Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jack "The Devil" Ripper

       As we boarded the district line train to Tower Hill, I was expecting the Jack The Ripper walking tour to be another information session full of sightseeing and scouting out cool places to shop. I figured it was not going to be any more interesting or creepy than Westminster Abby, where your surrounded by dead bodies that are hundreds of years old. Boy oh boy was I wrong! We met up with our guide, Donald Rumbalow, who's eyebrows were frighting enough in themselves. However, his fascination and wealth of knowledge on Jack the Ripper astounded me! We began out tour looking at the Tower Of London, supposedly the most haunted place in the city. Rumbalow was extremely articulate and well spoken when it came to describing and setting up scenes that were the frame works for the tour. He described a scene where all the solders were lined up so a prostitute could possibly identify the man that had killed her fellow prostitute Martha Tabram, by stabbing her 37 times. However, Rumbalow left the crowd hanging as he guided us down a eerie stone passage way that was part of the original boarder the surrounded the city of London. We ventured out past Whitechapel or Prostitutes Church, where Jack the Ripper was known to pick up his victims. As we were walking, through Rumbalow's descriptions, I was able to paint a picture in my mind of London in 1888, where the dirt roads were full of piss and vomit and horse poop, and dirty, drunk, middle-aged women were selling their bodies for pennies. We found ourselves in Mitre Square, where Rumbalow described in vivid detailed the murder of Catherine Eddowes. He said in a very calm, mater of fact voice “she was cut on the left side of her neck from her throat to her spine. She had a cut from her vagina to her breast bone. Her insides taken out and slung over her right shoulder.” The emotion that was coursing through my body at that moment was a mixture of terror, sorrow and curiosity. I was repulsed by the gruesome act, but I was hungry for more information on this mysterious murderer. We then crossed to the east end and trouped into Old Spitalfields Market where we next learned of Annie Chapman's murder. Again, coolly, Rumbalow described Chapman's mutilated body using the exact same words he used for Eddowes. Apart from the very rowdy crowd at the pup next to us, there was silence, as everyone was hanging on his every word. The questions that were being asked in the beginning of the tour seemed to stop as we got deeper and bloodier into the story. Finally, the group found itself in an ally around the corner from Old Spitalfields Market, called Dorset Street. Rumbalow stopped us in front of what seemed to be the back stairway to a warehouse which was opposite a parking garage. It seemed like a rather odd place to stop until he informed us that this is where Mary Jane Kelly's one room apartment on 13 Miller's Court use to be. Kelly's murder was the single most gruesome murder Jack the Ripper committed. Just the way Rumbalow described the flesh on her face being peeled off made my stomach churn. It is amazing to me that anyone could commit such a gruesome act. Rumbalow then described the list of suspects, adding his insight on each one of the men. But in the end, I do not think that there was any human alive that could have done such grotesquely hideous things to other humans. No, I think that Jack the ripper was the devil himself, and that is why he signed his letter to police commissioner Warren, “From Hell.”

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