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We’re talking all things Jack the Ripper and murdery in Episode 14:

  • The victims
  • The murders
  • Suspects
  • Theories

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Murder of Emma Smith

Officially known as the Whitechapel Murders, the file is made up of eleven different victims, all women. Five of these murders are known as the Canonical Five, aka the five women considered victims of Jack the Ripper. The rest of them are a big question mark. 

Emma Eizabeth Smith, age 45ish, 5 foot 2, light brown hair, was the first of the Whitechapel Murder victims. She was the mother of two kids who didn’t live in Whitechapel with her.

While Emma was married once, she had separated from her husband more than ten years before she died. She spent what little money she had on drink. It wasn’t unusual for her to be out all night. 

On the night of April 3, 1888 Emma Smith was attacked by three men. Her head was beaten, they almost took one of her ears off, and she was bleeding heavily from her genitals.

Instead of heading to the hospital or flagging down a cop, she went back to the lodging house. Her friends then took her to the hospital, without stopping a police officer.

The police never did get a description of the men who attacked her. Whatever they used to beat her with, had stabbed through the lining of her abdominal cavity – the peritoneum. How so? Not through her stomach, but through her genitals. While she was conscious. 

When Emma was questioned by the doctor, she said all those injuries happened because they were trying to rob her. This all happened around 1:30 am. She went to the hospital around 5 am. On April 4, around 9 in the morning, Emma Smith died of her injuries. 

Martha Tabram

On August 7, 1888 a woman by the name of Martha Tabram was found murdered. A witness found the body when he was leaving the building at 4:45 am.

He ran to find a policeman. The murderer was able to get in and slip right back out without anyone noticing, and no evidence left behind. 

Martha Tabram, age 39, 5 foot 3 with dark hair, was stabbed 39 times. Her clothing was a mess. Martha had been dead for three hours by the time the coroner came on the scene.

Her left lung had 5 stab wounds, 2 in the right lung, 5 in the liver, 2 in the spleen, 6 in the stomach, and 1 in the heart. Martha was alive throughout her assault.

Martha was married to Henry Samuel Tabram in 1869. Then, 6 years later, they started living separate lives. Apparently, Martha was quite the drinker.

For a while he gave her money, and then cut it down to pennies when he discovered she was living with another man. The man she was living with was Henry Turner. A few weeks before her murder, she and Turner split up. He couldn’t take her drinking any more. 

Martha went by a few different names. Martha Tabram and Martha Turner being two of them. Martha Tabram did walk the streets. Martha also went by the name of Emma. Her many names made it hard to identify her. But. Finally, her identity was revealed, courtesy of her friend Mary Ann Connelly, also known as Pearly Poll.


Murder of Mary Ann Nichols

Mary Ann Nichols was the third murder in the Whitechapel murder files but the first in what is known as the Canonical Five.

Mary Ann Nichols was married but at some point split from her husband. He couldn’t take her drinking.

She was also the absentee mother of five kids. The husband gave her money until he found out she was a lady of the streets. Then he stopped. 

Mary Ann was 45 years old, around 5 foot 2 or 5 foot 3, with dark hair with some grey in it, and brown eyes.

On August 31, she was found dead on Bucks Row, her skirts pulled up just above her knees. Her throat was slit right across, cutting all the way through her windpipe and spinal cord.

The killer cut her open, starting below her breasts. Disemboweled her. Mutilated her genitals by stabbing her twice in that area. Five wounds in total.

A lot of her blood ended up on the outside of her body. According to the coroner, the murderer cut her throat when she was already lying on the ground. Not while she was standing up.

No one heard Mary scream, not the people who lived nearby, not any of the police on patrol. The last time she was seen alive was at 2:30 am, drunk, heading off to the area she died in. Her body was found at 3:45 am.

Once again, the murderer didn’t leave any clues behind. And most importantly, no one saw him come or go from the area where he murdered Mary Ann Nichols. Mary was out on the streets because she had to earn some money for the lodging house. 

The first real suspect considered for the murders was a dude by the name of John Piser. Otherwise known as “Leather Apron.” For a while he looked like the killer since he seemed to have something against prostitutes. He blackmailed them and then beat them when they didn’t pay up. He was questioned, but his alibis checked. He wasn’t the murderer. 

There was a police constable whose route took him past Bucks Row every thirty minutes. He walked by that spot at 3:15, but then when he walked by the street at 3:45 another constable flagged him down because a body had been found.

Constable Neil swore he had actually been in the exact spot the murder was committed at 3:15 am. If that’s the case, Jack the Ripper was able to get in, kill Mary Ann Nichols, and get out of there without being seen.

The Murder of Annie Chapman

On September 8th Annie Chapman’s body was found in the backyard of 29 Hanbury St at 6 in the morning.

She was 5 foot 2, age 45, with fair skin and dark brown hair. She was a prostitute, and left in the early hours of the morning to earn some money for her lodging. 

Annie was a widow. But even before her husband died they weren’t living together.

Another wife with a drinking problem, another husband who couldn’t stand it. She was the mother of two, but they didn’t live with her.

By the time Annie Chapman was found she had been dead for about two hours, according to Dr. Phillip’s initial exam.

However, Dr. Phillips said later on that the time of death could have been later since it was chillier outside.

Her body would’ve lost heat faster, which made it seem like she was dead longer. Which means Annie could have been killed within the 30 minutes two witnesses allegedly saw her. 

Like Mary Ann Nicholas’s her throat was slit, a deep cut, while she was lying flat on the ground on her back. The killer cut her open and disemboweled her, draping some of her own intestines over her right shoulder.

Other organs he put over her left shoulder. He stole off into the morning with her uterus. The way this guy cut her open and took out her organs suggested that he had some sort of knowledge of anatomy. 

As for suspects, this is really where it starts to amp up. More men questioned, arrested, released. Alibis were verified, and there was also a lack of evidence.

A butcher by the name of Joseph/Jacob Isenschmid was arrested, but there was no evidence of him having committed the murders. But since he was considered a lunatic, he seemed like a viable suspect at the time. 

The Murder of Elizabeth Stride

On September 30, at 1 in the morning, Elizabeth Stride was found on Berner Street, her throat cut and nothing else. No disembowelment, no organs missing, nothing.

The cut on her throat was deep, and the murderer didn’t leave any clues behind as to his identity. He was in and out, like a ghost. 

Elizabeth Stride was a widow, age 36-38, was born in Stockholm, Sweden and emigrated to London in 1866. She married John Stride in 1869.

They ran a coffee shop together, but their marriage wasn’t going well towards the end. He died in 1884.

In 1885 she started living with a new man. Stride was prone to taking to the bottle, and a prostitute by trade after her marriage.

At 1 am, Louis Diemshitz was coming home. When the pony pulled Louis’s cart through the gate, the pony avoided something on the right hand side. It was pretty dark, so Louis couldn’t see what had the pony so spooked.

He saw some sort of shape so he went into the Socialist Club to get a candle to see better. As soon as he saw the blood, he booked it for the street so he could find some cops.

Once the cops were on the scene they checked out everyone in the Socialist Club – their hands, their clothes. Looking for any signs of blood. Everyone was cleared. 

Stride’s body hadn’t cooled by the time the doctor arrived at the scene. The cut on her throat went through the windpipe and almost completely through the vessels on the left side of her neck. According to the doctor, Stride had been dead for about 20-30 minutes by the time he got there. 

The doctor determined Stride was killed while lying on the ground. The killer laid her down and slit her throat while sitting on her right, slicing left to right. Based on the way Stride was killed, the murderer may have walked away clean as a whistle, according to Dr. Phillips. The blood would’ve sprayed away from him, not towards him.

There were multiple men taken in based on witness statements made to the police. Butchers and slaughter workers as well. At this point even sailors were being looked at. All suspects cleared. Not a Jack the Ripper among them.

The Murder of Catherine Eddowes

For the seven years prior to her death, Catherine Eddowes lived with John Kelly in a lodging house on Flower and Dean Street.

Before this she was married to a guy named Thomas Conway, whom she had two children with.

Apparently the husband split with Catherine since he couldn’t stand her drinking or “immoral habits” aka prostitution. The split happened in 1880.

On the night of September 29, Catherine Eddowes was as drunk. At about 9:45 pm, she was locked up in the drunk tank of Bishopsgate Street Police Station.

She wasn’t released until around 1 am. No one saw her after this until her body was found.

On September 30, 1888, City Police Constable Edward Watkins was walking his beat as usual.

Around 1:30 in the morning, he walked through Mitre Square and didn’t see a thing; however, when he walked through again almost 15 minutes later, he came across the body of Catherine Eddowes lying in her own blood, her throat slashed and her abdomen completely cut open.

The killer ripped her open from the breast bone to the pubes.

Eddowes was completely exposed from the waist down. Her intestines were hanging out, a portion of them slung over her shoulder. Her liver had also been stabbed. Her face was disfigured.

The tip of her nose cut off, a portion of her ear was cut off as well. The killer cut into her face, slicing the eyelids, across the bridge of the nose, the cheeks, and even her lips.

No portion of her face was left untouched. She was still warm.

There was nothing, no blood splatter, no bloody fingerprints, or bloody footprints to give the police an idea of where the killer went and how he got away without anyone seeing him/her.

Inspector Edward Collard examined the scene and didn’t believe Eddowes had put up any kind of struggle. 

When Catherine’s clothing was being taken off her, her ear actually fell out. After a post-mortem examination was done, the doctor discovered that the genitalia had been mutilated, and the killer made off with Catherine’s left kidney and part of her uterus. 

Several witnesses in the area were questioned and not one of them heard a thing. They didn’t even know there had been a murder until a constable knocked on their door and started asking questions. 

The Murder of Mary Jane Kelly

On November 9, 1888, Mary Jane Kelly was literally cut to pieces. She was the fifth and final of the canonical murders.

When compared to the previous women, Kelly’s profile is different. 

At the time of her death she was 24/25 years old. She was considered tall. What that means in numbers, no idea.

Hair color? She was called “Ginger.” So a redhead? Maybe. She was also called “Black Mary.” So maybe she had dark hair.

Since Kelly didn’t fit the Ripper’s victim profile there are some Ripperologists who don’t believe Jack had anything to do with her murder. 

Kelly was born in Ireland but raised in Wales. She got married in 1879, but her husband died in an explosion a few years later.

Apparently, she became a prostitute a few years after that when she visited family in Cardiff.

When she moved to London in 1884 she worked at a fancy brothel catering to high-class gents before moving to Whitechapel.

Some of the information may or may not be true. And there’s no way to confirm either way at this point. 

On the morning of November 9, 1888, John Bowyer discovered the body of Mary Jane Kelly when he was collecting the rents.

When Kelly didn’t answer her door, Bowyer tried to look through a broken window. He left the actual peeping to his boss, John McCarthy.

So it was McCarthy who got to see the carnage and what was left of Kelly. 

The police kicked in the door. Blood soaked through the sheets and dripped on to the floor. Kelly’s face was completely unrecognizable. The killer had cut off her nose and ears.

Her breasts had been hacked off and placed on a table, she was completely ripped open and her organs had been taken out and placed around her. Portions of her were skinned down to the bone. No part of her body was left untouched.

The officers weren’t able to find anything or anyone when they searched the area. They knocked on doors, asked questions, but it didn’t matter. There were no answers to be had.

Miller’s Court

Kelly was out the night before. One of the only accounts we have of someone seeing Kelly is from Mary Ann Cox, a prostitute also living in the building.

Around midnight, she saw Kelly entering her room with a man. Cox left and Kelly was singing.

She came back around 1 am and she was still signing. Then she left again. Then came back again, this time around 3 am.

At this point the singing had stopped and there weren’t any lights or sounds coming from Kelly’s room.

As for suspects, there was Joseph Barnett, the man Kelly had been shacking up with for about a year and a half.

About a week before the murder, the not so happy couple had a fight about him not earning enough money and Kelly’s nighttime adventures.

Luckily for John, once they were able to track him down and the police were able to confirm his alibi, he was free and clear. 

Another murder?

On November 21, 1888, people were in a frenzy since news hit the streets that another woman had been murdered. Goods news, no one died. However, there was some truth, a sliver of a sliver of truth to the reports. A woman by the name of Annie Farmer, another prostitute, had been attacked. Someone tried to slit her throat, but luckily for her, she was able to scream. 

When people heard her, they came running. The men who came to help tried to catch him, but he was able to disappear. Even though the area was searched, they weren’t able to find a trace of the man who attacked Farmer. 

A Possible Suspect?

In December 1888, there was a possible suspect believed to be Jack the Ripper. A woman who had been attacked came forward and gave a full description. This charming individual admitted he cut up dead bodies and removed organs. What kind of bodies? Those belonging to people who died violently. Why? To understand how the body works.

The reason he was a real person of interest and not just cast aside as some psycho who enjoyed butchering cadavers was because when confessing his sins, if he would even call them that, the dude also revealed that when he killed a woman in the early 1880s, he took her uterus.

Edward Knight Larkins and His Theory

Edward Knight Larkins worked as a clerk in the HM Customs Statistical Department. And he was obsessed with the Ripper murders. He had a theory that Jack was a Portugese cattle-man. Basically, he believed that this mystery man picked up a disease from one of the prostitutes he met with in the city and, as a result, started killing women to get his revenge. 

According to Larkins’s research, the Spanish and Portugese would slit the throats of their enemies and then rip them open during the Peninsular War with super sharp knives. So obviously, the Portugeuse were violent murderers.

Of all the cattle-men who traveled to London by ship, there were only two men, Manuel Cruz Xavier and Jose Laurenco, whose travel plans matched up with the Ripper murders. So naturally the police had to search every ship with cattle-men for the murderer. 

The Murder of Rose Mylett

The police were taking a beating when it came to public opinion. There had been no progress on the case. And then Rose Mylett, also known as Lizzie Davis, was found dead on December 20, 1888, by a Sergeant & Constable while walking their beat. Like some of the Whitechapel victims before her, her body hadn’t cooled yet. But she didn’t fit the bill. No throat slashing, mutilation, nothing. She had a handkerchief wrapped around her neck. That’s it. 

After an examination, the death was ruled a murder. If this was the work of Jack the Ripper, is it possible that he actually strangled his victims before slitting their throats? Dr. Phillips revealed that Annie Chapman was kind of strangled first, so if Jack had strangled his victims to subdue them and then slit their throats in a way that would hide it, it was possible that Rose was one of his victims. But only very slightly.

The Murder of Alice McKenzie

Alice McKenzie, another prostitute, was found dead with her throat slashed on July 17, 1889. The killer had cut into her abdomen and around the genitals, but other than that, there was no damage to her face or anything else that would match the Ripper killings. 

After Dr. Phillips had a chance to view the body, he didn’t believe McKenzie was killed by the Ripper. The way she was cut was nothing like the way the Ripper cut.

Murder of Frances Cole

It would be 1891 before there was another murder the police believed was connected to the Ripper murders. Frances Cole was killed in February 1891 and found by Police Constable Thompson at 2:15 am.

Her throat had been slit and she was still warm, but not much else had been done to her. Frances Cole was 25 years old, about 5 ft tall, had brown hair and brown eyes, and a prostitute. 

According to Dr. Phillips who, as we know, is super familiar with Jack the Ripper’s work, he didn’t believe Cole was killed by the same man as the other women. 

James Thomas Sadler was considered a suspect not just for Cole’s murder, but also for the Jack the Ripper murders. He was questioned several times over, but was eventually released.

However, his wife didn’t feel safe with him out on the streets since he had threatened to kill her. Maybe he didn’t kill anyone, but we know he had a foul temper. The police also knew this, which is probably why he was considered such a promising suspect.

Frederick Bailey Deeming

Frederick Bailey Deeming was 45 years old when he was executed in 1892 for killing his wife and four children. He buried them under the kitchen floor before skipping off to Australia. 

The police, though pleased he was arrested, didn’t think he could have been Jack the Ripper. Since Deeming was from Liverpool and only visited the city every now and then, he couldn’t have been in the know enough to get around Whitechapel without anyone seeing him. 

There was a TV special about Deeming on the Discovery Channel in 2011 that explored the idea that he could have been Jack the Ripper.

Chief Constable M.L . Macnaghten’s Suspects

The problem with looking back on the Jack the Ripper murders in today’s day and age is that many of the files from the cases are gone — missing, stolen, etc. Many of them went missing in the 1970s and 80s – specifically the suspects file.

However, some of the files still exist – to a point. Paul Bonner was able to view them while working on a documentary on the Ripper for the BBC back in 1973. 

There is one file left that talks about the three suspects Chief Constable M.L . Macnaghten believed could be Jack the Ripper. Macnaghten named these men in 1894 because the Sun Newspaper reported that a man by the name of Thomas Cutbush was Jack the Ripper. 

Cutbush was a lunatic. He was put in an insane asylum (and escaped) before being caught and arrested again. Why? Because he was going around, trying to stab women. 

M.J. Druitt

Macnaghten didn’t agree. He had three other men in mind. First was M.J. Druitt. He was a doctor, so he would have had the anatomical knowledge to mutilate women. And the reason the murders stopped was because he went missing around the time Mary Jane Kelly was killed.

His body was found in the Thames almost 2 months later. On the surface, he seemed like a normal guy whose disappearance coincidentally lined up with Kelly’s death. Until you factor in the fact that he was a sexual deviant and was kept in a private asylum. 

Second was a man by the name of Kosminski. He was a Polish Jew who was locked up in an asylum in March 1889. He hated prostitutes more than any other class of women and maybe, sorta liked to kill people. Or experienced lots of urges to kill people. Not quite clear on that one. 

Last man was Michael Ostrog, a doctor from Russia with a mysterious life. Macnaghten wasn’t able to trace his movements during the killings, but according to him, out of his three suspects, this one was the worst of the bunch. Like the two before him, he was locked up in an asylum. Diagnosis: homicidal maniac.

Whereas many were on the fence regarding Stride as a Ripper victim, Macnaghten believed she was. He thought the Ripper, after being interrupted, sought out another victim, in this case Eddowes, in order to satisfy himself. His theory, his profile really, is that Jack the Ripper became more and more manic with each murder.

The Littlechild Suspect

Former Chief Inspector John George Littlechild, in charge of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch from 1883-1893, decided to add one more suspect to the list in 1913, after seeing Macnaghten’s three suspects.

It was an American by the name of Dr. Tumblety. The police knew exactly who he was because he made many trips to London, and they believed him to be a sexual psychopath. 

While Jack the Ripper was active, Tumblety was in London and was actually arrested for public indecency on November 7, 1888. But, he didn’t stay locked up.

He was out in a day, just in time for the Kelly murder. He ended up skipping out on his bail and leaving the country around the time the Ripper murders stopped. He was never seen or heard from again. 

The Anderson Theory

Dr. Robert Anderson was the Junior Assistant Commissioner of the Scotland Yard Criminal Investigation Department during the time of the canonical five victims – Nichols, Chapman, Stride, Eddowes, and Kelly. 

In an article he wrote in 1901, Anderson stated that he believed the killer had been placed in an asylum. In the book he wrote in 1907, he analyzed the Ripper and revealed his thoughts on the killer. 

According to Anderson, the killer was a maniac living in Whitechapel, specifically someone who lived near the locations of the murders. What kind of maniac? The low class Jewish kind.

Essentially, the idea was that since the East End was comprised of so many Jews, they would rather protect one of their own – even if he was Jack the Ripper – than speak to the cops. 

Anderson faced backlash from the Jewish community. Their issue wasn’t that Jack the Ripper might be a Jew, but that Anderson claimed the Jewish people would protect such a monster.

Also, that Anderson would reveal the suspected killer was Jewish when they were already facing so much hatred and judgment from people as it was. 

Abberline’s Chapman Theory

Frederick George Abberline

Inspector Frederick George Abberline was involved with the Whitechapel murder cases from September 1888 to March 1889 when he moved on to other things.

Abberline was of the belief that Kelly was the last of the Ripper killings and that anything after that was the work of someone else.

While some believed the Ripper was a lunatic, Abberline believed differently. Jack the Ripper was a calculated killer, but his need to kill became manic by the time Mary Jane Kelly was killed. 

Abberline did have a suspect in mind. His name was George Chapman. He had the knowledge and skill necessary to commit the crimes as he had been medically and surgically trained in Russia.

But the problem arises that while one of his wives claimed Chapman tried to kill her with a knife, Chapman’s previous three wives were killed by poison. 

And that is all they wrote. Literally. This is the end of the Whitechapel Murder Files.

Book Recommendations!

TV and Movie Recommendations!

Ripper Street, BBC Series – Watch on Netflix

From Hell (2001), a film based on/inspired by the murders and Jack the Ripper Investigation

Documentary Recommendations!

Documentary about the possibility of American serial killer H. H. Holmes also wearing the hat of the Ripper

Documentary about Frederick Bailey Deeming – Was he or wasn’t he Jack the Ripper?

Photos: All photos used in this post are taken from Wikimedia Commons and are in the Public Domain. To learn more, click here.

*Music: Initial classical piece that’s a part of the intro is Concerto for 2 Oboes in F Major Op9 no3, 3 Allegro by Advent Chamber Orchestra under the Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.*