A forensic linguist has shed new light on mysterious letters supposedly written by Jack the Ripper during the killing spree that sent shockwaves through Victorian London. Over letters were received by police, media and officials related to the spate of gruesome murders attributed to so-called Jack the Ripper, who was never caught.
The notorious murderer is thought to have killed at least five young women in the Whitechapel area of London between August and November After the first four letters were received, police decided to publish them, prompting hoaxers to send a flood of copycat letters, which helped make the Ripper famous. However, Nini was able to focus his analysis on two of the earliest letters purportedly written by the killer, which have already been extensively studied by historians.
Specifically, Nini found specific linguistic constructions in the two letters, such as the use of the phrasal verb to keep back to withhold. Nini told Fox News, that, while his forensic analysis did not specifically attempt to identify the letters' author, it may offer clues.
The results indicate that it is very difficult to do so. Chiefly targeted in this ongoing profit amelioration scheme were milk and beer products which were eminently susceptible to dilution , while salt, sand and even toxic elements were added to tea, coffee, cocoa, bread, butter, flour and sugar — namely those commodities constituting the primary dietary intake of the struggling poor. Moreover, doctored weighing scales ensured that customers received short measures as a matter of course — and no self-respecting coster would even contemplate throwing away decaying produce so long as it could be concealed amongst freshly acquired stock.
Rising above their everyday degradations, a substantial proportion of the community closed ranks and looked after its own. With extraordinary acts of kindness, neighbour helped neighbour, the hungry fed the starving, the poor donated to the penniless and the weak nursed the ailing who in turn comforted the dying. Church and benevolent organizations flooded into the area in an attempt to alleviate the most extreme misery. Soup kitchens, blanket and coal funds along with temporary night shelters were instituted whenever and wherever possible.
The Salvation Army worked relentlessly on behalf of the dispossessed, distributing a diversity of alms on nightly visits to slum tenements, low lodgings and outdoor encampments. Women like Octavia Hill fought the housing crisis by persuading builders and private landlords to invest in new or specially renovated low-rent properties which, unlike the ill-conceived New Model Dwellings, presented a viable accommodation option to the poor.
Dr Barnardo embarked on a crusade aimed at the protection of children.
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His programme of providing sanctuary for homeless waifs saved many from certain starvation, and in the process eased something of the strain on an overburdened penal system. With admirable prescience Barnardo even took to purchasing neglected youngsters from unfit or overwhelmed mothers.
A number of refuges catering for soiled doves were founded in the hope that habitual streetwalkers might be tempted into abandoning their ungodly activities in favour of moral, social and spiritual rebirth. Lady philanthropists in particular expended much time and effort in visiting those of the Abyss, occasionally invoking paroxysms of delight when a group of slum children were herded together, shepherded aboard a train and shunted off for the day to some rural or seaside Elysium.
Sadly, though, while immensely laudible, the sum total of this compassionate outpouring amounted to precious little. For here was a socioeconomic emergency of catastrophic dimensions that no measure of well-intentioned benefaction could ever hope to resolve.
Positive political action was what was really needed. Yet rather than adopt decisive countermeasures, the Government persisted with a long-established strategy of nonintervention, regurgitating in defence of its apathy the same outmoded, morally inexcusable rhetoric espoused by successive previous administrations.
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More appallingly still, it was claimed that such a scenario would create a domino effect, precipitating first national socioeconomic chaos before ultimately destabilizing the entire British Empire. Meanwhile, in the ghetto, an army of filthy, diseased, half-starved slum dwellers continued to scavenge their way through an unremittingly wretched existence, little realizing that a new and even more ghastly chapter in their collective waking nightmare was about to unfold.
Chapter Two. Having spotted what in the pre-dawn darkness looked like an abandoned tarpaulin lying in front of some stableyard gates on the opposite pavement, he decided to make a closer inspection. Cross was joined seconds later by Robert Paul, another Bethnal Green carman making toward his Whitechapel workplace. Both men felt for signs of life. Paul touched her face and declared it still warm. Encouraged, he explored her chest, hoping to find a heartbeat.
With both men now running behind schedule, they decided to resume their journey to work, intent upon finding a policeman along the way. Before departing, however, Paul resolved to restore to the woman at least a semblance of dignity by drawing her skirts back over her legs. Yet, despite a determined effort, the clothing proved difficult to reposition and Paul abandoned the task having covered only the upper thighs. The time was now am. Composing himself, Constable Neil bent over the body and discovered that, despite the early morning chill, the face and upper arms were still warm.
He felt certain that she had been killed where she lay and was equally positive that the body had not been present when he had last patrolled the street thirty minutes earlier. Raising his bullseye he signalled for assistance and was hurriedly joined by PC John Thain, 96 J, who attempted to take in the scene.
News of the murder was even now circulating the neighbourhood. Notwithstanding its impressive-sounding designation, this facility was nothing more than a decrepit, woefully insanitary shed abutting Whitechapel Workhouse Infirmary. Mann and Hatfield would later deny all knowledge of this directive and, much to the exasperation of investigators, not only stripped and washed the woman, but threw her clothing into the yard.
Still, in a bitter twist of irony, they did uncover a gruesome and as yet unsuspected feature of the crime. Quite how the epileptic Mann and elderly Hatfield reacted when confronted with this hideous apparition is perhaps best left to the imagination. Predictably, Dr Llewellyn was requested to conduct a second and more comprehensive medical examination as a matter of urgency. Additional bruising to the left side of the neck was coupled with an abrasion to the right. Two separate cuts, each running left to right, had severed the neck tissues back to the cervical vertebrae, the more prominent extending to a length of eight inches.
Mutilation to the lower abdomen consisted of one large, jagged wound and a series of slashes inflicted across and downwards. While no body parts were absent, the fact that many of the vital organs had been worried inclined Llewellyn to infer that the killer was possessed of at least some anatomical knowledge. The primary task of the murder inquiry was now that of identifying the anonymous victim. Her personal effects amounted to scarcely anything at all: a white handkerchief, a comb and mirror, the latter possibly signifying an owner who had frequented low lodging houses.
More promising was a petticoat bearing the legend Lambeth Workhouse — P. There the Matron was questioned and then taken to the mortuary, but failed to recognize the deceased. After consulting her records, however, she provided the names of two former inmates whose present whereabouts were unknown.
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Born in , Polly Nichols began drinking heavily at some point during the mids. Just as the frequency of her bibulousness increased, so too did the urge to up and leave husband William and their five children. After absenting herself on several occasions she deserted the family home altogether in and thereafter hawked her body whenever short of money.
In March, , having grown accustomed to drifting in and out of Lambeth Workhouse, she moved in with her father, Edward Walker, at Trafalgar Street, Walworth. A month later she was living in pseudo-wedlock at 15 York Street, Walworth, with blacksmith Thomas Drew. On 19 December, , she was removed along with other down-and-outs amid a police clearance of Trafalgar Square and consequently renewed her association with the Lambeth Union.
Following brief spells in Mitcham Workhouse and Holborn Infirmary, Polly next enjoyed a three-month stint of legitimate employment, working as a domestic in the household of Samuel and Sarah Cowdry at Rose Hill Road, Wandsworth. Unusual though this lapse into humble respectability might have been, it is clear from a letter written to her father that Mary Ann was proud of her newfound status.
I just write to say you will be glad to know that I am settled in my new place, and going all right up to now. My people went out yesterday, and have not returned, so I am left in charge. It is a grand place inside, with trees and gardens back and front. All has been newly done up.
They are teetotallers, and religious, so I ought to get on. They are very nice people, and I have not much to do. So goodbye for the present. From yours truly, Polly. Answer soon please, and let me know how you are. Perhaps Polly grew tired of the dull, regimented existence at Rose Hill Road and yearned for another taste of her former debauched lifestyle. In a few short weeks Polly had gravitated to East London, paying 4d a night for the dubious privilege of occupying a shared room at 18 Thrawl Street, Spitalfields.
Here at number 56, otherwise known as the White House, Nichols was free to entertain clients with impunity owing to a policy of free association between the sexes. Life became an endless ritual of prostitution, excessive drinking, then more prostitution once her earnings had been frittered away. But for Polly Nichols the nightmare was to be short-lived. Police inquiries unearthed several witnesses who had seen Nichols during her crucial final hours, each stating that she had been intoxicated.
The earliest positive sighting occurred at pm when she was observed walking along Whitechapel Road. An hour later she was spotted on the corner of Brick Lane and Thrawl Street, apparently leaving the Frying Pan public house. She was sitting in the communal kitchen of her former Thrawl Street lodgings at am but was shown off the premises when the deputy learned she lacked fourpence for a bed.
Making light of her predicament, Polly assured him that obtaining her doss money posed no problem. She was next seen at am by Emily Holland, one of the prostitutes with whom she had roomed at 18 Thrawl Street. Now very drunk and leaning against a wall on the corner of Whitechapel Road and Osborn Street, her condition was so unstable that a concerned Mrs Holland tried to coax her back to the relative safety of her lodgings.
While Emily made toward Thrawl Street, Polly lurched off in search of one final customer. Despite considerable efforts, police failed to trace anyone who saw Nichols alive after this encounter.
And although she was killed on the spot where Charles Cross found her body roughly an hour later, nothing even remotely suspicious had been perceived by neighbouring residents. Self-confessed light-sleeper Emma Green slept obliviously through the assault, notwithstanding the fact that her bedroom window sat only a few feet from the crime scene. In another front-facing bedroom directly opposite, the wife of Essex Wharf manager Walter Purkiss endured a fitful night and was in all probability pacing the floor when Polly died, yet still sensed nothing out of the ordinary.
Here, entirely exposed to view by dozens of windows in a thoroughfare not twenty feet wide, someone had throttled and slashed a woman into extinction without alerting a single person. Not only were those hunting him acutely aware of his nerve and stealth, they also feared that he may have killed before — perhaps more than once. Almost five months earlier a forty-four year old prostitute named Emma Elizabeth Smith had spent the Bank Holiday Monday evening of 2 April drinking and probably peddling sex in the vicinity of Whitechapel High Street. It was well after midnight when she decided to make for her bed.
Setting off on the short walk back to her lodgings from Whitechapel Church, Mrs Smith became conscious of being followed by three youths, the eldest of whom appeared to be no more than eighteen years old.