Of all the many countless serial killers from around the world, there are few who have reached such status as to be truly famed. Sure, Bundy, Gacy, and the rest of that ilk have had their time in the spotlight, and do indeed instil fear, and give inspiration to new documentaries, and books, and articles.
But while they may have a greater body count, and the luxury of an efficient mass media to really push their stories, there is one man who outdoes them all. He has been elevated to something far more than just a mere serial killer. He became legendary almost as soon as the first victim was found in 1888. And he has retained his legendary status now, for 129 years now. And no one even truly knows who he is.
Of course this is the infamous Jack The Ripper of White Chapel. This disturbed man had an incredibly disturbing method of murder, and while he didn't seem to partake in any sort of cannibalism, or necrophilia, or sexual assault before the deed was done, that doesn't stop him from being one of the most heinous serial killers of all time. Here are some of the disturbing things he did.
15 He Humiliated His Victims, All Ladies Of The Night
It should be no shock to anyone who knows anything about Jack The Ripper, that he killed women. He only killed women. And it is well documented that he only killed a certain type of woman at that. Across the board, Jack seemed only to kill those who were frequent imbibers of alcohol, and/or who were so-called "ladies of the night". In other words, women who worked as prostitutes. This sort of profession wasn't all that uncommon in that day, in that area. Nor was it necessarily a full time vocation for all. And indeed, Jack murdered even those who worked the streets only on occasion. So he seemed to take some sort of twisted moral stance in killing his victims. Each of the women whom Jack killed were found in relatively the same position. There knees were brought up, closer to their bodies, their legs were spread, and their skirts were hiked up above the waist. He didn't just want to murder...he wanted to humiliate.
14 Slitting Throats Post-Death Had A Purpose
Don't let the photo above fool you. It is very true that Jack would slit the throats of his victims, but that was not necessarily the cause of death in each case, nor would he likely have done so from behind. It turns out that there is a fairly specific and explicit reason for the throat cutting that the so-called "Ripper" did. Once the victim was subdued, and swiftly and subsequently dead, only then was the throat cut. And it was most likely cut from the side, and by the front. There's no need to slit a throat from behind when the person is already dead. Perhaps the cutting occurred only after death in order to prevent messy blood spray from the arteries. Either way, it has been agreed, fairly certainly, that the throat cutting was done as a means of blood-letting; to drain the victim. Not in some vampiric way, nor in some ritualistic way, but simply as a method to make some of his other dastardly deeds easier, and comparatively mess free.
13 Strangulation Also Had A Purpose
Jack would cut the throat of his victims, but not as a cause for death. Given that fact, then what would have been his method? As it turns out, Jack, before he bothered to do any ripping, would strangle his victims. It is speculated that at least one victim did not die this way though. Likely he strangled her to the ground, and then opened her throat whilst she was still alive. The issue with doing this is that it makes one hell of a mess. At least more so than if the victim were already dead before throat slitting. And so that was the reasoning for strangulation: to stop the heart from beating, and to depressurize the circulatory system. Some may wonder if Jack strangled from behind, or from the front. Once upon a time the theory was that Jack must have attacked from behind whilst his would-be victim was distracted, lifting their skirts for the purposes of anal sex. This has been discredited now though, as it would not be near as efficient as attacking from the front. While Jack's prey fretted with her skirt to come towards him, Jack would take the opportunity to clutch her throat, cutting off her air, rendering her silent, and ultimately killing her. This was the way each victim's death began.
12 Nobles, Masons, And Demons - Oh My!
Some began to theorize that Jack's murders had much to do with the occult. Indeed, many speculated that the women he killed were used in some sort of ritualistic sacrifice. To what? No one ever seemed too clear on that. Devils, demons, and other ungodly works were the usual suspects from the conspiracy theorists. There was one very strange notion regarding Jack The Ripper's victims though. It was suspected, for a time, from certain people, that Jack was indeed a member of either the House of Lords, or even the royal family! The idea was suggested to be Masonic in practise, and all about the truly sick nature of the nobility. It's no wonder some people would begin to pump such things out of the rumour mill. Especially in the Victorian era, when one's livelihood was based on how good a facade one could keep. However, these theories have been fairly thoroughly disproven. Surely it's not surprise as to why.
11 Catherine Eddowes
As it happens, the above photo is the only photo this writer could source of the victims of Jack The Ripper. To qualify, this is the only photo sourced of a Ripper victim, while still alive. One can very easily find photos of each corpse of each victim. Catherine Eddowes happens to be the only victim to have had a readily available photo, whilst living. It makes sense that these women (ladies of the night and all) would not be of a standing to chance a photo in 1888, but there it is. Regardless, this woman could have easily escaped murder, had she not so vehemently wanted to leave police custody (having been found publicly intoxicated earlier in the evening). She ended up meeting the Ripper, and was found, like the others, with her throat slashed. But hers was, to that date, the most gruesome of the murders. She was also found to be disemboweled, with her intestines set both over her right shoulder, and under her left arm. Even one of her kidneys had been removed. And this same kidney may have been sent to a street watch group not long after, seemingly as provocation.
10 He Was Quick, Silent, And Clean
Perhaps this isn't all that disturbing to those who are far too used to the gratuitous violence of cop dramas on television, but the secreting of his victims made Jack The Ripper a fairly special character back in the day. Death and murder were far more commonly come across circa 1888, but no one understood just how Jack could get away with what he did, and remain anonymous as well. For more than one victim, Jack seemingly appeared out of, and disappeared into thin air. To the point where an officer would be walking a beat, only to discover, not even a full half hour later (as he would circle back his route), that a body had been left there for him, bloodied, very dead, yet still very warm. To some, this builds up even more mystery around the person of Jack The Ripper. His ability to murder silently, and without mess (given that one would expect to see a man wandering the streets, covered in blood). Ultimately, he was just an efficient killer, who knew from what angles to spring an attack, but that hasn't stopped people from making up some fairly mythic stories about Jack being some otherworldly entity that came to women, and struck them mute (really he was just a guy who struck them dead).
9 Party Foul To Nick The Bowel
Of course the man above is not actually Jack The Ripper, but it is very easy to find someone out there who loves nothing more than dressing up as him for a photo shoot, or Halloween, or for one of many television series, documentaries, and/or feature films. So iconic is this character (whom people don't truly know the look of), that he's even heavily featured in an edition of Assassin's Creed. Now as the title of this entry suggests, Jack engaged in some pretty nasty stuff as a killer. It was perhaps not enough for him to strangle his victims, then slash their throats. No, part of the reason for bleeding them the way he did was to depressurize the circulatory system, making it easier to excavate certain bits and pieces. Now that might sound absolutely appalling...because it is. But that's not even near the worst of what this man did in his time. Several of his victims (who would thankfully not feel any of his "procedures"), would have their intestines removed. These would be shifted about the corpse in specific ways, but was perhaps the nastiest part of this, was his tendency, at times, to make a few cuts in the bowels, and parts of the digestive tract, to allow fecal matter to seep out onto the alleyways where he did most of his deeds.
8 The Face Of Death
This is actual artwork from a paper produced in 1888. Times were very different back then, which will be easily noted as today's newspapers don't seem to be able to produce visuals of corpses. Hell, that even goes for publications like TheRichest as well. And while the above picture isn't an actual photograph, it still means that an artist went to the body, and sketched her out, throat slash and all, for the purposes of publication. Fairly messed up. Lucky for the artist and the public that this particular victim had very minimal mutilation. Especially with regards to her face. This is where the title of this entry comes into play. At least to of the victims of the Ripper had severe mutilations done to their once relatively attractive faces. The last canonical victim in the Ripper murder, Mary Kelly, was worst done by this. Her face was cut up, almost beyond recognition, with certain parts (eyelids, lips, nose, etc.) missing, or strewn about the rest of her viscera, around the room in which she was found. Her identification was done only by a loved one who could recognize her only by the bits of ear still left attached to her head and the gaping, staring eyes that could no longer be shut, due to the removal of her eyelids.
7 Mary Nichols - The First Victim To Be Disemboweled
Mary Nichols was regarded as the first canonical murder attributed to Jack The Ripper. It perhaps should be noted for those who don't know, there have been upwards of eleven murder victims given to the name of Jack The Ripper. Though it must be said that likely only four or five of these were actually truly Jack's work. But such mystery was built around him that, when a murder couldn't be solved, within a couple of years of the Ripper murders, one would just assume Jack was back. Either way, Nichols perhaps had it the easiest, in terms of how her body managed to fair, in comparison to the rest of the victims. Again, her throat was slashed (nearly eight inches across, and deep enough to sever each artery along the gash), and there was also minimal, but apparent knife work to the face. It turns out that Mary Nichols would also be the very first victim to be disemboweled. The odd thing about this fact though, is that no one even noticed this, until she had been taken to the morgue. Everyone seemed to attribute the whole bloody mess to the slit throat. And even once it had been noted that she was indeed disemboweled, a worker at the morgue undressed her, and went about washing down the corpse before investigators could even attempt to collect evidence from this.
6 A Sketchy Sketch
Yes, this is an actual sketch from the time of the Ripper murders. This particular sketch is of Catherine Eddowes. How can one tell? It's the simple fact of the placement of her intestines. No other victim had them placed in such a manner. Partly placed over her right shoulder, and some strewn underneath her left arm (the former with the signature slashes to allow for the seepage of fecal matter up by her head). As one could very easily see from this incredibly graphic, albeit rather non-detailed drawing, Jack's victims were met with a horrible end. Seemingly completely hollowed out with the cavity left wide open, it is a wonder that responding officers made it through that night, and into the following day. One can even notice in this sketch, that Eddowes' knees were placed in Jack's favoured position. The specific positioning would at first suggest some sort of sexual deviance, as if preparing them for some additional, heinous act on his part. But instead, given the lacking signs of sexual gratification, at least by way of intercourse, it seems to translate into a final show of humiliation, even as the corpse lays there, literally open to the world.
5 Woman's Insides Used As Head Cushion For Her Corpse
Of all the things that Jack has done to his victims, from strangling them, to cutting their throats, to disemboweling them, carving their faces, and finally leaving them in a humiliating position...one of the strangest acts has yet to be discussed. It seems in no way shocking to note that Jack had a hate on for women. But he had, at least in the case of his most disgusting desecration, a vitriol that matched no one. Mary Kelly, his final canonical victim had (among many other things), her breasts removed - and one may note, not with any degree of surgical precision. Where were they then found? Well one breast was found by the right foot, as if tossed after removal, but the second breast...the second breast was discovered under Mary Kelly's head. But that's not the strangest part. The breast was found, along with the uterus, and both the kidneys, underneath Kelly's head. There is a chilling indifference that Jack seemed to have with regards to playing with someone's insides, on their outside. It beggars belief.
4 Horrifying Discovery By Officers And Civilians
Something must be said of not just the horror the victims go through (however brief a horror it is for them). No, there must also be something said of the longer endured horror that the witnesses, and officers must have nightmares of every night. Sure, some of the people who came across the victims were in a rush to go to work, didn't stay long enough to help, and/or thought that they may simply be passed out drunk (in spite of the pools of blood). But there are those, like in the case of Mary Kelly's discovery, who were not part of law enforcement, and who saw a great many gory details. And even when it comes to the officers, no amount of work in the force could prepare someone for such appalling eviscerations of another's body. Sad though it is that the victims were murdered, their horror lasted no more than a minute or two, at the most. But those who worked the case of Jack The Ripper must have been haunted for the rest of their lives. And not only for the horrifying things they saw...but also because, in spite of all the work, and all the mess, Jack The Ripper simply was never caught.
3 Careful Positioning And Blood Letting
True, this was already discussed, to a point, and even towards the sacrificial, and ritualistic. It was set aside earlier as not being classified in either of those categories, but when one really thinks about it, the draining of the victims' blood is, in a way, rather ritualistic. There is not a single victim who did not receive this sordid sacrament. While each victim went on to have varying degrees of mutilation, they all specifically were drained of their blood. Now this could simply be a smart man, making sure to not stain his Victorian garb, but it seems somewhat more than that. And indeed, each murder with regards to the positioning of the corpse, had blood draining towards some specific place (excepting Mary Kelly, who was found in her room - though the walls were plastered red). Either specifically towards a drain to the sewers, or to the door of a house of ill repute, it seems that there could have been an intentional direction, with regards to the placing of the body, and the letting of the blood. As if a moral signifier, along the same lines of the positioning of the victims' legs. Something about washing away the filth perhaps.
2 Number One...To Thirty Nine
Though the first canonical murder did not happen until late August 1888, there is an earlier murder often attributed to Jack, that occurred on the third of that same month and year. Martha Tabra was of the same description as the other women (mid thirties-forties, drinker, and lady of the night), so it does at least stand to some reason. Especially given that the rest of the murders were in such close proximity, time wise, as well. There is something glaringly different about this particular murder though. Instead of the slashed throat, this murder was more frenzied, and seemingly spur of the moment. Tabra was stabbed thirty nine times, over all. Her throat was gouged (but not slashed), and her torso bore the brunt of the attack. Specifically two stab wounds were made to her genitalia, which seemed to suggest a specific despising of her womanhood, detailed even within a frenzied state. It is difficult to say whether or not this was truly the work of Jack The Ripper, but this could have been the initial foray for him, into the depraved world of murder and mutilation.
1 The Unseemly End
Mary Kelly has already been mentioned a couple of times throughout this article, and for good reason. She is the last of the canonical murder victims, and is also the victim to bear the most heinous of the mutilations. Now there are several other murders that were attributed to Jack The Ripper after Mary Kelly, but it is largely believed that these were simply unsolved murders given to the Ripper, simply based on the age and work of the women (which was already a hazardous job to begin with). But Mary Kelly needs to be detailed a bit more. In addition to the uterus, kidneys, and one breast being used as a headrest, the abdominal cavity was completely emptied. The skin that would have covered her abdomen, along with the skin of each of her thighs, were laid out on a nearby table (though in no way used for consumption). The liver was placed between Kelly's feet, and the intestines were laid to the right, as the spleen was laid to the left of the body. And last of all, her face was all but stripped of its skin. There are photos which basically show more skull than they do the skin that once covered it. People may like to venerate Jack The Ripper as one of the coolest and deadliest serial killers of all, but he realistically was nothing more than a deranged and disturbed man who engaged in many appalling acts of evisceration.