04 Apr 19
The Scottish Sun
THIRTY-NINE stab wounds punctured Martha Tabram’s breasts and genitals when her lifeless body was found outside an apartment block in Whitechapel, London.
It was a crime that left police puzzled for over 130 years – Martha, a prostitute, had been brutally murdered – but who had committed such a terrible crime, and why?
Emilia Fox, star of Silkent Witness, turns real life detective in the show
Now, a brand new BBC documentary – fronted by Silent Witness star Emilia Fox – has used modern detective techniques to reinvestigate and concluded that Martha was “beyond all doubt” the first victim of notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
Jack The Ripper: The Case Reopened, which airs tonight on BBC One, also uses Geo-profiling to confirm Ripper’s identity as Polish barber Aaron Kosminski, named in a DNA study last week.
Martha Tabram was murdered on August 7 1888
Forced to sell sex – then killed
On the night of August 7, 1888, prostitute Martha Tabram was out drinking with a friend, known as Pearly Poll, when they met a couple of soldiers.
The mum-of-two had fallen on hard times since splitting from her husband and had been forced to sell sex to make ends meet.
At 11.45pm, Martha left with the soldier and was seen entering George Yard Buildings in London’s Whitechapel.
Victims Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman and Liz Stride has been assumed to be the first three
The following morning, at 5am, a labourer found her body at the foot of his apartment building. She had been stabbed 39 times in the breasts and genitals.
Although Martha was murdered just three weeks before Jack the Ripper started his infamous Whitechapel killing spree, the 39-year-old was never counted as one of the five known victims… until now.
Four months of murder
Between August and November, 1888, Martha and five other women were murdered on the streets of Whitechapel.
As the killing spree progressed, each body was found more mutilated than the last as the killer cut off body parts and disembowelled his victims for sexual kicks.
Using detailed notes from the investigation at the time Emilia and criminologist Professor David Wilson recreate the crime scenes to gain a greater understanding of the killer’s methods.
Experts also use a digital autopsy table – high-tech equipment which allows investigators to see internal organs of a woman’s body and draw wounds onto the image – to detail the horrific injuries inflicted on the victims.
Emilia Fox with the digital autopsy table used to show police and juries injuries inflicted on victims
The Ripper’s next victim, Polly Nichols, was found dead at 3.40am on Friday 31 August in Buck’s Row.
Her throat had been cut with a knife penetrating as far as her backbone – then her abdomen was “carved” open and her genitals were stabbed in what Prof Wilson deemed “a sexualised act” of “overkill”.
“He’s used far more force than is necessary to kill the victim,” he explains. “Once he’s killed her, that’s only the beginning. There’s things that he’s trying to achieve by the death of this woman.”
The Ripper victims and photographs from the autopsies
Hi next victim, Annie Chapman, was seen going into 29 Hanbury Street at 5am on Saturday September 8, with man a witness later described as “shabby genteel”.
She was found dead an hour later. Her throat had been cut, the abdomen had been slashed entirely open and her uterus had been removed.
A map of Whitechapel showing the sites of the six murders and Kosminski’s home
On the early hours of Sunday September 30, Liz Stride had her throat cut in Dutfield’s yard but it’s thought the killer was interrupted because she was not mutilated.
Israel Schwartz, who saw the Ripper attack Stride but dismissed it as a domestic, described the man as “30 years old, about 5ft 5in, fair complexion, dark hair with a brown moustache… wearing a dark jacket with a black peaked cap.”
‘Sexual frustration leads to second murder in a day’
The same morning, Catherine Eddowes was murdered in Mitre Square. Her throat was cut, her abdomen was ripped open by a long, deep, jagged wound and the left kidney and the major part of the uterus had been removed.
Her bowel was draped over her shoulder and for the first time he attacked the face – cutting both eyelids, cutting the nose and slashing around the mouth.
Prof Wilson concluded that having to leave Stride’s body without mutilation had left the Ripper’s blood lust unsatisfied.
Catherine Eddowes was killed and mutilate in Mitre Square
“He’s sexually frustrated so he runs off in search of another victim,” he said.
“He’s not simply interested in killing. He kills Liz Stride but it’s not enough for him. If he was only interested in killing he’d have gone home.
“But this is about his own misogynistic sexual needs after the woman has died.”
Witness Joseph Lawende saw Eddowes talking to a man of “30, 5ft 7in, a fair complexion and a small fair moustache.”
This time, he was wearing a salt and pepper jacket, a red neckerchief and a grey peaked cap – suggesting he may have changed his outfit between the two attacks.
‘Breasts and kidneys on the table, face obliterated and the heart missing’
The final victim, Mary Jane Kelly, was the only one killed in her room and the Ripper’s sick fantasies came to the fore.
Her throat had been severed to the spine, then her organs were cut out from her body and arranged around the room, with her breasts and kidneys placed on the table next to the bed.
Her heart was missing and her face was “gashed in all directions” with her nose, cheeks, eyebrows and ears partially removed.
“Alone in the room, he’s got time to be with a dead victim,” said David. “Here he is exploring, he is allowing his fantasies to be fully flowered.
A newspaper illustration of the Polly Nichols murder scene
“When he’s got time to be alone with a dead woman he disfigures, he dehumanises, he obliterates.”
Having gathered all the information on the dead women, the pair turn to a computer system called HOLMES (Home Office Large Major Enquiry System) set up in the wake of the Yorkshire Ripper murders to help police establish a pattern in serial murders.
Inputting the details of 11 murders in the Whitechapel area in 1888, the computer rules out five that don’t fit the pattern, but concludes that Martha Tabram’s death fits.
“Having walked the streets of Whitechapel…having looked at the MO and in particular having seen the evidence presented from HOLMES I’ve got absolutely no doubt that Martha Tabram is the first of the Jack the Ripper victims,” concludes Prof Wilson.
Emilia investigates a crime scene in Silent Witness
The find helps to narrow down the suspects through Geo-profiling – establishing where a killer is most likely to live through looking at the sites of their crimes.
Expert Dr Sam Lundegran reveals killers are either commuters or marauders, travelling away from home to commit crimes or striking in a pattern around their own homes, leaving a “buffer zone” to distance themselves.
Serial killers fall into the marauding pattern 85-90 per cent of the time and the first murder, Prof Wilson says, is most likely to be close to home because the killer “wouldn’t know what to expect” and would need to get to a place of safety quickly.
The Geo-profiling identifies a small area of Whitechapel, in the centre of the six murder sites, where the killer is likely to live.
‘The Prince, the painter and the doctor’
Professor Wilson is then able to dismiss the many theories surrounding the identity of the killer – including speculation that the Ripper was Prince Albert Victor, Queen Victoria’s grandson.
The Prince – known as Eddy – was thought to have caught syphilis in the navy which turned him into a psychopath.
One theory had Prince Albert Victor as a suspect but Prof Wilson discounted him
“The problem with that is that the Eddy had an alibi,” says Prof Wilson.
“He’s not actually in London when several of the murders occur. The night of the double murder, Queen Victoria notes in her diary that she has been having lunch with ‘Eddy’ in Balmoral.”
Painter Walter Sickert, who was suspected because of his obsession with the murders and a series of paintings depicting the scenes, was also ruled out because he was on holiday in France and painted one of his most famous paintings, the October Sun, while some of the murders were taking place.
James Maybrick, who apparently claimed to be the Ripper in a diary that “emerged” in 1992, was discounted because tests exposed the diary as a fake.
Frances Tumblety’s unusual appearance rules him out of the case
Frances Tumblety – a doctor from the US who lived in Whitechapel – was also suspected.
Emilia Fox said: “He was later charged with gross indecency after having sex with five different men. He undoubtedly hates women. He collected uteruses as grotesque specimens.”
But Prof Wilson explained: “He has a striking appearance – he’s tall, he has a huge handlebar moustache and crucially he speaks with an American accent.
“Neither of the two witnesses mentioned any of these characteristic.”
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Instead, Prof Wilson identifies Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminski, who moved to Whitechapel in the early 1880s and worked as a hairdresser.
Aaron, who was in his mid-twenties, lived with his brother and sister in Sion Square, in the centre of the murder sites.
Medical records say he suffered from mental health issues from 1885, becoming paranoid.
“He heard voices and he would later claim that those voices made him behave in a particularly violent way,” David revealed.
Aaron Kosminski is named as the most likely to be the serial killer
Living so close meant he had time to go home, change and wash on the day of the double murder – explaining the different clothing described by the two witnesses.
After the Kelly murder, Kosminski was questioned in house to house enquiries and police began to watch him, informally, which may explain the fact that he never murdered again.
In 1890, his family put him in a workhouse infirmary because he was attacking his sister with a knife.
He was then moved through various asylums and died of gangrene in 1919.
“He lives in Whitechapel, he’s somebody who can blend into the background and has a history of violence,” said Prof Wilson. “He fits all our cold case criteria.”
Emilia concludes: “At the end of our cold case review we feel confident that with the help of new technology, we have shed new light on the case of Jack the Ripper.”
Jack the Ripper: The Case Reopened airs tonight on BBC1 at 9pm.