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Jack the Ripper - What can you learn from Source A about themurder of Polly Nicholls?

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MATTHEW LANGLEY (10D) HISTORY COURSEWORK - JACK THE RIPPER 1. What can you learn from Source A about the murder of Polly Nicholls? Polly Nicolls was the first victim of the murderer who became known as Jack the Ripper. Usually the murder of a poor woman in London would not cause much interest to the locals, the police or the newspapers. In this case however, something happened which "startled the people of London". The murderer had selected a victim who was obviously the poorest of the poor and killed her using extraordinary violence. "No adequate motive could be found as she would have had nothing to steal". The crime seemed to have been committed by someone who was crazy. 2. Does the evidence of Source C support the evidence of Sources A and B about the Ripper murders? Explain your answer. In Source C, which is a medical report written by Dr. Frederick Blackwell on the body of Elizabeth Stride, it was reported that this women had been murdered by her windpipe being cleanly cut. No further cuts on her body were noted. This was quite unlike the previous two victims who had been, in the Martha Tabram murder, as reported in the East End Observer newspaper, hacked and cut about and in the Polly Nicholls murder, stated in the coroners report, disembowelled by someone believed to have considerable anatomical skill and knowledge. Of course Sources B and C were taken from - 2 - Medical/Coroner's reports and these would have been more reliable than the newspaper report in Source A. Sources A and B agree that both murders were committed by someone using excessive violence but also someone who was skilled in anatomy and in using a knife, "It was done by one who knew where to find what he wanted, what difficulties he would have to contend with, and how he should use the knife. ...read more.


Unfortunately, especially in the case of Eddowes, these instructions were not always carried out. The Metropolitan Police were under the separate command of General Sir Charles Warren, who had no jurisdiction within the City. Both commanders were out in the field on the night of Sunday, September 30th, and Smith, a more enthusiastic participant than Warren, was intensely frustrated to discover later on that he had been on the heels of the murderer the whole time. It was a City constable, P.C. Watkins, who found Catherine Eddowes's body. After the inquest into the death of Catherine Eddowes, in October 1888, the police tried again to catch the murderer by releasing the following description of a man seen talking to Annie Chapman before she had been killed on September 8th 1888. "Thirty years old, five feet nine inches in height, with a small fair moustache, dressed in something like navy serge and with a deer-stalker's hat, peak fore and after. He also wore a red handkerchief". - 7 - As this description fitted a huge number of men it didn't assist the police in catching Jack the Ripper. The police, thinking that the Ripper had a medical background also spent a considerable time tracking down 'three insane medical students'. For forty days following the death of Catherine Eddowes nothing happened. Then on Friday, 9th November a twenty-five year old prostitute named Marie Jeanette Kelly was found dead in her rooms at Millers Court. Throughout this time the Metropolitan Police and Scotland Yard continued their massive investigations to catch the murderer. Everybody had an idea about the identity of Jack the Ripper (a name he had introduced for himself in one of his notes to the authorities) and it seemed that almost everybody passed on their suggestions to Scotland Yard. In turn Scotland Yard spent time painstakingly investigating each suggestion they thought worthy and filing the others away. ...read more.


The murders were apparently committed to prevent any 'loose ends' involving Prince Alberts indiscretions, an illegitimate child and the fear of blackmail attempts by women (prostitutes) who knew the women involved with the Prince. Suggestions were made of a carriage being used to lure the women, who believed they were being 'bought' by an upperclass gentleman. The woman was then murdered and dropped off - hence the lack of blood around the bodies. - 12 - Dr. Thomas Neil Cream - a serial-killer himself (he was known as a "lady poisoner"), his link with the "Ripper" legacy is that he blurted out "I am Jack....." just as he was hanged. These are just a few examples of the many suspects that the police followed up. The media were also to blame for frustrating the police's attempts to catch the murderer. After the details of the second murder were released the media started to hound the police and speculate on who the "Ripper" might be. This in turn led to an increase of people who were in favour of organised vigilantism. This interference would have undoubtedly clashed with the police's own investigations and could, perhaps, be another explanation of why the murderer eluded capture. The media distorted the facts again after the inquest of Polly Nicholls. The speculation, that the murderer had an anatomical understanding of the human body, was made known and it was suggested that the murderer was left-handed, and that the wounds were "deftly and...skilfully performed". This was in turn reinforced at the examination of Annie Chapman when the coroner stated "An unskilled person could not have done this, only someone used to the post-mortem room". This was reported by the media who suggested that a mad doctor was responsible for the murders. For a while no physician was safe in the East End. Interestingly, one of the most important clues to the whole investigation was lost due to the intervention of Sir Charles Warren. During the murder of Catherine Eddowes the attacker wrote a message in chalk on the wall. ...read more.

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