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Saturday, 16 April 2011

Jack the Ripper Blog - The Victims

Once again I say hello!

Today, I will be discussing the second interesting factor in the case of Jack the Ripper. Throughout the blogs I have repeated that we know very little about this particular killer. This includes why he murdered the women he did.

Of course, at first glance, it could be very obvious. There is one factor that links all of the women together. All of them were prostitutes. It is often thought that the five women were murdered because of this but when it is the only linking factor, I am not so sure. So, in this blog, I will give you a quick introduction to each of the five women known to have been killed by Jack and go through the reasons they may have been killed.

The first woman killed was Mary Ann Nichols. Forty-three years old and always a Londoner. After having five children, Mary separated from her husband in 1881, at which time she became a prostitute. A year later, her still-legal husband discovered this. Officially, all he did was discontinue his support payments however it could be that in anger, he killed Mary, ashamed of what she had done.
Mary was an alcoholic, known in the workhouses she worked in to be disorderly at times. Between 1881 and 1888 she could have served well over one hundred people. It could be that one of her customers was very displeased with the service she provided or that she somehow scammed one of them. Either of these could have led to her death.
Mary Ann Nichols led a very quiet life publically, so the truth is that we may never know if she did anything to anyone that would warrant her death. This only solidifies the theory that Jack killed her because of her work, as there is no other obvious reason for her death.

The second killing was of Annie Chapman, also in her forties when she died. The reason for this death could be very simple. Half an hour before she was found dead, Annie was sighted with a customer. Moments later, she was heard having an argument with someone in same garden in which her body was found. It may be as simple as the argument getting out and the customer killing Annie. I’m sure, with crime levels much higher in the eighteen-eighties, it would not be unheard of for people to carry weapons for self-defence.
Again, from what I can find, this is the only other theory than her death being caused by her occupation. It is known that Annie did not get along with her siblings, but it seems a bleak theory that one of her sisters killed her.

Next was Elizabeth Stride, forty-five years old and originally from Sweden, moving to London in 1866. Elizabeth Stride was another night-worker known for being drunk and disorderly. In this case, it is impossible that she was killed by her last customer, as he was seen walking in the opposite direction to where the body was found. However, it is possible that the only woman that Jack meant to kill that night was Catherine Eddowes, and that Elizabeth simply got in his way. This could explain why her death was the least brutal of the five and why there is no evidence to suggest any reason for her death, other than she was a prostitute.

After the death of forty-six year-old Catherine Eddowes, Whitechapel prostitutes went out of their way to keep a look out for the ripper. The brutality of her murder leads some to believe that she did something to seriously anger a previous customer, and that that was the reason for her death. Like the other four women that the ripper killed, there does not seem to be much else we know about that leads to their deaths.

The Irish Mary Jane Kelly was the youngest of the victims and her death was the most brutal. Again, it could be down to her angering a customer. Again, there is very little else that points to a reason for her death.

All of this points back to the theory that these five women were killed only because they were prostitutes. To find out more, you must look at the killer, not his victims. If we look at the killer himself, it becomes clear that there could be many more reasons as to why these five women were targeted.

There are several suspects in this case that had a psychological illness of some kind. This fits perfectly with the brutality of the murders, especially the fourth and fifth, as it points to the illness becoming worse. Many people believe that the killer was a very devout Christian who thought he was doing the world a favour by getting rid of the prostitutes. Some theories point towards him being a medical practitioner, experimenting with how much pain the human body could be put through before death. Some people believe he just wanted to send the police a strong message. The brilliance of this case is that any or all of the above could be true and we may never know.

This leads me to my conclusion. The simple truth is that we will not know why these particular victims were targeted until we know who the Ripper was. That way, from his profile, we would be able to find out more about why he did it. Even then it would be difficult, as so much time has passed that we can no longer catch him and ask him exactly why. For now, I think, we should stick with the idea that these five women were killed because they were prostitutes and leave people to make up their own minds. That way, the legend spreads and gets bigger, and maybe one day someone will stumble across the right answer.

I hope that you will join me for my final blog on why the police failed to catch Jack, coming soon.

Until then,
Michael Wilson.

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