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 Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide 
This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.

John McCarthy

John McCarthy was the landlord of 26 Dorset Street, the address where Mary Kelly lived. This address is frequently referred to as 13 Millers Court, though is in fact one and the same. McCarthy has come under suspicion because for reasons unknown, he allowed Kelly to fall behind with her rent to the tune of 29s. On the Morning of 9 November 1888 shortly before 10.30am, John McCarthy sent his assistant Thomas Bowyer, to collect what rent he could from Mary Kelly. Bowyer knocked on the door of Kelly's room, but received no reply, he then tried the door but found it was locked, he therefore reached inside the broken window pane and pulled back the dirty muslin curtain to be confronted by the mutilated body of Mary Kelly.

A shocked Bowyer rushed back to McCarthy to report, 'Guv'nor, I knocked at the door and could not make anyone answer, I looked through the window and saw a lot of blood'. McCarthy and Bowyer then both rushed to Kelly's room and peered through the broken window. McCarthy would recall later, 'The sight we saw I cannot drive away from my mind, it looked more like the work of a devil than of a man. I had heard a great deal about the Whitechapel murders, but I declare to God, I had never expected to see such a sight as this, the whole scene is more than I can describe, I hope I may never see such a sight as this again'. McCarthy then sent Bowyer to the police station, and after tending to his shop, later followed him.

Abberline was informed by Inspector Beck that bloodhounds had been sent for, and Dr Phillips advised against forcing the door until the dogs had arrived. At 1.30am Inspector Arnold arrived with the news that the dogs were not in fact on the way, and that the door was to be forced. McCarthy, armed with a pickaxe, then forced open the door.

It has been asked exactly why McCarthy had used a pickaxe to open the door, when as landlord surly he possessed a spare set of keys. Also, why did he choose that morning to send his assistant to collect the rent.

Theorists have suggested McCarthy was a regular client of Kelly's, and this could offer to explain why she had been allowed to accumulate rent arrears, and possibly offers an explanation as to the reason she was murdered. It is also speculated that she may possibly have been blackmailing him. Another theory is that McCarthy may have been related to Kelly, and may have in fact been an uncle or distant cousin.

McCarthy was born in Dieppe, France, in 1851, he was married with four children and owned a chandler shop. He let rooms known locally as McCarthy's rents, and was reported to have lost a number of tenants following the murder. According to the East London Observer, McCarthy rejected a morbid offer to buy or hire, Mary Kelly's bed. Possibly due to the attention in the press McCarthy's wife received a Jack the Ripper Postcard dated 11 November, postmarked Folkestone, in which the sender threatened, 'Next time a woman and her daughter'. John McCarthy died in 1935.

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Related pages:
  John McCarthy
       Dissertations: McCarthy, Kelly and Breezer's Hill 
       Dissertations: Time is on My Side 
       Message Boards: John McCarthy 
       Press Reports: Daily News - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 24 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 10 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 17 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 17 November 1888