by Krystal Zara and Patrick H. Moore
After the grisly death of Annie Chapman at the hands of the mysterious slayer, who has come to be known as Jack the Ripper, fear convulsed Whitechapel; it permeated the thoroughfares and the alleyways; it was on everyone’s lips in the alehouses and in the lodging-houses. Annie was the third woman to be murdered during the past month, and although not everyone was convinced that the same killer was responsible for all three deaths, as the fear festered and grew like an unlanced boil, the Whitechapel residents grew desperate for a scapegoat. Human nature, when confronted by an especially horrific uncertainty, will do nearly anything to dispel it.
Thus, it came about that Jack Pizer, a thick-necked Jewish shoemaker with black hair, a black moustache and a sinister expression, commonly known as “Leather Apron”, became the chief suspect. The choice of a Jewish suspect was not surprising; the scapegoating of the Jewish population was an old British custom, as English as roast beef and hasty pudding, and the Jews as a whole had been the suspect group until someone put the blame specifically on Mr. Pizer.
Pizer was a man of great strength with a penchant for harassing prostitutes. A huge collection on knives had been discovered at his home and he had a second dwelling on Hansbury Street near where Annie Chapman’s body was discovered. There were reports that he had been seen threatening a woman with a knife in the early morning hours of September 8th; however, there seemed to be no proof that the altercation was with Annie Chapman. By law, the police could only hold Pizer for 36 hours – and the witnesses seemed unreliable. Furthermore, Jack Pizer not only maintained his innocence but provided a solid alibi for the hours in question.
His release from his brief time in custody didn’t make his life any easier; the press labeled him a “crazy Jew” and called him the “half man-half beast”.
Three days after Annie Chapman’s murder the police provided a description of a man who was suspected of having been with her just before the fatal attack. He was described as being in his late thirties with a dark moustache and beard. He was wearing a dark, shaded jacket, vest and trousers — and a scarf and hat. No one knows how the police came up with this description.
Ripper’s Victim #3: Elizabeth Stride
Elizabeth Stride, known as Long Liz on the streets of Whitechapel, was born on November 27, 1843 to a Swedish farmer, Gustaf Ericsson, and his wife Beata Carlsdotter, near Gothenburg, Sweden. In 1860, she took work as a domestic in the Gothenburg parish of Carl Johan, moving again in the next few years to other Gothenburg districts. Unlike most other victims of the Whitechapel murders, who fell into prostitution due to poverty after a failed marriage, Stride took it up earlier. By March 1865 she was registered by the Gothenburg police as a prostitute, was treated twice for a sexually transmitted disease (STD). She gave birth to a stillborn girl on 21 April 1865.
The following year she moved to London, possibly in domestic service with a family. A year later Elizabeth met, fell in love with and married John Stride. John, however, soon lost his life aboard a ship, the Princess Alice, that collided with another ship at sea, resulting in a death toll of more than 600 people. This maritime accident was used to explain Elizabeth’s two missing teeth – but there was never any evidence to prove that she was, in fact, on board the Princess Alice at the time of the tragedy.
From 1878 to 1887, Elizabeth court a hardworking laborer named Michael Kidney. Though he was reportedly quite fond of Long Liz, their relationship soured when she turned to heavy drinking. After their breakup, Liz’s life began to founder; by 1888, she had been arrested 8 times for charges associated with drunkenness and on September 25, 1888 Michael Kidney finally broke all ties with her.
Liz would spend the next four days drunk and alone — then came September, 29, 1888 — the day Elizabeth Stride crossed paths with Jack the Ripper.
J. Best and John Gardner were shocked to see, on the night of September 29th, what they referred to a “respectable” man kissing the lips of a woman who was known to be a prostitute — a woman who looked very much like Liz Stride. It was raining but still clear enough to see that the man was “ smartly dressed” and the woman was obviously from the streets. Best and Gardner remarked that the man kissing Liz seemed oblivious to her lowly social status.
The same man and woman purchased grapes at a fruit market on Berner Street, not far from where Annie Chapman met her fate, about an hour after they were seen kissing. According to the fruit vendor, the woman had not seemed distressed. Her speech was clear and she did not stagger. The man, said the bystanders, was dark-complected and appeared to be between 30 and 35 years of age.
The couple was then seen kissing and hugging outside the lodging house of Will Marshall, who had been out on his porch.
“You would say anything but your prayers,” Marshall heard the man say to the woman. They then walked away. Later in the inquiry, Will Marshall would remark that the man was well-dressed but that he had failed to see his face.
The last person to see the couple was PC Will Smith. The time was about 12:30 a.m. Elizabeth Stride – if that’s who she was – and the well-dressed gentleman were standing on the other side of the road engaged in an intense conversation that Smith couldn’t make out. Viewing their conversation as unremarkable, Smith carried on with his walk. Charles Letchford, a man who lived on Berner Street and had been out that night, later stated that he neither saw nor heard anything unusual. Morris Eagle, who worked on Berner Street, had been walking his girl friend home; he too claimed not to have seen anything out of the ordinary.
Liz and the Ripper’s interaction became violent at around 12:40 a.m. A witness stated that had seen the man grab the woman’s arm — a woman that he recognized as Liz Stride. He said her companion threw her to the ground and she screamed.
The next witness to come forward was Israel Schwartz. He claimed to have seen the attack upon the poor woman, but said that there had been another man standing by in close proximity lighting a pipe. The second man was perhaps 5’11”, around 30 years old and wore an overcoat and a wide, dark hat. This man also sported dark hair and a moustache. Schwartz claimed he heard a scream for help and the word “police!”
Long Liz’s body was discovered approximately 20 minutes later at the same location where the couple had been seen kissing, then talking, then fighting. Louis Diemschuntz, a purveyor of jewelry, had been riding by in his horse-cart when his horse sensed something was wrong and became distressed. The horse shied and Louis looked down to see the body of the dead woman. Her arms had been folded about her stomach — she had a red flower pinned to her blouse and she was clearly dead. It was later suggested that Diemschuntz’ horse might have scared the killer away. Apparently Long Liz had defended herself valiantly — the killer only managed to cut her throat. Her mouth slightly open, the fear was clearly visible on her face. Her throat had been slashed cleanly and the gash was large enough to expel a one-pound blood clout. Perhaps due to Louis Diemschuntz’ untimely approach, the Ripper had left hastily without performing his usual disemboweling ceremony.
Most of the locals who had witnessed Elizabeth and the well-dressed gentleman arrived at the crime scene and were naturally shocked to discover that the woman they had so recently witnessed alive, and even vibrant after a fashion, was now very dead. The post-mortem began the following day, October 1st. Mr. Blackwell proceeded with the autopsy. It was clear that the woman’s throat had been slashed; there were no other scars or suggestions that she had been strangled. She did have evidence of trauma on both shoulders, under her collarbone and on the front of her chest.
Inspector Abberline and the other policeman who had worked on the previous murders surmised that the Ripper himself was responsible for this slaying, only this time he hadn’t had time to dissect her fully due to having been interrupted by Diemschuntz and his horse-cart. Elizabeth Stride was officially identified by fits and starts. Mary Malcolm, an acquaintance of the victim, initiially claimed that the body was that of her deceased sister Mary Watts. The police were not thrilled when Mary Watts turned up alive and blamed Ms. Malcolm for wasting their valuable time.
Oddly, the newspapers renamed Elizabeth Stride “Lucky Liz” because she hadn’t been disemboweled. The fourth victim, however, Catharine Eddowes was not so“lucky”. Catherine was also killed in the early morning hours of September 30th – only hours after ELizabeth Stride and she received the full Ripper treatment.
Click below to read how Jack the Ripper’s other victims met their grisly fate:
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