Spotlight On: The Canonical Five

DATED: 17.11.16

The atrocious murders committed by the callous and vicious Jack the Ripper are something that many believe only exists in a nightmare. However, the brutal Whitechapel butcher made these nightmares a reality when he began killing in August 1888 on a spree that lasted until November the same year.

However, that is only what the officials knew for sure. There is evidence to suggest that there were actually more murders which were committed earlier on that same year and others as late as 1892. Were the other murders committed by the same killer? This we will never truly know the answer to, as no suspect was ever caught and convicted. Regardless, it was these five murders combined that brought Jack the Ripper into the limelight.

It is hard to believe that these Jack the Ripper victims were unaware of their fate until moments before their lives were taken from them, murdered in cold blood on the streets of London. Thanks to the media frenzy surrounding their subsequent murders, these victims were high profile enough to be given a nickname, and it stuck. The Canonical Five.

Get to know the Jack the Ripper Victims

Mary Ann Nichols

43-year-old Nichols was the first victim recognised to be murdered at the hands of Jack the Ripper.

She was an estranged wife, an alcoholic and took to prostitution to pay for her daily keep. She was the first victim, last seen one hour before her death, standing on the corner of Osborn Street and Whitechapel Road.

She was determined to earn some cash but the night was drawing to a close. Even after some convincing from her roommate, she didn’t go back to the lodging house. Her dead body was discovered, slashed and gutted, just hours later.

Annie Chapman:

A witness is believed to have been able to get a glimpse of Annie talking to a man, presumably the Ripper, at 5.30 A.M on her last night alive. The same witness said there was a scuffle between the two. Just 20 minutes later, she was found dead, with her throat slashed intestines out and over her shoulder with other organs missing.

Elizabeth Stride

Elizabeth was seen by many witnesses on her last night, but all of them claimed to see her with a man. Elizabeth was murdered in an alley, close to a party, but unlike the other victims, she was not mutilated. It is believed the killer was disturbed and fled the scene.

Catherine Eddowes

On on the same night, 43-year-old Eddowes became Ripper’s victim. Ironically, she was arrested that night for public drinking. Less than an hour after her release, she was found dead. Her body was heavily mutilated; in fact, her gruesome murder left no part of her body untouched. Even her face was mutilated beyond recognition, with all parts of her body slashed, cut and lying outside.

Mary Jane Kelly

Mary Jane Kelly was the last of the Canonical five and it is widely believed that she was the last victim of the Ripper.

The differences in her murder have led to a number of different conspiracy theories – she was much younger than the Rippers other victims and was quite attractive. However, what was left of her body and face was still left beyond recognition, Another difference in this murder is that her body was found indoors, not on the streets.

Jack the Rippers victims and their untimely deaths have become one of the greatest mysteries of all times. You can find out more on our daily tour – book your tickets here.


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The Jack the Ripper Casebook