|A Ripperoo Article|
|This article originally appeared in Ripperoo, the flagship magazine of the Australian Cloak and Dagger Club. For more information, view our Ripperoo page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperoo for permission to reprint this article.|
BY JULIAN ROSENTHAL.
“I’LL SOON GET MY DOSS MONEY, SEE WHAT A JOLLY BONNET I’VE GOT NOW!”
These were ‘Polly’ Nichol’s last words, as she left her doss house on Thrawl Street, being turned away with too little money! Where did her new bonnet, that no one had seen before, come from?
Polly’s, (or Mary Anne Nichol’s), body was later found in the early hours of the following morning. Her throat was cut and her body was mutilated. As with the other victims of Jack the Ripper, there were a new or different items found at the murder scene, that were not customarily the victim’s. Nichols with her bonnet, Chapman with her two farthings, Elizabeth with a nice flower, Catharine with a red leather cigarette case and Mary Jane Kelly was reportedly given a red handkerchief by a man seen with her shortly before her murder.
It is believed that most serial killers, like to leave behind something that will give the police a clue as to who they are, (as if in a sort of game). In the case of Jack the Ripper, it would appear that he left behind presents that he may have given his victims during the day in order to obtain their affections, with perhaps promises of more gin or other comforts.
This is how I believe Jack got to know his victims and he even could have became friendly with other people around Whitechapel. Small, insignificant gifts would have meant a great deal to these women, regardless of how trivial they were. For them it would have meant a kindness that was unexpected and a kindness that was welcomed in their often violent and despairing lives. What woman in their circumstances wouldn’t be accepting of an act of friendship?
Having said that, I’ll follow thought with a collaborating comment that serial killers are faceless people in the crowd, people we’d never suspect, but also people who want to make their mark in history. Most of them desire to be caught, so their names and faces can be preserved in time and the crimes that they committed can be associated with them.
Given the psychological evolution of mankind over the past hundred years or so, I’m not certain that this concept applied to Jack unless you consider William Bury as the Whitechapel murderer, who left messages in his apartment saying: ‘Jack lives here‘. This concept only seemed to appear with serial killers in latter years, albeit they also left other clues at their crime scenes. Maybe this was also the same with Jack although the clues he left behind were far more suitable than his contemporaries. Polly’s “new bonnet” for example: being left beside her body and the other items found on the other victims.
This gives lead to the fact that the person Hutchinson saw may well have been the Ripper. According to the evidence he gave following the inquest into Mary Kelly’s murder, he stated that shortly after 2:00 a.m. on the morning of 9 November, he observed a man in Commercial Street near Flower and Dean Street, talking to Kelly after he had previously spoken to her, being asked for some money. His recollection of the conversation Kelly had with this man is rather vague, but one thing Hutchinson did mention was that Kelly had asked for a handkerchief and was given a red one by her new companion. No handkerchief of this description was found in the search of Kelly’s apartment, although it might have been destroyed in the fireplace along with other articles of clothing. Another possibility is that the murderer, having been noticed giving it to her, took it away with him.
Although the evidence of Hutchinson is debatable, if we are to consider the possibility that Jack did befriend the women of Whitechapel with gifts and offers of kindness, it does suggest that he either gained their confidence through being a generous and friendly man or he seduced them with minor personal possessions.
Possibly the biggest enigma surrounding this theory is the red leather cigarette case found with Catharine Eddowes. This case evidently had white metal bindings, possibly indicating silver (my thought), but whatever the case we know that earlier in the day she pawned a pair of her partner’s boots, (John Kelly’s), to get some money for tea, sugar and some food. Exactly where the cigarette case came from is unknown, but what is certain is that a leather cigarette case would have brought more money than a pair of boots. My thoughts on this matter, is that Catharine, like the others, had met up with someone during the evening of that fateful night and after making her acquaintance and plying her with alcohol, gave her a gift with a promise to meet later. Was this the same with the others? I’ll leave you to ponder this thought……