Annie Chapman’s murder took place in the backyard of number 29 Hanbury Street on the 8th of September 1888.
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Aged 45 years old at the time of her death, she has the distinction of being the oldest of Jack the Ripper’s victims. Appearance wise, she was a short, plump woman with an ashen complexion, a result of the fact that she was terminally ill with consumption.
NO MONEY FOR A BED
Although the events surrounding her murder were centred on Hanbury Street, the story itself actually began in the early hours of that morning over on Dorset Street, where Annie had been residing at Crossingham’s Lodging House for the four months prior to her death.
Unfortunately, she had been in the infirmary for several days in early September and, as a result, had no money to pay for her bed. Consequently, at a little after midnight, the lodging house’s manager, Timothy Donovan, ordered his deputy, John Evans, to escort her from the premises.
That was the last definite time that she was seen alive.
POSSIBLE SIGHTING IN THE TEN BELLS
In the aftermath of her murder, bar staff at the nearby Ten Bells pub claimed that she had been seen drinking in there at around 5am when a man popped his head around the door and beckoned for her to leave with him, which she did.
However this claim was never corroborated, so it cannot be stated as an ascertained fact.
WHAT ELIZABETH LONG SAW
At 5.30am on of the 8th September, Mrs Elizabeth Long was making her way along Hanbury Street when she noticed a woman, whom she later identified as Annie Chapman, talking to a man outside number 29.
However, since they were merely chatting with each other, there was nothing about them that made her in the least bit suspicious that anything untoward was happening, and so she hurried past them. As she did so, she overheard a brief snippet of their conversation and, from this, and from his appearance, she deduced, and later stated, that the man appeared to be a foreigner.
HANBURY STREET AND ITS HOUSES
Hanbury Street was lined with four-storey houses, the rooms of which were let to individual tenants and their families.
Number 29 was occupied by a total of 17 people.
At a little before 6am that morning one of those residents, John Davis, climbed out of his bed to get ready for work.
Heading downstairs, he turned back along the narrow passage, that led between the front and rear doors of the premises, and made his way to the back yard, where he stood on the step, no doubt taking in the conditions that the day had in store.
FINDING THE BODY
However, on looking down he saw an horrific sight, the mutilated body of a woman lying on the ground between the steps and the fence.
Moments later he had raced through the passage of the house and had burst out into the street itself, where he entreated three startled workmen, who were at that time, passing the house, to follow him. It was with some trepidation that they went with him through the corridor to the back step and, on beholding the cause of his evident agitation, they wasted no time in going to fetch the police.
THE POLICE ARRIVE
The first police officer on the scene was Inspector Joseph Chandler, who was joined at 6.30am by Divisional Police Surgeon Dr. George Bagster Phillips.
Phillips performed an examination of the body, and its immediate surroundings. He, so he later stated, deduced that the killer had grabbed Annie Chapman by the chin and partially strangled her before cutting her throat and attempting to sever her head. Her abdomen had been “entirely laid open” and the intestines had been lifted from the body and placed by the shoulder. In addition, the killer had also cut out and gone off with Annie Chapman’s womb.
However, since there was little more to be done at the scene, the body was soon carried from the premises, lifted onto a police ambulance – which, in reality was little more than a handcart, and was taken to the nearby Workhouse mortuary.
Over the coming days, the local residents discovered a surprising advantage to their sudden notoriety as they found that they could charge a few pence to sightseers who wanted to view the murder site from their windows that overlooked it.
TERROR AND PANIC
But Annie’s murder had another, more serious impact on the district as a whole. For, it also sent a surge of terror stricken panic coursing through the neighbourhood as the residents began to realise the nature of the monster that was loose in their midst. Mobs roamed the streets determined to wreak vengeance on anyone they thought by be responsible or involved and suspicions began to focus on the local immigrant community, made up largely of Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe.
INNOCENT JEWS ATTACKED
Innocent Jews were barracked, attacked, and beaten to taunting cries that “no Englishman is capable of crimes such as these.” As one newspaper put it “a touch would fire the whole district in the mood in which it is now.”
Desperate to contain the anti-Semitic unrest that was now rampant in the area, large numbers of police were drafted into the district from other parts of London.
Their presence appeared to deter the killer and, for a brief period, the local populace enjoyed a respite from their autumn of terror.