By: Louise Mackay
In 1888 a serial killer walked the streets of Whitechapel, London. The victims were from the lower end of society, doing anything they could for a couple of pence. The nickname given to the killer was Jack the Ripper…..
The autumn of 1888 was very cold and wet. The people living in Whitechapel needed shelter and warm food. A woman’s job, if she had one, usually required long hours in a factory for not much money. Some women instead chose to earn money on the streets by selling themselves to anyone who accepted their offer.
In 1888, six prostitutes are said to have died by the same hands. Their lives ended in strangulation, after which the killer cut open their bodies and took away the body parts that he wanted. The last victim, Mary Kelly, was killed even more dramatically. Her face, sliced beyond recognition, her body was cut open and her skin cut off. Mary died in a very brutal way.
The killer was never caught. Although,
128 years later, investigators are getting closer and closer to knowing who it was.
For the past four years, I have run a ghost hunting company in Yorkshire. We run events at many different locations. Our goal is to search for proof of the afterlife and offer evidence to our customers that it does exist. We use the most up-to-date investigative equipment, we have a team historian, experienced investigators and me. I am a medium and I can speak to people who have passed on to the afterlife. This includes spirits who come back to visit places that meant a lot to them in their life, but sometimes it can go the other way. For example, if someone were killed violently and/or before their time, like the victims of Jack the Ripper, they may be unsettled in the afterlife. I believe this makes it easier for them to talk to mediums; to get their stories across.
One weekend, three of us from our team set off to visit the Whitechapel and Spitalfield areas. We planned our visit for over six months, looking at new and old maps, using eye witness accounts where the ladies where last seen, who they were with and where they went. We wanted to walk the last walk of each of the Jack the Ripper victims.
We started from scratch, to make up our own minds about the murders in 1888.
While walking the victims’ last walks, we wanted to try and communicate with the spirit of the victim, or maybe the Ripper himself. We want to hear their version of events in their words.
Arriving in London, we had exactly 26 hours to complete the 128 year-old task that lay ahead of us. Finally, we wanted to find the grave sites of all the known Ripper victims and visit their final resting places.
Many Ripperologists and researchers debate wither or not Martha Tabram is a ripper victim. In my opinion she was. Serial killers almost always try different ways to kill, which leads up to the big event. So we included Martha in our journey.
First, we located Angel Alley. Martha’s friend ‘Pearly Pol’ reported being there with her. At the time, Pol met with a soldier to earn some money. From there we walked past the White Swan pub, up into George Yard. This is now called Gunthorpe Street. The small road still has its cobbles on the ground and there’s a different feeling about the whole street. It is close to the main road, but so quiet.
Before we got to the George Yard buildings where Martha’s body was found, I felt Martha’s presence with me.
She told me she had finished with her own soldier and he walked off up the small hill. She started walking down to wait for ‘Pearly Pol’ to finish. On her way down the hill, she spoted a man walking towards her. At first, he spoke nicely and Martha felt comfortable in his company. He was dressed as a gentleman.
The man hinted they should go somewhere for sex. Martha told me she thought this was a good idea, as she would have twice the money.
Suddenly his demeanor changed. He dragged Martha by the arm, up the hill and into the George Yard buildings. Martha told me at first she thought it was a game and she laughed, until she saw the man’s face change. She worried for what might happen to her.
Pains started crippling my stomach and I instantly knew that she wanted to talk about her death. She told me that she was well aware of being stabbed, and she was alive for nearly all of them. Although she had lost count on how many times. Martha said in her last few moments, she feared for her friend ‘Pearly Pol’ and worried she would be this man’s next victim.
The spirit of Martha Tabram walked quietly away.
Martha was stabbed 39 times by her killer, mostly to her stomach. Only one stab wound was fatal.
Our second location was Bucks Row. We went there to try to speak to Mary Ann ‘Polly’ Nichols who was murdered on the August 31, 1888. Some researchers claim that Mary was the first Jack the Ripper victim.
Unfortunately, we could not get anywhere near Bucks Row. The road was shut for road work.
In the early hours of September 8, Annie Chapman’s body was found in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street. Although Hanbury Street is still there today, that side of the street has been demolished and rebuilt. Across the road, the buildings are exactly how Annie Chapman and the Ripper victims would have known them.
Annie was seen speaking to a man at the front of 29 Hanbury Street, so we walked over to the building to see if we could get a sense of how the street felt in 1888.
I felt a strong energy of people walking up and down this road but nothing from Annie Chapman herself.
It took around 15 minutes to walk to our next location in Whitechapel. It was quite a distance from the other locations and it did not feel like a Ripper victim location.
We got to Henriques Street (in 1888, called Berner Street). Elizabeth Stride was killed in a courtyard called Dutfield Yard. Elizabeth was thought to have been one of two Jack the Ripper killings that night.
She was last seen a few feet away from where her body was found. At the murder site of Elizabeth Stride we decided to hold a session with a pendulum.
It did not take long for the spirit of Elizabeth to come to us. We asked “yes” or “no” questions through the pendulum. Two of us asked the same question, we wanted to see if our pendulums swung to answer the same and they did.
Elizabeth told me that she did not know who her killer was, and that she was with someone she knew before meeting her murderer.
I asked her if she knew any of the victims that Jack the Ripper is said to have killed. She told me that she knew some of them but not all.
Suddenly, I felt her spirit come even closer to me. I stood on the pavement staring in to space. Elizabeth told me there were men who were also killed by the Ripper. These men were homosexual rent boys and their murders were either ignored or put down as a suicide.
We had planned out our route to get to Mitre Square, where the second victim of the double murder, Catherine Eddowes, was found. Using old maps from 1888, we did not follow the main road and instead chose to use the route Jack the Ripper may have walked.
On the way to Catherine Eddowes murder site, I felt that it was not the way the killer had walked if the murders were committed by the same man.
We arrived at Mitre Square and could only walk into half of it, because of a building site situated there. We could not get to the passage where Catherine was last seen, but we could stand directly on the place where her body was found.
Unfortunately, Catherine did not come forward to speak to us in Mitre Square. However, myself and our other medium team member (Gail) could smell sewage. It was strong and overwhelming, although the other team member could not smell anything.
We knew that the Ripper left Mitre Square and went to Goulston Street. There, he dropped a piece of Catherine’s bloodied apron. We set off on his trail.
While walking to Goulston Street I picked up on an overpowering feeling that I needed to walk fast and all of a sudden I knew where I was going even though I had never been there before. Both myself and Gail felt a burning sensation at the back of our throats.
Standing on the street corner, I got a picture in my head of the killer. He crossed the road, wiping his knife clean with the piece of apron that he took from Catherine. The material looks more like a rag. Without breaking his pace, he threw the material into an alleyway without stopping.
I felt like he did not care where the apron piece landed, and he certainly did not place it there.
When the material was found by a policeman, it was next to some (potentially) anti-Jewish graffiti. I feel strongly that the murderer did not write the graffiti, it was there before the night of the killing.
Before the last murder site we decided to visit St. Botolph’s Church, which is situated near Mitre Square.
This church was there in 1888, and was used by prostitutes as a meeting point. When they saw a policeman approaching, the girls would walk around it to the other side.
At the front of the church, there are a few benches. We sat for a few minutes to soak up the energy.
I felt that the church was used by the girls both inside and out. They used it as shelter to get out of the cold and the rain. Some even used the church as a place to reflect, to think about their lives and their problems and even to try find a way to get out.
There was a good amount of spirit energy outside the front of the church. I could see around a dozen “unfortunates” standing outside in small groups talking.
I made my way up to the last murder site. The victim was Mary Kelly. Mary was murdered in her lodgings and her body was so mutilated that she could only be identified by her hair and her eyes.
The murder site was Millers Court, which was a small passageway through Dorset Street. Both streets do not exist today and the whole area is another construction site.
We managed to find what would have been the entrance to Dorset Street and we held another session with the pendulum.
Again, asking “yes” and “no” questions, we confirmed that we were communicating with Mary Kelly and that she did live in Millers Court.
Mary told me that her killer was someone she had seen before. He was someone who had power, but she did not trust him. Mary Kelly then backed away when I started asking more questions about her murderer.
Mary Kelly was a lady that did not trust very easily. I managed to gain her trust by explaining that I was there to find out the truth, not to judge and also because I wanted to try and get some sort of justice for her.
She told me that her killer wanted to have sex with her. She took him to her lodgings because he was a well-known man and did not want to risk people seeing him.
I asked Mary about her death and she told me that her killer did not knock her unconscious before he started stabbing and cutting into her now bloodied body. Mary Kelly tried extremely hard to defend herself but it was no use, he was too strong.
At that moment, I felt Mary’s sorrow; this brave lady knew she was dying and there was no hope, nothing she could do. The emotions began to fade.
I felt that I needed more questions to be answered, so I asked about the other Jack the Ripper victims. Mary would not say if the killings stopped after her death. Maybe she was too traumatized to notice.
I asked Mary about Emma Smith. Emma was a lady like the rest, who died before Martha from a brutal gang attack.
I asked Mary if Emma was another Jack the Ripper victim, and she replied no. Mary went on to tell me that she knew all of the victims, some really well, some not so well.
Before our trip I researched every victim to the finest of details. Unfortunately, I could not find anything on Mary Jane Kelly, so I thought that it would be a great opportunity to ask her about herself.
She confessed that her name was not Mary Kelly. From the articles I had read about her, I asked if her last name was Davies. She replied yes.
The following day we visited the grave site for all known Jack the Ripper victims. Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly.
The first site I went to was the grave of Elizabeth Stride. We walked over to it,?surprised by the flowers, alcohol and the money on the grave. I got an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth was now at peace and she was back with her husband.
Annie Chapman was next. A small plastic plaque acts as a memorial because her gravesite has been built over. I did not expect to feel or communicate with anything connecting to Annie, but all of a sudden, tears started falling down my face and I was crying. She came to me and told me that she was grateful we conducted our own investigation and took the time to pay our respects. I could have stayed there all day speaking to her but we had others to see.
The victims Catherine Eddowes and Mary Nichols had memorials placed near where their bodies were buried. They were both buried in a pauper’s grave, which has now been turned into the most beautiful of memorial gardens. We left a few coins at every grave.
Lastly, we visited the grave of Mary Jane Kelly. This site feel very odd to me and the team. It felt very false. The name Marie Janette Kelly had been carved on the gravestone, which made us more curious about this lady, and left us wanting to find out more.
This trip taught us a lot. We now understand what these ladies’ lives were like. We’ve learned not to judge them and not to see them just as a victim. Every single person that Jack the Ripper killed had their own lives, with their own tales to tell. Their lives are not just about their deaths. We cannot wait for our next trip to Whitechapel!
Louise Mackay is a medium and ghost hunter for From the Other Side. You can find out more about her and their events at www.fromtheotherside.org.uk