Possible early Jack the Ripper victim

Since we will never be 100% certain who Jack the Ripper was it follows that we will never know for sure the exact number of victims that he had.

Although it is generally said that he had five victims, this figure may be way off the mark, based as it is on an awful lot of presumption and supposition.

The murders that we now know as the Jack the Ripper crimes come under a generic police file known as the “Whitechapel Murders” file and this, in fact has 11 crimes on it ranging in date from April 1888 to February 1891.

However, there were other crimes in the district earlier in 1888 and at least one of these has, sometimes, been put forward as a possible early work by Jack the Ripper.

The case in question is that of Annie Millwood, aged 38, who lodged in White’s Row, Spitalfields, just one street over from Dorset Street where Mary Kelly, whom many consider to have been the last victim of Jack the Ripper lived. Although Dorset Street no longer exists, White’s Row does and still contains several of its 18th century properties.

On February 25th 1888 Annie Millwood turned up at the Whitechapel Workhouse infirmary with stab wounds on her stomach and legs. She told staff that she had been attacked by a man who proceeded to inflict the injuries on her with a clasp knife that he drew from his pocket.

There were, it should be said, no witnesses to this attack and, at the time, doubts were raised as to whether or not it had happened as she described, or whether the wounds were, for some reason, self inflicted.

Annie was subsequently transferred to the South Grove Workhouse where, some tie later, she was observed falling down whilst engaged in an activity at the rear of the building. When witnesses went to render assistance, they found that she was, in fact, dead.

The inquest was told that her death was not in any way related to the attack and the jury found that she had died of natural causes.

The reason her name sometimes appears as being an early crime by Jack the Ripper is that her attacker, if indeed he did exist, targeted her stomach and upper legs much as the ripper would do with his victims later that year.

So, it is possible that Annie Millwood, although not an actual murder victim of Jack the Ripper, may well have been one of the earliest of his attacks as he evolved the modus operandi that would, by the end of that year, have made him notorious throughout the world.