In the Autumn of 1888 in the slum of Whitechapel, E. London, from five to ten women lost their lives at the hands of the
serial sex murderer who was known as Jack the Ripper.     Ripperologists do not agree on how many women were victims of this fiend. Least still do they agree on the identity of Jack the Ripper-and it is clear to me that they do not want to agree; for if they did, then who is going to write the next book about it?
                           Women Usually Counted As Ripper Victims 

      1845- 1888


  On Thursday, 30 August, l888, Polly Nichols, her hair already greying, her front teeth missing, was walking alone on Whitechapel Road, the long, wide street that is one of the main artories of the neighborhood.  Shortly after midnight, she was seen leaving a pub called the Frying Pan on Brick Lane. This establishment still stands on the spot and until a few years ago was little changed from the pub frequented by Polly.  Now, however, it has been converted into an Indian restaurant.
  When she later tried to retire for the night at the common lodgings house at l8 Thrawl Street,  she lacked the money for her doss.  Polly had probably already raised her bed money three or four times that day, but spent it on drink. It was a time and a place when money, once gotten, was immediately spent.  Food and drink was bought and consumed in present tense.  Polly asked the landlord to save her bed while she ventured outside to earn her night's rent.
  At approximately 3:40 a.m. Polly's body was found in Bucks Row with her skirt pulled up. When Constable Neil held up his lantern, he saw that Polly's throat had been cut.  Polly is attributed by most Ripperologists as a victim of Jack.




  Annie Chapman was said to be undernourished and possibly suffering from chronic lung disease.  She sported a black eye due to a recent fight over a half-penny. During the early morning hours between 7 and 8 September, l888,  she was found to be drunk in the kitchen of Crossingham's Lodging House, 35 Dorset Street. Asked for her nightly rent, she had to demure and take to the mean streets.
A witness reported seeing her in the l0 Bells Pub on Commercial Street at around 5 a.m. but this citing might have been a mistake. The l0 Bells Pub still stands on the 1888 site, and sells souvenirs of the crimes. At one point its name had been changed to the Jack the Ripper Pub:  but there is currently a neighborhood element who don't like this reveling in the gory, so the pub's name was changed back to the original name. 
  Shortly before 6 a.m. on the morning of 8 September, Annie's body was found in the back yard  at 29 Hanbury Street. Her dress had been pulled up above her knees. She had also been disemboweled, with some intestines draped across her shoulder.A crowd quickly gathered at reports of the finding.
  A crowd at 6 a.m.? Apparently so. I have walked along the Ripper alleys, such few as exist, at ten in the evening and find very few people on the streets.  In l888 street life was much different in East London.  All hours of the early morning, people were pushing their wares toward the Spitalfields Market.  Slaughterhouses dotted the area.  People seemed to be coming and going , with no regard to what we might consider a reasonable night's rest. 


       Elizabeth Stride


  Elizabeth Stride claimed Swedish descent and tragedy:  In 1878 the steamer Princess Alice sank, drowning Elizabeth's husband and two of her children. People were willing to allow her the Swedish descent, while wondering why the Swedish accent was missing.  Elizabeth had an on again-off again relationship with a man named Michael Kidney for several years. She also had a number of convictions for drunkenness and on one one occasion had lodged an assault charge against Kidney.
  As of 29 September l888,  Liz was employed cleaning rooms at a common lodging house at 32 Flower and Dean Street. At 11 p.m. that night there was a sighting of her leaving the Bricklayers' Arms in Settle Street in the company of an Englishman. She was walking in the direction of Commercial Road and Berner.  At l2:45 a.m. the same night, a witness saw Liz being thrown to the pavement but did not intervene. At l a.m. Louis Diemschultz drove his horse and cart into Dutfield's Yard nearby and found Liz' body. The body was not mutilated as were the bodies of the other victims.
  Because of the lack of bodily mutilations, some theorists believe that Elizabeth Stride was not actually a Ripper victim. Others wonder whether she might have been killed by her boyfriend, Mr. Kidney, with whom she had had a tumultuous history. But most students of the JTR murders believe that the Ripper was apprehended before he could carry out his signature mutilations on this victim; thus denied his lust for blood, he had to seek another victim at once.




  Catharine Eddowes was sometimes called Catharine Kelly, taking the last name of a man with whom she had a relationship.  In September of l888 Catharine and Kelly tried to earn a little money by going hop picking in Kent. Predictably, though, they arrived back in the East End of London broke. Early on the morning of 29 September l888, she and Kelly pawned a pair of boots, Catharine receiving the ticket in the name of "Jane Kelly."  They bought their breakfast which probably included some liquid refreshments, because by the middle of the day they were broke again.
  Early evening found Catharine being arrested for drunkenness outside 29 Aldgate High Street.  She spent the next few hours in the Bishopsgate Police Station. Oddly, she had given her name as "Mary Ann Kelly." At l2:30 a.m. she was pestering her captors to release her which, at l a.m. they did. How they could turn a woman out into the night, with the whole of London by now hysterical about Jack the Ripper, is a riddle for most sane minds.
  At l:35 a.m. two witnesses saw Catharine standing in the entrance to Church Passage, a dark covered passageway opening up into Mitre Square. By l:45 a.m. on this double header morning of 30 September, a police constable on patrol entered Mitre Square and discovered Catharine Eddowes' brutalized corpse.  Her throat was cut across, and her intestines were pulled out and arranged about the body. Jack was clearly getting more vicious with each passing victim.


             Kelly, Mary Jane
          aka Marie Jeanette


  Mary Kelly was the only one of the Jack the Ripper victims who, at age 25 , still flashed the relative bloom of youth.  We have little corroboration but Mary’s word for most of her background. She is thought to have been born in Limerick, spent her childhood in Wales and perhaps prostituted in Cardiff. She came to London when she was around 21, and allegedly, took work in a high class brothel in the West End.  In this venue, she might have traveled briefly in Paris with a gentleman.
How, however, do you slide from a fancy West End brothel to the grist and grime of life in Whitechapel? Drink would do it; encroaching age; or perhaps a falling out with a benefactor. We know that by April 1887, Mary was living at Cooney’s Common Lodging House in Sprawl Street, and from then on, she and a friend, Joseph Barnett, hit a half-dozen or so Whitechapel residences, often being tossed out for non-payment of rent. There was much drunkenness, but it was hard to believe that this in itself would get anyone evicted. Who was sober there to notice! 
    Mary Kelly was the only Ripper victim to have her own digs. She and Barnett rented a room at 13 Miller’s Court, which was really a backroom of 26 Dorsett Street.  One entered the courtyard by a narrow archway. A little more than a week before Mary was murdered, Barnett moved out. Two reasons were given: that Mary had returned to prostitution and she had invited another woman named Julia to stay with her. 
  The chronology of Mary’s last night on earth, the night of Thursday, 8 November-Friday 9 November 1888, illustrates the busy-ness and constant foot traffic of Whitechapel at that time. Joe Barnett visited between 7:30 and 8:30PM. By 11:00PM, Mary was spotted, intoxicated, leaving her favorite watering hole, the Britannia, in the company of a young man with a moustache. By 11:45PM, a Mary Ann Cox saw her return home with a stout, shabby man who carried a quart pail of beer. At 1:00AM, the neighbors heard Mary burst forth in drunken song, “ On a violet from my mother’s grave…” At 2:00AM, George Hutchinson met Kelly in Commercial Street.  At 2:30AM, Sarah Lewis went to Miller’s Court and saw a man and a woman.  At 3:30AM, Mrs. Kennedy entered Miller’s Court to spend the night with her parents, and saw a respectably young man with a dark moustache talking with a woman.  Both were intoxicated. At 4:00AM, a Mrs. Prater, who lived in a room above Kelly, thought she heard a cry of “Murder!” and rolled over and went to sleep.         Some witnesses even claimed to have spotted Mary at 8:00AM to 10:00AM the next morning, one of the unanswered mysteries of the case. At any rate, Mary’s landlord, McCarthy, sent Thomas Bowyer to Mary’s room at 10:45AM the next morning to collect some rent; and the sight that Bowyer saw when he looked through the window was one which we can all hope that we don’t have to witness this side of the grave. The whole surface of the abdomen was removed; skin was cut from the thighs; the breasts were cut off; the face was hacked beyond recognition (causing some “experts” to speculate that Kelly was not actually the victim); uterus and kidneys were pulled out, as were the liver and intestines.
  What manner of man? Although Mary Kelly’s death is considered a Ripper murder, showing a deranged murderer’s propensity for outdoing himself with worsening mutilations with each successive victim, some Ripperologists have reservations about Mary being a Ripper victim. Of all the victims, she was the only one killed indoors and she had recently broken up with her “significant other.”


Possible Ripper Victim: Martha Tabram
           aka Martha or Erma Turner

  On Monday 6, August, 1888, Marth Tabram hit the streets of Whitechapel with a female friend, “Pearly Poll.” They picked up two guardsmen. Poll disappeared into Angel Alley, a narrow entrance off of Whitechapel High Street near the current site of the Aldgate East Underground Station.    
  The usual sex was a “knee Jerker”  -- a rather uncomfortable intercourse while leaning against the wall. Martha and her soldier went oup George Yard (today called Gunthorpe Street) for the same purpose. Gunthorpe Street, an extremely narrow passageway and one of the few existent Ripper sites where one can really get the feel of Whitechapel in 1888, runs along the side othe the White Hart Pub, a pub that was used by the Ripper victims.
  At 3:30AM, Alfred Crow, a driver, returned home to George Yard Building and noticed someone “sleeping” on the first landing. He paid sacant attention. At 4:50AM, another tenant John Reeves, came downstairs and found Martha’s body in a pool of blood.

 Ref: THE JACK THE RIPPER A TO Z by Begg, Fido, Skinner

 More on the White Hart Club and Whitechapel
         Also-The Suspects

  The White Hart Pub still stands on the site, with Gunthorpe Street, formerly George Yard, a narrow alley just to the right. For a short time, this pub was unaccountably renamed "Clutterbuck's" but I was overjoyed to see that, during my last visit to this pub, it had reverted back to its old name "White Hart." These names should never be changed!


  Sadly, though, no one will be drinking at the Roebuck,Durwood and Brady Streets, another vintage Ripperland pub. The Roebuck was demolished a couple of years ago. Whenever I went into the Roebuck, whose barman looked old enough to practically remember 1888, I would spy a frail looking female drinker, sitting alone, who looked for all the world like she was waiting for--- for who knows what?

                  THE SUSPECTS?

Suspects are numerous, for anyone who would venture to write a new Ripper book--and these books fill shelf after shelf in the Charring Cross Road bookstore "Murder One"--has to come up with a new suspect.
PRISONER 1167:  
by James Tully seems to be one of the more carefully researched books. The book has a slightly different title in England: something like "Was This Man Jack the Ripper?" The booksellers had the notion that the English like things posed as a question whereas the Americans like to be told the answers.

  James Kelly had been confined in Broodmoor (a British Lunatic Asylum) since l883 for stabbing his wife to death. He was an "East End boy," living with his wife's family at No. 21 Cottage Lane, a short thoroughfare just off City Road. If you walk along the street at the side of Liverpool Station and head down Bishopsgate, you can be in Ripperland within ten or fifteen minutes.
  Although the Cottage Lane block was destroyed by bombing in World War II, the Horse and Groom pub still stands. One can stop there for a drink if one wants to walk in the steps of this Jack suspect. The pub is a virtual stone's throw from the site where Cottage Lane stood.
   Kelly escaped from Broadmoor in l888. Eventually he made several trips back and forth from England to the US of A In l893 he had made his way from New York to Pennsylvania to Maryland, where he secured a berth in a cattle ship which was departing Baltimore for London. At another crossing which he made in the early part of the century, he asked to go back to Broadmoor. Officials were waiting to arrest him at the England end of the sea journey. But Kelly's boat arrived early and he had a change of heart about turning himself in.
On February 22, l927, Kelly presented himself at the gates of Broadmoor and begged to be readmitteed. He died there peacefully on September 17, 1929. Was this man Jack the Ripper? Jim Tully has little doubt and if you are interested, you will have to read his book to learn whether he can convince you.


     Between the idea
     And the reality
     Between the motion
     And the act
     Falls the Shadow.
     (T.S. Eliot)




  The Connection: How does it happen that some bloke in Baltimore, Maryland manages to link up with a fellow living in Gloucester, England without knowing anybody in common?! How does it happen that this connection has lasted for 30+ odd years (VERY odd at times!)? One answer is Ripperology. One day, back in the 70's, I was sitting in a posh club where I had no business being, leafing through the pages of a magazine I had never seen, the British Spectator. The mag offered one free advert for anyone looking for a book. Some time back, I had read Tom Cullen's When London Walked in Terror.
A free ad? Why not toss it out there? 
  Within weeks the book arrived in my mailbox,
along with an 8 page typewritten letter. F. Eric Hermes, living somewhere in the middle of England, had reached the logical conclusion that only another Ripperlogist would want that book. I quickly began reading every book about Jack the Ripper that I could get my hands on, so I could keep up with the correspondence. I was a bit relieved when, some months later, Hermes wrote that it was perfectly permissible to write a letter that didn't even mention the Ripper. But by then I was hooked. 
  The Man with the Bags: Perhaps a year later, Hermes came walking into my London hotel carrying two bulging suitcases
. These were crammed with Ripper research and a couple of chicken bones. We migrated to a series of pubs and talked about Jack long after the last bus to Gloucester had pulled out of Victoria Station. Hermes spent that night on the floor of my tiny hotel room. I had to sneak him out before breakfast.I traveled back and forth to England almost every year, but now the highlight of the trip was my getting together with Eric Hermes. He would manage to travel down to Gloucester for a day trip or two. The meeting venue soon changed from my Bloomsbury digs. We now met directly at the epicenter of Ripper activity, the White Hart pub near the Whitechapel underground. I still hadn't learned the Queen's English. When Hermes looked at his watch and exclaimed, “It's ten minutes past opening!” I sat clueless.   
  The Meticulous Researcher
: Like many Ripperologists, Hermes initially seemed hesitant to name his suspect. My man did extensive research on all of the serious subjects. He knew more about Montague John Druitt than Druitt had probably ever gleaned about himself. He knew what railroad ticket Druitt had in his pocket when, after 7 weeks, his body was finally fished out of the Thames. He knew about the fancy party in Wimborne where Druitt improbably was listed as a guest while his body most likely mouldered at the river's bottom. One problem was that Druitt's name appeared in a sportspaper (he played cricket) the day after one of the nights of carnage. Is this likely? Who knows?  
  Hermes checked and rechecked
the convoluted Knight theory about Prince Eddy, Netley, and Dr. Gull; a possible secret marriage ceremony of the Prince and Annie Crook. Not stopping there, Eric dipped into city records and reconstructed all the shops and businesses along Cleveland Street during the mid 1880's, made the street seem so real that one could totally visualize it! ( This colorful theory was made into a great film.) Hermes checked out possible Ripper murders in the United States (“Old Shakespeare”) as well as crimes in Paris. His tools were steelminded logic, precision of thought; and every piece of information he could get his hands on in libraries and directories all over England. His mathematician's mind manifested itself in his technique. Like many mathematicians, Hermes is lefthanded.
  The files multiply: One problem with research is that it begets more research. The increase is exponential. A file quickly turns into a filing cabinet. Hermes had amassed so much data that he probably would need to have published a 20 volume encyclopedia! The man has always had too much research integrity to select only the facts which fit his theory. (A demanding domestic situation likely hindered his work until recently. The man still has the zest, but we all know what havoc advancing years can wreak on a body.)

 A person of the shadows? A final problem (I refuse the substitute the tepid word “issue” for problem!) arises from the nature of Hermes' prime suspect, Pedachenko. This is no celebrity suspect like a prince or a barrister. This is a person of the shadows. It is hard to flesh him out. Is he one man or many? According to the Jack the Ripper A to Z, Pedachenko (if he existed) committed the Ripper murders assisted by Levitski. Working with the Russian Secret Police, the attributed motive was to embarrass the Metropolitan Police. Pedachenko might also have been Klosowski or even Aaron Kosminski—or Konovalov, who murdered a woman in Paris in 1886.

  But doesn't a “truly great murder” require a “truly great murderer”? The Prime Suspect does not fit that profile. Would people want to read about him? Are there enough irrefutable facts?
  Whoever the Ripper was, is not for this writer to resolve here. . This article is my tribute to F. Eric Hermes, who has spent about half of his life in search of that elusive killer (or killers). It is increasingly unlikely that my friend will publish his volumes. But look at it this way: We are all of us chugging along the road of life. Wherever we are going, the fun part of almost any trip is the getting there. Let us enjoy the process, the laughs, the search, the suspense, the intrigue, and the occasional “AHA” moments of the travel.