In 1888, the most infamous murders of all time took place in London’s East End. Five prostitutes, destitute women who knew of no other way to survive, were slaughtered and mutilated by a supposedly unknown killer who bears the nickname Jack the Ripper.

The victims are listed below:

Mary Ann Nichols, Friday 31st August

Annie Chapman, Saturday 8th September

Elizabeth Stride, Sunday 30 September

Catherine Eddowes, Sunday 30 September

Mary Jane Kelly, Friday 9th November

The argument

There is a difference between an experienced butcher cutting up an animal and a woman. Sources differ on whether the Ripper really knew what he was doing. If he was not a Jewish butcher he could still have been an amateur one or one familiar with such workings. He was definitely trying to respect and implement shochet techniques against the victims. Jewish lunatic Aaron Kosminksi is the strongest candidate for being the killer.

Butcher of women

The Complete Jack the Ripper discusses the argument given in Robert Odell’s Jack the Ripper in Fact and Fiction that the murderer was a Jewish ritual slaughterman or a shochet (pages 156-163). These slaughtermen cut the throat of animals down to the bone like the Ripper did. But these men according to The Complete Jack the Ripper had much the same expertise as a trained butcher.

A letter by R Hull dated 8th October 1888 stated that as a man who worked as a butcher, R Hull, was sure that there was “nothing done yet to any of these poor women than an expert butcher could not do almost in the dark.”

Hull stated that butchers are good at keeping blood off their person like the Ripper who apparently didn’t have much blood on him.  The killer worked in bad light and must have had amazing eyesight like you might expect of butchers at the time.

The shochet idea is possibly true even though the first four Ripper victims were strangled while the rules required the killing to be done by cutting the throat. Kelly however was killed by a cut to the throat suggesting that the Ripper treated her as a shochet would a sheep or a pig. Being an indoor murder the Ripper was able to keep the rules properly which he couldn’t have done with the other victims who were killed outdoors.

The speed

A big problem with the people who originally investigated the murders and examined the bodies is that it never occurred to them that the Ripper used great speed in mutilating the women. They thought it took time.

The Ripper kept one step ahead of the police by checking out the beat times. He knew he had to work fast. Annie Chapman was extensively mutilated in about two minutes. Only an expert at cutting flesh up fast could manage all this. And only a butcher would have that kind of practice.

You read in the book Jack the Ripper’s Black Magic Rituals that Ivor Edwards the author also believes that Chapman was seemingly cut up in less than two minutes. Edwards offers as proof for this the speed with which he was able to cut sheep and cattle when he worked for the Fresh Meat Company (page 43, Jack the Ripper’s Black Magic Rituals). He also believes that Eddowes was mutilated in two minutes as well (page 81, Jack the Ripper’s Black Magic Rituals). Incredibly he still thought that the Ripper was a surgeon. No surgeon could mutilate Chapman so quickly for surgeons have to take their time. Butchers and slaughtermen would be adept at gutting and mutilating rapidly. A slaughterman or butcher would be a better candidate for having being the Ripper.

Chapman's intestines were flung over her shoulder. It has been pointed out that the arrangement of the intestines may have just happened anyway for they roll out and slide. Trevor Marriott explains that the large intestine is about five feet long and the small could be as long as 20 feet. It is hard to believe though they would go upwards like that. Out to the side would be more likely.

If the Ripper handled the intestines without messing himself totally he must have had sufficient slaughterman experience. A man smeared with excrement would have been noticed quickly on the streets.

Doctor Brown and Doctor Sequeira who had been present at Catherine Eddowes’ post mortem stated that her killer showed as much knowledge of the human body as you would expect from a butcher. A doctor or surgeon cuts into bodies slowly for they have to take their time. A butcher would be an expert at cutting with some skill rapidly. If the Ripper had been a doctor or surgeon he would have shown more concern for giving himself time to cut up his victims.

Traditionally the mutilations were put in too large of a time slot. Now it is known that it should be reduced to one third of the time.

The Ripper if had any butchering experience would have been able to work fast even in bad stressful conditions and bad light. And he did.

Self-trained butcher?

Some think the Ripper was an experienced butcher and experienced in cutting and ripping. We have an unnamed suspect who was a butcher from Aldgate, Whitechapel. The police observed him for a time.

We know the Ripper could have been some kind of butcher. Eddowes was described as having been cut up like it was the work of a butcher. Dr. George Bagster Phillips gave the following testimony at Annie Chapman’s inquest:

"He should say that the instrument used at the throat and abdomen was the same. It must have been a very sharp knife with a thin narrow blade, and must have been at least 6 in. to 8 in. in length, probably longer. He should say that the injuries could not have been inflicted by a bayonet or a sword bayonet. They could have been done by such an instrument as a medical man used for post-mortem purposes, but the ordinary surgical cases might not contain such an instrument. Those used by the slaughtermen, well ground down, might have caused them. He thought the knives used by those in the leather trade would not be long enough in the blade. There were indications of anatomical knowledge”.


When Mary Ann Nichols was murdered it was determined that the knife used to mutilate her was moderately sharp (page 30, The Lodger). A medical student or a mad doctor would have a very sharp knife. An amateur butcher would have a blunter one that needs frequent sharpening. That was why the knife was sharper later.

Nichols had slight stomach mutilations. Just eight days later Annie Chapman was found dead with severe mutilations. Why the difference? The Ripper must have been practicing between these crimes so that he could go a lot further with the second victim.


A butcher could carry chalk. Butchers used chalk to write on message boards. The killer carried chalk. He used it to taunt the public at Goulston Street.

How did he clean up?

It is said that only a man who was known as a butcher who worked or brought meat to the market like could dare go out with any blood on him. But if you have blood on you that you should not have is anybody going to pay much attention?

Did he bother cleaning up?

Blood marks were found at the Annie Chapman murder scene as if the killer battered his coat against a wall to shake blood off. A piece of paper crumpled up with bloodstains on it looked like he wiped his hands with it (page 199, Portrait of a Killer). But why didn’t the Ripper use the water tap where a leather apron was found in the yard to clean his hands? (page 31, The Complete Jack the Ripper). Was he afraid that if people thought he used the tap, that the apron might be his? He did not want the police to start looking for a butcher. If so then Ripper needed an apron in his work life. Butchers often wore leather aprons. A butcher was suspected of being Jack the Ripper just because he wore a leather apron.

Miller's Court the scene of Kelly's murder was extremely dirty with blood and mess. Somebody more than familiar with Miller’s Court would not have forgotten about the pump to wash at. Again we see the Ripper doing what he did at the Annie Chapman murder scene. He just didn’t wash though there was running water available.The Ripper didn’t use this pump to wash. The question then is, why not? He had committed his messiest murder – he left Kelly all in pieces over her room - and he didn’t wash.

Aaron Kosminski at times was self-neglecting.

Even if he was covered up well the police could stop him and search his body and look for blood marks say under the nails for example. The killer had to have been somebody that would have been taken for a butcher at the Market if blood was seen on him. The Ripper then was not the witness George Hutchinson or Joseph Barnett, Kelly’s lover who have been accused of the crimes through the years.

You might argue, that butcher would be in the habit of cleaning his hands. The Ripper left no marks on Mary Kelly’s door when he exited. The Ripper could not have washed his hands before leaving the room so that could not have been easy. A hairdresser like Aaron Kosminski would have had reasons to wash hands often too!

A butcher could have a good excuse for being seen with blood on his person. Even so, if the Ripper covered up his clothes he still wanted to get the blood washed off in case the police got a suspicion about him.

The Ripper never left any bloody footprints anywhere. A butcher would be experienced at watching this. The murderer of Kelly, the bloodiest and most gruesome murder, left no prints on the floor. All this caution in relation to the Kelly murder points to the possibility that he was seen with or near the previous murder victims Eddowes and Stride or was interviewed by the police or both.

Other clues

A butcher could carry knives without anyone worrying about it. Officers at the scene of the Chapman murder believed that the knife used on her may have been an amputating knife or a well-ground butcher’s knife, narrow and thin (page 54, The Lodger).

Nobody would pay any attention to bloody body parts stolen from the prostitutes bodies being found in the Ripper’s lair if he were a butcher. They would think the parts were animal parts. The parts must have been discovered by someone for the Ripper was insane at times and had to have been careless sometime. They would smell as well. The Ripper had to wrap Eddowes organs in a piece of her apron that he cut off. Not exactly careful!

A butcher would have the stomach to perform the murders. The Ripper’s acts were so sickening that you would expect the Ripper to have thrown up at some stage when he had thought of what he had done.

The Kelly Murder

The Ripper at times was good at ripping and not so good at other times. Maybe he was was better at ripping animals. A butcher who wasn’t experienced at ripping up people might do a good job at this one night and be bad at it the next. The Ripper may have been in a frenzy when he slaughtered Mary Kelly for it was concluded by the doctor that the killer had no surgical skills. The Ripper intended to desecrate Kelly not extract her organs to take away trophies which could have been why he seemed so unskilful.

The Mary Kelly photograph shows her lying on her bed and what remained of her face turned towards the camera. Some believe the camera was outside the window but it seems it was photographed from within the room. If you believe it was outside then you can argue, "Consider the window. It was taken out. The camera peered in. From that spot the photograph was taken. It is impossible to deny that the killer ripped her up without having planned it this way for the horrid display couldn’t have been achieved better. A butcher would be good at displaying meat. Only a butcher was likely to stand in that room and plan the murder in such a way that the horrific results of his work could only been seen in all their gore from the window. It is as if he knew that the photographs would have been taken through that window. Only a butcher would have been any good at it. The Ripper closed the door in the hope that whoever discovered the murder would see through the window – have the most shocking view of the corpse possible. This would indicate that the Ripper had a lot of familiarity with her room. He didn’t plan these things on the spot. Furthermore, the Ripper must have put the table with Kelly’s innards on it back in its place to make the display complete. The table would have had to have been moved when the Ripper was mutilating Kelly’s head and upper body for it would have been in the way." Pity this argument is no good and even if it were right it is too far-fetched.

Kelly was lying in a sleeping position when attacked. From cuts on her hands and cuts on the sheet as if it was slashed as it covered her face it seems she struggled a bit with her attacker. The hands showed evidence that she grabbed the knife in a struggle with the killer. A faint cry of, “Murder”, was heard between 3.30 and 4.00 am. Only somebody used to killing animals could cope with a struggling woman and amid the stress and fear of being discovered or interrupted. There were people living all around her. A wooden partition separated her room from somebody else’s so why where there no big thuds against the partition? Why did the bed not make a lot of noise as they struggled? She was not strangled like the other victims for the killer just cut her artery in the bed. Remember there was some annoyance when she was heard singing hours before. This man handled her like a frightened calf knowing it was facing its death. You would be forgiven for thinking he was a butcher, a slaughterman. He applied his skills to handling violent animals to handling her. You would wonder how anybody who did not have experience as a slaughterman could have been that lucky.

There is evidence, according to some, from a photo of Kelly’s murder that some piece of her was hung from the ceiling. A butcher would be inclined to do that. The killer took care to put parts of her on the table just like a butcher would put meat on a table.









We must remember as well that with Catherine Eddowes that a section of her intestines was placed by her left side between the arm seemingly by design. This is what is stated in the report given by Doctor Brown.

A butcher’s habits die hard. When he had the time and the sufficient clarity of mind he laid the body parts out tidily as a butcher would. And sometimes even when he was in a hurry he took time to lay out the innards – this was by force of habit.


The Ripper had learned something from Jewish butchers. He was conscious of Jewish techniques that you would think it was the work of a qualified butcher. Yet there is something experimental about the murders - like a sick anatomical curiosity.

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