Horrifying truth of Jack the Ripper killings – choosing victims to brutal methods

Fascination around the killing of Jack the Ripper remains as experts continue to investigate the horrific crimes.

Channel 5 documentary ‘Jack The Ripper: 5 Victims’ looked into the victims’ forgotten past, while the details of the crimes continue to shock people to this very day.

Described as an “uneducated working-class man”, forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes told The Sun that the victims were likely stalked before they were killed.

Daynes said: “He stuck to a half mile radius in Whitechapel because he knew the backstreets and alleys well enough to stay hidden.

“I imagine that he was wandering around looking for a woman, any woman, and he would have followed them and stalked them until they were somewhere he was able to kill them.”

A number of historians have long expressed frustration that the fascination with the Ripper’s killings has meant that the women he murdered have been forgotten.

Some believe this is because of a perception that all of the Ripper’s victims were prostitutes, with attitudes towards sex workers remaining in negative place even to this day.

Evidence shows only one victim, Mary Jane Kelly, was known to be a sex worker. All victims were struggling with poverty at the time and people including the police made the assumption the Ripper’s victims were prostitutes because they were out in the early hours of the night.

Hallie Rubenhold is the author of ‘The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper’.

She told the Guardian: “For too long there has been this idea that these women were all the same. A nameless, faceless mass of grubby, disgusting people, indistinguishable from one another. And they aren’t.”

She added: “We always start with the murders, then focus on who Jack the Ripper was, to the point that he has become a supernatural creature.

“This all happened. And our disassociation from the reality is what dehumanised these women. They have just become corpses.”

The first Ripper victim was Mary Ann Nichols who was believed to have been well-educated. The daughter of a blacksmith, this was apparently rare for women at the time.

Mary was killed on August 31, 1888 and was the first of the ripper killings, found with her throat cut and awful stab wounds in her abdomen and vagina.

Mary was 43 when she died had a difficult marriage and fell on hard times as her husband began an affair and she became subject to drinking heavily.

She had moved to the East End in 1888 after years of difficulties and briefly moved in with her father. A roommate once described her as having the “impression of being weighed down by some trouble.”

A plaque on Fleet Street, where Mary got married, reads “remember her life, not its end”.

Annie Chapman

Eight days later, Annie Chapman was found mutilated in London’s Hanbury Street. Like Mary Ann, Annie, 47 when she died, was struggling at the time of her death.

Her final days were reportedly spent in some pain after a violent argument with fellow lodger Eliza Cooper.

Annie was found in Hanbury Street, a handkerchief tied to her cut throat. She was found only half a mile away from where Nichols was discovered a short time before.

Her awful end saw her disembowelled by the Ripper, her intestines placed over her right shoulder and parts of her bladder and uterus missing.

Elizabeth Stride

Elizabeth Stride was working as a cleaner, aged 44, when she was killed by Jack the Ripper on September 30, 1888.

Stride was originally from Sweden and many people have assumed she was a prostitute ever since she became pregnant when unmarried in her native country.

Whether she was a sex worker at the time of her death is disputed and historians have repeatedly pointed out this matters very little but she is known to have worked as a conwoman.

Stride was found, like Nichols and Chapman, with her throat cut.

Catherine Eddowes

Hours after the body of Stride was found, another Ripper victim was discovered, sending real fear over the Ripper coursing through the streets of London.

Catherine had three children and died aged just 46, found with her kidney removed in London’s Mitre Square.

Described as a “very jolly woman”, Eddowes was claimed to have drinking difficulties and she was released from a nearby police station shortly before she was killed.

Her face “was very much mutilated” according to police reports and both her eyelids had been stabbed. Like Chapman, her intestines were placed over her right shoulder.

Mary Jane Kelly

Mary Jane Kelly was much younger than the other ripper victims, believed to have been around 25 when she was killed.

Jack the Ripper waited over a month to kill Mary Jane and some regard this killing to have been the most brutal of them all.

Unlike the other four, Mary Jane was found in her room, allowing the Ripper time to carry out his sick acts without being disturbed.

A journalist was told the mutilation “looked more like the work of a devil than of a man”.

Part of the grim post-mortem report reads: “The breasts were cut off, the arms mutilated by several jagged wounds & the face hacked beyond recognition of the features. The tissues of the neck were severed all round down to the bone.”