Jack The Ripper Catherine Eddowes

History Uncovered Episode 105:
Jack The Ripper, Episode 4: The Mutilation Of Catherine Eddowes

Published February 15, 2024

In the early morning hours of September 30, 1888, the horribly disfigured body of Catherine Eddowes was found in Mitre Square — and a few weeks later, a piece of her kidney was sent to the authorities.

On October 16, 1888, a Whitechapel neighborhood watch group received a letter addressed “From Hell” which chillingly described a murder. Even more chillingly, the letter came with what appeared to be a piece of a human kidney preserved in spirits.

The macabre note was unsigned, but the police had a good idea of who could have sent it. And they had a good idea of who the kidney may have once belonged to: a woman named Catherine Eddowes.

From Hell Letter

Wikimedia CommonsThe “From Hell” letter received by the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee in October 1888.

Two weeks before, in the early morning hours of September 30, Eddowes’ body had been discovered in London’s Mitre Square. Her body and face had been horrendously mutilated, she’d been disemboweled, and her killer had removed her left kidney and most of her uterus.

As the autopsy grimly noted: “The intestines were drawn out to a large extent and placed over the right shoulder — they were smeared over with some feculent matter. A piece of about two feet was quite detached from the body and placed between the body and the left arm, apparently by design… The face was very much mutilated.”

Eddowes was not the only woman to be found so gruesomely murdered in Whitechapel in recent weeks. In fact, she was the fourth. Police were also investigating the similar murders of Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, and Elizabeth Stride, the last of whom had been found dead just 45 minutes before Eddowes’ mutilated body was discovered by a police constable.

Catherine Eddowes

Public DomainCatherine Eddowes was Jack the Ripper’s fourth canonical victim.

Unlike the other women, who had at least occasionally turned to sex work to get by, Eddowes’ friends and family claimed that she was not a sex worker. In fact, despite her poverty, Eddowes was in a good place in her life. She was in a seven-year relationship with a man so committed that she’d taken his last name, and those who knew her described her as “very jolly.”

But Eddowes did have one thing in common with Nichols, Chapman, and Stride. While walking through the labyrinth of London one dark night, she crossed paths with one of history’s most infamous serial killers: Jack the Ripper. The notorious murderer would kill Eddowes with a horrifying ferocity unseen in his previous attacks. And he would allegedly remove her kidney and send it to the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee just weeks later.

This is the story of Catherine Eddowes, Jack the Ripper’s fourth victim who suffered one of his most vicious attacks.

Listen to part three of History Uncovered’s series on Jack the Ripper here and listen to part five here.

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