As the sun begins to set behind the dark rain clouds, we gather together in a tight group around the man who literally wrote the book on Jack the Ripper, Donald Rumbalow, to hear the details of those gruesome nights for ourselves on a walking tour through the murder scenes themselves. I do not remember which of the five victims Rumbalow discussed first because he went back and forth quite a bit, but each of the murders were distinguishable in their own way. The first two murders were awful, but none stuck with me like that of the double-murder night of 30 September 1888. Jack the Ripper must have been an educated man, or seriously lucky, to realize that there was an invisible line he crossed that night and each side had its own police force. Once Jack murdered his first victim Rumbalow said that a man coming home from work stopped when he saw her and later came out to find she was dead, but because she was not mutilated this most likely means that the Ripper was there when the man saw her the first time. He then ran across this invisible border and found his fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes. Rumbalow took us to the murder scene at Mitre Square that contained a far corner where the body was found and he described that this was the darkest corner of the square area surrounded by warehouses and homes. He told us that this area was patrolled by a policeman every fifteen minutes and by the time Eddowes went to the square with Jack, he had to have killed her within three to five minutes for him to get away before the cop returned. When thinking about Jack the Ripper, what scares me the most is not even how the women were viciously killed, but more that he was able to kill them mercilessly so quickly with no witnesses, and I think this is why I remembered this victim so well. The murder scenes of the victims before Eddowes could not be visually seen on the tour, but this one was right in front of me and I think that that is what made it real to me. I feel like hearing about something and seeing the actual place that it happened at are two completely different circumstances. Seeing the scene of any horrid event, such as a murder or even a car accident, makes it more of a reality, but if you just repeatedly hear a story-like I had with Jack the Ripper- and do not understand all of it, then you will never realize the story’s significance. The final victim was described by Rumbalow vividly and made me cringe multiple times. Hearing about how Mary Jane Kelly’s skin had been peeled off of multiple body parts, including her face, and she was only recognizable by her ears and teeth just killed me. When Rumbalow added that the Ripper was in no hurry with Kelly and had approximately ten hours to mutilate her because they were inside her apartment I could not help but wonder if she suffered greatly or if he killed her before the disfigurement took place. My next thought went to the family of this victim because she was the only victim whose picture was taken at the scene, so that picture was probably everywhere during this time and that would make any family upset.
Jack the Ripper was always a famous killer I had heard about and I always imagined him looking somewhat like Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. I had never heard the actual crimes he committed, why he was called the Ripper, or even that Jack was not his real name- yes, embarrassing but true. I know that now being over 100 years since these crimes that he is no longer alive and with technology nowadays there is a better chance that he would have been caught, but it is still a very nerve-racking feeling that he was never identified or arrested.