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How Jack the Ripper Worked

Jack the Ripper's Victims: 4, 5 and Other Possible Victims
A post-mortem sketch of the wounds suffered by Catherine Eddowes at the hands of Jack the Ripper.
A post-mortem sketch of the wounds suffered by Catherine Eddowes at the hands of Jack the Ripper.
Express Newspapers/Getty Images

After supposedly being interrupted during the Stride murder, the Ripper struck again an hour later.

Catherine Eddowes: A 46-year-old sufferer of a kidney disease, Eddowes had been a heavy drinker for much of her life and was known as an intelligent, educated person. On the night of her murder, she was taken into police custody for public drunkenness and released just before 1:00 a.m. Eddowes was last seen alive at 1:35 a.m. by three men leaving a pub. She was speaking with a mustachioed man near Mitre Square -- a small, enclosed area in Whitechapel. Ten minutes later, a constable found Eddowes' body in the square.

Like the Ripper's other victims, her throat was slit and her legs spread with her bent knees lifted off the ground. Eddowes was splayed open from her rectum up to her sternum. Her entrails were spread about her  -- intestines laid over her shoulder and under her arm. Eddowes' nose was cut off, and deep, violent incisions mark her eyelids and cheeks. The incision to her throat was determined as the cause of death. Most of her womb and her kidney had been removed and were missing. Altogether, the incisions and organ removal suggested to the coroner that the killer had human anatomical experience [source: Casebook].

Mary Jane Kelly: Unlike the victims that preceded her, 25-year-old Kelly was young and thought to be attractive. Like the others, though, she was a prostitute and known to drink. She was the only canonical victim to be murdered indoors. With this privacy, the Ripper created his most gruesome work.

The police discounted two later alleged sightings and concluded that Kelly was last seen alive on Friday, Nov. 9 after 2:00 a.m., entering her apartment house, Miller Court, accompanied by a mustachioed man carrying a parcel. At 10:45 a.m., a rent collector entered Kelly's apartment and found her body. She was lying partially clothed in a nightgown, her feet pulled up toward her body, knees bent to either side with her legs spread in the now-familiar Ripper fashion. Kelly was arguably the most mutilated of all the Ripper victims; her face was virtually gone, having been slashed and stabbed repeatedly and some features entirely removed. Her throat was slashed so deeply and violently that even her vertebrae showed knife marks. Both of her breasts as well as her organs and entrails were placed in piles beneath her head and alongside her body. Slabs of flesh taken from her stomach and thighs were placed on the nightstand beside her bed. Part of her heart was missing, and there was evidence that an axe was used in the crime, along with the long, sharp knife the Ripper was known to use [source: Casebook].

Some people believe the Ripper murdered more than just the canonical victims from August to November 1888. Female torsos were discovered in months and years following the Ripper murders, and one possible victim was murdered in New York City. There are several other victims whose injuries fit the Ripper's technique in some ways but aren't included in the canonical murders. The case of one butchered prostitute, Martha Tabram, has gained some acceptance as a possible sixth canonical murder. Tabram was also an alcoholic prostitute and was murdered on Aug. 7, 1888 -- she would've been the Ripper's first victim. Tabram was found with her legs spread and 39 stab wounds concentrated heavily on her abdomen and groin [source: Casebook].

Behind all of this ghoulish bloodletting there was an organized method to the murders. Over the years, a modus operandi for Jack the Ripper has been uncovered. Read about it on the next page.


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