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Part III: Completely Defeated
The Ripper’s fourth victim was Elizabeth Stride, a domestic servant known on the streets as “Long ‘Liz.” She was born in Sweden, gave birth to a stillborn girl when she was 21, then relocated to London. Three years later, she married John Thomas Stride, but separated from him after about 11 years. Some seven years after that, in 1884, she was widowed at age 40.
In 1885, Elizabeth began living with Michael Kidney, a waterside laborer, according to whom she had a drinking problem. They lived just half a block from The Ten Bells and she was frequently arrested for drunkenness, although she seemed to be well-liked by all who knew her. Kidney helped support her and she earned a little by sewing and working as a charwoman. When she still could not make ends meet, she engaged in prostitution.
On 29 September 1888, shortly before 7:00 p.m., 44-year-old Elisabeth left a lodging house, indicating to a charwoman there that she intended to return, but she did not say when.
A few blocks southeast was Berner Street, along which was Dutfield’s Yard, a very constricted court between the International Working Men’s Educational Club, used primarily by Jews, and No. 42 Berner Street.
The entrance to Dutfield’s Yard, where Arthur Dutfield had once built carts, had two large wooden gates that were usually left open. The narrow area immediately inside the court led to a side door to the club. That area was particularly dark, although the yard opened up further back, where there was better lighting from the club and from various surrounding cottages.
Although the club’s primary activities of the evening ended shortly before midnight, several dozen persons stayed after that, talking and singing. During the next hour, several of them departed through the side door of the club and out the dark entrance of Dutfield’s Yard.
On 30 September, at about 12:35 a.m., patrolling Constable William Smith passed a man, and a woman with a rose on her dress, talking on the sidewalk along Berner Street, on the other side of the street from Dutfield’s Yard. The woman was Long Liz. The man was about 28 years old, about five feet seven inches tall, dark-complexioned, and had a respectable appearance. He was wearing a black coat and a dark-colored deerstalker, like Sherlock Holmes. Things were not looking well for Elizabeth Stride.
About 25 minutes later, at 1:00 a.m., Louis Diemschutz, the steward of the club, approached Dutfield’s Yard driving his two-wheeled cart, which was pulled by his pony. As he turned into the dark entrance of the yard, something startled his pony and it veered to the left. Diemschutz stopped, stepped down, and struck a match. Just inside the yard, lying diagonally across the right side of the entrance, was the corpse of Elizabeth Stride. Blood was running from her neck into a gutter and, some distance away, down a drain. Her body was still quite warm, except for her hands. The left one still held a small packet of breath lozenges.
Dr. Frederick Blackwell arrived at Dutfield’s Yard at 1:16 a.m. He noted that Elisabeth’s throat had been slashed once from below her left ear, which severed that carotid artery and her windpipe. However, there were no other significant injuries or disarrangement of her clothing. Otherwise, she looked as if the Ripper had peacefully laid her down on her left side to bleed to death, in the mud.
Dr. Blackwell examined her body at the scene, including the color and temperature of her neck, chest, legs, face, and hands, and the condition of the blood about her body, and determined that she had probably been murdered sometime after 12:56 a.m. Mr. Diemschutz and his pony had discovered Elisabeth’s body 4 minutes later, at 1:00 a.m.
Apparently, the Ripper had time to slit the left side of Elisabeth’s throat, but not time to slash the right side, too, and to butcher the rest of her body, as was his modus operandi. Consequently, when Mr. Diemschutz and his pony appeared on the scene, the Ripper had halted the slaughter, quickly withdrawn more deeply into the darkness of the courtyard, and waited until Mr. Diemschutz had run into the club for help. Then, it seemed, he had immediately escaped from the yard and dashed onto Berner Street.
From the Ripper’s point of view, Mr. Diemschutz and his pony had arrived just a few moments too soon. From everyone else’s point of view, they had arrived just seconds too late.
The Ripper had been interrupted and deterred, but not defeated in his bloodthirsty quest. When the clocks of Whitechapel struck 1:00 a.m., he had escaped from Dutfield’s Yard and headed toward Houndsditch, about a 12-minute walk away, southwest of The Ten Bells. Well before the hourly clocks would strike again, so would Jack the Ripper.
Catharine Eddowes, known on the streets as “Kate,” came from a tragically broken family. Two of Catharine’s 11 brothers and sisters died in infancy and her mother died from tuberculosis when Catharine was 13. Two years after that, her father died.
A few years later, she began living with Thomas Conway, a hawker. Although they never married, she committed herself by allowing him to tattoo his initials on her forearm. Over the next couple of decades, they had three children. Then, in about 1881, they separated. Apparently, Catharine drank heavily and frequently. When Thomas did too, he beat her.
In 1881, Catharine began living with John Kelly, in a common lodging-house near The Ten Bells. Catharine still drank, sometimes heavily, but John did not. He did whatever labor he could for a living and she sold trinkets on the streets. At least occasionally, she prostituted to survive.
Life in Spitalfields was never easy. On 29 September, the day before the murder of Elisabeth Stride in Dutfield’s Yard, John insisted that Catharine pawn his boots to get money for their breakfast. Reluctantly, she did. After they had finished eating, he went out looking for work and she set out to beg some money from her daughter. As they parted in the vicinity of Houndsditch, John reminded 46-year-old Catharine that Jack the Ripper stalked the area after dark. She replied, “Don’t you fear for me. I’ll take care of myself and I shan’t fall into his hands.” He was quite worried though that somehow she might. She was not worried enough.
Although Catharine did not find her daughter that night, she did find some money, somewhere. At about 8:30 p.m., Constable Louis Robinson found her lying drunk on a sidewalk in the Houndsditch area. He took her to Bishopsgate Street Police Station to sleep it off. At 11:45 p.m., Catharine was heard singing to herself. Just before 1:00 a.m., as Jack the Ripper was slashing the throat of Elisabeth Stride, in Dutfield’s Yard, the police released Catharine.
As she exited through the street door, Constable George Hutt instructed her, “Please pull it to.”
“All right,” Catharine replied, “Good night, old cock.” Then she “pulled the door to,” closing it, and headed back toward Houndsditch.
Mitre Square was just to the west of Houndsditch, barely outside Spitalfields and only two blocks into the city of London. In addition to the main carriage entrance from Mitre Street, on the west side, Mitre Square had two narrow entryways by foot: Church Passage to the east and St. James’s Place Passage to the north. Lofty old warehouses and mostly uninhabited ramshackle dwellings encircled the 75-foot square. A reporter once called it, “… as dull and lonely a spot as can be found anywhere in London.”
Mitre Square was just the sort of place the police believed would appeal to Jack the Ripper and they had the area under surveillance. Constable Edward Watkins inspected the square at least every 14 minutes, while Constable James Harvey also patrolled from another direction. Constable Richard Pearce and his family were actually sleeping in one of the houses that formed the square, as were several other residents, and George Morris, a watchman at the square, had been a constable with Scotland Yard.
To add to the stakeout, Sergeant Robert Outram, and Constables Daniel Halse and Edward Marriott — three plainclothes detectives for the City of London — were surveilling within two blocks of Mitre Square. The area was teeming with police officers. To attempt a murder there on that night, a person would have had to have been insane. And Jack the Ripper was!
At 1:30 a.m., Constable Watkins patrolled through the square. He saw no one there and nothing out of the ordinary. At about 1:41 a.m., Constable Harvey passed by the Church Passage entrance to the square, saw no one, and heard nothing. At about 1:42 a.m., George Watkins, the watchman, looked out into the square and neither saw nor heard anything unusual.
At about 1:44 a.m., just three-quarters of an hour after the murder of Elisabeth Stride, Constable Watkins again patrolled through Mitre Square. Suddenly, he captured in the light of his lantern a sight that he later described as unlike anything that he had ever seen in his 17 years of police work. In the darkest corner of the square lay the body of Catharine Eddowes, on her back, her throat slashed from ear to ear. “She was ripped up like a pig in the market,” he reported. “The head was nearly severed from the body. Blood was everywhere to be seen. It was difficult to discern the injuries to the face for the quantity of blood that covered it …. A more dreadful sight I never saw; it quite knocked me over.”
The Ripper had severed Catharine’s nose completely from her face, in addition to various other savage mutilations to her head. He had ripped open her torso, from her lower abdomen to her breastbone, hauled out her intestines, and dumped them on the cobblestones above her right shoulder. He had placed another section of the intestine, about two feet long, between her body and her left arm. There were half a dozen stabs to her pancreas, spleen, and liver. He had also cut off a large section of her white cloth apron, which was nowhere to be found. In addition, he had cut out her uterus and her left kidney, and had taken those organs away with him.
Dr. George Sequeira was the first physician on the scene, at about 2:00 a.m. Dr. Frederick Brown, the London City Police Surgeon, arrived at about 2:18 a.m. and determined that Catharine had been murdered at that location. Her body was quite warm and showed no sign of rigor mortis.
Both physicians agreed that Catharine had died no earlier than about 1:45 a.m. — the same time that she had been discovered. Apparently, the entire slaughter had occurred within seconds.
George Morris, the watchman at Mitre Square and former constable with Scotland Yard, explained, “The strangest part of the whole thing is that I heard no sound.” He lamented, “It was only last night I made the remark to some policemen that I wished the butcher would come round Mitre Square, and I would soon give him a doing, and here, to be sure, he has come, and I was perfectly ignorant of it.”
At 2:55 a.m., a few blocks away in Spitalfields, Constable Alfred Long discovered a bizarre message written in white chalk on the jam of a doorway along Goulston Street. It read:
The Juwes are
The men That
Primarily Jews frequented the International Working Men’s Educational Club, next door to Dutfield’s Yard, where Elisabeth Stride had been murdered less than three hours before. Mitre Square was close to the Imperial Club, frequented by Jews. Moreover, the area where the chalk message was discovered was highly populated by Jews. If the Ripper had written the message, then apparently he had anti-Semitic intentions. Whoever had written it had done so within the prior 35 minutes, since Constable Long had last patrolled the street.
There were strong feelings against Jews in Whitechapel at that time, primarily because a particular Jew was rumored to be the Ripper. An analysis by police of the evidence against him proved that he was not. Nevertheless, passions had been ignited. If the Ripper had scrawled the message, he had hoped to inflame them further.
From the sidewalk, directly beneath the message, Constable Long picked up the bloody missing section of Catharine Eddowes’ white cloth apron.
Soon thereafter, on 16 October 1888, George Lusk, the chairperson of the Mile End Vigilance Committee, formed by residents to aid police in the investigation, received a small package in the mail. Inside was half of an adult human’s left kidney, preserved in spirits. Dr. Thomas Openshaw, Curator of the Pathological Museum, and Dr. Gordon Brown, the London City Police surgeon, both examined it carefully. Their expert opinions were that it could well have been butchered from the body of Catharine Eddowes. In an accompanying note purported to be from the Ripper, the sender stated that it was part of her kidney and that the other half he had fried and eaten, adding that it had tasted very nice.
Although rewards totaling £1,200 had been offered, hundreds of suspects questioned, admissions and releases at insane asylums reviewed, and thousands of tenements searched, it was all to no avail. Jack the Ripper had proved to the police repeatedly that he could appear like an apparition, slaughter seemingly instantly, and vanish like a vapor. Everyone knew when. He struck at holidays and on weekends, always between midnight and 6:00 a.m. Everyone knew where. His victims lived within a few hundred yards of The Ten Bells. His “kill zone” had only a half-mile radius. Now he had proved to the police that he could murder at will, under their very noses.
Walter Dew, a detective with Scotland Yard, observed, “It seemed as though the fiend set out deliberately to prove that he could defeat every effort to capture him.”
Major Henry Smith, Acting Commissioner of the City of London Police, described his own state of mind as “completely defeated.”
There was only one thing that Jack the Ripper had yet to prove: How brutal he could really be!
Select this link to continue to Part IV: "Where the Responsibility Lies."
The Great Mystery of Jack the Ripper, Part IV
16 Sep 2005
16 September 2005
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