Those familiar with the tale of the Ripper will probably be well aware of the identities of the canonical five Jack the Ripper victims. It is widely accepted that Elizabeth Stride was the third murder of the canonical five, leaving little doubt in the minds of experts and amateurs alike that she was killed by Jack himself.
However, when analysing all the evidence from the night of Elizabeth Stride’s murder, you could quite easily doubt that she was in fact murdered by Jack the Ripper.
After she left her job, where she worked as a cleaner at a lodging house, there were so many sightings of Elizabeth that it isn’t hard to throw the events of that entire night into question. Elizabeth Stride left the lodging house at approximately 8pm; the first sighting happened at around 11pm. Her whereabouts between these times are not known.
In order to paint an accurate portrait of her movements, it is possible to piece together a rough timeline of the night of 29th September 1888 based on the known sightings of Elizabeth Stride.
11pm – Two men, J. Best and John Gardner, were going into the Bricklayer’s Arms public house in Settle Street when they saw Elizabeth in the doorway with a short man. Elizabeth and her companion were cuddled up trying to keep dry, out of the pouring rain. The men recalled that they were surprised at the pairing as the short man was so well-dressed. The two made a joke about ‘Leather Apron’, which caused Elizabeth and her partner to run away down Commercial Road.
11:45pm – William Marshall, a labourer from Berner Street, was outside his house when he spotted a couple kissing nearby. The woman he described as Elizabeth Stride but the man was wearing different clothes to that of the previous sighting, including a sailor’s hat. He was overheard saying to Elizabeth, “You would say anything but your prayers”. The pair then moved on down Berner Street.
12:30am – PC William Smith was walking along Berner Street when he noticed a couple on the other side of the road to Dutfield’s Yard, where Elizabeth’s body was later found. This man again appears to be a completely different man to the other two. He was a little taller than the men described in the other sightings and was wearing a deerstalker hat. The couple did not appear to be doing anything out of the ordinary so PC Smith moved on to walk his beat.
12:45am – A Hungarian Jew, Israel Schwartz, entered Berner Street and noticed a man at the gateway of Dutfield’s Yard talking to a woman who matched the description of Elizabeth Stride. He started to attack her and she screamed but Schwartz thought it was a domestic argument so moved across the road. The man Schwartz described was again different to the previous ones. As he moved on, Schwartz was followed by a second man who unnerved him so he started running to lose the second man. This led to suggestions that the second man was an accomplice, but he was later identified and cleared.
1am – Louis Diemshutz, a jewellery salesman, was returning from selling his wares at Crystal Palace. He turned his pony and cart into Dutfield’s Yard where the pony suddenly stopped and would not move. Diemshutz leant down to see a bundle in the road. He thought it was a drunk and tried to move them but couldn’t, so he went into the nearby International Working Men’s Educational club to get help. He returned with Isaac Kozebrodsky and Morris Eagel to discover that the woman was in fact Elizabeth Stride, who was dead and her throat had been cut.
It was quickly presumed that Elizabeth was one of Jack the Ripper’s victims. As there were no other injuries to her body, it was thought that the killer had been interrupted, possibly by the arrival of Diemshutz, and had fled the scene only to go on to kill Catherine Eddowes later that morning.
Due to the brutal murder of Catherine Eddowes and the single cut to Elizabeth Stride, her death was believed to be the work of Jack the Ripper. But could Elizabeth have been killed by another of the many men she met that night? Was she even a Ripper victim at all?
Book your place on the Jack the Ripper tour to learn more about the victims of this mysterious serial killer.