Whitechapel was a very poor district of London. Most people lived in slum areas known as Rookeries. Those that had jobs worked in sweatshops for low wages. People frequently turned to crime in order to eat or pay rent – there were around 1200 prostitutes in the area and gangs demanded protection money from businesses. There was tension and violence between the British residents, Irish labourers who came to find work and Russian Jews who fled persecution following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II. Drunkenness and street violence was commonplace.
H Division of the Metropolitan Police force was responsible for policing the area. In 1888 there were 575 officers to police around 180,000 occupants of Whitechapel. Forensic detection methods such as finger printing and matching DNA had not been invented. Apprehending criminals relied on witness testimony, physical evidence or catching the perpetrator in the act of committing a crime.
Emma Elizabeth Smith
1888 (3rd April)
45 year old widow, Emma Elizabeth Smith, was beaten, sexually assaulted with a blunt instrument and robbed at the junction of Osborn Street and Brick Lane. She survived the attack and managed to return to her lodging house in George Street. The keeper of the lodging house, Mary Russell, was concerned about her condition and took her to hospital. She told the doctor, George Haslip, that she was assaulted by two or three men, one of whom was a teenager but was unable to provide a description.
1888 (4th April)
Emma Elizabeth Smith died of peritonitis caused by injury to her internal organs and a ruptured peritoneum.
1888 (7th April)
An inquest into the death of Emma Elizabeth Smith was held. The coroner determined that she had been ‘barbarously murdered… (by) …some person or persons unknown’. The police had concluded that she had been murdered by members of a local gang.
1888 (6th August, late)
Prostitute Martha Tabram went drinking with Mary Anne Connelly. They met two soldiers and paired off. Martha and her soldier went into George Yard, a notoriously dangerous street.
1888 (7th August, 1.40 a.m.)
Joseph and Elizabeth Mahoney, who lived in George Yard, returned home. Elizabeth then went to buy food and passed the spot where Martha’s body would be discovered. When interviewed she stated that she had seen nothing, but that the body could have been hidden in the dark shadows.
1888 (7th August, 2 a.m.)
Police Constable Thomas Barret was patrolling the area. He noticed a soldier near George Yard and spoke to him. The soldier stated that he was waiting for his friend who had gone into the area with a woman.
1888 (7th August, 3.30 a.m.)
Cabbie Alfred Crow returned to his home in George Yard and noticed someone lying on the first floor landing. He took little notice believing it a rough sleeper or someone who had passed out from alcohol.
1888 (7th August, 4.45 a.m.)
Labourer John Reeves left his apartment to go to work. He noticed a woman lying in a pool of blood on the first floor landing. He found Constable Barret and went to get local doctor, Timothy Killeen. Upon examination it was discovered that she had been stabbed 39 times with wounds to her throat, chest and abdomen.
1888 (after 7th August)
The police were baffled that no-one in the area had heard anything on the night of Martha Tabram’s murder. Their investigation concentrated on the two soldiers. Martha’s friend Mary Ann Connolly was interviewed but failed to identify the soldiers from a line-up of those that were off duty that night. PC Barret identified two men from the line-up but they had alibis for their whereabouts.
Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols – 1st Canonical Victim
1888 (31st August, 1.20 a.m.)
43 year old Mary Ann Nichols, known as Polly was kicked out of Wilmott’s Lodging House because she did not have the money to pay for a bed for the night.
1888 (31st August, 2.30 a.m.)
Ellen Holland met a very drunk Polly at the junction of Osborn Street and Whitechapel Road. She tried to convince Polly to return to the lodging house but Polly refused.
1888 (31st August, 3.40 a.m.)
Carter Charles Cross was on his way to work when he spotted someone on the ground. He called to fellow carter Robert Paul to help him. They straightened her skirts to make her decent but in the dark were unsure whether she was alive or dead. They determined to find a constable.
1888 (31st August, 3.45 a.m.)
Police Constable John Neil, who was patrolling the area, discovered the body of a woman. With the light of his lamp he could see that her throat had been cut. He told a passing colleague John Thain to get help.
1888 (31st August, 4 a.m.)
Dr Llewellyn arrived and pronounced the woman dead. He concluded that the murder had taken place within the last 30 minutes. This was backed by John Neil who had passed the area at around 3.15 a.m. and seen nothing.
1888 (31st August, 4.30 a.m.)
The woman’s body was taken to the mortuary where it was observed by Inspector Spratling who noted her description for identification purposes. He also noted that her stomach had been cut open and she had been disembowelled.
1888 (31st August, morning)
The police began questioning locals and soon believed her to be Polly Nichols. Mary Ann Monk formally identified the body.
1888 (31st August)
Police were baffled by the fact that although there were people living nearby and night workers who were awake at the time, nobody had heard or seen anything. At this point they believed the murder to be the work of a local gang.
1888 (6th September)
Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols was buried in the City of London Cemetery.
Annie Chapman – 2nd Canonical Victim
1888 (7th September, 5 p.m.)
47 year old prostitute Annie Chapman was seen by her friend Amelia Palmer in Dorset Street. Palmer had seen Chapman four days earlier when it had been revealed that Chapman had bruises on her face and chest and was feeling unwell. Chapman still complained of feeling ill but stated that she had to earn some money.
1888 (8th September, 2 a.m.)
Annie Chapman left her lodgings at 35 Dorset Street to find a client so that she could pay her rent.
1888 (8th September, 4.30 a.m.)
John Richardson was on his way to work. He sat on the steps of 29 Hanbury Street to remove a piece of torn leather from his boots. He did not see or hear anything out of the ordinary.
1888 (8th September, 5.30 a.m.)
Albert Cadosch, resident of 27 Hanbury Street, heard a woman say ‘No!’ and then heard what sounded like someone falling against a fence.
1888 (8th September, 5.30 a.m.)
Elizabeth Long was walking along Hanbury Street. She saw a man and woman standing by 29 Hanbury Street. The man was wearing a long black coat. She heard the man say ‘Will you?’ and the woman answer ‘yes’. Long believed that the man was a foreigner.
1888 (8th September, 6 a.m.)
The mutilated body of a woman was discovered in the back yard of 29 Hanbury Street by John Davis, a resident of the building. He summoned two passing workmen and they went to find a policeman.
1888 (8th September, 6.30 a.m.)
Dr Bagster Phillips arrived at the scene and pronounced the woman dead. He estimated the time of death at 4.30 a.m.
1888 (8th September, 7 a.m.)
The woman’s body was taken to Brick Lane mortuary where it was revealed that her throat had been cut, her abdomen cut open and her intestines placed over her shoulder. Her uterus had also been removed. He believed that she had been strangled before being mutilated.
1888 (8th September, morning)
Examination of the scene revealed a piece of muslin, part of an envelope with two pills inside, and a comb. A leather apron was found nearby. After hearing the evidence from Albert Cadosch, Elizabeth Long and John Richardson, police concluded that Dr Philips’ suggested time of death was wrong. Due to the removal of the uterus, police began to think that the murderer had medical knowledge or was a butcher. The discovery of the leather apron suggested the latter but it was later dismissed as evidence.
1888 (10th September)
Mile End Vigilance Committee
This group was formed by a group of local businessmen with the aim of helping the police to apprehend the perpetrator of the murders. George Lusk was elected as president of the group.
1888 (mid September)
The police concluded that the murders were not carried out by local gangs. They reasoned that if they were one of the gang members would have informed on the others. They now believed they were looking for a lone killer, probably someone who lived in Whitechapel.
1888 (12th September)
Elizabeth Long identified the body as Annie Chapman.
1888 (14th September)
A private funeral was held and Annie Chapman was buried in the City of London Cemetery.
1888 (27th September)
A letter was received by the Central News Agency in London. It was written in red ink, and claimed to be from the killer. The letter mocked the inability of the police to catch him and was signed, Jack the Ripper.
Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes – Double Event – 3rd and 4th Canonical victims
1888 (29th September, 7.30 p.m.)
Prostitute Elizabeth Stride aged 45 years, left her lodging house.
1888 (29th September, 8.30 p.m.)
Prostitute Catherine Eddowes was drunkenly entertaining a crowd of people on Aldgate High Street. She then fell asleep on the pavement.
1888 (29th September, 8.40 p.m.)
PC Robinson was on Aldgate High Street and, after asking if anyone knew where Eddowes lived, took her to Bishopsgate Police Station.
1888 (29th September, 11 p.m.)
Elizabeth Stride was seen in the company of a man wearing a black suit and hat. He had a black moustache.
1888 (29th September, 11.45 p.m.)
A woman, believed to be Elizabeth Stride, was seen with a man in Berner Street. The man was dressed in black and wore a hat.
1888 (30th September, 12.30 a.m.)
Police Constable William Smith noticed a man and a woman in Berner Street near Dutfield’s Yard. The man was wearing dark clothing and a hat and had a moustache.
1888 (30th September, 12.40 a.m.)
Morris Eagle walked through Dutfield’s Yard to enter the International Working Men’s Educational Club. He noticed nothing untoward.
1888 (30th September, 12.45 a.m.)
Jewish immigrant, Israel Schwartz, noticed a man walking ahead of him in Berner Street. The man stopped to talk to a woman standing at the entrance of Dutfield’s Yard. Swartz described the man as having dark hair, a moustache and aged around 30 years. He stated that the man threw the woman onto the ground and he believed them to be having a domestic argument. Not wanting to get involved he crossed the road and saw another man lighting a pipe. This man had light brown hair and was dressed dark clothes with a long coat. He began to walk after Schwartz him so Schwartz ran and lost his pursuer.
1888 (30th September, 12.55 a.m.)
Catherine Eddowes was released from Bishopsgate Police Station. She set off in the direction of Houndsditch.
1888 (30th September, 1 a.m.)
The body of prostitute Elizabeth Stride was found in Dutfield’s Yard, Berner Street by carter, Louis Diemschutz. Her throat had been cut from left to right but she had not been mutilated. Police believed that Diemschutz had disturbed the killer who had ran off.
1888 (30th September, 1.10 a.m.)
Diemshutz ran into the Club for help then he and another man ran down the street shouting ‘Murder, Police’ and attracted the attention of PC Edward Spooner. Spooner examed the body and noted that her throat had been deeply cut.
1888 (30th September, 1.16 a.m.)
Doctor Blackwell arrived at Dutfield’s Yard and pronounced the woman dead. He believed she had been dead for 20 or 30 minutes. She had died from having her throat cut, there was no evidence of being strangled first. Her body also had no other injuries or cuts.
1888 (30th September, 1.20 a.m.)
Police Constable Lamb closed Dutfield’s Yard then checked everyone in the club for bloodstains but found nothing untoward. He then woke nearby residents and questioned them but nobody had seen or heard anything.
1888 (30th September, 1.30 a.m.)
Police Constable Watkins passed through Mitre Square. He had a lantern with him and stated that at that time the square was empty.
1888 (30th September, 1.35 a.m.)
Three men, Harry Harris, Joseph Levy and Joseph Lawende left the Imperial Club on Duke Street. As they passed Church Passage they noticed a man and a woman. Lawende stated that the man wore a jacket and a cloth cap.
1888 (30th September, 1.44 a.m.)
Police Constable Watkins passed through Mitre Square again. This time he found the mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes. He ran along Mitre Street to get help.
1888 (30th September, 1.55 a.m.)
Watkins returned to Mitre Square with Pc James Harvey and PC Holland. Dr George Sequeira arrived on the scene and pronounced the woman dead. The cause of death was the throat being cut. In addition her abdomen had been slashed open and her bowels thrown over her shoulder. Her uterus and a kidney had been removed. A piece of her apron was missing.
1888 (30th September, 2 a.m.)
A thorough search of the Mitre Square area was made as well as door to door enquiries. All to no avail as nobody had heard or seen anything.
1888 (30th September, 2.30 a.m.)
The body of Catherine Eddowes was removed to Golden Lane Mortuary.
1888 (30th September, 2.55 a.m.)
PC Alfred Long found the missing piece of Catherine Eddowes’ apron in a doorway of Wentworth Model Dwellings. The fabric was covered with blood and faeces. The discovery proved that the killer had passed that way after the murder. On the wall above the fabric was written ‘The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing’. Long had been joined by Daniel Halse and they were undecided whether the message should be left and photographed when it got light or removed to prevent a wave of strong anti-Semitism.
1888 (30th September, 4.30 a.m.)
The body of Elizabeth Stride was taken to St George’s Mortuary. Israel Schwartz later identified the body as that of the woman he had seen.
1888 (30th September, 5.15 a.m.)
Sir Charles Warren arrived at Wentworth Model Dwellings he took the decision to remove the chalk message immediately. Warren would later be criticised for not waiting for it to be photographed.
1888 (late September)
Around this time police enquiries focused on medical students and local butchers. However, all their enquiries came to a dead end..
1888 (1st October)
A postcard, smeared with blood, written in the same had as the letter received on 25th September, arrived at the Central News Agency. The card referred to the double murder and was again signed Jack the Ripper.
1888 (6th October)
Catherine Eddowes was buried in the City of London Cemetery.
1888 (6th October)
Elizabeth Stride was buried in East London Cemetery.
1888 (9th October)
A letter was received at Scotland Yard Police Headquarters in which the ‘murderer’ spoke of his plans to kill 15 people before killing himself to ‘avoid the scaffold’. The police determined that this, and the two letters sent to the Central News Agency were not from the killer but were hoaxes.
1888 (16th October)
George Lusk, head of the Mile End Vigilance Committee received a package containing a piece of a human kidney. A letter claimed to be from the killer and stated that the kidney had been taken from Catherine Eddowes. The letter was signed ‘from Hell’. It was deemed to be a hoax.
Mary Jane Kelly – 5th Canonical victims
1888 (26th October, around)
Mary Kelly lived in Miller’s court with Joseph Barnet. Barnet was unemployed and Kelly had to resort to prostitution to pay the bills.
1888 (late October)
Mary Kelly invited a homeless prostitute named Julia to share their lodging. Barnet was furious and moved out.
1888 (8th November)
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Charles Warren, resigned. His resignation came after the Home Office told him that all public statements he made required Home Office approval.
1888 (8th November, 7 p.m.)
Joseph Barnet visited Mary Kelly at her home. He stayed for around an hour.
1888 (8th November, 11.45 p.m.)
Mary Ann Cox, a prostitute who also lived in Miller’s Court, saw Kelly with a man who had a moustache and was wearing a long dark coat and a hat.
1888 (9th November, 12.30 a.m.)
Mary Ann Cox and other residents of Miller’s court heard Mary Kelly singing.
1888 (9th November, 1 a.m.)
Mary Ann Cox went out in search of a client. She stated that she saw the light was on in Mary Kelly’s room at that time.
1888 (9th November, 2 a.m.)
George Hutchinson passed a man before meeting Mary Kelly who asked him for sixpence. He said he had no money and Kelly then approached the man Hutchinson had passed. Hutchinson described the man as pale with a moustache and dark hair. He was wearing a long dark coat. Hutchinson followed the pair and they went into Miller’s Court.
1888 (9th November, 3 a.m.)
Mary Ann Cox returned home and did not notice a light in Mary Kelly’s room.
1888 (9th November, 4 a.m.)
Two of Mary Kelly’s neighbours, Elizabeth Prater and Sarah Lewis, thought they heard a cry of ‘Oh Murder!’ but ignored it because ‘murder’ was often called out by drunks or during domestic violence.
1888 (9th November, 10.45 a.m.)
Thomas Bowyer was sent to Miller’s Court to collect rent from Mary Kelly. Receiving no answer to his knock on the door he looked through the broken window pane. The sight he saw was shocking, there was blood everywhere and the young woman had been skinned. Her face was unrecognisable and a number of organs had been removed and placed on a bedside table.
1888 (9th November, 11.15 a.m.)
Thomas Bowyer rushed to Commercial Street Police Station to raise the alarm. He returned to the scene with Inspectors Walter Dew and Walter Beck. The scene haunted the two men for the rest of their lives.
1888 (9th November, 4 p.m.)
The remains of Mary Kelly’s body were taken to Shoreditch Mortuary. 13 Miller’s Court was boarded up and secured.
1888 (10th November)
Police surgeon, Thomas Bond, wrote to the head of London Criminal Investigations listing the similarities in the murders of Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly. He stated his belief that they were all murdered by the same person.
1888 (12th November)
An inquest into Mary Kelly’s death was held by coroner Doctor Roderick Macdonald.
1888 (19th November)
Mary Kelly was buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Leytonstone.
1888 (19th December)
Charles Ptolomey saw a woman, later identified as Rose Mylett, talking to two sailors close to Clarke’s Yard. Something about the men made him take note.
1888 (20th December, 2.30 a.m.)
Rose Mylett was seen in the company of two men outside the George pub by Alice Graves. Graves stated that she appeared fairly intoxicated.
1888 (20th December, 4.30 a.m.)
The body of prostitute Rose Mylett was found by a police constable in Clarke’s Yard off Poplar High Street. There were no signs of struggle or violence and Police Commissioner James Monroe concluded that Mylett’s death was suicide or sudden death by natural causes.
1888 (20th December, 5 a.m.)
Dr George Harris examined the body and pronounced her death. The body was taken to the mortuary.
1888 (20th December, morning)
Mortuary worker, Curtain Chivers discovered a mark and scratches on Mylett’s neck.
1888 (21st December)
Doctor Matthew Brownfield performed a post-mortem examination on Rose Mylett’s body. He discovered bleeding from the nostrils, a graze on the face and marks on the neck consistent with strangulation by a cord or rope.
1888 (after 21st December)
There was much speculation that the Ripper had returned but this was played down by the police, particularly as Mylett’s death bore little resemblance to the 5 canonical murders.
1889 (17th July, 12.50 a.m.)
The body of prostitute Alice McKenzie was found by Constable Walter Andrews in Castle Alley. Her throat had been cut, her skirt pulled up and her abdomen cut. However, her wounds were not as deep as earlier victims.
1889 (17th July, 3 a.m.)
McKenzie’s body was examined by Police Commissioner James Monro and pathologists Bond, Phillips and Anderson. The men were divided as to whether the murder was carried out by the Ripper or whether it was a copycat murder.
1889 (after 17th July)
An inquest into the death of Alice McKenzie concluded that she was murdered either by the same person that committed similar cases or by someone anxious to pass the murder off as that of the Ripper.
Pinchin Street Torso
1889 (10th September)
The mutilated torso of a woman was discovered under a railway arch in Pinchin Street. The identity of the woman was not discovered. The murder was dismissed as being carried out by Jack the Ripper.
1891 (11th February)
Frances Coles met James Sadler, a merchant seaman and they spent the night together.
1891 (12th February)
Coles and Sadler spent the day drinking in pubs across London.
1891 (12th February, 11.30 p.m.)
Coles and Sadler returned to Spitalfields Chamber separately having argued earlier. Coles fell asleep on a bench. Sadler was asked to leave as he had no money for a bed.
1891 (13th February, 12.30 a.m.)
Frances Coles woke up and left Spitalfields Chamber as she could not pay for a bed.
1891 (13th February, 1.45 a.m.)
Coles met her friend Ellen Callaran. While they were talking a man propositioned Ellen and punched her when she refused his offer. Frances Coles then agreed to go with the man.
1891 (13th February, 2.15 a.m.)
Frances Coles was discovered in Swallow Gardens, Mansell Street by Police Constable Ernest Thompson. Her throat had been cut but she was still alive. Thompson clearly heard a man’s footsteps walking away as he approached. As the victim showed signs of life police protocol dictated that Thompson had to stay with the victim rather than pursuing the man who may have been her attacker. Coles died shortly afterwards.
1891 (14th February)
Thomas Sadler was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Frances Coles and possibly some of the other Whitechapel murders.
1891 (24th February)
Thomas Sadler appeared in court charged with the murder of Frances Coles.
1891 (27th February)
Coroner Wynne Baxter led an inquest into the death of Frances Coles. Baxter concluded the case by saying that while there were similarities to earlier cases, Sadler was able to give a clear account of his movements before and after the murder and that should be considered by the jury in deciding the verdict. The jury concluded that Frances Coles was ‘murdered by some person or persons unknown’.
1891 (early March)
The case against Sadler collapsed after it was proved that he had been at sea when some of the earlier murders had been carried out.
Throughout the three-year spate of Whitechapel murders the police carried out more than 2,000 interviews with local residents, investigated more than 300 people as potential suspects and arrested 80 people in connection with the murders. Despite extensive enquiries there was nothing definite that could identify the murderers and the identity of Jack the Ripper.