Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jack the Ripper

Kate Eddowes

A passageway leading to Mitre Square
A passageway leading to Mitre

The woman murdered in Mitre Square was easier for the police to identify since she had some pawn tickets on her that, when publicized, brought forward John Kelly, the man she had been living with for seven years at a lodging house at 55 Flower and Dean Street.

Catharine Eddowes, called Kate by all who knew her, was a very friendly and happy woman, known for her good spirits and singing. She, like the other victims, had a periodic drinking problem, which led to quarrels with her companions and family.

Kate was born in 1842. Her parents died when she was young and the household was dispersed. When she was 16, she fell in love with Thomas Conway and went to live with him as his common-law wife. They lived together some 20 years and produced three children. Conway's physical abuse and Kate's drinking caused the couple to break up in 1880. The next year, she met John Kelly and remained his lover for the rest of her life. Her friends were adamant that Kate was not a prostitute, but there is some reason to believe that she did occasionally prostitute herself, perhaps when under the influence of alcohol.

John Kelly
John Kelly

The evening before her death, Kate told Kelly she was going to visit her daughter to borrow some money. Kelly warned her about the Whitechapel killer and told her to come back early. "Don't you fear for me. I'll take care of myself and I shan't fall into his hands," she reassured him.

Kate never got to her daughter's house, but she did find some money - enough to get stinking drunk and land in the jail at the Bishopsgate Street Police Station. She slept off her over indulgence until 12:30 a.m., when she asked to be allowed to go. Shortly afterwards, Constable Hutt let her go. She asked him what time it was and he told her it was just about one o'clock.

"I shall get a damned fine hiding when I get home then," she told him.

"And serve you right," Hutt told her. "You have no right to get drunk."

Mitre Square was a mere eight-minute walk away.

Kate Eddowes
Kate Eddowes

As in the deaths of Polly Nichols and Annie Chapman, Kate's throat had been deeply slashed from left to right and the resulting wound was the cause of death. According to Dr. Brown's testimony:

The abdomen had been laid open from the breast bone to the pubes ...The intestines had been detached to a large extent ...(and) about two feet of the colon was cut away...The peritoneal lining was cut through and the left kidney carefully taken out and removed. The left renal artery was cut through. I should say that someone who knew the position of the kidney must have done it...The womb was cut through horizontally, leaving a stump of ¾ of an inch. The rest of the womb had been taken away with some of the ligaments. The vagina and cervix of the womb was uninjured.

Kate Eddowes: mortuary sketch by Federick Foster
Kate Eddowes: mortuary
sketch by Federick

The face was very much mutilated. There was a cut about ¼ of an inch through the lower left eyelid dividing the structures. The right eyelid was cut through to about ½ inch. There was a deep cut over the bridge of the nose extending from the left border of the nasal bone down near to the angle of the jaw of the right side. The tip of the nose was quite detached from the nose.

Several other cuts were sustained on the face, plus the right ear lobe had been completely severed and had fallen from her clothing when she was taken to the morgue.

An important witness surfaced — Joseph Lawende, who left the Imperial Club with two friends at about 1:35 a.m. The men saw a couple conversing at Church Passage near Mitre Square. Lawende described the young man as dressed in a dark jacket, wearing a deerstalker's hat. The man was young, medium height and with a small, fair-colored moustache. He did not see the woman's face, but identified Kate's clothing. Nine minutes after this sighting, Kate Eddowes was murdered.

What about the chalk writing found over an hour later on Goulston Street under which lay a portion of Kate's bloody apron? "The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing."

Philip Sugden discusses three feasible interpretations of this message. First is that the message was not written by the murderer and just happened to be where the killer dropped or placed the bloody piece of apron.

A second possible interpretation offered by Walter Dew, a Whitechapel police officer in 1888, is that the message represents "the defiant gesture of a deranged Jew, euphoric from the bloody 'triumphs' in Dutfield's Yard and Mitre Square." One of the many problems with this interpretation is that, according to the Acting Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler, "I do not know any dialect or language in which 'Jews' is spelled 'Juwes.'"

The third possible interpretation was that the message was "a deliberate subterfuge designed to incriminate the Jews and throw the police off the track of the real murderer." This third interpretation was much favored by Scotland Yard and the Jewish community.

Whoever the author of the message was, it yielded very little in the way of identifying its writer. The belief of some authors that the word "Juwes" is a Masonic term is disputable. "It is a mystery why anyone ever thought that 'Juwes' was a Masonic word," wrote Paul Begg, an expert on the Ripper murders.

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