Jack the Ripper: His Forgotten Victims

By RodneyHatfieldJr for Into The Mind

Very few killers have generated more studies and documentaries that the unidentified serial killer active in the largely impoverished areas in and around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. Jack the Ripper has been an enigma for everyone from criminal experts to amateur crime enthusiasts. But only a handful of victims are ever discussed.

For those who don’t know the story of the Ripper, the narrative is very compelling. Jack the Ripper was an unidentified serial killer active in the impoverished areas in and around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. In both the criminal case files and contemporary journalistic accounts, the killer was called the Whitechapel Murderer and Leather Apron.

Attacks ascribed to Jack the Ripper typically involved female prostitutes who lived and worked in the slums of the East End of London. Their throats were cut prior to abdominal mutilations. The removal of internal organs from at least three of the victims led to proposals that their killer had some anatomical or surgical knowledge. Rumors that the murders were connected intensified in September and October 1888 and numerous letters were received by media outlets and Scotland Yard from individuals purporting to be the murderer. The name "Jack the Ripper" originated in a letter written by an individual claiming to be the murderer that was disseminated in the media. 

Extensive newspaper coverage bestowed widespread and enduring international notoriety on the Ripper, and the legend solidified. A police investigation into a series of eleven brutal murders committed in Whitechapel and Spitalfields between 1888 and 1891 was unable to connect all the killings conclusively to the murders of 1888. Five victims: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. These are known as the "canonical five" and their murders between 31 August and 9 November 1888 are often considered the most likely to be linked. The murders were never solved, and the legends surrounding these crimes became a combination of historical research, folklore, and pseudohistory, capturing public imagination to the present day.

 Martha Tabram was murdered on a staircase landing in George Yard, Whitechapel, on 7 August 1888. She had suffered 39 stab wounds to her throat, lungs, heart, liver, spleen, stomach, and abdomen, with additional knife wounds inflicted to her breasts and vagina. All but one of Tabram's wounds had been inflicted with a bladed instrument such as a penknife, and with one possible exception, all the wounds had been inflicted by a right-handed individual. Tabram was killed 24 days before Mary Jane Kelly.

Alice McKenzie was murdered shortly after midnight on 17 July 1889 in Castle Alley, Whitechapel. She had suffered two stab wounds to her neck, and her left carotid artery had been severed. Several minor bruises and cuts were found on her body, which also bore a seven-inch long superficial wound extending from her left breast to her navel. Some believe she was not a Ripper victim because she was not mutilated. While others believe it was the Ripper and was interrupted before being able to mutilate her.

The Pinchin Street torso was a decomposing headless and legless torso of an unidentified woman aged between 30 and 40 discovered beneath a railway arch in Pinchin Street, Whitechapel, on 10 September 1889. Bruising about the victim's back, hip, and arm indicated the decedent had been extensively beaten shortly before her death. The victim's abdomen was also extensively mutilated, although her genitals had not been wounded.  She appeared to have been killed approximately one day prior to the discovery of her torso. The dismembered sections of the body are believed to have been transported to the railway arch, hidden under an old chemise.

Frances Coles was found on Friday 13 February 1891 under a railway arch in Swallow Gardens, Whitechapel. Her body was found only moments after the attack at 2:15 am. by PC Ernest Thompson, who later stated he heard retreating footsteps in the distance. She was still alive but died before medical help could arrive. Minor wounds on the back of her head suggest that she was thrown violently to the ground before her throat was cut at least twice, from left to right and then back again. Otherwise, there were no mutilations to the body, leading some to believe Thompson had disturbed her assailant.

*Here are some suspicious entries because the modus operandi is so similar. These could be possible victims since most people think Jack the Ripper either died or moved from London after Coles's death.*

John Gill was found in a stable block in Manningham, Bradford on 29 December 1888. He was 7 years old. Gill had been missing since 27 December. His legs had been severed, his abdomen opened, his intestines partly drawn out, and his heart and one ear removed. Similarities with the Ripper murders led to press speculation that the Ripper had killed him.

Carrie Brown was strangled with clothing and then mutilated with a knife on 24 April 1891 in New York City. Her body was found with a large tear through her groin area and superficial cuts on her legs and back. No organs were removed from the scene, though an ovary was found upon the bed.

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