Grisly Murders in London
By Dr. Tilak S Fernando
The nature of a crime is an inter-reaction with society. There is nothing, philosophicall, to distinguish one crime from that another. There are various murders, but it does not include all human beings alone but covers a broader range of killings involving pets, shootings, etc. Recently, Sri Lankan TV highlighted a murder where a son killed his mother and severed his mother’s neck with a sharp knife.
Jack, the Ripper in England, was an unidentified serial killer active in East London’s Whitechapel in 1888. He reigned murders, specialising in female prostitutes and assassinated them from slums of East London. He was an Englishman and thought to be a qualified surgeon. His speciality was to cut- throats and mutilate abdominal organs with a sharp surgical knife. Because of this very fact, he became a suspect as someone who had anatomical and surgical knowledge.
Experts’ investigations showed that deep lacerated wounds on all the prostitutes murdered. Those wounds were extensively in the abdominal and genital areas. After killing the prostitutes, the murderer removed the internal organs and placed those on the victims’ faces.
It was said to be his modus operandi. In one of the murders, a blunt object was forced into the victim’s vagina, rupturing her peritoneum ( the serous membrane that lines the abdominal cavity, which supports the abdomen’s organs and acts as a conduit for the passage of nerves, blood vessels, and lymphatics). She died the following day at a London Hospital.
His first victim, Tabram, was murdered on the staircase on a landing in George Yard, Whitechapel, on 7 August, 1888. She suffered thirtynine stab wounds to her throat, lungs, heart, liver, spleen, stomach, and abdomen, with additional knife wounds inflicted to her breasts and vagina. The murderer had used a sharp instrument such as a surgical knife.
Investigations showed that her assassin was right-handed. However, but the victim was not raped but repeatedly stabbed. Tabrim’s murder differed from subsequent murders. Another victim was Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols, aged 42. On Friday, 31 August in 1888, one of London’s East End workers, George Cross, was on foot as early as 3.40 a.m. along a dimly lit alleyway in Whitechapel.
Suddenly he stumbled across a bundle of tarpaulin under a dimly lit gas lamp. He found a woman’s dead body, whom the police identified as Mary Ann Nichols, a well-known prostitute as Polly. Her throat was slashed from ear to ear, and her body was ripped open by a surgical knife.
The wound extended from the groin to her breastbone. The metropolitan Police were shocked to discover her disembowelled body. She was one of the supremacies of murders by this mysterious killer whose mutilations rocked the Government of the day.
A week later, he was at it again. This time his victim was 5 ft tall, stocky Annie Chapman, known as ‘Dark,’ who was another prostitute. The killing was done in the same pattern. Her head was separated; her stomach cut opened, and her intestines removed. The coroner at the inquest remarked: “No unskilled person could have done this!” On repeated attempts, Jack the Ripper killed two more women on the same night.
The first victim was six feet tall Swedish bornElizabeth stride, whose throat was slashed. A pedestrian noticed blood was pouring out of her throat. Amazingly, she had no other injuries to her body. Perhaps it was thought Ripper was interrupted before he could finish his horrific work.
Within 45 minutes of Elizabeth Stride’s killing, Ripper got down to his business of gruesome murders yet again with a vengeance. He murdered Catherine Eddows, the 43-year-old prostitute. Her ears, cheeks and eyes were slashed and part of her inside skilfully removed! Her mutilated body was found at 1.45 a.m. As the murderer went deeper and deeper into his ‘human carving,’ Jack the Ripper became more and more confident.
He wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee once, addressing the letter ‘ from Hell’, and enclosed a partly cooked human kidney in the parcel. While Jack the Ripper was engaged in his gruesome killings, he bravely wrote letters to various authorities throwing challenges, perhaps, seeking publicity! He once wrote a letter in red ink and to the Editor of the Central News Office in London in 1888 and signed as ‘ Jack the Ripper’.
The text of the letter was as follows:
“ I keep hearing that the police caught me, but they won’t be able to fix me just yet! I laughed when they said so. Police are so clever, spreading rumours or flattering themselves and saying they are on the right track to catch me! But I am busy on prostitutes, and I shall not quit until I finish the lot. In my last job, I gave the woman no time to scream. So, how can they catch me? I love my work and continue to do so.
You will hear soon about my funny little games. In my next job, I shall clip the victim’s (woman) ears off and send it to the Police just for fun. My knife is so sharp, and I want to get into business straight away if I get a chance. Good luck. Yours truly, Jack the Ripper. I do not mind giving my trade name.” On 9 November 1888, Jack the Ripper attacked his final victim, a pregnant 23-year-old Mary of her left was only a mass of raw flesh. Her heart was removed and placed on a pillow beside her body.
The horrific murders have not been able to solve up to this day. As a result, London’s Whitechapel currently has become a tourist attraction to see the mysteries of Jack the Ripper’s crimes. Who was this blood-crazed murderer who appeared to enjoy such brutality? It is uncertain, but it seems whoever he is, that the murderer was dead against the prostitutes.
Prime suspects of the crimes were John Druitt’s Barrister, hailed from a medical family. He was known to be either insane or on his way to insanity. He committed suicide in December 1888 by drowning in the River Thames. The second suspect was Sir Melville McNaughton, who worked for the Scotland Yard at that time. The other suspects were Michael Ostorg, a Russian doctor, as a ‘homicide lunatic’ in a mental hospital. Polish Jew, Kosminski, who became insane due to ‘long periods of solitary immorality’ was among the few suspects and a wealthy lawyer, Montagu Druitt.
The Duke of Clarence’s, eldest son of (future King of England) Edward VII, was also suspected of all the murders. However, at the time of two of Jack the Ripper’s murders, the duke was supposed to in Scotland. He died in 1892. Another flank to the rumour was that the Duke of Clarence married secretly, without the consent of the Royal family, and the Whitechapel prostitutes blackmailed the Royal family. Therefore, the Duke of Clarence wanted to silence all the prostitutes and got rid of them all.
Jack the Ripper’s unsolved story
In November 1987, nearly a hundred years after Jack the Ripper’s assassinations, the Metropolitan Police Scotland Yard received a large brown envelope based on anonymity.
The envelope was sent from Croydon in South London and triggered curiosity once again among the detectives. After extensive checks performed, the contents inside the ‘brown envelope’ proved missing ‘on Jack the Ripper’s case, which was supposed to connect with five of Jack the Ripper’s murders in Whitechapel. The missing contents in the brown envelope were believed to have triggered a massive cover-up to protect prominent persons in the British society, such as the Duke of Clarence, the Royal physician Sir William Gull and the wealthy lawyer Montagu Druitt.
Amidst the papers found in the brown envelope was a letter signed by Jack the Ripper, which coincided with the information in the police already in their old records! All other vital papers from the ‘Ripper file’ were still missing.
Scotland Yard admitted in 1987 that “they have no idea where the contents in the brown envelope were.” At that time, Deputy Commissioner of Scotland yard was quoted as saying: “ It is still a great mystery, but at least we have a complete file!” Don Rumbelow published a book ‘The complete Jack the Ripper, published by W.H. Allen (Book publishers).
At the end of the book, the author asks a simple question. “Who was Jack the Ripper? ” His selfanswer was: “ I have always had the feeling that on the Day of Judgement, Jack the Ripper steps forward and call out his actual name! Until such time we all must look impassively at each other and ask, Who?