The Naked City Sep 30 2009
FROM HELL
Jack the Ripper’s double dip and letter from the inferno.


One hundred twenty-one years ago today, residents of London began to understand that a serial killer was stalking the dark streets of Whitechapel and London. Jack the Ripper had killed before—he had murdered Mary Ann Nichols in late August, and Annie Chapman the second week of September. But when two more women died in the same night Londoners flew into a panic. A malevolent entity had beset their city and suddenly it was clear his thirst would not easily be slaked. The two murders were called “The Double Event.” While some historians feel they were unconnected, Ripper orthodoxy holds that the second murder occurred because the first was unconsummated. Which is to say, the Ripper was robbed of a chance to inflict his signature mutilation on the first victim because he was interrupted by a passerby, so he immediately went out and found a second victim to kill in the intricate method his compulsion demanded.
 

The first victim, Elizabeth Stride, was found at 1:00 a.m. in Dutfield’s Yard, in Whitechapel. The yard was a gated area ringed by several businesses and a few residences. Imagine a small parking lot. The gates were kept closed at night, but not locked. This made it easy for residents to access the yard, and for policemen on their nightly beats to inspect it, but it was also unlit. A Pall Mall Gazette article from 1890 described the site: “When you push open the gate it is as dark as Erebus; when the gate is pushed back there is an effectual screen from any prying passer by.” When Stride’s body was discovered blood was still flowing from her slashed throat. She had been slain minutes—or seconds—earlier, and the man who had stumbled over her body later told police that, though he could see nothing because the yard was pitch black, he believed the killer was still there.

Less than an hour later Jack the Ripper found the privacy he sought—and another victim. Catherine Eddowes had spent the night of September 29 in the drunk tank at Bishopgate police station. The cops let her go just about the time Elizabeth Stride was being murdered not far away in Whitechapel. At 1:35 a.m. Eddowes was seen by three witnesses having a conversation with an unidentified male. Her body was found at 1:45, so police of the time and historians of today agree she was talking with the Ripper. In those ten minutes he walked with Eddowes to secluded Mitre Square, just inside the London city limits, then killed her, mutilated her, and removed her kidney. The kidney—or part of it—resurfaced along with a letter addressed to George Lusk, head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. The letter bore a header “From Hell,” and the text boasted of how nice the missing piece of kidney tasted fried. The letter was signed: “Catch me when you can.” But neither Lusk nor anyone else managed it. And the killings continued.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 24
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
May 23
1934—Bonnie and Clyde Are Shot To Death
Outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who traveled the central United States during the Great Depression robbing banks, stores and gas stations, are ambushed and shot to death in Louisiana by a posse of six law officers. Officially, the autopsy report lists seventeen separate entrance wounds on Barrow and twenty-six on Parker, including several head shots on each. So numerous are the bullet holes that an undertaker claims to have difficulty embalming the bodies because they won't hold the embalming fluid.
May 22
1942—Ted Williams Enlists
Baseball player Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox enlists in the United States Marine Corps, where he undergoes flight training and eventually serves as a flight instructor in Pensacola, Florida. The years he lost to World War II (and later another year to the Korean War) considerably diminished his career baseball statistics, but even so, he is indisputably one of greatest players in the history of the sport.
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