Was Mary Kelly the first victim of Jack the Ripper?
The other night I posted an image of Mary Kelly’s room at 13 Miller’s Court on our Facebook Page, and I captioned it, “13 Miller’s Court, the room of Mary Kelly, the first victim of Jack the Ripper?”
WHO WAS THE FIRST VICTIM?
As anticipated, I got quite a few corrections, including one that chided, “And you’re giving historic tours of London, get it right…” A few other people enquiring politely if I had been drinking again! As expected, everybody was kind in their corrections, after all the community on our Facebook page is a friendly one and we are respectful of each other.
Most people either ignored or else didn’t notice the question mark at the end of the post.
But that question mark was there for a reason.
In fact, take a moment and ask yourself the question, who was the first victim of Jack the Ripper?
The majority of people would say that it was Mary Nichols, who was murdered on August 31st 1888. Some may claim that it was, in fact, Martha Tabram, who was murdered on August 7th 1888.
But, can anyone show any mention in the police files or the newspapers of the time that suggested that those August and September atrocities were carried out by “Jack the Ripper?”
PLENTY OF LATER MENTIONS
With the later Whitechapel murders – Rose Mylett, Alice Mckenzie, the Pinchin Street torso and Frances Coles, there is plenty of press speculation that they may have been carried out by “Jack the Ripper”; but with the murders of Martha Tabram, Mary Nichols and Annie Chapman, there is no mention whatsoever of the perpetrator having been “Jack the Ripper.”
Why? Because he didn’t actually exist when those atrocities were carried out.
Even in the immediate aftermath of the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, there is no mention of the name by which the perpetrator is now known – those mentions start to appear a few days, even weeks later.
So, from an historical perspective Mary Kelly was the first victim of Jack the Ripper, or to be exact, she was the first victim whose murder at the time was attributed to “Jack the Ripper.”
I didn’t post this to try and be clever (well, alright, there may have been an element of that!) but rather to try and make the point that we shouldn’t just accept what is “established” fact about the case without questioning those “facts.”
Just because a self-ordained “expert” said that something was true many years ago, doesn’t necessarily make it true, and it really is necessary that we think outside the box and question everything about the case. After all, none of the “experts” has yet solved it, perhaps because they just accept without question opinions from long ago that are now accepted as facts?
WHAT ABOUT MARY NICHOLS?
But what about Mary Nichols? I hear you ask.
Well, I would respond that Mary Nichols could not have been a victim of Jack the Ripper because Jack the Ripper simply did not exist at the time of her murder.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not for one moment suggesting that there wasn’t a homicidal maniac carrying out gruesome and barbaric murders on the streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields during the August and September of 1888.
There most certainly was.
All that I am saying is that his name was not “Jack the Ripper”, and the murders weren’t and couldn’t have been attributed to him prior to the name having been invented and then passing into wider circulation throughout October, 1888.
THE INFAMOUS NOM DE PLUME
Indeed, that name didn’t come into existence until around the 25th of September, 1888, when an unknown author signed the “Dear Boss” letter with that nom de plume.
So Mary Nichols and Annie Chapman could not have been his victims, as he simply didn’t exist at the time of their murders.
The letter arrived at the Central News Office on the 27th September, and they then passed it to the police on the 29th.
24 hours later, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes would be murdered, and the police, desperate for a breakthrough in their floundering investigation, decided to release the letter in the hope that somebody would recognise the hand writing and identify the author.
In so doing, they flung an enormous red herring into the hunt for the perpetrator of the East End atrocities, and from then on the perpetrator of the crimes was universally referred to as “Jack the Ripper.”
WAS ELIZABETH STRIDE THE FIRST?
Now, it could be argued that, from this perspective, Elizabeth Stride was the first victim.
But, of course, the police didn’t release the letter and make the name public until early October, 1888.
So, although the name was known to a few journalists and police officers by the time of Elizabeth Stride’s murder, it wasn’t universally known, and it certainly wasn’t being used in reference to the perpetrator of the Whitechapel atrocities at the time of the two murders that took place on the 30th of September.
There were no murders throughout October, and the next murder would be that of Mary Kelly, which took place on the 9th of November 1888, by which time the murderer had become universally known as “Jack the Ripper”, and so it could, therefore, be argued that she was his first victim.
THE FLAW IN ALL ARGUMENTS!
Then again, even that cannot actually be argued, since the Whitechapel Murderer (the man who carried out the murders) and Jack the Ripper (the person who wrote the “Dear Boss” letter) were almost certainly two different people.
And since the latter was a fiction – a name plucked out of the ether by the unknown author of the letter – then he can’t actually have had any victims at all, since a man (or a woman) who never actually existed cannot be said to have carried out any crimes.
So, yes I was wrong to ask the question, “was Mary Kelly the first victim of Jack the Ripper?”, but so too are those who claim that she was his fifth, sixth or last victim.
And now, I have a headache!