Jack the Ripper 1888 header image.

MARY KELLY'S MURDER

9TH NOVEMBER 1888

A CRY OF MURDER

At around 4am on the morning of the 9th November two neighbours claimed that they had heard a faint cry of "Oh Murder!"

But cries of "murder" were quite a regular occurrence in the neighbourhood and often meant a drunken brawl was taking place or domestic violence was occurring. It was quite customary for those on the receiving end of such violence to scream "murder."

The local residents didn't want to get involved and so they would ignore any such cries, as indeed did the two neighbours of Mary Kelly ignore the cry that they heard.

THOMAS BOWYER FINDS HER BODY

At 10.45am that morning Mary Kelly’s landlord, John McCarthy sent his assistant Thomas Bowyer – who was also known as Indian Harry - round to 13 Miller’s Court to collect her overdue rent.

Striding into Miller’s Court Bowyer banged twice on her door. There was no answer.

No doubt believing that she was inside but unwilling or unable to pay her rent, Bowyer stepped around the corner and pulled aside a curtain that covered the broken window pane.

Moments later an ashen faced Bowyer staggered back into McCarthy’s shop. "Governor," he spluttered, "I knocked at the door and could not make anyone answer. I looked through the window and saw a lot of blood."

You don’t mean that Harry” was McCarthy’s horrified response, and the two men hurried from the shop and into Miller’s Court.

Stooping down, McCarthy pushed aside the curtain and gazed into the gloomy room. A sight of unimaginable horror met his eyes.

The wall behind the bed was spattered with blood. On the bedside table was a pile of bloody human flesh. And there on the bed, barely recognizable as human, lay the virtually skinned down cadaver of Mary Kelly.

“The sight that we saw I cannot drive away from my mind," McCarthy later told a journalist, "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.”

THE POLICE ARRIVE

McCarthy sent Bowyer to Commercial Street Police Station to fetch the police, and having first stopped to secure his shop, hurried after him.

Inspectors Walter Dew and Walter Beck were chatting inside the station when Bowyer arrived. As Dew recalled in his memoirs:-

“The poor fellow was so frightened that for a time he was unable to utter a single intelligible word. At last he managed to stammer out something about "another one. Jack the Ripper. Awful. Jack McCarthy sent me."”

Soon Beck and Dew were following Bowyer along Commercial Street in the direction of Dorset Street. When they arrived at Miller's Court Dew tried the door but it would not open.

Inspector Beck therefore moved to the window and gazed into the room. Almost instantly he staggered back. "For God’s sake Dew," he cried, "don’t look."

Dew ignored the order, and looking through the window, saw a sight which would stay with him to his dying day. The horror of what he saw was still vivid in his mind when he penned his memoirs fifty years later:-

WHAT DEW SAW

"As my thoughts go back to Miller’s Court, and what happened there, the old nausea, indignation and horror overwhelm me still… My mental picture of it remains as shockingly clear as though it were but yesterday…No savage could have been more barbaric. No wild animal could have done anything so horrifying."

Mary Kelly’s body lay on the bed, her head turned towards the window. Here face had been mutilated beyond recognition and one feature in particular struck Inspector Dew, "…the poor woman’s eyes. They were wide open, and seemed to be staring straight at me with a look of terror."

Indeed, so thorough were the mutilations to Mary Kelly’s face that her lover Joseph Barnet was later only able to identify her by her eyes and ears.

THE POST MORTEM REPORT

Dr Thomas Bond detailed her injuries in his subsequent post mortem report.

Even today, inured as we are by graphic depictions of violence and bloodshed on television and in films, the detached scientific tone of his report makes for extremely discomforting and disturbing reading:

“The body was lying naked in the middle of the bed, the shoulders flat, but the axis of the body inclined to the left side of the bed. The head was turned on the left cheek. The left arm was close to the body with the forearm flexed at a right angle & lying across the abdomen. the right arm was slightly abducted from the body & rested on the mattress, the elbow bent & the forearm supine with the fingers clenched.

The legs were wide apart, the left thigh at right angles to the trunk & the right forming an obtuse angle with the pubes. The whole of the surface of the abdomen & thighs was removed & the abdominal Cavity emptied of its viscera.

The breasts were cut off, the arms mutilated by several jagged wounds & the face hacked beyond recognition of the features. The tissues of the neck were severed all round down to the bone.

The viscera were found in various parts viz: the uterus & Kidneys with one breast under the head, the other breast by the Rt foot, the Liver between the feet, the intestines by the right side & the spleen by the left side of the body.

The flaps removed from the abdomen and thighs were on a table. The bed clothing at the right corner was saturated with blood, & on the floor beneath was a pool of blood covering about 2 feet square...The face was gashed in all directions the nose cheeks, eyebrows and ears being partly removed. The lips were blanched & cut by several incisions running obliquely down to the chin. There were also numerous cuts extending irregularly across all the features.