by Jake McMillan
Rather than taking an official Jack the Ripper murder tour, I decided to do a bit of research and arrange the tour myself. Please read on if you are interested in seeing where the murders took place.
JACK THE RIPPER!
It is generally accepted that between 31st Aug and 9th Nov 1888 Jack the Ripper killed 5 prostitutes.
Over 120 years later we still have no idea who the killer really was.
Known initially as the ‘Whitechapel Murderer’, but after the letter shown below (known by Ripperologists as the ‘Dear Boss‘ letter) was published on 1st October the legend began.
Unfortunately, not one of the murder locations is marked in any way and most of the original locations have been knocked down.
MURDER 1: Mary “Polly” Nichols
31st August 1888
The murder took place in Bucks Row in 1888 (it’s now called Durward Street), which is located behind Whitechapel Station which would have only been recently constructed.
An illustration of the time showing PC John Neil’s discovery of the body at 3.45am.
Below is the mortuary photograph of Mary Nichols.
She was a 43 year old prostitute who had earlier that night been ejected from her lodging house as she did not have the 4 pence to pay for it. It is said that she left confident of getting her “doss money”, stating “see what a jolly bonnet I’ve got!”
She had her throat cut so deeply that her head was almost severed. The killer then lifted up her skirt and cut her down the abdomen and disembowelled her.
If you look at the modern day photo of Brick Lane below, you will notice the Sheraz Indian restaurant on the left. In 1888 this was the ‘Frying Pan’ Public House and Mary Nichols was seen here at 2am on the night of her murder boasting she had made her doss money several times over but proceeded to drink it all away. This probably made her an easy target for the killer as she stumbled down the quiet back streets of Whitechapel.
MURDER 2: Annie Chapman
8th September 1888 (8 days after the first)
29 Hanbury Street
The 1888 Annie’s body was found in the backyard of the house.
The photo below shows how 29 Hanbury Street would have looked like at the time of the murder.
Below is the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street. Although more private than the street, this was still a yard looked over by numerous windows and so a very brazen murder.
Here is how it looks today! 29 Hanbury Street does not exist any more.
The large building now holds a market and the picture below shows a dodgy Italian chap I know standing in the location of where Annie Chapman’s body was found.
Below is Annie Chapman’s mortuary photo.
In what was a signature of the killer, Annie’s throat was cut deeply. Her intestines had been tugged out and laid out across her shoulder. Her uterus and part of her bladder were completely missing. Also taken were the brass rings from her fingers.
Near to the body was a folded, wet leather apron. Although it was later found out to actually belong to a neighbour and not the killer, this fact further propelled social and racial unrest as leather aprons were the common attire of local jewish tradesmen.
Following Annie’s death tension locally was almost palpable. London was at the time the largest city in the world and the East End was a highly populated but very poor area with high levels of unemployment and violence.
MURDER 3: Elizabeth Stride
September 30th 1888 (3 weeks after the 2nd murder)
Dutfields Yard, Berner Street
Below is Berner Street as it would have looked at the time. The wheel on the wall (on right side of photo) shows the entrance to Dutfields Yard.
Below is Elizabeth Stride’s mortuary photo.
Her throat had been cut but the rest of the body had not been mutilated. This is because it is believed the murderer was interrupted before the killer had finished doing what he wanted to do.
The body was found at 1am and only 15mins earlier a gentleman named Israel Schwartz had spotted a man having an altercation with a lady (who he later identified as being Elizabeth Stride) outside the entrance to Dutfields Yard. He had most likely seen Jack the Ripper.
In 1888 the police gave local prostitutes immunity from arrest if they confined their soliciting to the island on which the church stands. This became known as ‘Prostitute Island’!
In 1888 the police gave local prostitutes immunity from arrest if they confined their soliciting to the island on which St. Botolphs Church stands. This became known as ‘Prostitute Island’!
MURDER 4: Catherine Eddowes
September 30th 1888 (45 Mins after Elizabeth Stride!)
The diagram below (drawn at the time) show’s the layout of Mitre Square in 1888. Although in a quiet square, there are multiple entrances that would have been used regularly and the killer risked being interrupted at any moment.
The photo below shows Mitre Square as it probably looked at the time. It is taken from the Square and faces Mitre Street and the houses you can see behind the cart no longer exist.
Here is how Mitre Square looks today (from Mitre Street). The bench facing into the Square is about where the body of Catherine Eddowes was found.
The flowerbed is where the houses would have been (in the photo above it) and Catherine was found a few feet in front of them in the corner.
Earlier that night (about 8.30pm) she had been arrested for being drunken and disorderly and was held at Bishopsgate police station until 1am when she was released. As she left, she said to a police officer, “Good night old cock”.
30mins later she was found dead.
Below is a sketch produced at the time of Catherine’s fatal injuries.
Her throat had been cut back to the spine. Her abdomen had been cut open with the intestines pulled out and laid over her shoulder. Her uterus and and left kidney had been taken by the killer.
Below is another sketch produced at the time of Catherine’s murder. The lobe of her right ear had been cut through. A ‘v’ had been cut into each of her cheeks and cuts on her eyelids. The tip of her nose had also been cut off.
Below is Catherine Eddowes’ mortuary photo (after her wounds had been stitched up):
Following the discovery of Elizabeth Stride, the police mobilised quickly and tried to hold a perimeter around the area but the narrow roads and numerous alleys meant that many people were able to get through this.
The red line in the map below shows the boundary between the City of London Police (to the left of the line) and the Metropolitan Police. Mitre Square is coloured in red also and the killer left the scene and made his way to Goulston Street (marked ‘A’ on the map) where a bloodstained apron from Catherine Eddowes was found at 2.55am in a doorway of Wentworth Dwellings. The murderer had used this to wipe the blood from his hands and knife.
The below is a message written in chalk found above the bloodstained apron. It is a fact clouded in controversy as the message was wiped clear under instructions of Sir Charles Warren (of Metropolitan Police) for fear of creating even further anti-semitic backlashes.
The Ten Bells Pub is one of the few buildings that looks very similar now as it did in 1888. Mary Kelly (Jack the Ripper’s final victim) drank there the night of the murder and it is likely the killer also frequented it.
MURDER 5: Mary Kelly
9th November (40 days after Catherine Eddowes)
13 Millers Court, Dorset Street
Dorset Street in 1888:
The entrance to Millers Court, as it would have been in 1888:
Today, the area looks very different! The whole of Dorset street does not exist and is just a road to one side of the Whites Row Multi-Storey Car Park.
Just to the right of the empty blue palette is where the entrance to Millers Court would have been.
Unlike the other murders, Mary Kelly was killed in her lodgings and was likely sleeping when Jack the Ripper entered (he was able to open the door via the broken window).
25 year old Mary’s death was the most horrific of all the murders due to the fact the killer had privacy and time. She was last seen alive at 2am on Commercial Street and at 4am two of her neighbours heard a cry of “murder” but ignored it as it was not an uncommon occurrence. It was not until 10.45am that her body was discovered (shown above) by the landlord’s assistant chasing up overdue rent.
Her abdomen had been completely removed and there were severe injuries to her thighs. The breasts had been cut clean off and the arms also mutilated. Her face had been hacked away to such extent her face was almost unrecognisable. Her uterus, along with the kidneys and one of the breasts was found beneath her head. The other breast was by her left foot and her liver had been placed between her legs. Her spleen was by her left side and the heart was never found and some have suggested it was burnt in the fireplace.
After the murder of Mary Kelly the killings stopped and 120 years later we still don’t know who it was or why the killings stopped when they did.
There are a huge number of theories as to who the killer was. Some suggest he was a member of the royal family (Prince Eddy, the grandson of Queen Victoria) and other suggest that it was Sir William Gull, the Royal Physician, who killed the prostitutes to protect the Royal Family using a Freemason ritual (this story was used for the film ‘From Hell‘ with Johnny Depp). However, there is no real evidence to suggest these are true in any way.
The ‘Diary of Jack the Ripper’ that was ‘discovered’ in the 1980s suggests that the killer was James Maybrick, a Liverpool cotton merchant who visited the East End of London on a regular basis. This story is even more interesting as James was murdered by his wife Florence in a highly publicised trial and it is suggested that his regular arsenic abuse (small doses were often taken at the time to produce a high) was sending him mad and Florence had perhaps discovered what he was doing in London and killed him. This would explain why the killings had stopped. However, the dubious way in which the diary made its way into the public domain and a couple of minor errors in the text lead most people to think that it is a hoax. Whether it is a modern or old hoax, people do not know but it is a very good hoax nevertheless and has not been entirely disproven.
Behaviourial Scientists take the approach of creating a profile of the killer and suggest he was a white male aged between 25-35. As all the killings took place on a weekend or holiday it is thought he had regular employment and was also likely to be a local as he would have needed good knowledge of the local streets. The killings suggest a strong anger against women and it is likely that he had been rejected and/or ridiculed by a woman at some point in his life (either his mother or a potential lover) and this drove him to kill. The brazen and opportunist nature of the killings may indicate that he had some kind of mental illness.
Why did the killings stop? He may have been arrested and locked up for another crime or for being mentally ill. London was a busy port and he may have gone to live elsewhere (some theorists say he went to America and then killed again) or perhaps he died?
There are numerous websites, magazines and regular conferences that continue to debate all the issues and it is more than likely that the true identity will never be known.