Jack the Ripper - MARY KELLY

On the morning of November 9, 1888, John (“Jack”) McCarthy asked his office assistant to pay a visit to Mary Jane Kelly who was six weeks behind in paying her rent. Thomas Bowyer did just that, but no one answered the door at #13 Miller’s Court. Moving around to the side of Mary’s tiny corner room, Bowyer saw that a window had broken glass. Reaching in, he moved the curtains to see whether Mary was home. What he actually saw was shocking.

Bowyer ran back to the office, advised his employer that a mutilated body was inside Mary’s room, then both men ran back to Miller’s Court. Thomas could barely speak when he summoned the police. Investigators determined that the remains were those of Mary Jane Kelly. This image, of Bowyer discovering the body, appears on the cover of Famous Crimes, Past and Present, vol. II n° 18, published in 1903. Click on the image for a full-page view.


The grim streets of Whitechapel were no place for a pretty 25-year-old woman, but Mary Kelly had to earn a living. Her home, which she shared with her common-law husband Joseph Kelly, was in one of London’s worst slums: 13 Miller’s Court on Dorset Street. A famous landmark, Christ Church Spitalfields, was across the street.

According to the stories researched by Stephen Knight and Alan Moore, Mary Kelly was the pivotal person in the Ripper saga:

  • She had been the only witness for Annie Crook at her alleged secret wedding to the Queen’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor.
  • She was nursemaid to the Prince’s alleged child.
  • It was Mary Kelly who supposedly wrote the blackmail note to Walter Sickert.

And ... it was Mary Kelly who received the worst of Jack the Ripper’s unrestrained, diabolical fury.

The final victim, Mary Kelly was viciously and mercilessly stripped of human appearance. Not much was left of her when the Ripper put-away his blade during the early hours of November 10, 1888.

After a night of drinking, Mary had returned home. Around 2 a.m. (on November 10th) her neighbors heard her singing "Sweet Violets," the murdered Annie Chapman’s favorite song. The two had been friends. (Follow the link to the beginning of the BBC’s Radio Merseyside Broadcast to hear it.)

Sometime during the night, Mary had a visit from Jack the Ripper:

  • Did she let him in?
  • Did he find his way in through the broken window (from a quarrel between Mary and Joe) at 13 Miller’s Court?
  • Did Mary know him?

Other than Mary’s singing, no one heard anything at all. Certainly there was no sound of alarm that would have alerted anyone about Mary’s imminent demise.

When Mary Kelly was discovered, dead in her bed, no one could believe the viciousness of the crime:

  • Her beautiful face was destroyed—totally.
  • The insides of her body had been removed.
  • Her heart was missing.

Who could have done such a thing? Following the inquest into her death, no one still had a clue about the identify of her killer.

There was a theory that Mary Kelly actually lived. (WARNING! THIS LINK TAKES YOU TO THE POLICE PHOTOGRAPH OF MARY KELLY’S REMAINS - IT IS BEYOND BELIEF - USE EXTREME CAUTION BEFORE YOU CLICK ON THE LINK - IF IN DOUBT DON’T GO THERE!)  And, because her face and body were so completely mutilated, it was difficult to positively identify her. Her common-law husband, however, did just that.

What was Inspector Fred Abberline to do? With no clues, how would he solve the Ripper murders?

Or ... did he have clues that he was ordered to ignore and evidence that he was instructed to suppress?

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 1999

Updated Last Revision: Jul 21, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"MARY KELLY" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 1999. Dec 10, 2019.
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