The Ripper began his London terror on August 31, 1888.
His first victim was 42-year-old Mary Ann ("Polly") Nichols who lived on Flower and Dean Street. The murder took place at Buck's Row near the London Hospital. (The linked map depicts the location of the body at Buck's Row.) The London Times reported the story on September 1, 1888.
Polly's body was brought to the Bethnal-Green police station where it was examined. According to the Times:
A further examination showed the horrible nature of the crime, there being other fearful cuts and gashes, any one of which was sufficient to cause death apart from the wounds across the throat.
The police initially thought the murder of Polly Nichols was the third murder attributable to the Ripper, but that was later proven incorrect.
In retrospect, it is clear that the damage the Ripper did to Polly Nichols was less severe than the damage sustained by subsequent victims. The disputed "Maybrick Diary" bemoans this fact:
My medicine will give me strength and the thought of the whore and her whoring master will spur me on no end.
Even as the 50-year-old James Maybrick continued to consume arsenic and strychnine in ever-increasing amounts, Scotland Yard began investigating the Ripper murders. The case was assigned to Frederick George Abberline.
On September 3, 1888, The Times reported that Edward Walker, Polly's father, had identified her body but Scotland Yard had no clues about the murderer. Even a detailed report about the Nichols inquest was published. According to the Illustrated Police News:
Notwithstanding every effort the police engaged in investigating the murder of Mary Ann Nicholls have to confess themselves baffled, their numerous inquiries having yielded no positive clue to the perpetrator of the crime.
While Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde packed the theatre in the West End of London, Maybrick (according to diary supporters) continued to act out a Jekyll/Hyde existence in the East End.
Annie Chapman was the next victim.