Jack the Ripper once more plies his knife (1889)

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While, of course, the Jack the Ripper murders occurred in England, they still made front-page headlines stateside. Here is an early report of the woman who was then thought to be the twelfth victim of the serial killer. Later, while her murder was not considered to be definitively the work of the Ripper, she is considered one of the 11 Whitechapel Murders. Sadly, she was never identified, but came to be known as “The Pinchin Street torso.” (There are several errors in this early news story, including the fact that her legs, rather than her arms, had been removed.)

Twelve! “Jack the Ripper” once more plies his terrible knife

His new victim the most horribly mutilated of all

Three more to die before the ghastly “fifteen” is reached

Unfortunates in the slums in a state of unspeakable terror

London, Sept. 10. – Whitechapel has been visited again by Jack the Ripper.

The twelfth and most horrible of all the murders committed by this fiend incarnate was committed last night in this district. A workman passing through Backchurch lane, in the extreme south end of Whitechapel, came upon the body of a woman murdered and mutilated in a most horrible fashion.

The head severed

The head was severed completely from the body and lay a little apart. Both arms had been amputated with the skill of a surgeon.  One lay under the trunk, the other was a little apart from the body.

Blood everywhere

There was blood everywhere. The mutilation was more aggravated than in any former case, but it was of a character which stamped the outrage as one of the series which have been attributed to “Jack the Ripper,” because, despite the utmost efforts of the police, no better name could be given to the perpetrator.

Skillful surgery

As in the other cases in which the assassin was not disturbed at his work, the cruel knife had been thrust into the body of the victim at the wrist and then ripped along the median line downward till the abdomen was laid open and the poor creature completely disemboweled.

The victim was, like the others, an outcast woman.

The news spreads

The cry was raised and in a twinkling every one of the outcasts of Whitechapel knew  of the last butchery committed by their enemy, and they hurried out and canvassed the affair in little groups and knots on the streets and in the cellar groggeries and pot-houses.

Their terror was pitifully gruesome, and today they are drowning their fears in gin and whiskey, and the streets of Whitechapel are full of frightened women of the lowest caste.

Found near where No. 5’s body lay

The woman was found at 6 o’clock this morning weltering in her own blood at a point not 200 yards away from the spot in Berners street where Elizabeth Stride, No. 5 in the Whitechapel series, was found similarly dismembered and mutilated on Sept. 30 last and not more than ten minutes from the place where Catherine Eddowes met her death at the hands of the ripper on the same morning and before the body of the Stride woman was cold.

This victim has not yet been identified, or she has the police, with their usual wisdom, fail to reveal it.

Flooded with detectives

The section has been flooded with detectives and policemen in citizens dress, and the tactics pursued in the preceding cases will be resorted to again. Chief Commissioner Munro says that for fiendish brutality last night’s murder surpasses all others, and adds mysteriously that he hopes to catch the perpetrator this time.

“Fifteen before I surrender”

On Sept. 3, 1888, the body of Annie Chapman, the fourth of the Whitechapel series, was found in Hanbury street, Spitalfields. It had been mutilated like those preceding, and chalked on a wall just above the body were these words: “Fifteen before I surrender!”

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The victim of last night’s butchery was No. 12, and the dissolute and depraved women of the Whitechapel district are in abject terror today.

Who will be next?

They discuss the murder in awe-stricken whispers, and though it is not often asked, the question uppermost in the minds of the poor creatures is, “Who will be the next?” for there is not a shadow of a doubt in the minds of these ignorant people that Jack the Ripper will be as good as his word and will send fifteen of their number to death before he stops.

The previous victims

The generally accepted list of the Whitechapel fiend’s victims up-to-date is as follows:

1. Unknown woman, past middle age, Whitechapel outcast, found dead in October, 1887, with body horribly mutilated.  Little attention paid to the case.
2. Turner, Martha, found Aug. 7, 1888, stabbed in thirty-two places, probably with a bayonet.
3. Nichols, Polly, found Aug. 31, head nearly severed from body.
4. Chapman, Annie, found Sept. 8, horribly carved.
5. Young woman near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, found Sept. 23, slashed as were the others.
6. Stride, Elizabeth, found Sept. 30, body warm when found, but mutilated like the others.
7. Eddowes, Catherine, found the same morning, body and face horribly disfigured.
8. Unidentified woman, found Oct. 2, with head and arms severed and the usual mutilations of body.
9. Lawrence, Mrs Mary Jane, found Nov. 9, head nearly severed, face lacerated almost beyond recognition, breasts cut off and laid on a table, heart and liver removed and matrix missing; body literally hacked to pieces.
10. Jackson, Elizabeth, body found in sections between May 31 and June 25, 1889.
11. Mackenzie, Alice, alias Kelly, found in Castle Alley dead, but with body still warm, July 17, 1889.  Mutilations not completed, knife evidently dull.
12. The present case.

The sections of Elizabeth Jackson’s body were found floating in the Thames, done up in pieces of female-wearing apparel.

An effort was made to discredit the theory that the woman was a Whitechapel victim and to make out that she had been a subject of dissection by medical students, but evidence accumulated to sustain the theory of murder.

“Fifteen before I surrender,” was the legend chalked over the body of the fourth victim of the fiend.

The police then declared that he could never evade them long enough to finish his bloody work. Extra detectives were put on duty.  Whitechapel swarmed with officers in plain clothes.  But the murderer kept on his work and no track nor clue was found to lead to his apprehension.

From November, 1888, to May of the present year, he let proceedings rest, and the officers began to find relief in the thought that their vigilance had driven him out of London. July 17 brought the awakening from their fancied security, and the discovery on this September morning has now brought the list of the victims up to twelve.

Three are yet to come before the fifteen is made up.

The Evening World extra was upon the streets this morning three hours ahead of any other paper with the story of the twelfth Whitechapel murder. News that the Ripper had resumed his terrible work excited the most intense interest in the city.


Top illustration: Pinchin Street Arch, London, from The Penny Illustrated Paper and Illustrated Times, September 14, 1889

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