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Dark Side Of 1888

The Ripper Murders

Imagine if you can walking along Commercial Street, in the late summer of 1888. The sound of horse and carts, with iron wheels rattling over cobbled stone streets on their way to Spitalfields Market. With the few gas lamps around, hissing blue flames at the darkness behind their glass cages. It was 4 am in the morning of Friday the 31st August 1888 the streets were deserted except for market workers on their way to work when the reign of terror began. One such early morning worker was George Cross who was walking fast towards his market job, as he took his usual route along Buck’s Row he saw what he thought was a bundle of old tarpaulin that could be of use, laying on the pavement near some stable gates. On a more thorough investigation he found that the bundle was in fact a woman whom he presumed to be drunk. John Paul another market porter saw Cross standing silently in the roadway looking down on the dimly lit bundle. George called to John to give him a hand to raise the woman, as John grabbed her arm he felt it cold and death like. They both decided to look for a policeman not noticing in the dark the stream of blood in the gutter. Minutes later P.C John Neil passed along Buck’s Row and seeing the bundle on the kerb shone his flashlight and saw the bloody carnage that the two porters had missed. Without going into the gory details, it was clear that an unusual murder had taken place. Londoners even in those terrible times were appalled at such a brutal crime, so dreadful that it would haunt this world forevermore that a human being could have done such a terrible murder and why? The corpse was later identified as that of Mary Ann Nichols better known as Polly. Polly had left the Frying Pan pub earlier around 12.30 am she was off to get some doss money and was last seen alive at 3.30 along the Whitechapel Road shortly before she had met her murderer.

This is generally accepted to be the first Jack Ripper Murder, although there were two others at the beginning of the same year. The first had been a prostitute named Emma Elizabeth Smith, who lived at 18 George Street, Spitalfields. On the 3rd of April Emma was seen talking to a man in dark cloths in Fairance Street Limehouse. Four hours later she came staggering home and told the landlord that she had been robbed and sexually assaulted in Osborn Street. The deputy landlord and another lodger took her to the London Hospital at Whitechapel. Her injuries were to the womb where something, though not a knife had plunged with great force separating her womb and back passage, braking rather than cutting it. The next day she died of peritonitis. Police were not informed until the 6th of April about the attack, said to be carried out by four men, Emma had never described the attackers and no one had ever been caught.

The next to be found dead was Martha Tabram at 3 am on Tuesday 7th August 1888. She was discovered on the first floor landing of George Yard Building, where her body had been stabbed 39 times. It was also established that she had died in silence without screaming, as she was under the window of Mrs Green, when the killing took place and Mrs Green was a light sleeper who would have heard any disturbances. The question is how did the killer enter and leave without anyone seeing him? One of the first suspects was Jack Pizer, with the nickname Leather Apron; it was because of his cruelty to some prostitutes that he was put up as suspect and near frenzy took place when the next murdered body had a piece of leather apron close by.

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