Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel Murders Part 1

About the case of Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel murders which plagued London in the late 19th century, the murderer and his victims and notes.


The Murders: On the last day of August, 1888, Mary Ann Nichols took to the streets around Buck's Row in London's East End in an attempt to earn the fourpence she would need to rent a bed for the night. Instead of a flea-ridden cot in a doss house, however, her bed was to be a slab in the morgue, after she had been brutally disemboweled, and her throat slit from ear to ear.

While as many as 14 murders have been attributed to the Whitechapel killer who dubbed himself "Jack the Ripper," it is generally agreed that only 5 were committed by his hand: Mary Ann Nichols was the 1st, Annie Chapman the 2nd, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes the 3rd and 4th, and Mary Jane Kelly the 5th and last. Committed within an area of about 1/4 sq. mi., between August 31 and November 9, in 1888, the murders shared a number of similarities: 1) all 5 women were prostitutes; 2) all 5 had been grabbed from behind and had their throats slit; 3) there was an attempt to mutilate all of the bodies, though one attempt was thwarted; 4) every killing occurred either on the 1st or the last weekend of the month, in the early hours of the morning; 5) except for the brutal slaying of Mary Jane Kelly, all of the murders took place out-of-doors in the worst section of town; 6) in none of the cases was there evidence of sexual assault; and 7) each murder was increasingly savage as well as more audacious.

Murder in the East End was commonplace, but the Whitechapel slaughters caught and sparked the imagination of London and its newspapers. After Annie Chapman's corpse was discovered on September 8, her abdomen laid open, the intestines thrown over one shoulder, newspaper reporters began to clamor for the capture of "Leather Apron," the 1st of the many sinister sobriquets they invented under the assumption that the murderer was a slaughterman. Leather Apron, himself, fed the media's appetite for sensational news and also selected his final name on September 27, when he sent a note penned in red ink to the Central News Agency. It read in part:

Dear Boss, I keep hearing the police have caught me, but they won't fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track.... I am down on whores and I shan't 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.... The next job I do I shall clip the lady's ears off and send them to the police, just for jolly, wouldn't you?

The note was signed, "Yours truly, Jack the Ripper," and as a grisly postscript, he murdered 2 women in one night the following weekend, making off with Catherine Eddowes's left kidney.

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