Saturday, July 21, 2012
The Rippers (Warning: Graphic & Disturbing Images)
Although almost 125 years old, the case of Jack The Ripper still fascinates us today. Numerous movies have been made throughout the years, hypothesizing Jack being everything from an upholsterer with an array of sharp weapons to a British Royal with a lust for torture. He is still so much on the minds of the English that when I was in London in 2006, all the headlines read: "Jack The Ripper back?" or "Beware The Ripper" due to a rash of killings involving local prostitutes. I also remember being just a bit too excited when BBC broadcasts instructed women not to travel the streets of London alone, because I was traveling solo and wouldn't have the opportunity of another person accompanying me on my journeys.
The famous "From Hell" letter is shown above. It was sent to George Lusk who was head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee and in charge of the Ripper investigation. In it the murderer wrote, "I send you half of the kidne I took from one woman & prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise." Along with the note was, indeed, half of a very well-preserved human kidney.
Eleven murders (1888 - 1891) were included in the Whitechapel Murders investigation, but only the following were considered Jack The Ripper's canonical five victims: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. Each of these women had been killed with a deep slash to the throat then had their abdomens mutilated and/or their uterus removed. Mary Kelly's heart was also removed and her face hacked to pieces (pictured below).
Some "Ripperologists" have surmised that only someone with a surgical education could have done these murders. And that surmising always causes my thoughts to go to another infamous "Ripper" case: the Black Dahlia.
I was intrigued by the Dahlia murder at a very young age because my father would speak of it often as we would drive around our neighborhood. You see, I grew up not far from where they found Elizabeth Short's remains on Norton Avenue. Of course by the time I could even understand the concept of her brutal death, the once empty field had been turned into a business building. And it wasn't until the birth of the internet that I was finally able to search for actual photos of the crime scene. That's something that I regret to this very day. I have never viewed anything so heinous and disturbing. Not only was that poor woman dissected-ever-so-neatly in half, but her organs were literally cleaned out of her, leaving her body as an empty shell. I am convinced that her killer had to be a surgeon.
Even now, as I'm reviewing the facts online for this posting, I am extremely careful as to which links to follow for fear that they'll lead me to those gruesome images. How much worse could they be than the Mary Kelly image above? You don't understand. I hope you never come across the Dahlia crime scene photos and I'm certainly got going to subject myself to them again by posting them here.
The irony of the Black Dahlia case is that Elizabeth Short came to Los Angeles seeking fame. Be careful what you wish for.
Perhaps, though, it is the repulsive nature of these Ripper cases that keeps us fascinated by them decades, if not centuries, later. It's hard to fathom, first off, that anyone could be so evil as to induce this kind of horror upon another human being. And secondly, to get away with it? Terrifying.
Until next time,