Coursework assignment: Jack the Ripper
1. Source A is part of a newspaper article describing the murder of Martha Tabram and Polly Nicholls. From source A I can learn that there have been two murders in London within a month of each other, I can also learn that Polly Nicholls and the other victim, Martha Tabram, were very poor. Source A also tells us that the murderer did not kill the women for financial gain as there was no proof of stealing, the killer had used too much force to kill these women and this suggests that the killer was not of stable mind.
Source A is part of an article in the East End Observer describing the murders of Martha Tabram and Polly Nicholls and it was written within a month of the murders, it suggests that the murderer was not of stable mind. Source B is part of the Coroner’s report of the death of Polly Nicholls and it suggests that the killer had a good knowledge of the human body. Source C is the report of Dr Frederick Blackwell on the body of Elizabeth Stride and its gives a detailed description of the victims body.
Source A supports Source C by saying that the victims have been of the poorest of the poor whilst Source C implies that the victim, Elizabeth Stride, was poor as there was ‘no money on the body. ‘ However Source A is different to Source C as it says that the killer used ‘extraordinary violence’ to murder the women where as Source C says that there was only one incision on the body and it cut the windpipe ‘completely in two meaning that no force was used’.
Source C also says that the appearance of the face was calm meaning there was no force used against the victim and it was a quick kill. Source A states that the murders were a work of a ‘demented being’ as so much effort was used to kill the victims but the evidence from Source C suggest that the killer had a knowledge of how to kill a person quickly as it says that only one incision was found on the victim and it rendered them dead.
Source B says the killer had ‘anatomical skill and knowledge’ the wounds inflicted on the victim were in specific places that would lead to certain organs, additionally Source C also suggests that the killer had a good understanding of the human body as it mentions that only one wound was inflicted on the victim and it was enough to kill her and this shows that Source B supports Source C. Source B also supports Source C by saying the killer used a knife as a weapon to kill the victims and Source C implies that the killer used a knife as an incision is caused by a knife or sharp object.
However Source B is different from Source C as all the statements in this are opinions whereas all the statements of Source C are facts and are given by a doctor who knows what he is seeing. Source B is also trying to decipher the identity of the victim where as Source is just a description of the body 3. Source E is Part of an article published in a local newspaper after the murders of Polly Nicholls and Annie Chapman. It tells us of how an informant warned police officers that the security of the streets should be improved otherwise murders would ensue.
It also tells us a bit about the geography of White Chapel. This source implies that the security of the streets in White Chapel was really poor as there were crimes going on in every street and people had predicted that there would be murders happening in the town if the quality of the police force was not increased. It also tells us that there were crimes going on such as ‘ruffianism’ (violent lawless behavior), and although the police were told of it they did nothing to prevent or stop these crimes.
This Source also tells us about the way White Chapel is built, with the main roads connected by narrow alleyways, meaning that the killer could easily slide into an alley if he heard or saw the police approaching. However the Source does not tell us who the informant is; implying that the killer had to be a police to hide his identity because otherwise he would have been fired from his job. As a result of not knowing the identity of the killer, we cannot tell if the Source is reliable or not.
But as the source was a newspaper article, its main job was to inform people of the news accurately, however the newspapers also had to be sold meaning that the article evidence given by the informant could have stretched to make the article more interesting. Source D is the evidence of Elizabeth Long at the inquest into the death of Annie Chapman; she was describing the man seen talking to Annie before she was killed. It tells about the appearance of the man seen with Annie Chapman before she was killed.
It says that the man was a foreigner and that he was of a ‘shabby genteel’. The description given by the eye-witness is very detailed and it describes a foreigner. During the time that the murders happened White chapel was a dirty and polluted place, people could even see their own hands in front of their faces in the dark. The time at which Miss Long said she say the man was at 5. 30 am and it was still pretty dark at that time which leads me to believe that this source is not very reliable.
This however shows me that the police had trouble capturing the killer because of all the false eye-witness accounts given to them by the public, they could not interpret which ones were true and which were not and the killer took advantage of this. Source D is not very reliable as there is no way that Miss. Long could have made out the appearance of the man in such detail, it is a make belief story as at the time of which the account was given many people presumed that the killer was a foreigner, therefore Miss. Long gave the description of one. 4. The police made use of many methods to try and catch the killer but they were all to no avail.
One of the things that the police was to circulate leaflets around to the general public. Source F is the leaflet distributed to over 80,000 households in hopes of catching the murderer. The leaflet contains dates of the first four murders (starting from Polly Nicholls) and it is suggesting that the killer lives in Whitechapel. It is asking for people to come forward and report anybody suspicious. This is a good idea as it would save the police from interviewing everyone in Whitechapel but the public did help the police as they came up with too many false witnesses and they gave information on people who acted the slightest unusual.
Source G is part of a letter from the Home Secretary to the mile end vigilance committee on 17 September 1888. The Home Secretary states that offering a reward would mean people would make false accusations on innocent people just for the money. The police were asking permission to offer reward to anyone who gives information on the killer but they were declined. This would have been a good idea as they would get a list of suspects but the public would give information on anyone just to get the money and this would leave the police in a bigger state of confusion.
The police also requested for 100 more men both uniformed and plain clothed so there can more of a chance to catch the killer. This was definitely a good idea as there were more men patrolling the area and there were more chances of spotting the killer. However this method proved to be insufficient as the killer was not seen the police, both uniformed and plain clothed. The metropolitan police sent a private and confidential letter to Col turner asking him to provide trained bloodhounds that could track the scent of the victim’s blood in order to find the killer.
This was a very good idea and it is still used today to track down suspects but this also failed to catch the notorious Whitechapel, murderer. Although this did prove that the killer murdered his victims rather stealthily as to not get any blood on himself. The police also put their time and effort into interviewing over a thousand lodgers in the area of Whitechapel. This does not seem like a good idea as all the murders had taken place on the weekend or on a holiday suggesting that the killer was from out of town or that he had a job meaning that he would have his own house.
One of the stranger things the police did was use silent boots. There logic was that the killer would here the police man approach and so the killer would not run away. This obviously did not help the police catch the killer. These boots also cause pain to the officers as they were uncomfortable. Autopsies were carried out and police photographed each scene. Detailed interviews were conducted throughout the area and existing mental patients and those with a history of violence were investigated. Also the police offered pardons to accomplices willing to come forward with information.
The police tried almost everything they could to try and catch the killer during the murders but the facilities that police had were just not enough and most of the time criminals were caught red handed or they would most likely escape. 5. The Whitechapel murders were something that the police have never experienced, they do not know of killing without reason or serial killing. As you have seen, the police tried various methods to try and catch the murderer but they were all a failure and that is due to the following reasons. The killer was a mad-man.
This is what everybody believed in White chapel, that someone who kills for his own pleasure has to be foaming at the mouth, this was the perceived of Jack the ripper. He was seen as a man who could not keep his emotions in check and who was a basic raving lunatic. However through modern serial killings we have found that most serial killers look outwardly normal and sane even though they are mad on the inside. The killer could have had an ordinary day-light life with maybe even a family and by night time he could have set out to kill.
This was not known at the time so people were looking out for mad person who was swinging a knife at every prostitute and because of this lunatics all over White chapel were examined but to no avail. This also meant that if the killer had family and friends they would never suspect him as he would not have filled the description of a lunatic. The killer on the other hand was a very confident person as he no doubt believed he would never be caught so he never hid the bodies and murdered in daring places, such as ten minutes away from the police station.
The killer was also very artful as source H states that ‘not a trace is left’ of the killer at the crime scene. The victims of the killer had one thing in common: heavy drinking. They were known for drinking and wondering around the streets, the first victim’s, Polly Nicholls, marriage broke down as a cause of her heavy drinking. Polly Nicholls was a sad woman who made a living from prostitution. The second victim, Annie Chapman, was also a separated wife who suffered from alcoholism and she was also homeless.
The next victim, Elizabeth Stride, was also separated from her husband and used prostitution as a source of a living. The fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes, was also a heavy drinker, a separated wife and a prostitute. The fifth and final victim was Mary Jane Kelly and she was a young prostitute whose husband had died. All these victims are prostitutes and almost all were heavy drinkers meaning they were all exceptionally easy targets as they would have to go in dark places with men who they were strangers with and when they were drunk they were disoriented and did not know what was going on.
They would also do anything for a drink meaning they would meet up with men at night just because he promised a drink. The victims were also picked at random except for the fact that they were prostitutes so the police could not find a pattern in the victims and there were too many prostitutes in White chapel to protect them all. Whitechapel was a densely populated area in one of the poorest districts in London. There were many slaughterhouses and such in those parts of London, and so it wasn’t odd for men to walk around in dirty and even blood stained clothes.
Furthermore, the fact that there were so many narrow alleys and thoroughfares may have made the Ripper’s escape easier. As source E tells us that the alley ways were ‘dark’ and ‘narrow’. The area of Whitechapel had many penniless, homeless and nameless people drifting in and out of its streets, so it was difficult to keep the track, monitor the streets and the police also had to deal with the vigilante behaviour that erupted as a result of the murders. The eyewitnesses that came forward were almost all very inaccurate except for the police officers.
In eye-witness account of Elizabeth Long (source D), a description of a man she sees talking to Annie Chapman is given but it is not very detailed and it only describes his attire and not his facial features. Elizebeth Long is also not sure about the things she sae as she says: ‘as well as I could make out’, ‘I think’ and ‘I cannot be sure’. Also, the time at which she saw the man, it was dark and smog covered the whole of White chapel so therefore she could not have seen clearly and her evidence is most likely made up.
These sort of eye-witness accounts lead the police to a dead end and their time is wasted. The chance of the police catching any criminal in those days would drastically drop if they didn’t catch him in the act. The investigative tools the police had at the time did not include fingerprinting, forensic evidence and DNA. The police tried almost everything they could and they made requests that would help catch the killer (even though some of them were denied). The police was not used to the concept of killing without a motive and this confused the police as to what course of action they should take.
Although the police did make some mistakes such as when the writing on the wall was erased before it could be photographed and they let Catherine Eddowes out of jail at 1. 00 am when they clearly knew about the dangerous times. The police were not to blame for the ripper murders as they had never experienced anything like it and they did whatever they could to try and catch the killer. The public did not help the police in the investigation by giving false witnesses and accusations. The layout of White chapel was in such a way that it would be extremely easy for the ripper to escape.