EARLY CRIME ANALYSIS
In 1888, in an area called Whitechapel in London's East End, five prostitutes were murdered in fairly quick
succession, as depicted in a proliferation of books, including Rumbelow's
Jack the Ripper: The Complete
Innovative measures were called for, and the case unintentionally launched the area of criminal
profiling, based in victim and crime scene analysis.
The first woman killed was 45-year-old Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols. On August 31,
she went out into the street. A friend saw her at 2:30 a.m., and an hour later, she
was found dead. Her skirt was pulled up to her waist, her legs were parted, and the
severe cuts into her abdomen and throat appeared to have been made by a long-
bladed knife. The next woman, too, was worked over with such a knife. Annie
Chapman was discovered on September 8. Her stomach was ripped open and her
intestines pulled out. Her throat was cut, too, and her bladder and uterus had been
removed and taken away.
A note that arrived on September 29 raised hopes for a lead. Signed, "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper," the
author claimed that he was "down on whores" and would continue to kill them. By the end of that month, on
September 30, there were two victims on the same night with slashed throats: Elizabeth Stride and Catherine
Eddowes. These kills were bolder. With Eddowes, the intestines had been pulled out and placed over the
right shoulder, the uterus and one kidney had been removed, and the face was oddly mutilated.
Then came a letter "from Hell" to the head of the Whitechapel vigilante organization, enclosed with half of a
kidney that turned out to be afflicted with Bright's disease—a disorder from which Eddowes had suffered.
The note's author indicated that he'd fried and eaten the other half. He even offered to send "the bloody
knife" in due time, and taunted, "Catch me if you can."
It was the last victim, Mary Kelly, 24, who took the brunt of this offender's frenzy. On November 8, she
apparently invited a man into her room and after he killed her, he spent about
two hours disemboweling her. He also skinned her chest and legs. Her heart
had been removed and was missing, and hunks of flesh had been cut from her
legs and buttocks.
In response, the police requested an analysis from Dr. Thomas Bond, a surgeon.
He had assisted in the autopsy of Mary Kelly, so had a pretty good idea of just
how demented this killer was. Investigators wanted a specific description of the
wounds and procedures, but in notes dated November 10, 1888, Bond offered
The murders had escalated in brutality and were clearly sexual in nature,
with an intense element of rage against either women or prostitutes. Except for
the last one, they were clean, quick, and out in the open, often disemboweling the victim in some manner.
Bond said that all five had been committed by one person alone who was physically strong, cool, and daring.