Posts Tagged ‘1888’

Martha was murdered August 7th 1888 and does not belong to the “canon” 5 Jack the Ripper victims however she is included as one of the potentials and so I’ve decided she should get a mention due to her having been considered by some as a forerunner to the main event.

Martha, in her late 30’s, hung around with another prostitute the night before, known in the local area as Pearly Poll. They met two guardsmen and headed off around the local pubs of Whitechapel Road. At some point in the evening the four broke off into couples and after bargaining their prices for their services they took off. Martha took her john over to the arch that led to George Yard (for travelling tourists this is now Gunthorpe Street) this isolated area would be a good spot for a quick service, often known as four-penny knee tremblers. There were cheap apartments nearby at the George Yard Buildings for the poor, and the lights out at 11pm made the dark area perfect for the prostitutes work.

Mrs Hewitt was the wife of the buildings superintendent and she saw nothing on her way home from a celebratory evening with friends. This is hardly surprising though as the area is unlit, there was nothing to see, quite literally. At half past three that morning a taxi driver, Alfred George Crow, spots someone lying on the landing but thought no more of it, the area meant nothing would have been too unusual about it. After 5am John Saunders (labourer) saw her and this time was able to see that there was a pool of blood. He found a patrolling policeman (Constable T Barrett) who sent for a medic. She was pronounced dead having been brutally murdered.

The victim had 39 stab wounds from her throat to her lower abdomen. There were two blades used and it was ruled out that rape was the motive. There had been no sexual assault, it was vicious and without sound, the latter part being very unusual given the wounds inflicted. It was savage and shocking, but it is debatable if she was a ripper victim though investigating officers at the time felt that she was.

Taking the details at face value it doesn’t necessarily suggest she was due to the missing aspect of the mutilations. However there is some commonality in that she was attached in her throat and abdomen as the ripper had been identified to do on the other five accepted as canonical. I also think it is worth bearing in mind that as with many serial killers it has been found they escalate with their crimes and poor Martha may have been the “test run”.

Oh yes he’s probably one of the most famous killers in history and there is no way I could do this justice in one post but I have decided to at least get a little down on paper for now.

1888 London, Whitechapel was by no means a nice place. In fact a hovel of debauchery, poverty and crime the one thing it has done is raise the profile of how awful it was to be poor during the period. With lavish inventions, curious contraptions and plays that sparkle in the eyes of the rich, just like many cities London was not exempt of the darker side. Indeed London’s underground scenes and rough streets make some of the most lucrative aspects of art and film in the modern ages. Not least of those subjects is Jack the Ripper, depicted by many famous parties in film, games and literature… the serial killers past is so clouded with mystery and intrigue that it’s hard to pass him by.

The name comes from a letter, widely regarded as a hoax, which was signed Jack the Ripper admitting to the hideous crimes but another name for Jack is Leather Apron. Both of which relate to the crimes of prostitutes that were viciously attacked and murdered with abdominal mutilations being the part that really sticks out as his signature. He has never been identified as a specific person and so the theories continue to be debated, perhaps this is the true essence of why he is so fascinating, we truly have the opportunity to play armchair detectives as there’s plenty of theories to test.

Whitechapel itself leads to a brilliant backdrop for the crime and it’s subsequent mystery of exactly who Jack the Ripper is, after all with an estimated 1200 prostitutes and 62 brothels in the area Jackie-boy had a brilliant selection and plenty of opportunities to plan his escapades. And there wasn’t just a problem with the ladies of the night, there was a terrible element of racism, class division and those of higher station merely regarded it all as immorality.

Five of many victims of the time are listed as his canon murders, due to the way in which they were found and mutilated though the true number could be far more and there are at least seven listed as part of the Whitechapel murders. Those considered canon (canonical) are Mary Ann Nichols, Anne Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. I’ll be focusing on them in other posts as they really deserve more focus than a summary paragraph in my view.

What is interesting about each one is that whilst there was no identified sexual assault in terms of the murder being met with rape he had penetrated them with the knife and left them on display, suggesting the act perpetrated on females was still perhaps sexual in nature. It’s hard to disagree with it having some form of sexual motivation when considering their professions.

There have been numerous adaptations of this theme but I am going to comment on the ones I enjoy most. Certainly I enjoyed “From Hell” the name of which was a letter received by George Lusk at the time, the letter was signed From Hell. Johnny Depp plays the aspiring detective Aberline and it is dark enough to be interesting without turning into a terrible slasher like so many seem too. Another take comes from Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) a manga which has been adapted into anime, in which the murderer is a grim reaper working on behalf of a woman who can no longer bear children. A modern retelling came to the British TV in the form of a mini-series, a Jack the Ripper in the modern night replicating the details of the murders is hunted down.