The Victims (Jack the Ripper) Part 1

As with all other aspects of the Jack the Ripper case, there are disagreements as to precisely how many victims the killer finally claimed. Most writers agree that Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, and Catherine Eddowes were murdered by the same hand. The vast majority also include Mary Jane Kelly, though some claim that she might have been killed by someone else who used the Ripper murders to disguise his crime. There is some dispute over whether Elizabeth Stride was a Ripper victim and even more argument over Martha Tabram. As for the rest, they have been included or omitted in other works depending on which particular theory a writer is trying to push.

In this section, all the possible East End victims are included, in chronological order. The women covered and the dates upon which they were attacked are:

Fairy Fay—Monday, 26 December 1887

Annie Millwood—Saturday, 25 February 1888

Ada Wilson—Wednesday, 28 March 1888

Emma Elizabeth Smith—Tuesday, 3 April 1888

Martha Tabram—Tuesday, 7 August 1888

Mary Ann Nichols—Friday, 31 August 1888

Annie Chapman—Saturday, 8 September 1888

Susan Ward—ca. Saturday, 15 September 1888

Elizabeth Stride—Sunday, 30 September 1888

Catherine Eddowes—Sunday, 30 September 1888

The Whitehall Mystery—ca. Wednesday, 3 October 1888

Mary Jane Kelly—Friday, 9 November 1888

Annie Farmer—Tuesday, 20 November 1888

Rose Mylett—Thursday, 20 December 1888

Elizabeth Jackson—ca. Tuesday, 4 June 1889

Alice McKenzie—Wednesday, 17 July 1889

The Pinchin Street Torso—ca. Sunday, 8 September 1889

Frances Coles—Friday, 13 February 1891

Other victims, such as Carrie Brown, are only ever included to suit a particular theory. Such "victims" are referred to in the "Miscellaneous" section.

A summary at the end of this section details my thoughts upon which victims may properly be placed at Jack’s door.

Fairy Fay

Monday, 26 December 1887

Once the press of the day had determined that a series of murders had occurred, it was necessary to decide precisely which victims formed part of that series. The more victims there were, the more sensational the case. This approach, plus newspaper inaccuracies and confusion, led to the inclusion of Fairy Fay in the list as Jack’s first victim.

The suggestion that there had been a murder in 1887 was first made in a broadsheet titled "Lines on the Terrible Tragedy in Whitechapel," which was published in early September 1888. This sheet referred to victims such as Annie Millwood and Ada Wilson but also referred to an earlier victim who had died "twelve months ago."

Soon afterward this suggestion was picked up by the Daily Telegraph, and in its issues of 10 and 11 September the story of the first victim was fleshed out. Now a date was given: 26 December, and a location: somewhere around Osborn Street and Wentworth Street.

It is telling that the articles in the Telegraph stated that this particular victim had been killed by means of a stick, or possibly an iron bar, thrust into her body. It went on to say that the unfortunate woman had never been identified.

According to the records, no crime of this nature occurred on this date, so it is clear that the Telegraph articles had garbled an account of the death of Emma Elizabeth Smith, who had been attacked in the early-morning hours following a Bank Holiday, Easter Monday, which fell on 2 April 1888. Emma had been attacked by three youths in Osborn Street, and the writers of the articles had merely mistaken the date of the public holiday. However, the story had now entered the public consciousness and continued to be expanded upon.

On 12 November 1888, W. A. Hunter, Member of Parliament for Aberdeen North, asked in the House of Commons whether the Home Secretary had considered extending a pardon to any accomplices the killer might have had in earlier murders, especially in the case of the crime that had taken place the previous Christmas. Again, this incident shows that the actual crime referred to was the attack upon Emma Smith. This question was repeated in the House on 23 November, by which time Annie Farmer had been added to the list of those attacked.

Despite this transparent confusion, stories of this first unnamed victim continued. In 1910 Dr. Lyttleton Stewart Forbes Winslow published his memoirs, Recollections of Forty Years, which embroidered the story still further, and finally, on 29 October 1950, Terence Robertson wrote an article titled "Madman Who Murdered Nine Women" for the popular newspaper Reynolds News. Robertson gave the victim a name, Fairy Fay, and stated that she had been attacked while taking a shortcut home from a public house in Mitre Square.

In fact, it is obvious that Fairy Fay never existed. Jack the Ripper did not claim his first victim on Boxing Night in 1887, and all references to this supposed crime are in fact distorted stories of the murder of Emma Elizabeth Smith.

Annie Millwood

Saturday, 25 February 1888

Thirty-eight-year-old Annie was admitted to the Whitechapel Workhouse Infirmary at 5 P.M. on the evening of 25 February 1888, suffering from a number of knife wounds in the legs and lower torso.

A resident of a lodging house at 8 White’s Row, Annie was the widow of a soldier named Richard Millwood. She explained to the police that she had been attacked by a man who had drawn a clasp knife from his pocket. He was a complete stranger to her, and there seemed to be no witnesses to the attack.

In due course Annie recovered from her injuries, and she was discharged to the South Grove Workhouse almost a month later, on 21 March. Ten days later, however, on 31 March, she was at the back of the building when she collapsed. This time there was no recovery, and Annie Millwood was pronounced dead.

The inquest was held on 5 April before Coroner Wynne Edwin Baxter, and after various medical witnesses testified, a verdict was returned that Annie had died from "a sudden effusion into the pericardium from the rupture of the left pulmonary artery through ulceration." In effect, she died not as a result of her injuries but from natural causes.

White's Row as it is today. This is the street where Annie Millwood lodged and where she was found on 25 February 1888. Admitted to the hospital, Annie died the following month.

White’s Row as it is today. This is the street where Annie Millwood lodged and where she was found on 25 February 1888. Admitted to the hospital, Annie died the following month.

Ada Wilson

Wednesday, 28 March 1888

Ada Wilson, a woman who described herself as a seamstress (a term often used by Victorians as a euphemism for a prostitute), was about to retire for the night at her home at 9 Maidman Street, Bur-dett Road, Mile End. It was about 2:30 A.M. on 28 March, and just as Ada was checking that the house was secure, there was a knock on the front door.

Upon opening the door, Ada saw a man who was about 30 years old. He had a sunburned face and a fair mustache and was about 5 feet 6 inches tall. He wore light-colored trousers, a dark coat, and a wideawake hat (a soft felt hat with a low crown and wide brim). Immediately he demanded money from Ada and added that if she did not at once produce the cash, she had but a few moments to live.

Ada indignantly refused to hand over any money, whereupon the stranger reached into his pocket, drew out a clasp knife, and plunged it twice into her throat. Fortunately for Ada, her screams of anguish brought neighbors rushing to her aid, and her attacker was fortunate to escape. Her neighbors sought medical assistance, and Dr. Wheeler of Mile End Road attended Ada at her house and bandaged her wounds, after which he ordered that she be taken to the London Hospital.

For some time it was believed that Ada had little chance of survival, but she proved to be a tenacious woman and eventually made a full recovery. She was released from the hospital on 27 April.

There was a witness to the attack, and as a result the assailant was almost captured. Rose Bierman, another resident of 9 Maidman Street, reported that she had heard terrible screams and upon running downstairs had seen Mrs. Wilson, who was only partially dressed, wringing her hands and crying, "Stop that man for cutting my throat! He has stabbed me." Only then did Rose notice a young, fair man rush to the front door and let himself out. After he had escaped, Rose ran out, found two constables outside the Royal Hotel, and told them what had happened.

As in the case of Fairy Fay, once a series of crimes had been suggested, the press looked for all possible cases of assault that might have some similarities, however slight, to the canonical murders. This approach caused Ada Wilson’s name to be added to the list of Jack the Ripper’s victims, though in fact the attack on her appeared to be a simple case of robbery gone wrong rather than an attempt at murder.

Emma Elizabeth Smith

Tuesday, 3 April 1888

Monday, 2 April 1888, was a Bank Holiday, and at about 7 P.M. that day Emma Elizabeth Smith, a 45-year-old widow with two children, left the common lodging house where she lived, 18 George Street, Spitalfields, and spent most of the evening in and around Whitechapel High Street and the area to the east, almost certainly soliciting.

At 12:15 A.M. on 3 April Emma was seen by Margaret Hayes, a fellow lodger at George Street. At that time Emma was talking to a man of medium height who wore a dark suit and a white silk handkerchief around his throat. The two were on the corner of Farrance Street and Bur-dett Road, in Limehouse. There is no suggestion that this man played any part in the events of later that day.

According to the story that Emma herself would later tell, she was wending her way home at around 1:30 A.M. and was just passing St. Mary’s Church when she noticed three men coming toward her. Concerned, Emma crossed the road so she wouldn’t have to pass the men, but they began to follow her, and in Osborn Street they attacked, robbed, and raped her.

Sometime between 2 A.M. and 3 A.M., Emma arrived back at her lodgings. It was obvious that she had been badly beaten. Her face was bruised, and her right ear had been almost torn off. She also complained about pains in the lower groin, so the deputy keeper of the lodging house, Mary Russell, took Emma to the London Hospital, where she was attended to by the house surgeon, Dr. George Haslip. Haslip determined that in addition to her other injuries, Emma had also had a blunt object, possibly a stick, inserted forcibly into her vagina, causing a tear in the perineum.

On the way to the hospital, as Emma and Mary Russell had passed Taylor Brothers Mustard and Cocoa Mill on the corner of Brick Lane and Wentworth Street, Emma had pointed out that the mill was opposite to where she had been attacked. She mumbled a story of three men, the youngest of whom was only 18 or 19 years old. At the hospital Emma did not respond to treatment. She soon fell into a coma and died, from peritonitis, at 9 A.M. on Wednesday, 4 April.

The location of the attack upon Emma Elizabeth Smith

The location of the attack upon Emma Elizabeth Smith

The police investigating the case noted that there had been three men involved and that the principal motive appeared to be robbery. Though no arrests were made, it was believed that one of the gangs in the area had been responsible—possibly the Old Nichol gang, so named because its base of operations was around Old Nichol Street at the top of Brick Lane.

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