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Who Was Jack the Ripper? - Victims & Identity

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson discusses the infamous and still unidentified serial killer Jack the Ripper. You'll learn the names of his victims, as well as some of the people believed to have been Jack the Ripper.

The World's Most Famous Serial Killer

He didn't kill the most people. He didn't kill for a long period of time. We don't even know his real identity! Yet, he's probably the most famous serial killer in all of history because of the gruesome way in which he killed his victims. Who was he? Someone dubbed Jack the Ripper. This lesson is going to give you some background information about this man, his victims and his possible identity.

London's East End

Let's step back in time to 1888. We're in England, the capital city of London, specifically. London's East End was an area populated with Jewish and Russian immigrants. It was known for its filthiness, poverty, crime and prostitution. It wasn't the best part of town, suffice it to say. Many people despised this part of London and its inhabitants.

In fact, because prostitution was so rampant and because most in society could care less for prostitutes, the death of a prostitute rarely turned a person's head or made the front page during this time. But, that was all about to change!

A map of the East End in London with the spots where some known and presumed victims of Jack the Ripper were found.
map

Victims

On August 31st, 1888 Jack the Ripper's first victim was found. It was the mutilated body of a prostitute, Mary Ann Nichols. On September 8th, the body of another prostitute, Annie Chapman, was found.

Annie Chapman, the second victim of the canonical five murders of Jack the Ripper.
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A letter written in blood red ink, dated September 25th, 1888 was sent to the Central News Agency. The letter, in short, mocked the police, gloated about the crimes and predicted what was to come. It was signed by ''Jack the Ripper.'' Most historians believe the letter was a hoax, but the name has stuck ever since. Five days after the letter was supposedly written, Jack the Ripper's third and fourth victims were found on September 30th. They were prostitutes Catherine Eddowes and Elizabeth Stride. On November 9th, another prostitute's body, that of Mary Jane Kelly, was found, as well.

These are the five undisputed victims of Jack the Ripper. Some claim he killed two to three more, or even dozens more, but that's all speculation. What isn't speculation, however, is the manner in which he dealt with these poor women. He didn't shoot them. He didn't just stab them. He horrifically and grotesquely mutilated their bodies. The images of his victims after their bodies were found are far too graphic to show in this lesson, but to give you an idea of what he actually did and why it caused such an uproar, here's a list of some of things done to the murdered women:

  • Throats were cut.
  • Abdominal contents were cut out and placed at various parts of the body.
  • Breast were cut off.
  • Eyebrows were removed.
  • Skin was cut away in large flaps.

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