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In 1888, the most infamous murders of all time took place in London’s East End. Five prostitutes, destitute women who knew of no other way to survive, were slaughtered and mutilated by a supposedly unknown killer who bears the nickname Jack the Ripper.

The victims are listed below:

Mary Ann Nicholls, Friday 31st August
Annie Chapman, Saturday 8th September

Elizabeth Stride, Sunday 30 September

Catherine Eddowes, Sunday 30 September

Mary Jane Kelly, Friday 9th November

Butcher of women
The Complete Jack the Ripper discusses the argument given in Robert Odell’s Jack the Ripper in Fact and Fiction that the murderer was a Jewish ritual slaughterman or a shochet (pages 156-163). These slaughtermen cut the throat of animals down to the bone like the Ripper did. But these men according to The Complete Jack the Ripper had much the same expertise as a trained butcher.

A letter by R Hull dated 8th October 1888 stated that as a man who worked as a butcher, R Hull, was sure that there was “nothing done yet to any of these poor women than an expert butcher could not do almost in the dark.”

Hull stated that butchers are good at keeping blood off their person like the Ripper who apparently didn’t have much blood on him.

The shochet idea is possibly true even though the first four Ripper victims were strangled while the rules required the killing to be done by cutting the throat. Kelly however was killed by a cut to the throat suggesting that the Ripper treated her as a shochet would a sheep or a pig. Being an indoor murder the Ripper was able to keep the rules properly which he couldn’t have done with the other victims who were killed outdoors.

The speed

A big problem with the people who originally investigated the murders and examined the bodies is that it never occurred to them that the Ripper used great speed in mutilating the women. They thought it took time.

You read in the book Jack the Ripper’s Black Magic Rituals that Ivor Edwards the author believes that Chapman was seemingly cut up in less than two minutes. Edwards offers as proof for this the speed with which he was able to cut sheep and cattle when he worked for the Fresh Meat Company (page 43, Jack the Ripper’s Black Magic Rituals). He also believes that Eddowes was mutilated in two minutes as well (page 81, Jack the Ripper’s Black Magic Rituals). Incredibly he still thought that the Ripper was a surgeon. No surgeon could mutilate Chapman so quickly for surgeons have to take their time. Butchers and slaughtermen would be adept at gutting and mutilating rapidly. A slaughterman or butcher would be a better candidate for having being the Ripper.

 The Ripper kept one step ahead of the police by checking out the beat times. He knew he had to work fast. Annie Chapman was extensively mutilated in about two minutes. Only an expert at cutting flesh up fast could manage all this. And only a butcher would have that kind of practice.

He was a butcher and experienced in cutting and ripping. Doctor Brown and Doctor Sequeira who had been present at Catherine Eddowes’ post mortem stated that her killer showed as much knowledge of the human body as you would expect from a butcher. A doctor or surgeon cuts into bodies slowly for they have to take their time. A butcher would be an expert at cutting with some skill rapidly. If the Ripper had been a doctor or surgeon he would have shown more concern for giving himself time to cut up his victims.

Hull asserted that the times it was supposed took for the Ripper to cut the women up should be reduced to one third of the time.  The Ripper as a butcher would have been able to work fast.  And he did.

The Ripper was a Butcher
We have an unnamed suspect who was a butcher from Aldgate, Whitechapel.  The police observed him for a time.
The Ripper was a butcher by trade whether this man was the Ripper or not.
When Mary Ann Nicholls was murdered it was determined that the knife used to mutilate her was moderately sharp (page 30, The Lodger). A medical student or a mad doctor would have a very sharp knife. A butcher would have a blunter one that needs frequent sharpening. That was why the knife was sharper later.  
Nicholls had slight stomach mutilations. Just eight days later Annie Chapman was found dead with severe mutilations. Why the difference? The Ripper must have been practicing between these crimes so that he could go a lot further with the second victim.
Blood marks were found at the Annie Chapman murder scene as if the killer battered his coat against a wall to shake blood off. A piece of paper crumpled up with bloodstains on it looked like he wiped his hands with it (page 199, Portrait of a Killer). But why didn’t the Ripper use the water tap where a leather apron was found in the yard to clean his hands? (page 31, The Complete Jack the Ripper). There is only one possible answer. He was afraid that if people thought he used the tap, that the apron might be his. This indicates that the Ripper needed an apron in his work life. Butchers often wore leather aprons. A butcher was suspected of being Jack the Ripper just because he wore a leather apron.
We know the Ripper could have been a butcher. Eddowes was described as having been cut up like it was the work of a butcher. Dr. George Bagster Phillips gave the following testimony at Annie Chapman’s inquest:
"He should say that the instrument used at the throat and abdomen was the same. It must have been a very sharp knife with a thin narrow blade, and must have been at least 6 in. to 8 in. in length, probably longer. He should say that the injuries could not have been inflicted by a bayonet or a sword bayonet. They could have been done by such an instrument as a medical man used for post-mortem purposes, but the ordinary surgical cases might not contain such an instrument. Those used by the slaughtermen, well ground down, might have caused them. He thought the knives used by those in the leather trade would not be long enough in the blade. There were indications of anatomical knowledge”.

A butcher could carry chalk. Butchers used chalk to write on message boards. The killer carried chalk. He used it to taunt the public at Goulston Street. 

Only a man who was known as a butcher who worked or brought meat to the market like our suspect did could dare go out with any blood on him. Even if he was covered up well the police could stop him and search his body and look for blood marks say under the nails for example. The killer had to have been somebody that would have been taken for a butcher at the Market if blood was seen on him. The Ripper then was not the witness George Hutchinson or Joseph Barnett, Kelly’s lover who have been accused of the crimes through the years. Somebody more than familiar with Miller’s Court would not have forgotten about the pump to wash at. Again we see the Ripper doing what he did at the Annie Chapman murder scene. He just didn’t wash though there was running water available probably because there was a butcher’s apron there and he didn’t want people to think it was his for it would be a giveaway. These things though small are signatures pointing to a butcher having been Kelly’s murderer.

A butcher could carry knives without anyone worrying about it.  Officers at the scene of the Chapman murder believed that the knife used on her may have been an amputating knife or a well-ground butcher’s knife, narrow and thin (page 54, The Lodger).

The Ripper after cutting up Annie Chapman didn’t even wash at the tap where there was a butcher’s leather apron lying. So he refused to do what he needed to do. Why? That the Ripper didn’t want anybody to think the apron may have been his. The killer must have preferred to have blood smears on his person which should have been washed off to taking a chance with the apron for some reason. He did not want the police to start looking for a butcher.

Nobody would pay any attention to bloody body parts stolen from the prostitutes bodies being found in the Ripper’s lair if he were a butcher. They would think the parts were animal parts. The parts must have been discovered by someone for the Ripper was insane at times and had to have been careless sometime. They would smell as well. The Ripper had to wrap Eddowes organs in a piece of her apron that he cut off. Not exactly careful!

A butcher would have the stomach to perform the murders. The Ripper’s acts were so sickening that you would expect the Ripper to have thrown up at some stage when he had thought of what he had done.

The Kelly Murder
The fact that the Ripper at times was good at ripping and not so good at other times suggests that he was better at ripping animals. A butcher who wasn’t experienced at ripping up people might do a good job at this one night and be bad at it the next. The Ripper may have been in a frenzy when he slaughtered Mary Kelly for it was concluded by the doctor that the killer had no surgical skills. The Ripper intended to desecrate Kelly not extract her organs to take away trophies which could have been why he seemed so unskilful.
The Mary Kelly photograph shows her lying on her bed and what remained of her face turned towards the camera.  Some believe the camera was outside the window but it seems it was photographed from within the room. If you believe it was outside then you can argue, "Consider the window.  It was taken out.  The camera peered in.  From that spot the photograph was taken. It is impossible to deny that the killer ripped her up without having planned it this way for the horrid display couldn’t have been achieved better. A butcher would be good at displaying meat. Only a butcher was likely to stand in that room and plan the murder in such a way that the horrific results of his work could only been seen in all their gore from the window. It is as if he knew that the photographs would have been taken through that window. Only a butcher would have been any good at it. The Ripper closed the door in the hope that whoever discovered the murder would see through the window – have the most shocking view of the corpse possible. This would indicate that the Ripper had a lot of familiarity with her room. He didn’t plan these things on the spot." Pity this argument is no good and even if it were right it is too far-fetched.
Furthermore, the Ripper must have put the table with Kelly’s innards on it back in its place to make the display complete. The table would have had to have been moved when the Ripper was mutilating Kelly’s head and upper body for it would have been in the way.
Kelly was lying in a sleeping position when attacked. From cuts on her hands and cuts on the sheet as if it was slashed as it covered her face it seems she struggled a bit with her attacker. The hands showed evidence that she grabbed the knife in a struggle with the killer. A faint cry of, “Murder”, was heard between 3.30 and 4.00 am. Only somebody used to killing animals could cope with a struggling woman and amid the stress and fear of being discovered or interrupted. There were people living all around her. A wooden partition separated her room from somebody else’s so why where there no big thuds against the partition? Why did the bed not make a lot of noise as they struggled? She was not strangled like the other victims for the killer just cut her artery in the bed. Remember there was some annoyance when she was heard singing hours before. This man handled her like a frightened calf knowing it was facing its death. He was a butcher, a slaughterman. He applied his skills to handling violent animals to handling her. Nobody but a butcher who had experience as a slaughterman could have been that lucky.
There is evidence, according to some, from a photo of Kelly’s murder that some piece of her was hung from the ceiling. A butcher would be inclined to do that. The killer took care to put parts of her on the table just like a butcher would put meat on a table.


A butcher would be in the habit of cleaning his hands. The Ripper left no marks on Mary Kelly’s door when he exited.  The Ripper could not have washed his hands before leaving the room so he was careful not to leave any stains.  But like a butcher he was conscious of the mess he could make and avoided that.

A butcher could have a good excuse for being seen with blood on his person. Even so, if the Ripper covered up his clothes he still wanted to get the blood washed off in case the police got a suspicion about him. There was a water pump in the yard very close to the window that Kelly allegedly put her hand through to open the door. Nobody would have seen him washing in the dark. The Ripper didn’t use this pump to wash. The question then is, why not? He had committed his messiest murder – he left Kelly all in pieces over her room - and he didn’t wash.

The Ripper never left any bloody footprints anywhere. A butcher would be experienced at watching this. The murderer of Kelly, the bloodiest and most gruesome murder, left no prints on the floor. All this caution in relation to the Kelly murder points to the possibility that he was seen with or near the previous murder victims Eddowes and Stride or was interviewed by the police or both.

We must remember as well that with Catherine Eddowes that a section of her intestines was placed by her left side between the arm seemingly by design. This is what is stated in the report given by Doctor Brown.
A butcher’s habits die hard. When he had the time and the sufficient clarity of mind he laid the body parts out tidily as a butcher would. And sometimes even when he was in a hurry he took time to lay out the innards – this was by force of habit.


The Ripper was a quick and confident and trained butcher.