Crime & History

The 5 Victims of Serial Killer "Jack the Ripper" | The Canonical Five

18 Jan 2016

Jack the Ripper is probably the most well known serial killer of modern times, he terrorised the streets of Victorian London's squalid East End. Brutally murdering and mutilating his victims, who were mostly poor middle aged women forced into prostitution and plying their trade on the treacherous streets of Whitechapel.

So here we look at the five known victims of Jack the Ripper to try and get an insight into their miserable lives, and horrific demise.

5 Mary Ann Nichols

Mary Ann Nichols

Mary Ann Nichols or "Polly" as she was known was the Ripper's first known victim. Polly was born on August 26th, 1845. At the age of 22, she married William Nichols, and they had five children together. They had a volatile on/off relationship and finally separated for good in 1881.

After the separation Polly lived an impoverished life moving from workhouse to workhouse, before falling into a life of prostitution and alcoholism. On the night of her death Polly had spent all her lodging money on drink, so was wandering the streets of Whitechapel looking for clients.

At around 03:40 am on 31st August 1888, Mary's mutilated body was found in Buck's Row by Charles Cross, who was on his way to work. By the time police arrive, Polly was already dead. At the mortuary, her body is identified by her estranged husband William who had not seen her for three years before her death.

Polly's wounds were horrendous; her throat had been cut down to the spinal column, and her abdomen was ripped open exposing her intestines. It was concluded these horrific injuries had been performed by someone with vague medical knowledge.

Polly is buried at Manor Park Cemetery, Forest Gate, London. At the inquest into her death, Polly's father said "I don't think she had any enemies, she was too good for that" Polly's grave remained unmarked until 1996 when authorities decided to mark it with a plaque. Polly was 43 years old at the time of her death.

4 Annie Chapman

Annie Chapman

Annie Chapman was born in September 1841 out of wedlock. Her parents married six months after her birth and went on to have four more children. Annie had a fractious relationship with her siblings.

When she was 28, Annie married John Chapman, a coachman; they had three children, their son was disabled and institutionalised all his life, and one of their daughters tragically died of meningitis aged 12. Annie and John separated in 1884, reportedly because of her drunken and immoral ways. John Chapman continued to pay Annie maintenance money until his death in 1986.

After John's death, Annie had taken to prostitution to make a living, before that she did crochet work and sold flowers. Shortly before her death, Annie had told friends she felt unwell.

Annie's body was found around 6 am on 8th September 1888 in the back yard of number 29 Hanbury Street, her throat had been ferociously severed, cut from left to right, her abdomen had been cut open and her intestines removed and placed above her right shoulder, her womb and other organs were missing. The contents of her pockets had been neatly arranged at her feet.

Annie's funeral was held on 14th September 1888. The cost was covered by her relatives. Annie was buried at Manor Park Cemetery, Forest Gate, London in an unmarked grave. Annie's grave no longer exists it has since been buried over. Annie was just 48 at the time of her death.

3 Elizabeth Stride

Elizabeth Stride

Elizabeth Stride was born on November 27, 1843, near Gothenburg, Sweden. Before moving to London in 1866, Elizabeth was a casual prostitute in Gothenburg, where she gave birth to a stillborn daughter. Three years after moving to London Elizabeth married John Stride and ran a coffee shop in Poplar, London. The couple stay in Poplar until 1875.

In 1878, Elizabeth claims that her husband and children had been killed when two boats collided on the Thames. It is widely believed that this was a lie, and Elizabeth was just trying to gain sympathy as a way of getting money. It is assumed her marriage had broken down at this time. Elizabeth then starts a relationship with Michael Kidney; it was a stormy pairing.

Elizabeth was frequently absent from the home they shared and was arrested several times for being drunk and disorderly in the months before her death. She often frequented the Queens Head Public House and stayed in nearby lodging houses. On the night of her death, Elizabeth had been seen getting amorous with a younger man in a doorway on Berner Street.

Then at 1 am on 30th September 1888, jewellery salesman Louis Diemschutz, entered Dutfield's Yard with his pony and cart. Suddenly his pony shied and refused to go any further. Suspecting something was in his path, Diemschutz started prodding around with his stick in the dark. Soon he came into contact with what he thought was a drunk woman. After asking for help from the nearby working mans club, to move the woman, they quickly realised that she was dead.

Elizabeth had her throat cut. It is believed that the Ripper was disturbed by the sound of the pony, and he had fled the scene in a hurry. Elizabeth Stride had died of a deep slit to the throat, on this occasion, no mutilation was carried out.

Elizabeth was buried on 6th October 1888; she had a pauper's funeral paid for by the parish. Her grave is in East London Cemetery, Plaistow; she was 45 years old.

2 Catherine Eddows

Catherine Eddows

Catherine Eddows was killed on 30th September 1888, the same night as Elizabeth Stride. It is thought that he was interrupted before being able to mutilate Elizabeth, so went in search of another victim.

Catherine, who was sometimes known as Jane Kelly, was born on April 14th, 1842, in Wolverhampton, England. In 1848 the family walked from Wolverhampton to London, some 140 miles, in search of work. In 1955 Catherine's mother died, and Catherine and her two sisters were sent to Bermondsey Workhouse.

Sometime after Catherine returns to Wolverhampton where she lives with her Aunt. Catherine becomes involved with Thomas Conway, although there is no evidence that they ever married. However they did have three children together. They split in 1881.

Back in London Catherine met John Kelly, they would often travel around looking for work, usually hop picking in Kent. It is said that Catherine returned to London from Kent and stayed in lodging houses where she was well known. Catherine told people she had returned to claim the reward offered for catching Jack the Ripper, claiming she knew who he was. Shortly before her death Catherine was arrested and locked up for being drunk and disorderly.

Catherine was released from her cell at around 1am on 30th September, when she left the police station it was reported she headed in the opposite direction to where her lodging house was. After being seen talking to a man by a witness, Catherine's body was discovered by PC Edward Watkins laying in Mitre Square. She had been horrifically mutilated, her throat had been cut, her abdomen had been cut open with her internal organs placed around her, this was one of the most frenzied attacks to date.

After the attack Catherine's family said although she was a casual drinker, it was not believed she was a prostitute. Catherine was buried in an unmarked grave in Manor Park Cemetery, Forest Gate London. Today Catherine's grave has been reused as a memorial garden for cremated remains. In 1996 authorities decided to mark her grave with a plaque. Catherine was 46 years old at the time of her murder.

1 Mary Jane Kelly

Mary Jane Kelly

Mary Jane Kelly was born around 1863, although her actual birthday is unknown and little is known about Mary's life. However, it is believed she was born in Limerick, Ireland, although the family moved to Wales when she was young. It's thought Mary had 6 or 7 siblings.

Mary married at 16 to a Collier, but sadly he was killed in an explosion 2 or 3 years into the marriage. It is believed they may have had a child together. After her husband's death, Mary moved to Cardiff, Wales, where she works as a prostitute. Mary arrived in London in 1884, where it is claimed she worked in a high-class brothel.

After making acquaintance with several men, Mary finally settles with Joseph Barnett, and they live together in a room in Miller's Court, Whitechapel. When Barnett loses his job, Mary turns to prostitution to make money. Unhappy with this Barnett leaves her and takes lodgings elsewhere. Barnett though remained a frequent visitor to Mary's lodgings and had visited her shortly before her death.

The evening before her death it is claimed Mary was in The Ten Bells Public House and was also seen with a moustached man. Apparently she was very drunk, and was wandering the streets looking for clients as she was behind with her rent.. In the early hours of 9th November 1888 Mary was seen with a man standing outside her room in Miller Court. At around 4am neighbours heard someone scream murder! All was quiet after that and it wasn't until about 10:45am that her landlords assistant hammered on her door demanding her rent.

There was no answer so he peered through the window, to his horror on the bedside table were what looked like two lumps of meat. Beyond that was Mary's mutilated corpse laying on the bed. Mary's body was literally hacked to pieces, in the most ferocious attack of all. Mary's heart had been cut out, and was never recovered. After Mary's death the murders seem to stop.

Mary was just 25 years old, she was by far the prettiest of the Ripper's victims, she was buried in St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Leytonstone, London. None of her family attended the funeral.

Mary's grave was reclaimed in the 1950s, and a headstone erected in 1986 marked the wrong grave. The headstone was later removed, and her grave was remarked with a simple memorial in the 1990's.

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