The real Edmund Reid

edmundreid

I absolutely love the BBC/Amazon Prime TV Drama “Ripper Street” and I think the last season was the best season so far.

ripper-street

I only found out recently that the main character in the show was based on the actual inspector in the Jack the Ripper case, Edmund Reid.

Detective Inspector Edmund John James Reid (21 March 1846 in Canterbury, Kent – 5 December 1917 at Herne Bay, Kent) was the head of the CID in the Metropolitan Police’s H Division at the time of the Whitechapel murders of Jack the Ripper in 1888.

h-division-detectives

Edmund Reid was born in Canterbury, Kent in 1846. Prior to joining the police he worked as a grocer’s delivery boy, a pastry-cook and a ship’s steward before joining up in 1872 (Warrant no. 56100), serving in P Division (Camberwell). At the time of his joining he was the shortest man in the police force – at 5 feet 6 inches tall. A talented police officer, within two years he was made detective, and he steadily rose up the ranks. In 1885 he was made Detective Inspector and based at Scotland Yard, before organising and heading up the CID department in newly formed J Division (Bethnal Green) in 1886. In August 1887 he received a reprimand from head of CID James Munro (for what is not known but as he did not lose rank or pay, it was probably relatively minor) but within days he had been transferred to H Division (Whitechapel) to replace Frederick Abberline (who had been transferred to Scotland Yard but would later return to head up the Whitechapel Murders investigation).

Reid was the officer in charge of the enquiries into the murders of Emma Elizabeth Smith in April 1888, and Martha Tabram in August 1888, before Inspector Frederick Abberline was sent from Scotland Yard to ‘H’ Division in Whitechapel to co-ordinate the hunt for the killer.

He organised numerous identity parades for PC Barrett and Pearly Poll at the Tower of London and Wellington Barracks and questioned soldiers picked out by them or who were absent without leave. In his report on September 24th his frustration at the pair being unable to conclusively identify a suspect is apparent when he describes their evidence as “worthless”.

Reid did not take part in the investigation into the Polly Nichols murder as it occurred in J Division, and he was on leave during the time of the Annie Chapman murder. (He also did not investigate the later Catherine Eddowes murder as it occurred in the City of London Police’s jurisdiction).

Following the Elizabeth Stride murder, Reid was telegrammed at the Inspectors quarters at Commercial Street Police Station and immediately went to the murder scene at Berner Street. He monitored the searches, established a timeline of events of the body being discovered, organised house to house enquiries and ensured each person present at the scene was inspected and questioned before being allowed to leave.

elizabeth_stride_100

At 4.30am when the body was taken from the scene he personally walked to the home of the Corner Wynne Baxter to inform him of the murder, and upon his return conducted one final futile search of the scene in daylight before ordering the blood be washed away at 5.30am. He then went to the mortuary at St George in the East to inspect the body and take a description.

Reid was also involved in the investigations of the Mary Kelly murder as he was telegrammed to attend the scene.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/11/09/mary-jane-kelly-the-last-victim-of-jack-the-ripper/

350px-marykelly

Reid would also be called to the scene and headed the investigation into the Pinchin Street Torso case and the murders of Alice McKenzie and Frances Coles, determining which areas of investigation to follow and delegating tasks to the other officers in CID.

During the time of the Whitechapel Murders, Reid was not seconded full time to the case so also had other duties (including preparing and compelling the morning report of crime in the area each day) and crimes to investigate (these included the “Great Silk Robberies” of late November 1888).

Reid’s own theory on the murders he spoke about during an interview with Lloyd’s Weekly News in 1912.

inspector_edmund_reid

“The whole of the murders were done after the public-houses were closed; the victims were all of the same class, the lowest of the low, and living within a quarter of a mile of each other; all were murdered within half a mile area; all were killed in the same manner. That is all we know for certain. My opinion is that the perpetrator of the crimes was a man who was in the habit of using a certain public-house, and of remaining there until closing time. Leaving with the rest of the customers, with what soldiers call ‘a touch of delirium triangle,’ he would leave with one of the women. My belief is that he would in some dark corner attack her with the knife and cut her up. Having satisfied his maniacal blood-lust he would go away home, and the next day know nothing about it.”

Saying later in the same interview on claims by others that the identity of the killer was known:

“But this I will say at once. I challenge anyone to produce a tittle of evidence of any kind against anyone. The earth has been raked over and the seas have been swept, to find this criminal ‘Jack the Ripper,’ always without success. It still amuses me to read the writings of such men as Dr. Anderson, Dr. Forbes Winslow, Major Arthur Griffiths, and many others, all holding different theories, but all of them wrong. I have answered many of them in print, and would only add here that I was on the scene and ought to know.”

As well as being a talented police officer (he held 50 rewards and commendations for his duty) Reid was also an early aeronaut (making the first descent by parachute from 1000ft in 1877 in Luton, being awarded a gold medal in 1883 by the Balloon Association of Great Britain following a record-breaking ascent in the balloon “Queen of the Meadow” from The Crystal Palace and made a total of 23 ascents), a Druid of Distinction, a talented actor, singer and a master of sleight of hand. His author friend Charles Gibbon named fictional Detective Sergeant Dier after Reid by reversing his name and many of Reid’s personal characteristics are present in the character.

For the television show Ripper Street, the writers made some drastic alterations to Reid’s biography. For example, Reid and his wife Emily are together until her death in 1900. They have two children together, Elizabeth and Harold, neither of whom are lost in a boating accident on the Thames. Being a fictional representation of the detective, the television character also seems to have a drastically different personality from the historical Reid and few of the cases he investigates have any historical basis.

In 1896 he retired from the Metropolitan Police, and after a brief stint as a pub landlord for seven months he became a private detective. In 1903 he retired to Hampton-on-Sea and in characteristic eccentric Reid style named his residence “Reid’s Ranch”, painting castle battlements and cannons on the side of his home, keeping a pet parrot and decorating the interior from photographs of his London cases.

reid-dog-1

The garden contained an eccentric collection including a cannonball, a flagpole flying the Union Flag and a post from the end of the pier, and a wooden kiosk named the “Hampton-on-Sea Hotel” from where he sold soft drinks and postcards of himself to tourists. He soon became the champion of his neighbours in a campaign to save their homes from sea erosion. By 1915 he was the last remaining resident and he himself abandoned his home in 1916, moving to Herne Bay. In 1917 he remarried, but died on 5th December that year aged 71.

Advertisements

Hell Broke Loose

servantgirlannihilator_newspaper

“Hell broke loose” was a  December 1885 newspaper headline relating to the Servant Girl Annihilator in Austin,Texas.

This case had striking similarities with the “Jack the Ripper” case, however it happened 3 years before the Ripper caused hell in London.

Author Shirley Harrison contends that Jack the Ripper and the Servant Girl Annihilator were both Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick, who often traveled to the southern United States for business. Maybrick’s wife ended up poisoning him in 1889, after a tumultuous marriage.

servantgirlannihilator_maybricks

In her book, “Jack the Ripper: The American Connection”, Harrison contends that Maybrick was in Austin when the servant murders took place.

51b7x2nmujl-_sx303_bo1204203200_

I have to admit this idea does intrigue me and I think she might be on to something.

The serial killer, who became known as the Servant Girl Annihilator, preyed upon the city of Austin, Texas,during the years 1884 and 1885. The killer’s name originated with the writer O. Henry.(aka William Sydney Porter)

william_sydney_porter_by_doubleday

Local papers of the era dubbed the Texas killings “The Servant Girl Murders”—the Annihilator nickname wouldn’t appear until Austin writer O. Henry coined the phrase in mid-1885. As for the servant girl descriptor, it alluded to the occupation of many of the victims. The vast majority were young, African American women employed as domestic help in the homes of Austin, Texas.

servantgirlannihilator_austin

Nevertheless, the phrase failed to capture the scope of the killer’s crimes.Victims included a boyfriend of one of the women; the child of a servant who was attacked but survived her assault; and a pair of “married white women, neither of them servants.”

The first killing occurred on December 30, 1884, when Mollie Smith was assaulted in her home. She was attacked with an axe while she slept and then dragged from her bed to the backyard, where she was raped and murdered. Walter Spencer was also attacked that night, left wounded but alive.

Over the course of the next year, the sinister force prowled the streets of Austin, claiming the lives of six more women and one man, while seriously injuring seven more people.

  • Clara Strand and Christine Martenson, two Swedish servant girls, were seriously wounded the night of 19 March 1885.
  • Eliza Shelly was murdered the night of 6 May 1885.
  • 302-cypress-copy.jpg
  • Irene Cross murdered by a man with a knife on the night of 22 May 1885.
  • Clara Dick was seriously wounded in August, 1885.
  • Mary Ramey, 11, was murdered the night of 30 August 1885. Her mother, Rebecca Ramey was seriously wounded.
  • Gracie Vance, was murdered on the night of 28 September 1885.
  • Orange Washington was murdered during the attack upon Gracie Vance. Lucinda Boddy and Patsey Gibson were seriously wounded.
  • Susan Hancock was murdered the night of 24 December 1885 susan_hancock
  • Eula Phillips was also murdered the night of 24 December 1885. Her husband, James Phillips, was seriously wounded

How could a killer leave behind so many living victims and still evade capture? That’s one of the many mysteries surrounding the strange case of the Servant Girl Annihilator.

servantgirlannihilator_austin2

All of the attacks occurred while the victims were asleep in their beds. Five of the women, including Mollie Smith, were dragged from their houses and killed outside. Sexual assault was a recurring theme, as was the murder weapon. Many of the victims were attacked with an axe, and the bloody blade was left behind at more than one of the crime scenes, leading some to dub the killer the Axeman of Austin.

James Phillips, the husband of one of the last victims, Eula Phillips, was convicted of killing his wife on Christmas Eve, 1885. Attorneys acting in Phillips’ defense asserted that the murder was the work of the Servant Girl Annihilator, and the conviction was later overturned.

 

Many of the murdered women were severely mutilated, with some accounts claiming that the bodies were posed in a signature fashion. According to sources, six of the victims had a “sharp object” inserted into their ears. Despite these similarities, not everyone was convinced that the killings were the actions of one individual, or even of one group acting in concert.

It certainly didn’t help that eyewitnesses offered bafflingly divergent accounts. The killer’s complexion was described as being both light and dark, while others called him a “yellow man.” Some said that he wore a slouch hat, while others described him as a man in a dress. Reports also indicated that there may have been more than one killer working together, or even a “gang” of murderers. An editorial in a local paper compared the violence to “a band of Comanche Indians.”

The Servant Girl Annihilator was even credited with magic powers, as some people believed that he could turn himself invisible to evade the dogs outside the houses of his victims.

Newspapers struggled to make sense of this “epidemic of murder.” According to an article in the New York Times from 1885, more than four hundred men were arrested in connection with the case, though there was only ever one conviction.

So who was this phantom? Like the identity of Jack the Ripper, we may never know for sure. Some believe that it was Nathan Elgin, a 19-year-old cook with a missing toe on his right foot that matched bloody footprints left at one of the crime scenes—a fact that the police had kept from the public at the time. In February of 1886, Elgin dragged a girl from a saloon to a nearby house, where he assaulted her with a knife. The saloon keeper and a neighbor accompanied a police officer to the house, where they shot and killed Elgin.

Others, however, maintain that the similarities between the case of the Servant Girl Annihilator and Jack the Ripper—a fixation on female targets, sexual assault, mutilation and corpse posing—point to the same culprit.Exactly who that person may be is up for some debate.

2016-03-10-1457627205-2416058-jacktheripper_maybrick-thumb

 

 

Mary Jane Kelly-The last victim of Jack the Ripper.

350px-marykelly

Mary Jane Kelly A.K.A.. Marie Jeanette Kelly, Mary Ann Kelly, Ginger, Fair Emma

Compared with other Ripper victims, Kelly’s origins are obscure and undocumented, and much of it is possibly embellished. Kelly may have herself fabricated many details of her early life as there is no corroborating documentary evidence, but there is no evidence to the contrary either.According to Joseph Barnett, the man she had most recently lived with prior to her murder, Kelly had told him she was born in Limerick, Ireland in around 1863—although whether she referred to the city or the county is not known—and that her family moved to Wales when she was young.

co-limerick-limerick-treaty-stone-st-johns-castle-and-st-munchins

Mary Jane Kelly was approximately 25 years old at the time of her death which would place her birth around 1863. She was 5′ 7″ tall and stout. She had blonde hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion. “Said to have been possessed of considerable personal attractions.”

She was last seen wearing a linsey frock and a red shawl pulled around her shoulders. She was bare headed. Detective Constable Walter Dew claimed to know Kelly well by sight and says that she was attractive and paraded around, usually in the company of two or three friends. He says she always wore a spotlessly clean white apron.

 

On the morning of 9 November 1888, the day of the annual Lord Mayor’s Day celebrations, Kelly’s landlord John McCarthy sent his assistant, ex-soldier Thomas Bowyer, to collect the rent. Kelly was six weeks behind on her payments, owing 29 shillings.Shortly after 10:45 a.m., Bowyer knocked on her door but received no response. He reached through the crack in the window, pushed aside a coat being used as a curtain and peered inside discovering Kelly’s horribly mutilated corpse lying on the bed.

dce2142b936d5ee83429a0a42c24433e

 

The Manchester Guardian of 10 November 1888 reported that Sgt Edward Badham accompanied Inspector Walter Beck to the site of 13 Miller’s Court after they were both notified of Kelly’s murder by a frantic Bowyer. Beck told the inquest that he was the first police officer at the scene and Badham may have accompanied him, but there are no official records to confirm Badham being with him. Edward Badham was on duty at Commercial Street police station on the evening of 12 November 1888. The inquest into the death of Mary Kelly had been completed earlier that day, when around 6 p.m. George Hutchinson arrived at the station to give his initial statement to Badham.

The wife of a local lodging-house deputy, Caroline Maxwell, claimed to have seen Kelly alive at about 8:30 on the morning of the murder, though she admitted to only meeting her once or twice before;moreover, her description did not match that of those who knew Kelly more closely. Maurice Lewis, a tailor, reported seeing Kelly at about 10:00 that same morning in a pub. Both statements were dismissed by the police since they did not fit the accepted time of death; moreover, they could find no one else to confirm the reports.Maxwell may have either mistaken someone else for Kelly, or mixed up the day she had seen her. Such confusion was used as a plot device in the graphic novel From Hell .

from_hell_tpb

The scene was attended by Superintendent Thomas Arnold and Inspector Edmund Reid from Whitechapel’s H Division, as well as Frederick Abberline and Robert Anderson from Scotland Yard.

Arnold had the room broken into at 1:30 p.m. after the possibility of tracking the murderer from the room with bloodhounds was dismissed as impractical. A fire fierce enough to melt the solder between a kettle and its spout had burnt in the grate, apparently fuelled with clothing. Inspector Abberline thought Kelly’s clothes were burnt by the murderer to provide light, as the room was otherwise only dimly lit by a single candle.

The mutilation of Kelly’s corpse was by far the most extensive of any of the Whitechapel murders, probably because the murderer had more time to commit his atrocities in a private room rather than in the street.Dr. Thomas Bond and Dr. George Bagster Phillips examined the body.

Phillips and Bond timed her death to about 12 hours before the examination. Phillips suggested that the extensive mutilations would have taken two hours to perform,and Bond noted that rigor mortis set in as they were examining the body, indicating that death occurred between 2 and 8:00 a.m. Bond’s notes read:

illustrated_police_news_mary_jane_kelly

“The body was lying naked in the middle of the bed, the shoulders flat but the axis of the body inclined to the left side of the bed. The head was turned on the left cheek. The left arm was close to the body with the forearm flexed at a right angle and lying across the abdomen. The right arm was slightly abducted from the body and rested on the mattress. The elbow was bent, the forearm supine with the fingers clenched. The legs were wide apart, the left thigh at right angles to the trunk and the right forming an obtuse angle with the pubis.
The whole of the surface of the abdomen and thighs was removed and the abdominal cavity emptied of its viscera. The breasts were cut off, the arms mutilated by several jagged wounds and the face hacked beyond recognition of the features. The tissues of the neck were severed all round down to the bone.
The viscera were found in various parts viz: the uterus and kidneys with one breast under the head, the other breast by the right foot, the liver between the feet, the intestines by the right side and the spleen by the left side of the body. The flaps removed from the abdomen and thighs were on a table.
The bed clothing at the right corner was saturated with blood, and on the floor beneath was a pool of blood covering about two feet square. The wall by the right side of the bed and in a line with the neck was marked by blood which had struck it in several places.
The face was gashed in all directions, the nose, cheeks, eyebrows, and ears being partly removed. The lips were blanched and cut by several incisions running obliquely down to the chin. There were also numerous cuts extending irregularly across all the features.
The neck was cut through the skin and other tissues right down to the vertebrae, the fifth and sixth being deeply notched. The skin cuts in the front of the neck showed distinct ecchymosis. The air passage was cut at the lower part of the larynx through the cricoid cartilage.

800px-larynx_external_en-svg
Both breasts were more or less removed by circular incisions, the muscle down to the ribs being attached to the breasts. The intercostals between the fourth, fifth, and sixth ribs were cut through and the contents of the thorax visible through the openings.
The skin and tissues of the abdomen from the costal arch to the pubes were removed in three large flaps. The right thigh was denuded in front to the bone, the flap of skin, including the external organs of generation, and part of the right buttock. The left thigh was stripped of skin fascia, and muscles as far as the knee.
The left calf showed a long gash through skin and tissues to the deep muscles and reaching from the knee to five inches above the ankle. Both arms and forearms had extensive jagged wounds.
The right thumb showed a small superficial incision about one inch long, with extravasation of blood in the skin, and there were several abrasions on the back of the hand moreover showing the same condition.
On opening the thorax it was found that the right lung was minimally adherent by old firm adhesions. The lower part of the lung was broken and torn away. The left lung was intact. It was adherent at the apex and there were a few adhesions over the side. In the substances of the lung there were several nodules of consolidation.
The pericardium was open below and the heart absent. In the abdominal cavity there was some partly digested food of fish and potatoes, and similar food was found in the remains of the stomach attached to the intestines.”

Phillips believed that Kelly was killed by a slash to the throat and the mutilations performed afterwards. Bond stated in a report that the knife used was about 1 in (25 mm) wide and at least 6 in (150 mm) long, but did not believe that the murderer had any medical training or knowledge. He wrote:

In each case the mutilation was inflicted by a person who had no scientific nor anatomical knowledge. In my opinion he does not even possess the technical knowledge of a butcher or horse slaughterer or a person accustomed to cut up dead animals.

Her body was taken to the mortuary in Shoreditch rather than the one in Whitechapel, which meant that the inquest was opened by the coroner for North East Middlesex, Dr. Roderick Macdonald, MP, instead of Wynne Edwin Baxter, the coroner who handled many of the other Whitechapel murders. The speed of the inquest was criticised in the press;Macdonald heard the inquest in a single day at Shoreditch Town Hall on 12 November.She was officially identified by Barnett, who said he recognised her by “the ear and the eyes”,and McCarthy was also certain the body was Kelly’s. Her death was registered in the name “Marie Jeanette Kelly”, age 25

mary_jane_kelly_death_certificate

Kelly was buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Leytonstone on 19 November 1888. Her obituary ran as follows:

The funeral of the murdered woman Kelly has once more been postponed. Deceased was a Catholic, and the man Barnett, with whom she lived, and her landlord, Mr. M. Carthy, desired to see her remains interred with the ritual of her Church. The funeral will, therefore, take place tomorrow [19 Nov] in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Leytonstone. The hearse will leave the Shoreditch mortuary at half-past twelve.
The remains of Mary Janet  Kelly, who was murdered on Nov. 9 in Miller’s-court, Dorset-street, Spitalfields, were brought yesterday morning from Shoreditch mortuary to the cemetery at Leytonstone, where they were interred.
No family member could be found to attend the funeral

 

Mary Ann Nichols-Jack the Ripper’s 1st Victim

10011759_sm 2

Today marks the 128th anniversary of the Ripper’s first victim,Mary Ann Nichols.

As London’s bells rang in the last day of August 1888, rain was falling. It had been one of the wettest summers in living memory, and there was thunder in the air. On the horizon a fierce red glow seared the sky above Shadwell, where a huge fire had broken out in the dry dock.

Some time between one and two o’clock that morning, a woman called Mary Ann Nichols, known to her friends as ‘Polly’, was thrown out of the kitchen of the shabby lodging house at 18 Thrawl Street, Spitalfields. Fate had dealt Polly a rough hand. A 43-year-old mother of five children, she was separated from her husband and now drifted from one workhouse to another, scratching a meagre existence from handouts and casual prostitution.

Short of the four pence she needed to pay for a bed in the lodging house, Polly once more found herself on the street. “Never mind,” she said, gesturing at the velvet-trimmed straw bonnet she was wearing. “I’ll soon get my doss money. See what a jolly bonnet I’ve got now.” The implication was clear: she was heading back out to find a punter.

An hour or so later, Polly was seen by one of her roommates on the corner of Whitechapel Road, clearly drunk. She had made her doss money three times over, she boasted, but had already spent it on gin and was off to make some more.

That was the last time Mary Ann Nichols was seen alive. At 3.40am, a carter found her lying in the darkened doorway of a stable. Her throat had been slit and her body horribly mutilated. The murderer who would later be dubbed ‘Jack the Ripper’ had claimed his first victim.

400px-MANichols

Born Mary Ann Walker on August 26, 1845 in Dawes Court, Shoe Lane, off Fleet Street. She was christened in or some years before 1851. At the time of her death the East London Observer guessed her age at 30-35. At the inquest her father said “she was nearly 44 years of age, but it must be owned that she looked ten years younger.

5’2” tall; brown eyes; dark complexion; brown hair turning grey; five front teeth missing (Rumbelow); two bottom-one top front (Fido), her teeth are slightly discoloured. She was described as having small, delicate features with high cheekbones and grey eyes. She had a small scar on her forehead from a childhood injury.

She was described  as “a very clean woman who always seemed to keep to herself.” The doctor at the post mortem remarked on the cleanliness of her thighs. She was also an alcoholic.

1839040

Mary Ann was born to locksmith Edward Walker and his wife Caroline on 26 August 1845, in Dean Street in London. On 16 January 1864 she married William Nichols, a printer’s machinist, and between 1866 and 1879, the couple had five children: Edward John, Percy George, Alice Esther, Eliza Sarah, and Henry Alfred. Their marriage broke up in 1880 or 1881 from disputed causes. Her father accused William of leaving her after he had an affair with the nurse who had attended the birth of their final child, though Nichols claimed to have proof that their marriage had continued for at least three years after the date alleged for the affair. He maintained that his wife had deserted him and was practising prostitution.Police reports say they separated because of her drunken habit.

Legally required to support his estranged wife, William Nichols paid her an allowance of five shillings a week until 1882, when he heard that she was working as a prostitute; he was not required to support her if she was earning money through illicit means. Nichols spent most of her remaining years in workhouses and boarding houses, living off charitable handouts and her meagre earnings as a prostitute.She lived with her father for a year or more but left after a quarrel; her father stated he had heard she had subsequently lived with a blacksmith named Drew in Walworth.In early 1888, the year of her death, she was placed in the Lambeth workhouse after being discovered sleeping rough in Trafalgar Square.

LambethRenfrew1

In May she left the workhouse to take a job as a domestic servant in Wandsworth. Unhappy in that position—she was an alcoholic and her employer, Mr Cowdry, and his wife, were teetotallers—she left two months later, stealing clothing worth three pounds ten shillings.At the time of her death, Nichols was living in a Whitechapel common lodging house in Spitalfields, where she shared a room with a woman named Emily “Nelly” Holland.

At about 23:00 on 30 August, Nichols was seen walking the Whitechapel Road; at 00:30 on 31 August she was seen to leave a pub in Brick Lane, Spitalfields. An hour later, she was turned out of 18 Thrawl Street as she was lacking the fourpence required for a bed, implying by her last recorded words that she would soon earn the money on the street with the help of a new bonnet she had acquired. She was last seen alive standing at the corner of Osborn Street and Whitechapel Road at approximately 02:30 (one hour before her death) by her roommate, Emily Holland. To Holland, Nichols claimed she had earned enough money to pay for her bed three times that evening, but had repeatedly spent the money on alcohol.

At about 3:40, a cart driver named Charles Allen Lechmere (who also used the name Charles Cross) discovered Mary Ann Nichols lying on the ground in front of a gated stable entrance in Buck’s Row (since renamed Durward Street), Whitechapel, about 150 yards from the London Hospital and 100 yards from Blackwall Buildings.

Bucks-Row

Her skirt was raised. Another passing cart driver on his way to work, Robert Paul, approached and Cross pointed out the body. Cross believed her to be dead, but Paul was uncertain and thought she might simply be unconscious. They pulled her skirt down to cover her lower body, and went in search of a policeman. Upon encountering PC Jonas Mizen, Cross informed the constable: “She looks to me to be either dead or drunk, but for my part, I believe she’s dead.”The two men then continued on their way to work, leaving Mizen to inspect Nichols’ body.

As Mizen approached the body, PC John Neil came from the opposite direction on his beat and by flashing his lantern, called a third policeman, PC John Thain, to the scene. As news of the murder spread, three horse slaughterers from a neighbouring knacker’s yard in Winthrop Street, who had been working overnight, came to look at the body. None of the slaughterers, the police officers patrolling nearby streets, or the residents of houses alongside Buck’s Row reported hearing or seeing anything suspicious before the discovery of the body.

PC Thain fetched surgeon Dr Henry Llewellyn, who arrived at 04:00 and decided she had been dead for about 30 minutes.

250px-Llewellyn

Her throat had been slit twice from left to right and her abdomen mutilated with one deep jagged wound, several incisions across the abdomen, and three or four similar cuts on the right side caused by the same knife, estimated to be at least 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) long, used violently and downwards.Llewellyn expressed surprise at the small amount of blood at the crime scene, “about enough to fill two large wine glasses, or half a pint at the most”. His comment led to the supposition that Nichols was not killed where her body was found, but the blood from her wounds had soaked into her clothes and hair, and there was little doubt that she had been killed at the crime scene by a swift slash to the throat. Death would have been instantaneous, and the abdominal injuries, which would have taken less than five minutes to perform, were made by the murderer after she was dead. When a person is killed, further wounds to their body do not always result in a large amount of blood loss. When the body was lifted a “mass of congealed blood”, in PC Thain’s words, lay beneath the body.

As the murder had occurred in the territory of the Bethnal Green Division of the Metropolitan Police, it was initially investigated by the local detectives, inspectors John Spratling and Joseph Helson, who had little success. Elements of the press linked the attack on Nichols to two previous murders, those of Emma Elizabeth Smith and Martha Tabram, and suggested the killing might have been perpetrated by a gang, as in the case of Smith.[The Star newspaper instead suggested a single killer was the culprit and other newspapers took up their storyline. Suspicions of a serial killer at large in London led to the secondment of Detective Inspectors Frederick Abberline, Henry Moore and Walter Andrews from the Central Office at Scotland Yard.

mary_ann_nichols_illustrated_police_news

Although Nichols carried no identification, a Lambeth workhouse laundry mark on her petticoats gave police enough information to eventually identify her. Nelly Holland and William Nichols confirmed an identification provided by a former workhouse resident.While her death certificate states that she was 42 at the time of her murder (an apparent error reflected on her coffin plate and gravestone), birth records indicate she was 43, a fact confirmed at her inquest by her father, who described her as looking “ten years younger” than her age. The coroner at Nichols’ inquest, which began on 1 September at the Working Lads’ Institute on Whitechapel Road, was Wynne Edwin Baxter. Inquest testimony as reported in The Times stated:

Five of the teeth were missing, and there was a slight laceration of the tongue. There was a bruise running along the lower part of the jaw on the right side of the face. That might have been caused by a blow from a fist or pressure from a thumb. There was a circular bruise on the left side of the face which also might have been inflicted by the pressure of the fingers. On the left side of the neck, about 1in. below the jaw, there was an incision about 4in. in length, and ran from a point immediately below the ear. On the same side, but an inch below, and commencing about 1in. in front of it, was a circular incision, which terminated at a point about 3in. below the right jaw. That incision completely severed all the tissues down to the vertebrae. The large vessels of the neck on both sides were severed. The incision was about 8in. in length. The cuts must have been caused by a long-bladed knife, moderately sharp, and used with great violence.
No blood was found on the breast, either of the body or the clothes. There were no injuries about the body until just about the lower part of the abdomen. Two or three inches from the left side was a wound running in a jagged manner. The wound was a very deep one, and the tissues were cut through. There were several incisions running across the abdomen. There were three or four similar cuts running downwards, on the right side, all of which had been caused by a knife which had been used violently and downwards. The injuries were from left to right and might have been done by a left-handed person. All the injuries had been caused by the same instrument.[22]

Although Llewellyn had speculated that the attacker could have been left-handed, he later expressed doubt over this initial thought, but the belief that the killer was left-handed endured.

Rumours that a local character called “Leather Apron” could have been responsible for the murder were investigated by the police, even though they noted “there is no evidence against him”. Imaginative descriptions of “Leather Apron”, using crude Jewish stereotypes, appeared in the press,but rival journalists dismissed these as “a mythical outgrowth of the reporter’s fancy”.John Pizer, a Polish Jew who made footwear from leather, was known by the name “Leather Apron” and was arrested despite a lack of evidence.He was soon released after the confirmation of his alibis. Pizer successfully obtained monetary compensation from at least one newspaper that had named him as the murderer.

After several adjournments, to allow the police to gather further evidence, the inquest concluded on 24 September. On the available evidence, Coroner Baxter found that Nichols was murdered at just after 3 a.m. where she was found. In his summing up, he dismissed the possibility that her murder was connected with those of Smith and Tabram since the lethal weapons were different in those cases, and neither of the earlier cases involved a slash to the throat.However, by the time the inquest into Nichols’ death had concluded, another woman, Annie Chapman, had been murdered, and Baxter noted “The similarity of the injuries in the two cases is considerable.” The police investigations into the murders of Chapman and Nichols were merged.

The subsequent murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes the week after the inquest had closed, and that of Mary Jane Kelly on 9 November, were also linked by a similar modus operandi, and the murders were blamed by the press and public on a single serial killer, called “Jack the Ripper”.

In recent years it has been suggested that Charles Cross, the person who supposedly found her body, was the Ripper.

Nichols was buried on 6 September 1888. That afternoon, her body was transported in a polished elm coffin to Mr Henry Smith, Hanbury Street undertaker. The cortege consisted of the hearse and two mourning coaches, which carried William Nichols and Edward John Nichols (her eldest son, who was approximately 22 years old). Nichols was buried at the City of London Cemetery, in a public grave numbered 210752 (on the edge of the current Memorial Garden).

In late 1996, the cemetery authorities decided to mark her grave with a plaque.

Mary_Ann_Nichols_grave_at_City_of_London_Cemetery