How Many Victims?

One of the points we keep making on the tour is that, when it comes to the case of Jack the Ripper, absolutely nothing is certain.

This is especially true when it comes to the number of victims that Jack the Ripper had. As with so many things to do with the case, you will often read that the ripper had, to quote the oft trotted out old phrase, “five victims and five victims only.”

However, since the ripper himself was never brought to justice, it is almost impossible to give a definite number of victims.

After all the Whitechapel Murders file contains the names of eleven women who were murdered in the area between 1888 and 1891.

The first name on the file is that of Emma Elizabeth Smith, who, having bee attacked by a gang in the early hours of the 3rd April 1888, died of her injuries shortly thereafter.

The final victim’s name on the file is that of Frances Coles, who was murdered on 13th February 1891.

In between those two names are nine other murders that include the five, so-called, “canonical” victims of the Jack the Ripper – Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly.

The reason these five out of the eleven are often said to have been the of the same serial killer is that their injuries were, more or less, identical.

But, on close inspection, this is not the case. Mary Nichols and Annie Chapman, suffered almost identical injuries.

Elizabeth Stride shared the common injury of having had her throat cut – a fact that is generally attributed to the fact that her killer was interrupted before he could commence the mutilations to the rest of her body.

The injuries sustained by Catherine Eddowes saw an increase in the violence, with her killer targeting her face.

Mary Kelly was an almost totally different modus operandi – a fact often attribute to the fact she was murdered in doors, enabling her killer to take his time.

Even with the later Whitechapel Murder victims, Alice Mckenzie and Frances Coles, there are certain similarities with the canonical five.

So, as we often say on our Jack the Ripper Walking Tour, when it comes to this particular set of murders nothing is certain. This particularly applies to the actual number of victims.  It may have been as few as five, it could been as many as eight. The honest truth is, we’ll never know.