Guest writer JOHN MORRIS, author of Jack the Ripper: The Hand of a Woman, argues the reason we’re never found the Whitechapel murderer is because Jack the Ripper was really a Jill …
During a 10-week period in the autumn of 1888, the bodies of five women, all of them prostitutes, were discovered in London’s East End district of Whitechapel.
Despite an intensive police hunt for the murderer, no one was ever caught, nor was there an obvious motive.
Three weeks after the murder of the second victim, Annie Chapman, a letter was received by Scotland Yard claiming responsibility for the crimes.
It appeared to have been written in blood, and was signed “Jack the Ripper.”
It was published in the newspapers in an unsuccessful attempt to identify its author, but the name impacted deeply upon the minds of the public, and, to this day,
it is almost impossible to even consider that the murderer could have been anyone other than a man.
During the course of my research for Jack the Ripper: The Hand of a Woman, I considered many thousands of documents including police witness statements, medical reports and extensive inquest testimony, but there was nothing I could find anywhere that showed that the murderer must have been a man.
There are numerous clues scattered throughout the crimes which, taken individually, may mean little, but when grouped together, a strong case for a woman murderer begins to emerge:
- None of the victims were raped or sexually assaulted;
- Three personal items were ‘neatly laid out’ at the feet of the second victim, Annie Chapman, in a ‘typically feminine manner’;
- Three scratches, perhaps the marks of long fingernails, were discovered on the side of Chapman’s neck;
- Three small buttons from a woman’s boots were found in clotted blood by the neck of the fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes – when she wore men’s laced-up boots;
- The remnants of womens clothing, a cape, skirt and a hat found amongst the ashes in Mary Kelly’s fireplace, clothes which no one had ever seen Kelly wearing – and she did not even own a hat;
- An unexplained sighting by a reliable witness of a woman she believed to be Mary Kelly, several hours after Kelly was known to be dead;
- And the attacks themselves demonstrated a level of barbarity never before experienced in the civilized western world; certainly nothing which might be expected of a woman.
All five victims were found with their throats cut. Four had their stomachs slashed open. Three had their uteri removed. Two had their faces slashed. One was hacked to pieces and almost all her internal organs excised. Some of the victims sustained other injuries also.
At his summing up in the Chapman inquest (the victim’s throat had been cut, her stomach torn open and her uterus taken) the coroner Mr Wynne Baxter commented: “The conclusion that the desire was to possess the missing part (the uterus) seems overwhelming.”
So was it possible that such terrible crimes of violence; murder and ripping out of uteri, could have been committed by a woman?
In the decades since the Whitechapel murders there have been almost 30 documented cases committed worldwide, where pregnant women, admittedly, have been attacked, their stomachs torn open, their uteri cut out, or attempts made to do so. Most of the victims died during the attack. A terrifying range of weaponry has been employed for this task; from razor-knives to hatchets, from kitchen shears to butchers knives.
In what has today become known as ‘uterus theft,’ the crimes have almost always been carefully planned, often many months in advance, and in some cases the victims stalked before they were attacked.
But in every single case, incredibly, a woman was the only, or principal, aggressor, and all the current evidence suggests that ‘Ripper’ type attacks are women-only crimes.
The suspect – Lizzie Williams – who I identified as the murderer, and whose full account I wrote in my book, fits exactly the profile of the women who committed these terrible crimes.