In the early hours of 7th August 1888, the body of a woman was found on the first floor landing of a tenement block in George Yard Buildings, just off Whitechapel High Street.
By the time The Star newspaper appeared on the streets of London that evening the woman’s identity still remained unknown and few facts concerning the atroicity had been made public, indeed The Star misreported that 20 stab wounds had been inflicted on the woman’s body, although it would later transpire that the actual figure was, in fact, 39.
However The Star was in little doubt that the murder was most certainly out of the ordinary and opened with the headline:-
A WHITECHAPEL HORROR
The article that followed provide readers with what little information was available concerning the crime and also about the location in which the murder had occurred:-
“A woman, now lying unidentified at the mortuary, Whitechapel, was ferociously stabbed to death this morning, between two and four o’clock, on the landing of a stone staircase in George’s-buildings, Whitechapel.
George’s-buildings are tenements occupied by the poor labouring class.
A lodger going early to his work found the body. Another lodger says the murder was not committed when he returned home about two o’clock. The woman was stabbed in 20 places.
No weapon was found near her, and he murderer has left no trace. She is of middle age and height, has black hair and a large, round face, and apparently belonged to the lowest class.”
The Evening News was equally under-informed about the number of wounds that had been inflicted upon the body of the woman and, in an even briefer article than its competitor was only able to tell its readers:-
MURDER IN WHITECHAPEL. TWENTY-FOUR STABS.
About four o’clock this morning a woman was found in George-yard, Whitechapel, stabbed to death. There were twenty-four wounds in various parts of the body.
The police have not yet discovered the unfortunate woman’s name and address, nor is it known who committed the crime.
Of course, what nobody knew at the time, was that the murder of this unknown unfortunate on a dark, first floor landing, in a dark thoroughfare in Whitechapel, was the first in a series of murders that would, within a few short weeks, have the World at large gripped with fascination and speculation, and would have the people of the East End going about in terror of an unknown monster who was, apparently, lurking in the dark recesses of Spitalfields and Whitechapel.
The autumn of terror was about to begin.