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The Victims Of Jack The Ripper Essay, Research Paper
Jack the Ripper is remembered as one of history?s most famous, daring, and
heinous serial killers. His technique of getting his victims to lay down before he slashed
their throats, then disemboweling them in a matter of a minute or two with as little blood
flow as possible distinguishes him as one of the most methodical, ruthless killers to
ever live. He even performed some of his gruesome murders right in the street
and left his victims to be found minutes later by people or policemen passing by. This
demonstrates what extremes he would actually go to to fulfill his desire for killing.
Through my report I will attempt to create a brief profile of his victims as well as explore
the methodical and horrendous ways they were murdered.
1.Mary Anne ?Polly? Nichols
Mary Anne Nichols was found dead on Aug. 31, 1888 between 3:30 and 4:00
A.M. by a porter on his way to work. At a first glance, it appeared to the porter that the
woman was just laying down in the street merely unconscious. Police officer John Neil
was summoned to the scene minutes after the body was found. The light from his
lamp revealed that the woman was in fact dead with a slashed throat. Dr. Rees Ralph
Llewellyn was performing a surgery when he was called to make an official examination
of the body. After the examination was complete he pronounced the woman dead by
means of a slashed throat. He also took special note that the body was still warm,
indicating that the victim had been dead perhaps only minutes before being discovered.
The body was removed to the mortuary shed at the Old Montague Street Workhouse
Infirmary to be autopsied. Only then was the unusually large puddle of blood that had
collected beneath the body seen. Once at the mortuary, Dr. Llewellyn performed a full
autopsy which revealed more about the manner of the murder that was not acknowledged
during the street examination. Not only was her throat slashed, but her abdominal area
and sexual organs had been brutally sliced and mutilated, which explained the large
of blood beneath the body. Furthermore, there were many bruises on the sides of her face
which indicated that she had been knocked unconscious before being mutilated. The
murder was believed to have been committed with a stout- handled blade of six to eight
inches long (Geary, p.7).
Mary Anne Nichols was the first victim of Jack the Ripper who was deliberately
mutilated. She was known as ?Polly? by her friends, and was a drunken street prostitute
in her early forties. She married at the age of nineteen to a printer named William
They had five children together. The two eventually separated shortly after Mary Anne
developed a drinking problem. William took custody of all of their children, except for
oldest, Edward, and paid Mary a weekly allowance of $5.25 until he learned of her
lifestyle as a street prostitute. Mary Anne was last seen by a friend named Ellen Holland
2:30 a.m. on the corner of Osborn Street and Whitechapel High Street. It was noted that
she was drunk and staggering at the time. After a weekend of investigation, the
Metropolitan Police Force was unable to come up with much useful
information regarding the murder of Mary Anne Nichols.
2. Annie Chapman
On Sept. 8, 1888, a little before 6:00A.M., Annie Chapman was found laying dead
at the foot of steps at the back of a lodging house by a lodger named John Davis. The
sight of the dead body sent Davis screaming down his street, alarming the whole
neighborhood. Inspector Joseph Luniss Chandler of the Commercial Street station
with his men to seal off the scene and the building from the large crowd that had already
gathered before their arrival. Dr. Wynne Baxter-Phillips was summoned to the scene to
examine the body. His brief examination revealed that the woman?s throat was cut with
two deep slashes, so deep, in fact that the woman was almost beheaded. A scarf had been
tied around her neck as if to hide the slashed throat. Her skirt was lifted just above her
knees and her legs were bent up and cut.
After her skirt was lifted up, it revealed that her entire body cavity was opened up,
with the entrails entirely scooped out and placed over her right shoulder. This was an
worse mutilation than the previous victim. The body was brought to the same mortuary
before, where Dr. Baxter-Phillips performed a full autopsy. He discovered something
surprisingly had not been noticed at the scene of the crime; her sexual organs were
completely missing. She had bruises on her face and chest, which implied that there had
been a struggle, and like Polly Nichols, she was probably knocked unconscious before
being mutilated. Again, it was believed that the murder was committed with a stout-
handled knife with a blade of six to eight inches.
Annie Chapman was another drunken street prostitute. She was short, stout, and
in her mid-forties. At the age of twenty-eight, she married John Chapman in London and
moved to Windsor. They had two daughters, although one died, and a crippled son. She
abandoned her family shortly before her daughter died and returned to London. She
received sporadic allowances from her husband until he died. It was allegedly her
alcoholism and immorality that broke up their marriage. She made a living by selling
flowers and matches, soliciting as a prostitute, and occasionally living off of male friends.
Inspector Frederick Abberline of the Great Scotland Yard was assigned to
supervise the investigation, which involved hundreds of policemen. Little information
was found though, due to the lack of cooperation of citizens of the neighborhood.
3. Elizabeth Stride, 4. Catherine Eddows
Elizabeth Stride was found dead in a dark alley off of Berener Street on Sept. 30,
1888. At 1:00 a.m., Mr. Louis Diemschutz was driving a horse cart when he turned into
the dark alley to see a figure laying on the ground in his path. As he looked closer,
he saw that it was a woman on her back, either dead or just merely drunken. As a few
men arrived on the scene from down the court, the light from their lamps revealed her
slashed throat and the large puddle of blood that had collected around her. Police arrived
to the scene quickly and sealed it off.
Dr. William P. Blackwell, a physician in the neighborhood, was first to examine
body, and was later joined by Dr. Baxter-Phillips. They observed that the body was still
warm, with a single slash to the throat. But surprisingly, no other mutilations were found.
This gave them the idea that the murderer had been interrupted in his process of
the woman by the entrance of Mr. Diemschutz?s cart into the alley. Since the alley was
very dark, it would have made it easy for the killer to flee from the scene.
The body was removed to the same mortuary where Dr. Baxter-Phillips, this time
assisted by Dr. Blackwell, once again performed the full autopsy. Besides the slashed
throat, no other violations could be found by either of the doctors. The general feeling
about Elizabeth Stride?s murder was that it was indeed the work of Jack the Ripper, and
that, because he was interrupted, he did not finish the job. There were two other theories
though: (1) this murder was just the work of an imitator, and (2), it was the result of a
private dispute totally unconnected to the Ripper murders.
Elizabeth Stride was another street prostitute in her early forties, but unlike the
first two victims, she was not known to have a drinking problem. At the age of
twenty-three, she started the life of a prostitute and gave birth to a still-born baby. She
was also admitted twice into the hospital for venereal diseases. At the age of
twenty-seven she married John Thomas Stride and had two children with him. In 1878,
when the steamer Princess Alice sunk off of Woolrich, Elizabeth claimed her husband
two children had tragically died in the catastrophe, however, research by Dr.
Baxter-Phillips revealed that John Thomas Stride had actually died in Bromley in 1884, a
few years after their marriage had broken up. His research revealed no evidence of their
On the night of Stride?s death, in Mitre Square, no more than a ten-minute walk
from the scene of her murder, the body of Catherine Eddows was found. At 1:45
A.M., police officer Edward Watkins was walking his routine route when he saw a
laying on her back. Her body had been ripped open,?Like a pig in the market,? as officer
Watkins colorfully put it (Geary, p.26). The officer had passed through the square just
fifteen minutes earlier, and at that time all seemed quiet and well. Minutes after the body
was found, Dr. George Sequira arrived on the scene from a nearby surgery to examine the
body. He was accompanied by city police surgeon Dr. Frederick Brown. They discovered
that her throat had been opened with one deep slash, and her face had several small cuts
and nips with a long diagonal slash that severed the tip of her nose and a piece of her right
ear. Her body had been completely ripped up the middle. As with Annie Chapman, her
internal organs had been completely scooped out and placed over her right shoulder.
doctors agreed that by the look of it, the disembowelment had been done in a hurry, but
there were no signs of a struggle. As with the previous victims, there was no spattering or
spewing of blood, but instead just a large puddle of blood that had slowly collected under
the body. That afternoon, Doctors Brown and Sequira performed the autopsy on the
body, and found that her uterus and one of her kidneys were completely missing. This led
to a theory that the murderer was actually just after women?s organs to sell them on the
black market and make a big profit.
Catherine Eddows was an alcoholic in her early forties who made a living from
prostitution. According to her friends, she claimed that she had married a man named
Thomas Conway, and had three children (1 daughter, 2 sons). There were, however, no
traces of their marriage found on registers. The two eventually separated, her daughter,
Annie, saying that it was because of her mother?s drunkenness and periodic absences, and
her sister, Elizabeth Fisher, saying that it was because of Conway?s drinking and
violence. The two boys went to live with their father, and Annie went to live with
Catherine. Annie would eventually marry Louis Phillips. She and her husband would
frequently move around to avoid her mother?s scrounging.
Catherine was last seen by the police at 1:00 A.M., roughly forty-five minutes
before her death. She was brought in to the police station after being found passed
out in an alley at about 8:00 P.M.. The police released her at 1:00 A.M.. Witnesses
claimed to have seen a man with a woman, who most certainly looked like the
victim, standing in Mitre Square at 1:30 A.M.. They described the man as about thirty
years old, with a fair complexion and a light mustache. He wore a loose jacket and a
?reddish-brown? handkerchief with a peaked cloth cap. He had the overall
look of a sailor.
The police investigated the whole morning under the supervision of Sir Henry
Smith, the assistant city police commissioner. They were able to find a blood-smeared
knife and a blood-smeared article of clothing which matched the fabric of the
5. Mary Jane Kelly
On Nov. 9, 1888, the body of Mary Jane Kelly, the Ripper?s last victim, was
found in a room on Miller?s Court, a filthy alley-way off of Dorsey Street. At about
10:30 A.M., Mr. McCarthy, the landlord, sent his assistant to collect past-due rent from
Kelly. After receiving no answer from within the room, and finding that the door was
locked, the assistant peered in through a broken window pane. One glimpse of the scene
inside the room and the assistant was sent running in horror to the police. Inspector
Walter Beck arrived first at the scene shortly after 11:00 A.M. to seal off the court, and
about thirty minutes later Mr. McCarthy broke open the door to the room. The first few
to enter the room were completely unexpectant of the degree of carnage with which they
were faced. One officer was reported to vomit violently outside in the gutter after a first
glimpse. Dr. Baxter-Phillips arrived at the scene to make an initial examination of the
remains. The bed of the victim was completely soaked with blood, and the carcass of the
victim was literally carved to pieces (Geary, p.52). Baxter-Phillips estimated that the
was busy on the body for at least two hours, and that the victim had been deceased for
seven to eight hours. The mid-section had been completely emptied out and the internal
organs were arranged around the body on the bed. Large sections of flesh and muscle
tissue had been stripped from the bone and placed on the bed-side table. The front of her
upper body had been completely carved off, except for her eyeballs, which were left in
their sockets. From the looks of the room, no signs of a struggle appeared to have taken
place, in fact, the victims clothes were neatly folded and stacked on a chair. At 3:30
Dr. Baxter-Phillips proceeded to reassemble the remains with the help of police surgeon
Dr. Thomas Beck, and several other assistants. They labored for several hours,
assembling the body together,?Like a jig-saw puzzle,? as one of the assistants put it
(Geary, p.54). They also found that there were cuts on her hands, indicating that she had
offered some resistance to her killer, and that none of her organs were found missing.
Despite that she was in her early twenties, Mary Jane Kelly seemed to be no
different from the other victims of the Ripper. She had married at the age of nineteen to a
collier named Davies, who died two or three years later in a mine explosion. They had no
children together, or at least there aren?t any records that they did. Shortly after her
husband?s death, she began her career as a prostitute in a London brothel, and she also
started her life as an alcoholic.
The police?s investigation found that Mrs. Mary Anne Cox, a local resident, had
seen Mary Jane Kelly in the evening at about 11:45 P.M. entering her room with a short,
stout man with a ?carroty? mustache. Ms. Sarah Lewis, who entered the court at about
2:30 A.M., said she had passed a man loitering outside the entrance of Dorsey Street, and
that somewhere around 4:00 A.M. (about the hour that the doctors placed the time of
death), they heard a woman?s voice cry ?Oh Murder!? (Geary, p. 57) from somewhere in
the court. Neither of the women took the cry to be of great importance, since such
exclamations were quite common in the neighborhood.
Police believed that the murders of all off these victims were performed by the
same killer, Jack the Ripper. All of the victims? lifestyles and age were the same, which
led investigators to believe that there was a certain personal profile for the Ripper?s
of victims. All of the victims, with the exception of Kelly, were in their mid-forties.
were all prostitutes and most of them lived their lives as alcoholics. They all had been
previously married, and most had children. All of their marriages had fallen apart after a
few years. They eventually chose alcoholism and prostitution for their lifestyle, and
practically lived their lives in the gutter. A profile such as this led investigators to believe
that it was personal frustration that the Ripper was venting against these women.
The manner of the murders also led investigators to believe that they were all
by the same killer, in that they all fell prey to a distinct style of mutilation. A slashed
throat, and mutilations of both the internal and sexual organs were all trademark methods
of Jack the Ripper. The extremities of these methods also indicated an obvious hatred
towards these victims, most likely because of their lifestyles. Although the
dismemberment was shocking, it showed a precision that indicated a knowledge of
and, perhaps, medical training. Although there were many suspects in question, there was
not enough evidence to convict any one of them. As a result of the lack of evidence, the
true identity of Jack the Ripper, to this day, still remains a mystery. However, it is
possible to form a personal profile of the London East-end slasher based on the evidence,
just as investigators have formed profiles of modern serial killers such as Ted Bundy,
Jeffrey Dahmer or the Son of Sam. Based upon the information that was gathered by
investigators from eye witnesses, the victims that were last seen alone with someone were
last seen with a man. Also, since the victims were all prostitutes, the killer was probably
man who acted like he was interested in what they had to offer, then caught them off
guard to perform his gruesome task. This man was probably a loner, or very prominent
and had freedom to move about unquestioned. He was also probably a local man who
lived in the area for quite a while, and was very familiar with the alleys and streets, which
would explain why he was able to flee from the murder scene of Elizabeth Stride.
One theory of what his motives were for the murders was that perhaps he was a
customer of prostitution and happened to become infected with a disease, so decided to
have his revenge by violently murdering a handful of prostitutes. Another theory was that
maybe he was taking revenge for a family member who was in a similar situation, or that
he came from the same situation as some of the children of the prostitutes and was also
left by his mother who ended up as a prostitute. Or maybe he just felt that he was merely
cleansing society and doing it a favor by killing off a handful of people who he felt were
scum who corrupted society. The ideal profile of Jack the Ripper was a single man,
probably a doctor, who had bad experiences with prostitutes in the past, and had lived in
London long enough to become familiar with it?s streets and alleys. He was obviously
very daring and nerveless to commit such crimes in the streets, because he could have
been caught at any time by anyone who happened to be passing by.
Beg, Paul, Martin Fido and Keith Skinner. The Jack the Ripper A-Z., London: Headline
Book Publishing, 1991.
Geary, Rick. Jack the Rippere A Joumal of the Whitechapel Murders. New York: Nantier
Beall Minoustchine Publishing, Inc., 1995.
Sugden, Philip. The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. New York: Carroll & Graf
Publishers, Inc., 1994.
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