Murdered on the 8th of September 1888, Annie Chapman belongs to the ‘canonical five’ victims of Jack the Ripper. When found dead, her body was terribly mutilated: her throat was cut from left to right and she had been disembowelled, with her intestines thrown out of her abdomen over each of her shoulders. The morgue examination revealed that a part of her uterus was missing. Following the murder, a number of suspects were investigated, but no conclusive evidence was found against any of them.
By 1888, Chapman was living in common lodging houses in Whitechapel and she earned some income from crochet work (making antimacassars and selling flowers), supplemented by casual prostitution. An acquaintance described her as ‘very civil and industrious when sober’, but also noted, ‘I have often seen her the worse for drink”.
On the morning of her death, Chapman found herself without money for her lodging and went out to earn some on the street. At the inquest one of the witnesses, Mrs. Elizabeth Long, testified that she had seen Chapman talking to a man at about 5:30 am. …
Mrs. Long described the man as over forty, and a little taller than Chapman, of dark complexion, and of foreign, ‘shabby-genteel’ appearance. He was wearing a deer-stalker hat and a dark overcoat.
Evidence indicated that Chapman may have been killed as late as at 5:30 am, in the enclosed backyard of a house occupied by sixteen people, none of whom had seen or heard anything at the time of the murder. Chapman’s protruding tongue and swollen face led Dr Phillips, the police surgeon, to think that she may have been asphyxiated with the handkerchief around her neck, before her throat was cut. As there was no blood trail leading to the yard, he was certain that she was killed where she was found.