4. Catherine Eddowes

Forty-six-year-old Catherine Eddowes was the second woman to be murdered on the streets of Whitechapel on the 30th of September, and the fourth generally accepted victim of Jack the Ripper.  On the night of her murder, she was picked up and taken to Bishopsgate Police Station for public drunkenness (she was found by the police in Aldgate High Street, slumped on the ground and surrounded by people).  She was kept in a jail cell for around four hours, ostensibly so she could sober up.  At around 12:55 am Eddowes was released from the police station.  Less than an hour later she was found butchered in Mitre Square.

Catherine Eddowes was by far the most horribly mutilated of the women murdered in Whitechapel up to that point.  Rather than simply condensing the autopsy results, I’ll post parts of Doctor Frederick Gordon Brown’s report on the murder of Catherine Eddowes:

“The body was on its back – the head turned to left shoulder – the arms by the side of the body as if they had fallen there, both palms upwards – the fingers slightly bent.  The clothes were drawn up above the abdomen, the thighs were naked, left leg extended in a line with the body, the abdomen was exposed, right leg bent at the thigh and knee.

The intestines were drawn out to a large extent and placed over the right shoulder – they were smeared over with some feculent matter. A piece of about 2 feet was quite detached from the body and placed between the body and the left arm, apparently by design. The lobe and auricle of the right ear was cut obliquely through.

The face was very much mutilated. There was a cut about a quarter of an inch through the lower left eyelid, dividing the structures completely through the upper eyelid on that side, there was a scratch through the skin on the left upper eyelid – near to the angle of the nose the right eyelid was cut through to about half an inch.

There was a deep cut over the bridge of the nose extending from the left border of the nasal bone down near to the angle of the jaw on the right side, across the cheek – this cut went into the bone and divided all the structures of the cheek except the mucous membrane of the mouth.

The tip of the nose was quite detached from the nose by an oblique cut from the bottom of the nasal bone to where the wings of the nose join on to the face. A cut from this divided the upper lip and extended through the substance of the gum over the right upper lateral incizor tooth.

About half an inch from the top of the nose was another oblique cut. There was a cut on the right angle of the mouth as if by the cut of a point of a knife the cut extended an inch and a half parallel with the lower lip.

There was on each side of cheek a cut which peeled up the skin forming a triangular flap about an inch and a half. On the left cheek there were 2 abrasions of the epithelium (under the left ear).

The throat was cut across to the extent of about 6 or 7 inches. A superficial cut commenced about an inch and a half below the lobe and about two and a half inches behind the left ear and extended across the throat to about 3 inches below the lobe of the right ear.

The big muscle across the throat was divided through on the left side – the large vessels on the left side of the neck were severed – the larynx was severed below the vocal chords. All the deep structures were severed to the bone the knife marking intervertebral cartilages – the sheath of the vessels on the right side was just opened.

The carotid artery had a fine hole opening, the internal jugular vein was opened about an inch and a half not divided. The blood vessels contained clot. All these injuries were performed by a sharp instrument like a knife, and pointed.

The cause of death was haemorrhage from the left common carotid artery. The death was immediate and the mutilations were inflicted after death.”

As well as these injuries, Eddowes’s left kidney and uterus were missing, as was a corner of her apron.

So, with Eddowes, not only do we have mutilations even more gruesome and frenzied than those of either Nichols or Chapman, but also facial mutilations.  The doctors at the time were divided over whether the numerous mutilations and missing kidney and uterus were the work of someone with knowledge of anatomy or simply an unskilled person without any knowledge.  Doctor Brown was of the opinion that the killer had to have possessed a certain amount of anatomical knowledge in order to locate and remove the kidney.  On the other hand, Dr. Sequeira was of the opinion that the killer showed no great anatomical skill, and thought the perpetrator wasn’t after any particular organ, just what he could get his hands on.

Both doctors agreed that the cause of death was due to the severance of the left carotid artery, and that all mutilations occurred after death.

Here we have a remarkably similar murder than the previous three, in particular Chapman.  Dr. Philips, who examined Chapman, argued that due to the frenzied state the body was left in (some of Eddowes’s clothes had been cut, whereas Nichols and Chapman’s clothes had simply been lifted above the waist), and that the killer punctured the rectum during his removal of the internal organs (not seen in Chapman’s case), the Eddowes murder was the work of an imitator, not the same hand that deftly removed Chapman’s organs with minimal damage to other internal organs.  Most other experts believed Eddowes was killed by the same person who killed Nichols, Chapman and Stride, a view I most definitely agree with.  There are too many similarities in regards to the killer’s M.O. and signature for it to be a mere copycat or another serial killer altogether.  As much as anyone can be sure, I’m positive Eddowes was killed by the same person who had previously slaughtered at least three other women.

Like the previous three victims, Eddowes was a prostitute who was known to love a drink.  She roomed at doss houses whenever she had the money.  On release from jail on the night of her murder, rather than heading towards the doss house she had been staying at, she walked in the opposite direction, back towards the area she had been found drunk earlier, towards Mitre Square.  Sometime between leaving the jail at 12:55 and 1:40 she encountered her killer, and, most probably hoping to earn a bit of money, took him to the dark and secluded Mitre Square.  The killer waited until they were in one of the gloomy corners before striking, and, just like the previous three times, he struck sudden and fast.  Though there was a night watchman in one of the buildings that faced the square, he heard nothing, not a peep, at least, not until a policeman came rushing in alerting him of the murder.

According to the medical reports, Eddowes was killed by the cut to the throat, and again, the killer was positioned at the victim’s right side and cut her throat from left to right.  As there was no blood anywhere else in the square, nor any blood on the front of Eddowes’s clothing, and due to the blood clotting around the point of entrance in the throat, it was concluded that Eddowes was killed where she was found, and killed whilst on the ground.  And, because there was only minimal bleeding from the abdominal vessels, it was therefore concluded that the mutilations were made after death.

So far, every fact regarding the victim, M.O. and signature closely resembles the other three murders.  The main point of difference was the facial mutilations and the more frenzied way the body had been mutilated.

While neither of these facts, in my opinion, exclude Eddowes from being considered a Ripper victim in any way, it is interesting to pause on these two items as a way of perhaps understanding the state of mind the killer was in when he murdered Eddowes.  As I believe the Ripper killed Stride, and therefore wasn’t able to satisfy his deviant fantasies of mutilation, I imagine Jack was filled with both rage and excitement.  I liken his state to that of a drug addict.  The interval between the first and second canonical murders was only a week.  However, due perhaps to the increase of police presence, or other factors impossible to know, the Ripper didn’t kill again until around three weeks later.  By the time of the double event, Jack was probably aching to quench his bloodlust.  He had probably spent the last three weeks fantasising about his murders, living them over in his mind, and fantasising about the next murder.  Like a drug addict who hasn’t had a fix in almost a month, Jack was probably tense, on edge and eager to kill.  And then the botched Stride murder occurs and he isn’t able to fulfil his mission and live out his innermost fantasies of post mortem mutilation.  So Jack, perhaps already desperate to kill, gets a taste of blood, but can’t get the fill he desires, and becomes even more jacked up (pardon the pun) – again, imagine a drug addict who hasn’t had a fix in a while, getting a taste of heroin.  The addict will crave more, not content with just that small taste of the drug.  I think this was the state of mind the Ripper was in when he came across Eddowes near Mitre Square.  He was able to control himself enough to appear normal, just like any other John out looking for a bit of fun, and only when he got to the darkened corner did he attack suddenly and all his pent-up anger, frustration and excitement came pouring out.

As I mentioned, some of Eddowes’s clothing had been ripped through with a knife.  To me, this indicates a kind of mad frenzy, someone eager to get his release, that which he was denied less than an hour earlier.  Like with the others, he dispatched Eddowes quickly and silently, then tore about her clothes and began the frenzied mutilation.  I believe his frantic state of mind accounts for why he was sloppier with his removal of the kidney and uterus.  He was perhaps more in control, less hysterical, when he slaughtered Chapman three weeks earlier.  As well as the botched murder of Stride, the killer was probably aware that the police would be out looking for him, thus adding to the more frenzied attack on Eddowes.  That’s not to say he didn’t have time to achieve everything he wanted; that he only did the bare minimum to satiate his bloodlust before getting outta Dodge.  On the contrary.

With the murder of Eddowes, the Ripper added to his signature by viciously attacking the face, even going so far as nicking the eyelids.  Still, even with the facial and torso mutilations, as well as the removal of the kidney and uterus, the killer probably spent no more than five minutes in that dark corner in Mitre Square.  Definitely no longer than ten minutes, because the body was discovered just before 1:45 am, and Eddowes was most likely seen by three men at around 1:34 (Joseph Lawende, Joseph Levy and Harry Harris saw a man and a woman standing by the entrance to one of the passageways leading into Mitre Square; Lawende later identified Eddowes by her clothes).

Most researchers tend to believe that Eddowes was killed by the man known as Jack the Ripper – an assertion I wholeheartedly agree with.  Like the other three victims, she was a destitute whore killed in the early hours in the greater Whitechapel area (she was actually murdered on City of London ground, as opposed to Metropolitan like the others, but this is merely a technicality, it doesn’t suggest she was killed by another hand).  She was found murdered in a dark, out-of-the-way spot and had been killed quickly and silently, with death occurring due to the severance of the left carotid artery (with the killer positioned at her right and drawing the knife across her throat from left to right).  Her throat had been deeply gashed, and her body heavily mutilated, as well as her face, and all mutilations occurred after death.  In terms of her bodily mutilations and absence of internal organs, her murder most resembled that of Annie Chapman (in both cases the intestines were removed and placed over the right shoulder, and both had their uterus missing).  Also, like with Annie Chapman, the killer had emptied her pockets and placed the contents by the body, which in Eddowes’s case included: some buttons, a thimble, and a mustard tin containing two pawn tickets.  The victimology, M.O. and signature are all strikingly similar to the other three murders.  Catherine Eddowes was the fourth generally accepted Ripper victim, and the second to be killed on the night of September 30.  I believe she was most unfortunate in that, if the killer had been able to fulfil his deviant fantasies with Stride, she most probably wouldn’t have been murdered that night.  More than any other Ripper victim, she was the cruel victim of fate.

Before leaving Catherine Eddowes, I should make mention of the apron and graffiti that were found on the night of the double event.

The basic story is this: at around 2:55 on the morning of the 30th, PC Alfred Long discovered a piece of apron on the floor of the Goulston Street Buildings.  The apron was dirty with blood and faecal matter.  The piece of apron was later matched with the torn apron of Catherine Eddowes, and so speculation regarding whether the Ripper lived in the building where the apron was found; whether the killer simply dropped the bit of fabric on his way past (after cleaning his hands and knife with it); or whether it was carried there by a stray dog or on the wheels of a cart, began to circulate and has never stopped (I tend to think the killer simply tossed the rag away once its purpose had been served).

However, it’s what was found near the piece of apron that has caused the most controversy and debate.  On the brick doorway entrance to the building was written, in chalk: The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing (there are small variances with the wording, depending on which police report you read, but this wording seems to be the most popular version).  As the graffiti was found at the same spot as the apron, it was thought that the killer had left the message, and so the area was sealed off and the idea was to wait for the morning to arrive so the police could have the message photographed, thus preserving what they believed to be the killer’s handwriting.  However, due to the area being populated with Jews, and the message being of an anti-Semitic nature, Sir Charles Warren (agreeing with Sir Robert Anderson’s concern) decided it was best to have the writing washed away, for fear of causing a riot.

So, while the evidence of the chalk message may not have been recorded, the debate over whether or not the killer wrote it has certainly survived and continues to divide Ripperologists to this day.  In my opinion, I don’t think the killer wrote the message.  I think it was merely a coincidence that the killer threw away the piece of apron where there happened to be a piece of graffiti.  I can’t see a disorganised lust-killer such as Jack the Ripper stopping to write some vague message on a wall.  I can’t envisage a killer such as Jack the Ripper even carrying a piece of chalk.  But even if he was in the habit of carrying chalk, why didn’t he write messages at or near the other crime scenes?  Why only this message?  He had plenty of time to write a message at his next murder, and yet didn’t.  Like others have said in the past, I believe the message was written by either a disgruntled customer (there were lots of Jewish markets in the area) or by someone wanting to spout his racist thoughts.  Apparently the East End was littered with all manner of graffiti; I think this piece of writing was just one of the many, and not a message from Jack the Ripper.


*Learn more about Catherine Eddowes at the Casebook website here

Published on November 8, 2010 at 11:48 am  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Good Stuff, do you currently have a facebook profile?

  2. Were the residents of that building asked about the graffiti ? One would have thought that locals would have noticed if the writing had been there a while. Even after it had been washed off there was enough about it in the papers for someone to have come forward and say they had either written it themselves or that it had been there on the wall for days/weeks.
    It is possible that it had just been written that night , either by JtR or by someone else ? Is it possible that once the rumour had gone round about another murder someone wrote that blaming the Jews ? I have to agree that it seems unlikely to be JtR. I can’t imagine him stopping to write that. He would be too busy scurrying home to get cleaned up.
    I find it odd that the three men who gave a description of a man with a woman, that they saw just minutes before said woman’s body was found, that it only took eleven minutes. I would have thought it would have taken a lot longer to do that amount of damage. I’m wondering if Eddowes was already dead at the time of the sighting , and it was a totally different couple they saw and not Eddowes at all !
    How long would it take to cut someones throat , arrange there clothes slice their abdomen ,remove intestines, remove uterus, kidney and make v shaped flaps and mutilations on face and lay out contents of pockets ? Not to mention slicing apron, taking a piece and wrapping up said removed organs, ( Can’t see the Ripper carrying the organs with his bare hands ) then getting away unseen by the time the body is discovered ! I would have thought all that would have taken a lot longer than the few minutes described.
    I’m actually wondering now WHO did the three men see , it does not seem possible to me that it was Eddowes and her killer.

    • Hi Amanda,

      Yes, I wonder also whether the residents were asked about the graffito – I guess someone confessing to writing it (other than JtR) is another matter, though.

      You make a good point about the witnesses actually seeing Eddowes. It was dark, and they apparently didn’t look all that long at the couple. Lawende did identify the clothing as the same (or maybe simply similar) the woman was wearing, but who knows for sure? The PC who found Eddowes’s body had checked Mitre Square only 12 or so minutes before and found it empty, so regardless of whether Eddowes was the woman seen by the trio of witnesses, the killer only spent 10 min – max – with the body. Scary, but there ya go…

  3. By the way Brett , you have got an excellent site on here. You obviously have studied your subject well. Do you think I may have a point about the couple that were seen by the three men ? Obviously one can’t test on a live body but does 11 minutes seem a very short time to do that amount of carnage to you ?

    • Many thanks, Amanda. I’m glad you like the site.

      While 11 (or 10, or 9…) minutes does seem like a short time for the killer to do all that was done to poor Kate, the evidence does suggest this was the case. I think it shows just how savage and fanatical the Ripper was.


  4. Bad news for Ripperologists. I was working in Aldgate this morning and Mitre Square is virtually no more. Two of the three buildings that made up the square have been flattened, including the arched passage that the ripper was believed to have made his escape. The pavement where Catherine Eddowes was found is still there but even the Mitre Square sign has been removed.

    • Bad news indeed. Thanks for the update, John.

  5. You’re welcome Brett. Thankfully I took some decent night time shots of the square prior to demolition which kind of capture the eerie atmosphere that still existed. Bad news also for the Ripper tour guys as this was the only real authentic site and I guess probably (along with the Ten Bells) the highlight of their walks.

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