Today In History: Jack The Ripper's First Murder

Today In History |

August 31, 1888


Jack the Ripper's first victim, a prostitute named Mary Ann Nichols, was killed today in 1888, setting off the most infamous serial killing spree in history. Nichols was found badly mutilated in the Whitechapel district of London. In the coming months, four more women were brutally killed. The culprit was never identified.

Whitechapel was a very poor district of the city, where prostitution was widespread. A still anonymous murderer, known only by his nickname Jack the Ripper, targeted prostitutes. He killed his second victim on September 8, Annie Chapman. Two more bodies were found on September 30, prostitutes Kate Eddowes and Liz Stride. All were killed and mutilated.


Scotland Yard, through intelligent police work, were able to determine the Ripper's pattern of soliciting girls, luring them into seclusion, and murdering them in ways too violent to recount here. Without the aid of modern forensics, they were at a loss for how to find the killer. They received many letters, almost all of which were fraudulent, claiming to be the murderer. Two, however, recounted details unknown to the public. They were signed "Jack the Ripper."

Jack the Ripper was quiet for a month, and then killed his final victim, a prostitute named Mary Kelly. Hers was the grisliest of all the women's deaths.

His identity remains a mystery today. His file was officially closed in 1892, after the murders stopped and Scotland Yard's leads dried up.

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Matt lives in Southern California. He is interested in politics, history, literature and the natural world.