Since he was the first celebrity serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper’s victims, as well as the tragic lives they experienced from the hands of the killer, were overshadowed because of the famous identity of the man himself.
If you want to get a dose of the macabre, you won’t be disappointed if you’ll head to London. Guided tours of the Whitechapel district, the place where the legendary serial killer brutally cut the throats of his five female victims, all of which are prostitutes then removed their organs. The thought of seeing the place where the killings took place still continue to draw in several tourists until this day.
Jack the Ripper Museum
Other than the guided tours, there is also a gallery called the Jack the Ripper Museum as well. Its opening caused a lot of controversies. According to historian Fern Riddell, the museum was built to tell the history of women in the East End. However, activists view the gallery as a place glamorizing sexual violence against women who fell victim from the hands of Jack the Ripper.
Even with several protests, it is not surprising that the museum focused on the serial killer himself instead of the victims. After all, people are still wondering who he really was and what are the motivations he used to take the lives of the victims. The audience cannot help but wonder about the mystery revolving his character, so much that there is a whole field dedicated to just study and try to solve his crimes – which is called Ripperologgy.
Controversies Surround The Serial Killer
Regardless of the truths, these criticisms may highlight, fascination with Jack the Ripper and other serial killers like him, according to experts, will not change anytime soon. Psychology Today exclaimed that:
The incomprehensibility of such actions drives society to understand why serial killers do incredibly horrible things.. serial killers appeal to the most basic and powerful instinct in all of us — that is, survival.
The public’s interest in serial killers like Jack the Ripper as well as the violence he committed still endures while their interest in the victims, especially Jack the Ripper’s victims, quickly fades. These women perished at the hands of the first celebrity serial killer and their families led troubled lives.
Who Are the Victims of Jack the Ripper?
Mary Ann Nichols
Mary Ann Nichols lived a troubled life even before falling into the hands of the serial killer. Born to a London locksmith in 1845, he was married off to Edward in 1964, gave birth to five children, and had her marriage dissolved after 16 years.
Nichol’s father accused her husband of having an affair with the nurse who was attending to one of their children’s birth while Edward claimed that they parted ways because of his wife’s drinking problems.
After their separation, the court required Edward to give Nichols five shillings per month. However, he was able to successfully challenge this after finding out that his estranged wife was working as a prostitute in the streets of London.
Nichols lived in and out of workhouses before the fated night. She also tried living under the same roof as her father but they did not get along so she continued working as a paid woman to support her needs. She tried working as a servant for a rich family but quit immediately since her employers are not drinking.
On the night of her death, Nichols was surrounded by the same problems she’s suffering from the rest of her life: lack of money and drinking. On August 31, 1888, she left the pub where she was drinking and started walking back to her boarding house where she’s planning to sleep for the night.
Nichols lacked the funds to pay for the entrance fee so she went back in an attempt to earn it. According to her roommate, she was able to see her before she was killed and whatever money she did earn, she just spent it on alcohol.
Later, at 4 in the morning, Nichols was found dead in the street on Buck’s Row. Her skit was pulled up to her waist, her throat was slit, and her abdomen was cut open. She became the first victim of Jack the Ripper.
Unlike Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman did not always lead a hard life. She lived for some time with her husband named John, who was working as a coachman in West London.
After they had children, her life began to become miserable when her son, John, was born disabled, and her youngest daughter named Emily died of meningitis. Because of these, she and her husband began the habit of drinking heavily and separated in 1884.
After separating with her husband, she moved to Whitechapel with another man. Although she is receiving ten shillings a week from her husband, she still worked as a prostitute to support her needs. When her husband died due to alcohol abuse, the money stopped coming in, and she was given away altogether.
On September 8, 1988, the night of her death, she drank a pint of beer in a lodging house but she didn’t have enough money for her bed that night. Chapman asked the house’s deputy to hold a bed for her as she planned to earn some money. However, she never returned.
The next morning, a man named John Davis reported finding Chapman’s dead body in his house’s doorway. Her throat had been cut and she had been disemboweled: her uterus and part of her bladder had been removed from her body and her intestines lay on the ground next to her lifeless body.
Elizabeth Stride, unlike the other victims who became prostitutes after marriage, is a registered prostitute before marriage.
She married in 1869 but they separated immediately and his husband died of tuberculosis in 1884. With her husband gone and lacking income, Stride spent the remainder of her life living between work and lodging houses. On the night of her death, some witnesses said that they saw her kissing or speaking with a respectable-looking man who was never identified.
A steward named Louis Diemschutz found her body in the early hours of September 30, 1888. Blood was still pouring out of the wound of her neck. Her body was not mutilated like the other victims, but her throat had been cut.
According to police, whoever killed Stride was interrupted, forcing the killer to go and find another victim.
Unlike the other victims of Jack the Ripper, Catherine Eddowes was never married. Instead, she spent her life living with different men.
At the age of 21, she met Thomas Conway in Wolverhampton. The couple lived together for 20 years and had three children. The pair split because of her drinking habits.
Eddowes later met John Kelley, whom he stayed with until her death. Although Eddowes was not a prostitute, she was an alcoholic. During the night of her murder, the same night when Stride was killed, a police found Eddowes lying drunk and passed out on Aldgate Street. He arrested her and took her to the nearby police station where she sleeps off the alcohol. At around 1 AM, the authorities released her and she began to walk back to Aldgate Street.
Eddowes did not make it home. Her murder fit the pattern of other victims of Jack the Ripper — but more gruesome. The serial killer did not only slit her throat and eyelid, he also cut her neck’s veins and flaps of skin from her face. He also removed her kidneys and cut open her intestines to release her fecal matter.
A couple weeks after her death, a gentleman named George Lusk, the head of the neighborhood’s watch group received a kidney in the mail with a letter saying “from Hell,” claiming to be from the killer.
Mary Jane Kelly
Mary Jane Kelly hailed from Ireland and according to studies, is the most beautiful out of Jack the Ripper’s victims. She was married for three years, but her husband died in a coal mine accident, prompting her to sell her body for money.
Because of her beauty, she became a successful prostitute and lived in a high-end brothel where guests called her “Marie Jeanette.”
When she met her partner until death, Joseph Barnett. They bounced between lodgings in London’s East End, usually getting kicked out because of drinking excessively or not paying the rent.
According to Barnett, Kelly feared Jack the Ripper too much that she allowed homeless prostitutes to stay in the tiny room she was sharing with him. The landlord caught the scheme and sent his assistant named Thomas Bowyer to collect six weeks worth of rent from her.
Bowyer spotted a shattered glass window, entered the room, and found Kelly’s corpse on the bed, mangled and beyond recognition. Her breasts were cut off, arms were mutilated by several jagged wounds, and face hacked beyond recognition. The tissues of her neck were severed all round to the bone. The killer also piled her organs and skin next to her bed.
Are you also intrigued by Jack the Ripper’s victim? Who do you think is the strangest serial killer to date?