October 30, 2006

Unsolved Evil

Murder has a dark magic of its own. It disgusts and thrills us, excites and angers us, fascinates and horrifies us. But murders that go unsolved… those capture our imaginations and oftentimes become the stuff of legends.

Jack the Ripper

On Friday, August 31st, 1888 the body of a prostitute was found in Whitechapel, London. She had been murdered and her body mutilated. Her name was Mary Ann Nichols and she would be known forever as the first victim of the mass murderer Jack the Ripper.

Jack the Ripper terrorized the streets of London for some time. Each murder that was discovered was more violent than the last. The bodies of prostitutes were mutilated, at times their organs removed and stolen away.

Though the number of victims is subject to debate among “Ripperologists” most agree on the Canonical Five.

Mary Ann Nichols – August 31st, 1888 - Throat slashed, abdomen sliced open in several places, five teeth were missing.

Annie Chapman – September 8th, 1888 – Throat slit, intestines removed and draped over the shoulders of the victim, uterus, bladder and vagina removed and taken by killer.

Elizabeth Stride – September 30th, 1888 – Throat slit, found only moments after the attack, wounds were still “gushing blood”, some debate exists about whether she was killed by Jack or by her lover Michael Kidney as no mutilation occurred past the slit throat. Some say it was because the constable who came across the body interrupted the attack.

Catherine Eddowes – September 30th, 1888 – Throat slit, right ear lobe removed*, intestines removed and arranged around the body, womb was removed, kidney was removed**, eyelids were mutilated.

Mary Jane Kelly – November 9th, 1888 – Youngest of the victims, murdered in her own bed, entire contents of abdomen removed and placed around the body, breasts severed and placed under head and by foot of corpse, face was slashed in multiple places, heart was taken by the killer.

Other possible victims date all the way into 1891, though many people think them to be the work of copy cat killers.

Aside from the murders, Jack the Ripper took it upon himself to mock the police who were investigating his crimes. He sent several letters to the newspapers, bragging about his crimes.

* - In one such letter he promises to “Clip the lady’s ears off and send it to the police officers just for jolly” – This fact alone helped the verify the authenticity of the letter when Catherine Eddowes’ ear was removed. The letter was not released to the public until after the murder.

** - Jack sends half the kidney of Catherine to a Mr. Lusk, head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, writing “I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer.” He titled the letter “From hell” and signed it “Catch me while you can”

The true identity of Jack the Ripper was never found. Through his cruelty and sadistic murders he has earned his own strange immortality of movies, countless books and a name that carries a legacy of evil.

Lizzie Borden

Lizzie Borden had an axe
She gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty one

August 4th, 1892 the small town of Fall River, Massachusetts is shocked at the double murders of Andrew and Abby Borden. Both were found inside the family home, attacked by an axe. Though the popular poem states otherwise, Abby was struck 9 times, Andrew 11.

The only suspect in the murder was their daughter, Lizzie.

Between press coverage and the frenzy surrounding the trial, it can be compared to the O.J. Simpson trial of more recent times.

She was acquitted at trial, but no one else was ever tried or even suspected of the murders. The house where the murders occurred is now a popular bed and breakfast. The home that Lizzie moved to after her acquittal is a private residence.

The murders remain unsolved to this date.

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