Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Servant Girl Annihilator

Ripper Connection?

Mary Ann
Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols

In 1888, the Atchison Daily Globe in Kansas and the Daily Statesman in Texas, among others, drew a connection between what had taken place in the Whitechapel area of London from September through November that year and the unsolved series of murders in Austin three years earlier. "A very curious circumstance has been discovered," the article claimed, and went on to say that it was the opinion of many people that the person who had operated in Austin and gotten away before being apprehended was the very same grisly perpetrator as Jack the Ripper. In one case, five women of the lower class were dead and in the other, seven women and one man.

Annie Chapman
Annie Chapman

The first victim in Whitechapel was 45-year-old Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols, an alcoholic and the mother of five children. On Friday, August 31, just after 1:00 a.m., Polly went out into the street to earn money for a bed. Around 3:30 A.M. she was found murdered. Her skirt was pulled up to her waist, her legs were parted, and severe cuts into her abdomen and throat appeared to have been made by a long-bladed knife. Whoever had killed her had first controlled her by grabbing her around the neck and used a blitz-style attack.

Then on September 8, Annie Chapman was found murdered, her dress pulled over her head, her stomach ripped open, and her intestines pulled out and draped over her left shoulder. Her throat was cut, too, with what appeared to have been a surgical knife with a narrow blade. It appeared that once again she'd been quickly subdued. Small items like coins and an envelope had been arranged around her, and a closer inspection showed that her bladder, half of her vagina, and her uterus had been removed and carried away.

Elizabeth Stride
Elizabeth Stride

By the end of that month, on September 30, there were two victims on the same night, just as there had been in Austin. The ripper slashed the throat of Elizabeth Stride, 45, only a few minutes before she was found, but then disemboweled Catherine Eddowes less than an hour afterward. With Eddowes, the intestines had been pulled out and placed over the right shoulder, the uterus and one kidney had been cut out and taken, and the face was oddly mutilated. Two upside down Vs had been cut into her cheeks, pointing toward the eyes, her eyelids were nicked, and the tip of her nose was cut off. And her throat was slashed.

Catherine Eddowes
Catherine Eddowes

The last victim, 24-year-old Mary Kelly, took the brunt of this predator's frenzy. On November 8, she apparently invited a man into her room. He slashed open her throat and then ripped open her lower torso, pulled out her intestines, and skinned her chest and legs. Blood was splattered all over the room. When police arrived, they found a severed breast on the table next to her, with the tips of her nose and ears. Her abdomen had been emptied and its contents spread all over the bed and thrown around the room. Her heart, too, had been removed and was missing, and flesh had been cut from her legs and buttocks clear to the bone.

Imaginative sketch of Jack the Ripper
Imaginative sketch of Jack
the Ripper

One suspect, who rarely gets mentioned by Ripperologists, was a Malay cook calling himself Maurice who often worked aboard ships. The London Times described him in October as a man who had threatened to kill Whitechapel prostitutes but who had then disappeared. It turned out that in 1885 he had been employed at the Pearl House, a small hotel, in Austin, Texas. A letter to the editor of the Statesman drew the newspaper's attention to it and a reporter checked it out. The information was confirmed, and it was ascertained that the cook had left the premises in January 1886. The series of murder had ended just weeks earlier. Most of the victims resided not far from the Pearl House.

Some contemporary amateur sleuths — Hollandsworth mentions one of his acquaintances — do believe that the Servant Girl Annihilator and Jack the Ripper are one and the same, but clear proof is lacking.

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