The Ultimate SVU Episode: Jack the Ripper

20150714_203914On a misty and drizzly evening a couple weeks back we decided to do a Jack the Ripper walk. We met up with the walk leader outside Tower Hill Tube station and made our way through Jack’s East London.

Let’s be honest. No episode of Law & Order: SVU or Criminal Minds or [insert favorite crime show here] will ever live up to the Jack the Ripper walk. Many of the actual locations where the murders occurred can’t be accessed due to construction (perhaps London is trying to rid itself of Jack?), but the walk took us to areas, buildings, pubs and streets all known by Jack and his victims. CREEPY.

There are five murders attributed to “Jack the Ripper”, all occurring between the 31 of August and the 9 of November 1888 (the same year BYU-Idaho was founded…do with that what you will). Five women (who were all, for various reasons, working the streets of East London as prostitutes) were all brutally murdered. Mary Ann Nichols was the first and was discovered in the early morning hours of August 31st. Annie Chapman’s body was discovered around dawn on September 8, 1888. She was discovered near the doorway in the BACK GARDEN OF A HOUSE.  Like, if someone had just looked out at the window…

Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were both killed on the same night/early morning: Sunday September 30th. Researchers believe there were two murders that night because the first, Elizabeth Stride, was interrupted. There Jack was doing his business on the driveway of a house when a man pulled up in his horse and carriage. The horse, seeing what was on the ground, was a little spooked (can you blame the animal?). So the man gets out to see what is going on when all the while Jack the Ripper is like just. a. couple. feet. away. hidden between the carriage on the wall. When the man entered the house for help (which was full of people, btw) it is presumed that Jack worked his way out of the his hiding place and disappeared down the street. Still needing his “fix” he came across Catherine Eddowes and, just around the corner from a police officer, killed her. She is discovered about 45 minutes after Elizabeth Stride.

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The above pictured building is the last building in London that has a known connection to Jack the Ripper. Back in 1888 this was a tenement and here, near the entrance, a bloodied piece of Catherine Eddowes’ apron was discovered.

Mary Jane Kelly was the last Ripper murder. It occurred on November 9th. A friend of Mary says that he saw Mary laughing with a man as they read a sign warning the public about Jack the Ripper. It’s said they stopped and looked at the sign, had a little laugh, and then entered into Mary Jane’s one room apartment. This friend needed to talk to her about something so he waited, but after 45 minutes he gave up and left. Because of this privacy, Jack could’ve spent hours with Mary Jane. Therefore, her murder scene was the most gruesome. She was discovered by her landlord.

It should be noted that during the time of the murders the media and police were having a frenzy. Police had warned prostitutes to stick with their regular customers; men they knew. So it would make sense that Jack the Ripper was someone that all of them knew or had seen before.

Since Benson and Stabler weren’t on the case back in 1888, the crimes were never solved. Ripperologists, however, all have their theories. Our guide shared with us her favorite.

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Mr. James Kelly. He had received quite a large inheritance after his parents died. He married, but then was declared insane and incarcerated in the Broadmoor Insane Asylum in 1883 after stabbing his wife to death. Because of the state of victims, the murderer had to have some sort of medical experience. James Kelly had good behavior at Broadmoor and because of that may’ve had the opportunity to help doctors and gain medical experience. He escaped in 1888 and his mother-in-law (who had “forgiven” him/wanted to get her hands on his money) took him back in. He disappeared from London shortly after the murder of Mary Jane Kelly (no relation) and eventually ended up in the Americas (where, several other Ripper-esque murders occurred but were never solved). in 1927 he had returned to Britain and basically just walked up to the front door of Broadmoor and asked if he could come back. He died there two years later.

If you’re in London, we would highly recommend going on this walk. There are copy-cats, though, and several companies offer the tour, so make sure you go with London Walks. Also, it’s a cool way to explore a side of the city that you might not have any other reason to see.

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