Autumn of Terror: Jack the Ripper
So right at the beginning of the month, as we started this Autumn of Terror, I mentioned that I would like to write some sort of blog all about the events that were first termed the Autumn of Terror. Well, here it is. Better late than never. From the 31st August 1888 (perhaps before this date) and 9th November 1888 (perhaps even after this date) the London district of Whitechapel was stalked by the most famous serial killer of all time, Jack the Ripper. Now I have always found this type of thing fascinating, and the fact that to this day, no one knows who the murderer was, is even more intriguing. Now in this blog, I would like to just outline the basic information surrounding the case, and for next time, a run down of the weird assortment of suspects that have been suggested over the years. So without further ado, lets take a trip to Whitechapel circa Autumn 1888.
Jack the Ripper may have killed as many as 11 women during his reign of terror, but ripperologists usually only count 5 true victims, known as the canonical five. The murders grew in severity as time went on, with the last canonical victim being greatly disfigured and chopped up, not a very nice sight at all. Pictures were taken of the last victim Mary Kelly, but I will not post them here, a quick google search will give you all you need if you so wish. The murders started on Friday 31st August, when Mary Ann Nichols was murdered in Bucks Row Whitechapel. She had various ghastly injuries, including much trauma to her abdomen, and two cuts to her throat. The next victim, Annie Chapman, was found murdered on September 8th 1888, in the back yard of 29 Hanbury Street. Once again, her throat was heavily cut twice, her lower body was mutilated, and her uterus had been removed. Things were getting worse by the week in the extremely poor area of Whitechapel, and they were only going to get worse.
Sunday 30th September 1888, was a sad day for the people of Whitechapel. In what would later become known as the double event, two women were brutally murdered. Elizabeth Stride was found around 1 am, near Berner Street. Her throat had been cut, but no other mutilations had been caused. It is suggested that the murderer had been interrupted by a man and his horse drawn cart, and so he hadn’t had time to finish his ‘work’. He would soon strike again however. At 1.45 am, Catherine Eddowes body was found in Mitre Square, which fell within the district of the City of London Police, a different force from the other murders. The now usual throat and abdomen injuries were apparent, but also half of her kidney and uterus was missing from the body. Another very strange thing was said to have occurred on this night. In Ghoulston Street, not far from Mitre Square, a bloody piece of Eddowes apron was found, and on the wall near by, a chalked piece of graffiti was found. Seemingly blaming the murders on the Jewish community, although the graffiti might have been a weird coincidence, as there was no lack of anti-Semitism in London at the time. The graffiti was washed off the wall before being photographed as Sir Charles Warren, the Police Commissioner, feared anti-semitic riots. The graffiti is an interesting little aside to the murders, and experts argue over whether or not the Ripper actually chalked the message himself, or simply dropped his bloody apron near a piece of already written graffiti.
The last canonical murder victim was Mary Jane Kelly, on Friday 9th November 1888. Kelly was found in her living quarters, at 13 Miller’s Court, lying on her bed, with ghastly mutilations. Her throat was cut so deeply, her head was almost severed. Her body was eviserated, emptied of organs, and her heart was missing, and her face was hacked away. The canonical victims came to an end with Mary Kelly, which was also the most savage murder of the series.
The press had a field day with the Whitechapel Murders. They ran with the story and stirred up the populace of London. Letters were sent from the Ripper to the press, and other high ranking members of the community. There are some famous letters that are supposedly from the murderer himself. The ‘From Hell’, ‘Dear Boss’ and ‘Saucy Jack’ letters/postard are the most famous. There is great debate whether or not they are actualy from the murderer, or were in fact written by members of the press, or public who sought to further inflame the story. The Dear Boss Letter is below.
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha ha The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck. Yours truly Jack the Ripper
Dont mind me giving the trade name
PS Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now. ha ha.
The ‘From Hell’ Letter is below…
Mr Lusk Sor I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer.
signed Catch me when you Can Mishter Lusk
Thats it for this blog. Next time, I will look at some of the suspects that have been suggested over the years.