In the early hours of the 7th August 1888 the body of local prostitute Martha Tabram (also known as Martha Turner) was found on a first floor landing of George Yard Buildings.
Martha had spent the previous evening drinking at various pubs along the busy Whitechapel High Street with a friend of hers, a local prostitute named, or nicknamed, Pearly Poll.
They met with two soldiers and each then went their own way with their prospective clients.
Pearly Poll certainly didn’t see Martha again, and we no nothing more about her until her body was found on the first floor landing of the George Yard Buildings apartment block.
This was located in George Yard (now called Gunthorpe Street) towards the top on the left as you walked along the thoroughfare from Whitechapel High Street.
For those who have taken our walking tour of Jack the Ripper’s murder haunts, Gunthorpe Street is the first alleyways we take you along as the tour gets underway.
Martha had been repeatedly stabbed from the throat to the abdomen in what can only described as a frenzied attack.
There can be no doubting that Martha Tabram endured an horrendous attack.
But was she a victim of Jack the Ripper?
The jury is very much still out on this question and expert opinion is divided as to whether Martha was his first victim.
Thos who argue that she wasn’t, point out that the injuries she suffered were not consistent with the injuries suffered by the 5 later victims (Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly) who are acknowledged as most certainly victims of the ripper, and who are often referred to as the canonical five.
But those that argue that Martha was the ripper’s first victim, point out that her attacker most certainly targeted her neck and abdomen, just as the ripper would do with his victims and argue that this may have been a learning curve for him.
From contemporary descriptions of the murder scene it seems apparent that, whoever it was that committed the George Yard murder, it is certain that he would have been covered in blood.
This may well have led him to develop the later modus operandi that saw him asphyxiate his victims first to minimise the blood spatter that might have left him covered in blood as he fled the scenes of his crimes.