an hour and a quarter before the
event occurred. He identified Liz as talking to a man who he described as middle-aged, wearing
a round cap with a small peak, "like what a sailor would wear," about five ft. 6 inches tall, rather
stout, dressed like a clerk, and speaking like an educated man. He was not able to get a look at
the man's face. While Marshall's description of the man with Liz is similar to Smith's and
Schwartz's, Liz could have been talking to someone entirely different than her killer an hour and
a quarter before the murder.
James Brown came forward with another sighting of Liz that night at 12:45 a.m., minutes before
her death. When he reached the intersection of Berner and Fairclough Streets, he saw Liz talking
to a man. He overheard her say, "Not tonight, some other night." The man he described was
about 5 feet 7 and wearing a very long dark overcoat. Brown's timing is open to question since
he was estimating rather than looking at any clock.
The descriptions of the man talking to Liz Stride given by Smith, Marshall and Schwartz may
refer to the same man. Unfortunately, it did not help the police find this suspect.
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VI. Catharine Eddowes
The woman murdered in Mitre Square was easier for the police to identify since she had some
pawn tickets on her that, when publicized, brought forward John Kelly, the man she had been
living with for seven years at a lodging house at 55 Flower and Dean Street.
Catharine Eddowes, called Kate by all that knew her, was a very friendly and happy woman
known for her good spirits and singing. She, like the other victims, had a periodic drinking
problem, which led to quarrels with her companions and family.
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.
An important witness surfaced -- Joseph Lawende who left the Imperial Club with two friends at
about 1:35 a.m. The men saw a couple conversing at Church Passage near Mitre Square.
Lawende described the young man as dressed in a dark jacket, wearing a deerstalker's hat. The
man was young, medium height and with a small, fair-colored moustache. He did not see the
woman's face, but identified Kate's clothing. Nine minutes after this sighting, Kate Eddowes was
What about the chalk writing found over an hour later on Goulston Street under which laid a
portion of Kate's bloody apron? "The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing."
Philip Sugden discusses three feasible interpretations of this message. First is that the message
was not written by the murderer and just happened to be where the killer dropped or placed the
bloody piece of apron.
A second possible interpretation offered by Walter Dew, a Whitechapel police officer in 1888, is
that the message represents "the defiant gesture of a deranged Jew, euphoric from the bloody
'triumphs' in Dutfield's Yard and Mitre Square." One of the many problems with this
interpretation is that, according to the Acting Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler, " I do not know any
dialect or language in which 'Jews' is spelled 'Juwes.'"
Whoever the author of the message was, it yielded very little in the way of identifying its writer.
The belief of some authors that the word "Juwes" is a Masonic term is disputable. "It is a
mystery why anyone ever thought that 'Juwes' was a Masonic word," wrote Paul Begg, an expert
on the Ripper murders.
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VII. Ripper Letters
Hundreds of letters allegedly from the murderer were sent to the police, news agencies and
individuals associated with solving the crimes. Only three of these letters have provided lasting
food for Ripper scholars. Two, in particular, which are written by the same individual, actually
gave rise to the name "Jack the Ripper." Before that time, the name had not been coined.
The following letter, written in red ink, gave the notorious murderer his name. It was received by
Central News on September 27, 1888 and was addressed to The Boss, Central News Office.
“25 Sept: 1888
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when
they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave
me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work
the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now? I love my work
and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some
proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue
and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha-ha. The next job I do I shall clip. The lady's ears
off and send to the Police officers just for jolly wouldn't you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit
more work then give it out straight. My knife's so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away
if I get a chance.
Jack the Ripper
Don't mind me giving the trade name
15 | P a g e
Then on the same letter, written horizontally was the following message:
wasn't good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it. No luck yet.
They Say I'm a doctor. now ha-ha”
The editor treated the letter as a hoax and did not send it to the police for a couple of days. The
night after the police finally received the letter, Liz Stride and Kate Eddowes were murdered. On
Monday morning following the murders, the Central News Agency received another letter
postmarked October 1 in the same handwriting as the September 25 letter:
“I wasn't codding dear old Boss when I gave you the tip. youll hear about saucy Jackys work
tomorrow double event this time number one squealed a bit couldn't finish straight off. had not
time to get ears for police thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again.
Jack the Ripper”
Police circulated the letters around and placed facsimiles of them outside every police station in
case someone recognized the handwriting. Nothing came of this effort except a number of crank
The third important letter was sent October 16 to George Lusk who was the head of the Mile End
Vigilance Committee. This time the letter was sent with a portion of a human kidney. Lusk was
extremely upset. One of the other committee members felt sure that it was an animal organ
preserved in wine, so they took the kidney to Dr. Thomas Openshaw at the London Hospital to
examine. Much was published on what Dr. Openshaw allegedly said about the kidney, which he
repudiated later. All that can be certain of what Dr. Openshaw really established was that it was a
human adult kidney, which was preserved in spirits rather than in formalin, such as what was
used in hospitals for specimens.
The letter that accompanied the kidney was not written by the author of the two earlier letters
signed Jack the Ripper.
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I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate
it was very nise I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer
Catch me when
Are any of these three letters from the real murderer? Philip Sugden presents the case against the
first two letters, which are signed Jack the Ripper, being genuine even though they appear to
present information that only the killer might know.
At first, he claimed that he will send the police the victim's ears. This was never done. While it is
true that Kate Eddowes' one ear lobe was severed, the killer had plenty of time, as evidenced by
his extensive mutilations of her body, to cut off both her ears and send them to the police.
Secondly, the forecast of the double event has been promoted as a reason to accept the letters as
genuine. However, the letter whether it was posted from the Eastern District on Sunday night
September 31 or Monday October 1 was written when the entire Eastern region of the city was
abuzz about the double murder. It was well known on the streets all of Sunday. So there was
nothing forecast whatsoever.
Thirdly, the claim that Liz Stride squealed a bit is not proven. Only one of several witnesses
heard a woman cry out. Most witnesses heard nothing at all that night.
The Lusk letter is more difficult to assess. Dr. Openshaw indicated that the kidney belonged to a
person suffering from Bright's disease which, according to testimony given by Dr. Brown, the
police surgeon, apparently afflicted Kate Eddowes. The possibility remains that the letter is
genuine and the kidney was the victim's, but there is no way to prove it today.
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VIII. Mary Kelly
The double event caused a great panic in the Whitechapel district and caused many to put an end
to their trade. Business was scarce and many avoided the area. Ironic then entire zone became
safer than ever.
Things were starting to get back to normal in Whitechapel. There had been no murder for a
month and the streetwalkers again began to ply their trade in force. One such woman was a
good-looking young Irish girl by the name of Mary Kelly.
She was living in lodging house on Miller’s Court and she was late with the rent. She returned to
prostitution to earn money, but because of a drinking habit she never coped with money. The
owner of the lodging house was John McCarthy that sent his assistant Thomas Bowyer to see if
he could collect any rent from Mary that Friday morning, November 9, 1888.
When his knock went unanswered, he reached inside the broken window and pulled aside the
curtain. He wasn't quite sure what he saw, but it caused him to run back to McCarthy. When
McCarthy looked through the window, he was so horrified that he sent Bowyer for a constable.
The constable was talking with police officer Walter Dew and they went immediately to 13
Miller Court. They did not force the door, but pushed away a coat that served as a curtain over
the broken window. The constable told Dew not to look inside, but he did anyway. "When my
eyes had become accustomed to the dim light I saw a sight which I shall never forget to my
Soon Dr. George Bagster Phillips, the police surgeon, and Inspector Abberline were there. They
opened the door to a small, cluttered room with almost no furniture. Mary's body, unbelievably
mutilated, lay sprawled on the bed. The cause of death was the severance of the carotid artery in
the throat. The horrendous mutilation of this last and most hideous Ripper murder was done after
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Dr. Thomas Bond, another veteran police surgeon, had been brought into the case specifically to
determine the extent of medical knowledge the killer had. Dr. Phillips' examination report did not
survive, but Dr. Bond's did: The body was lying naked in the middle of the bed, the shoulders
flat, but the axis of the body inclined to the left side of the bed...The whole of the surface of the
abdomen & thighs was removed & the abdominal cavity emptied of its viscera. The breasts were
cut off, the arms mutilated by several jagged wounds & the face hacked beyond recognition of
the features & the tissues of the neck were severed all round down to the bone. The viscera were
found in various parts: the uterus & kidney with one breast under the head, the other breast by
the right foot, the liver between the feet, the intestines by the right side & the spleen by the left
side. The flaps removed from the abdomen & thighs were on a table.
The ferocity of this murder astounded the veteran police surgeons. Her throat had been slashed
with such force that the tissues had been cut all the way down to the spinal column. Dr. Bond
went on to describe the ghastly destruction of her body:
Her face was gashed in all directions, the nose, cheeks, eyebrows & ears being partly removed.
The lips were blanched & cut by several incisions running obliquely down to the chin. There
were also numerous cuts extending irregularly across all of the features.
Dr. Bond went on in his report for several paragraphs cataloging the wounds and stripping of the
skin. As they tried to reconstruct her torn body, they realized that the heart had been cut out and
There seemed to be agreement that the same monster that killed the other four women murdered
Mary Kelly. All of the women were murdered with "a very sharp, strong knife about an inch in
width and at least six inches long."
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IX. Major Suspects
From the testimony of the various eyewitnesses which police took most seriously, certain
probabilities emerge about the killer. One must keep in mind the word probable since eyewitness
accounts, particularly under conditions of dim lighting, are notoriously inaccurate in certain
details even when offered by honest competent eyewitnesses.
The following is a list of probabilities about the Ripper:
A white male
Average or below average height
Between 20 and 40 years of age in 1888
Did not dress as laborer or indigent poor
Had lodgings in the East End
Did have medical expertise, despite 1-2 opinions to contrary
May have been foreigner
Had a regular job since the murders all occurred on weekends
Was single so that he could roam streets at all hours
Sir Melville Macnaghten succeeded Sir Charles Warren as the Chief Commissioner of the
Metropolitan Police in June of 1889 after the Ripper murders had officially ended. However, the
investigation was ongoing and Macnaghten had complete access to police files. His final report
addresses his thoughts on why the murders came to an end with the monstrous destruction of
Mary Kelly and the identity of the three key suspects he believed could be Jack the Ripper. No
one ever saw the Whitechapel murderer: many homicidal maniacs were suspected, but no
shadow of proof could be thrown on any one
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X. Case closed
Mary Kelly represented the final victim of Jack the Ripper, a murder that overwhelmed in
ferocity and aggression, shocking police and surgeons alike, creating panic and questioning the
inquest that the police and Scotland Yard were undertaking. There were many leads and false
evidence of who Jack the Ripper was, but no discovery was made.
At any rate, the Jack the Ripper file was closed in 1892, the same year in which Inspector
Abberline retired. The Ripper murders were over, but the legend lived on.
There was even a theory that royalty was involved in the murders, for example prince Albert
Victor, duke of Clarence, heir to the throne of Great Britain, had he outlived his father.
Also in 1992 Ripperologists were provided a rare opportunity to sharpen their teeth. Michael
Barrett, a scrap metal dealer from Liverpool, came forward with a diary reputedly written by a
cotton broker named James Maybrick who died in 1889. In this diary, James Maybrick confesses
to being Jack the Ripper. Even if it is stated so, nothing could be proven.
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The mystery of Jack the Ripper may never be solved, we may never know who the real killer
was, or what he was trying to express. He could be another depressive maniac, full of hatred
against women, punishing them for the economic and social induced status of the time.
Nowadays he wouldn’t even make the headlines. Modern times have spawned even more deadly
killers and more ferocious ways of murder.
It is better not to know who the real killer behind the mask of Jack the Ripper was, and it would
be better for him to be buried within the silence of the answer. This way a legend may live on
and trouble the minds of countless others in the search for the real Jack the Ripper.
He may be thanked for creating better investigation methods, better trained detectives, and a high
awareness that violence must contained and not roam free.
Jack the Ripper will forever remain the perfect killer: preys in the dark, strikes from the mist and
disappears without a trace never to be found. But his name will never be forgotten, but
remembered with fear even in modern times.
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1. Philip Sugden “The Complete History of Jack the Ripper”
Published February 21st 2002 by Constable and Robinson (first published 1994)
2. Donald Rumbelow “The Complete Jack the Ripper”
Published September 24th 1992 by Penguin Books Ltd. (first published
3. Paul Begg “The Definitive History”
Published November 2th 2004 by Pearson Educated Limited
4. Shirley Harrison “The diary of Jack the Ripper”
Published October 1993 by Hyperion