Of all the serial killers in the world, Jack the Ripper is among the most notorious. His legend lives on more than a century after he stalked and butchered his helpless victims on the streets of Whitechapel in East London, but many people overestimate how many women he actually killed – largely due to his unparalleled fame.
How Many Jack the Ripper Victims Are There?
How many souls fell victim to Jack the Ripper is still debated, but there are five confirmed victims known as the Canonical Five, the first of which is believed to have been Mary Ann Nichols who died from a slit throat on 31st August 1888 at the side of a stable yard.
Little more than a week later on 8th September 1888, the body of Annie Chapman was found in the garden of her shared home. Like Nichols, Annie was found with a slit throat, but her abdomen was gruesomely cut open and various organs were removed.
On 29th September 1888, Elizabeth Stride’s corpse was discovered next to a Jewish anarchist club. She, like the previous two victims, was found with a slit throat. She didn’t have a cut abdomen, but it is widely believed her attacker was interrupted whilst mutilating her body.
The fourth victim was Catherine Eddowes who passed away from her extreme injuries on 30th September 1888. She was found in Mitre Square with organs removed. It was her murder that led detectives to believe Jack the Ripper was from a surgical background.
The final victim of the Canonical Five was Mary Jane Kelly, considered to be the most famous victim due to the severity of her injuries. Various body parts were viciously removed and scattered around her home in Dorset Street when she was discovered on 9th November 1888.
Potential Jack the Ripper Victims
Whilst the Ripper has five confirmed victims, many historians believe he may have killed up to 11 women. Emma Smith is considered by many to be the true first victim of the Ripper, having been attacked on 2nd April and dying two days later in London Hospital due to inflamed and ruptured abdominal injuries.
Annie Farmer was thought by the press to have been another victim after she was attacked by a man less than two days after Mary Jane Kelly’s murder, but her injuries were not life-threatening which led police to believe she was not a Ripper target.
In July 1889, Alice MacKenzie was found with a slit throat and several stab wounds which mirrored the injuries inflicted by Jack the Ripper upon his victims, but the police never confirmed her as a victim.
Frances Coles, a 32-year-old prostitute, died on the way to hospital after being found under a railway arch with a slit throat. Her partner was originally charged and tried for her murder, but he was later acquitted.
Rose Mylett was found dead in December 1888 and at the time, many considered her to be a Ripper victim, but she died of strangulation and had no visible signs of mutilation which led the police to conclude she was not one of his victims.
Martha Tabram was, for decades, considered to be the first Ripper victim. Her body was found on 7th August 1888 with 39 different stab wounds which went on to match the later confirmed victims, but she is not considered one of the five official Ripper victims.
The final victim who was – at the time – considered to potentially be a Ripper victim, was the Pinchin Street Jane/John Doe. A torso was found so badly mutilated that the body was impossible to identify. The press was eager to attribute the killing to Jack the Ripper, but at the time of the discovery, there was a different serial killer on the loose known as the Thames Torso Murderer, who was never identified. The Pinchin Street victim’s injuries better matched this series of murders, leading police to believe Jack the Ripper was not involved in this case.
Summary of Victims
To summarise, there are five confirmed Jack the Ripper victims: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly.
Further plausible victims include Martha Tabram, Frances Coles, Emma Smith and Alice MacKenzie, taking the potential number of victims to nine.
This places Jack the Ripper as a definite serial killer but by no means the most notorious in terms of victim numbers at the time. Rather than numbers, what led to his notoriety is the short time in between each murder.
Time Period of Killings
Most serial killers have a definitive cooling off period between murders, but Jack the Ripper left little time between his aggressive slayings. There were eight days between the murder of Mary Ann Nichols and Annie Chapman, 21 days (the longest break) between Chapman and Elizabeth Stride, one day between Stride and Catherine Eddowes, and 10 days between Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly.
This means there were 40 days in total between the first and last Canonical Five murders, a very short time frame.
Jack the Ripper Suspects
To this day, the identity of Jack the Ripper is not known, but 17 prominent suspects have been speculated by Ripperologists over the years. They are:
With so many proposed suspects, some are far more plausible than others. To find out more about the Jack the Ripper suspects, read our casebook.
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