One of the most well-known and elusive serial killers in history is Jack the Ripper. The internet is rife with information about Jack’s killing spree in 1888; however, there’s nothing quite like reading accounts of these macabre events in the newspapers of Victorian London.
Follow the timeline of Jack the Ripper through the UK content at NewspaperArchive:
In what appeared to be the first murder in the Ripper case, and before he gave himself the ominous name, “Mysterious Tragedy in Whitechapel” in The Echo of London, gave a detailed description of the murder victim who had yet to be identified at the time of printing. She would later be identified as Martha Tabram, and this would be the start of the horrific crime spree of Jack the Ripper.
An article from the St. James’s Gazette from August 31, 1888, “Horrible Murder in Whitechapel,” gave graphic detail of the crime scene found in the wee hours of the morning. Constable John Neil was walking down Buck’s Row when he discovered a woman between thirty-five and forty years of age with her throat slit and bleeding profusely. Later details would reveal the victim was Mary Ann Nichols.
On September 1, 1888, The Standard of London gave a gripping account of both murders with a look into possible motive and insight of the killer’s mind with things like, “she received no less than thirty-nine wounds in different parts of her body,” and “a love of bloodshed and a blind passion of rage such as we sometimes try to hope is limited to the lower animals.”
Before becoming known as Jack the Ripper, he was often referred to in newspapers as Leather Apron. Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper published several pieces in their September 7, 1888, edition. “The Buck’s Row Tragedy – Resumed Inquest” and “A Horse Slaughterer’s Evidence” both provide details and witness testimony. While “Who is Leather Apron” gave readers a possible physical description of the perpetrator. This page includes several other articles of interest regarding the murders.
By September 9, 1888, the chaos and frenzy had reached a fever pitch. The next victim, Annie Chapman, was found, and a comprehensive account was written in an article titled “Another Murder in Whitechapel.” The same newspaper also published “The East-End Horror,” “Theory of the Tragedy,” and “The Body Identified” to capture the events from every angle.
He finally has a name. Self-proclaimed as Jack the Ripper, a letter sent to the Commercial Street Police Station stated the Ripper was “going to get work in Whitechapel on Friday night” and “he spoke of having bottles of blood underground.” The most recent victim, Elizabeth Stride, is also included in the section titled “The East End Tragedies” under Latest Particulars.
Even though not in the vicinity of Whitechapel, the murder of Catherine Eddowes was thought to be the work of the infamous killer. The October 12, 1888, edition of the St. James’s Gazette had an incredible testimony from the inquest into Catherine’s death, along with the verdict – she was murdered by “some person or persons unknown.”
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