Although the number of people that Jack the Ripper really killed is unknown, the deaths of five women have been attributed to him. They are now referred to as the ‘five canonical victims,’ and their murders occurred between August 31st and November 9th, 1888.
Believed to have been the first of the victims, this 43-year-old prostitute was last seen alive by a friend, at 2:30 am on August 31st, 1888. At 3:40 am her lifeless body had been found with the throat cut and her skirt was above her waist. Her clothing was completely soaked in blood, and she had been disemboweled. The doctor that pronounced Nichols dead observed that even though her hands and wrists were cold, her body and legs were still warm. This meant she could not have died more than ½ hour before.
At 45, Annie Chapman had been forced to supplement her income with prostitution. Despite this, she was described as ‘an inoffensive soul whose main weakness was a fondness of drink.’ On the morning of September 8th, 1888, her mutilated body was found at 6 am by a resident of 29 Hanbury Street, in his back yard. Chapman’s throat had been cut, and her clothes tugged up above the waist, exposing red and white stockings. The post mortem revealed that the killed had cut out her womb and taken it with him.
Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes
The third victim of Jack the Ripper, Elizabeth ‘Long Liz’ Stride, was found on September 30, 1888 at 1:00 am in Dutfield’s Yard. The gash in her throat was over two inches wide and had sliced through the windpipe. This would have prevented her from screaming and ensured a quick death, within 90 seconds.
At about the same time that Elizabeth’s body had been discovered, Catherine ‘Kate’ Eddowes was being released from Bishopsgate Police Station after she had slept off a drunken stupor. Her body was discovered at 1:44 am by PC Watkins in Mitre Square lying in a pool of blood, with her skirts thrown up. Dr George Sequeira, the physician called to the scene, formed the opinion that the killer only had a basic knowledge of anatomy as the throat had been cut crudely. Death, however, would have been instantaneous because the windpipe and blood vessels had been cut. Eddowes’ face had been greatly disfigured, with cuts on her cheeks, eyelids and bridge of the nose. The tip of the nose and part of an ear had been cut off, and her intestines drawn out and placed over her right shoulder. Her left kidney was also removed from the body.
A witness had observed a man with Catherine minutes before she was killed. He was described as close to 30 with the appearance of a sailor, approximately 5’ 9” and of medium build, with a fair complexion and a small fair moustache.
The fifth and youngest victim of Jack the Ripper, Mary Kelly was 25 at the time of her death and had been living in Spitalfields for eight months. She had recently resorted to prostitution to pay the rent for her lodgings. On November 9, 1888 at 4am several of her neighbours heard a faint cry of ‘Murder’ coming from the direction of her room. Nobody investigated at the time, however, and her body wasn’t found until 10:45 am by Thomas Bowyer, who had called upon Mary to collect her rent. After receiving no answer to his knock, Bowyer went around to the window through which he saw her severely mutilated body lying on the bed.