- The Beginning of the murders -
The Case of the Ripper
The beginning of the murders, in a time where "serial killer" from what I've read was still seen as quite a relatively new and unknown phenomenon, is not fully understood and even today is still constantly debated over. We know of at least 5 murders however which are widely accepted to have been the work of one individual, Jack the Ripper, these being referred to as the "canonical five" (discussed in the next section of this thread).
The first of these known murders began on Friday, 31 August, 1888. However, there are other murder victims we know of which occurred prior to the 31st of this month which seemingly have all the hallmarks of a "ripper murder", one of which occurring at the beginning of August, another as early as the 3rd of April, 1988, this murder, and some that followed it, even going onto appear in the Metropolitan Police investigations at the time - So we at least know that the idea of more ripper victims was at least entertained by some in the police force investigating the case at the time.
This first murder in April however was not the work of one individual, instead a gang of them thus It's safe to assume it was not the original ripper as he worked alone. Presumably it was safer this way. The first serious murder which occurred however, one which is linked quite strongly to the ripper, first occurred in the beginning of August of 1988. Remember, the first murder we can be truly confident in knowing was the work of Jack occurring in late August a few weeks after this suspected case.
It occurred to a prostitute, much like the other ripper victims, by the name of Martha Tabram, and she was attacked by seemingly a lone man in a location around Whitechapel not far away from where the other victims were murdered, the Canonical five as they're known. Tabram was found after being stabbed approximately 39 times in a brutal murder not too dissimilar to the way in which the other ripper victims were found also, although similarities were to be found still. But It's possible this was certainly the early stages of the "career" of this infamous killer.
The work of the ripper, particularly when looking at the canonical five, all had the same type of wounds in common; deep throat slashes, abdominal and genital-area mutilation, in some cases a complete removal of internal organs (The ripper even sent a piece of kidney to police at one point, a piece which belonged to one of his victims discussed below), and progressive facial mutilations among much more. Even so it seems more than possible that Tabram was indeed a victim of the ripper, as well as some other suspected women at the time.
The series of murders around the Whitechapel area of London, which 2 separate police forces were helping to investigate at the time, officially spanned from late August, 1888 to early November of 1888, but for whatever reason they just stopped. Perhaps the murderer was caught for another crime, as has been suggested by some, or maybe he was just spooked, we may never know..
Some "Ripperologists" argue that one of the above scenarios is why they suddenly stopped; after all we know the attention these killings were receiving was just huge. Even Europe and America was hearing stories of the ripper I believe. At this stage It's unclear what happened exactly, all we know is the murders, at least around Whitechapel, did indeed come to a stop...
I do have a theory I'd like to throw out there though and it's one which, to me, makes a great deal of sense especially when looking at this character by the name of James Kelly as the original Ripper.. you see if Kelly is the real original ripper, then he certainly didn't stop killing at all, instead, he went to America and "continued his work" so to speak, something which may seem like quite a far-fetched idea at first but there's plenty of evidence to suggest he, the potential ripper, did do this and I'll attempt to show how a little later on in this thread.
For now it must be highlighted that we know for a fact that he did travel to America and shortly after doing so "Ripper styled" killings did indeed occur, particularly to a prostitute by the name of Carrie brown who was brutally murdered , as well as letters being sent to local New York newspapers signed by "Jack the ripper", much like what was seen in London.
For now here is the continuation of my overview of the case, this section being a quick look at the known women involved; the "canonical five", and what happened to each of them exactly.
-- A look at the Known victims, the 'Canonical Five'...
Mary Ann Nichols..
(Image of the finding of Mary's body)
Mary was the first widely accepted victim of Jack the ripper, although at the time at least 1 woman was claimed to be a victim of his, Martha Tabram - a previous murder victim who was found towards the beginning of August as I previously highlighted. Mary however was towards the end of August, 1888. On the 30th to be exact. Her body was first encountered in the early morning by Charles Cross and Robert Paul who were on their way to work in Buck's Row. They couldn't stick around it's claimed so they went onto inform a police officer by the name of PC John Neil who was then joined by 2 further police officers to investigate the body.
She was split from her husband at the time of her death and was suffering financially, thus she had decided to take up prostitution. Ironic, the job she had taken up to quite literally survive ended up being the very thing which killed her as the ripper sought out prostitutes as his victims.
Mary's injuries included a slit throat, slit from left to right, mutilated abdomen, several more wounds to the abdomen such as incisions across it, and three or four similar cuts on the right side caused by the same knife which was at least 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) long and used violently and downwards. Not much blood was spilt. Most of the wounds, particularly to the abdomen were made after the initial, gruesome death.
It's also said that Mary, like the others, was drunk at the time of her death which was something else Jack sought out in his victims, presumably as they made the easiest targets.
Her neck had been slashed twice, the cuts severing 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.(Source)
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, the doctor was not so sure about the killer being left-handed.
There have been several theories about how the wounds were inflicted. Philip Sugden makes a persuasive case:
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.
(Annie, quite obviously, is to the left of this image)
The next known ripper victim was to a woman by the name of Annie Chapman and she was found on the 8th of September, 1888, a week after the previous murder. She was murdered in a way not too dissimilar to Nichols when looking at the injuries sustained as well as the shocking way in which she was gruesomely mutilated literally in the streets of London.
In the inquest into her death, a women testified that at approximately 5:30 a.m. just beyond the back yard of 29 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, Chapman, struggling financially and after recently taking up the work of prostitution, could be observed talking to a man. By 6.am her body was found. No one in the nearby house, which was full of residents, around 16 I believe, heard any noise of struggle or anything to suggest someone was being harmed in the backyard where Chapman and the ripper were together.
According to the post mortem:
"He noticed the same protrusion of the tongue. There was a bruise over the right temple. On the upper eyelid there was a bruise, and there were two distinct bruises, each the size of a man's thumb, on the forepart of the top of the chest. The stiffness of the limbs was now well marked. There was a bruise over the middle part of the bone of the right hand. There was an old scar on the left of the frontal bone. The stiffness was more noticeable on the left side, especially in the fingers, which were partly closed. There was an abrasion over the ring finger, with distinct markings of a ring or rings. The throat had been severed as before described. the incisions into the skin indicated that they had been made from the left side of the neck. There were two distinct clean cuts on the left side of the spine. They were parallel with each other and separated by about half an inch. The muscular structures appeared as though an attempt had made to separate the bones of the neck. There were various other mutilations to the body, but he was of the opinion that they occurred subsequent to the death of the woman, and to the large escape of blood from the division of the neck.(Source)
The deceased was far advanced in disease of the lungs and membranes of the brain, but they had nothing to do with the cause of death. The stomach contained little food, but there was not any sign of fluid. There was no appearance of the deceased having taken alcohol, but there were signs of great deprivation and he should say she had been badly fed. He was convinced she had not taken any strong alcohol for some hours before her death. The injuries were certainly not self-inflicted. The bruises on the face were evidently recent, especially about the chin and side of the jaw, but the bruises in front of the chest and temple were of longer standing - probably of days. He was of the opinion that the person who cut the deceased throat took hold of her by the chin, and then commenced the incision from left to right. He thought it was highly probable that a person could call out, but with regard to an idea that she might have been gagged he could only point to the swollen face and the protruding tongue, both of which were signs of suffocation.
The abdomen had been entirely laid open: the intestines, severed from their mesenteric attachments, had been lifted out of the body and placed on the shoulder of the corpse; whilst from the pelvis, the uterus and its appendages with the upper portion of the vagina and the posterior two thirds of the bladder, had been entirely removed. No trace of these parts could be found and the incisions were cleanly cut, avoiding the rectum, and dividing the vagina low enough to avoid injury to the cervix uteri. Obviously the work was that of an expert- of one, at least, who had such knowledge of anatomical or pathological examinations as to be enabled to secure the pelvic organs with one sweep of the knife, which must therefore must have at least 5 or 6 inches in length, probably more. The appearance of the cuts confirmed him in the opinion that the instrument, like the one which divided the neck, had been of a very sharp character. The mode in which the knife had been used seemed to indicate great anatomical knowledge.
He thought he himself could not have performed all the injuries he described, even without a struggle, under a quarter of an hour. If he had down it in a deliberate way such as would fall to the duties of a surgeon it probably would have taken him the best part of an hour."
A gruesome way to die, undoubtedly.