فصل 05

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فصل 05

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CHAPTER FIVE

THE WORK OF A DEVIL

Mary Jane Kelly was twenty-five years old. Born in Limerick, Ireland, she moved to Wales with her family when she was very young. At sixteen she married a miner named Davies, who was killed in an explosion in the mines. Mary came to London in 1884. By 1886 she was living in the East End with Joe Flemming, who wanted to marry her. Nobody knows why she did not marry him. However, in 1887 she met Joe Barnett, a porter at Billingsgate fish market. At the time she was living at Cooley’s lodging house in Thrawl Street. Mary and Barnett decided to live together, and by the beginning of 1888 they were renting a room, 13 Miller’s Court in Dorset Street.

Descriptions of Mary suggest an attractive young woman, about 1.70m tall, with a stout build, blue eyes, and a complexion ‘as fair as a lily’. She was pleasant when sober but she could be noisy and very quarrelsome when drunk. In fact, Joe Barnett walked out after a quarrel on October 30th. He was a reliable, kind man who did not want Mary to go out on the streets. Unfortunately he had not worked for some months so the couple could not pay the rent, and Mary had returned to prostitution. This was one of the reasons why they quarrelled that autumn.

Nevertheless, Mary and Barnett remained friends. He frequently visited her and gave her money. He visited her around 7.30-7.45 on the evening of Thursday, November 8th to tell her he had no work and could not give her any money. Mary’s friend, a laundress named Maria Harvey, was there and said that Mary and Barnett seemed to be friendly. She went soon after Barnett’s arrival, leaving some clothing, which included a man’s overcoat, some shirts, a petticoat, and a bonnet.

When Barnett left at about 8 p.m., Mary knew she had to go out into the streets to earn some money. Nearly four hours later Mary Ann Cox, who lived in Miller’s Court, saw Mary walking along Dorset Street with a man. Mrs Cox followed them into the court and said, ‘Goodnight, Mary Jane’ as they were going into Mary’s room. Mary was so drunk that she could not answer properly. Mrs Cox saw the stranger in the light of the gas lamp opposite Mary’s front door. He was about thirty-six, 1.65m tall, stout, with a carrot-coloured moustache. He had a bottle of beer in his hand. As she went indoors Mrs Cox heard Mary singing an Irish song.

Just after midnight Mrs Cox went out. When she came back at 1 a.m., there was a light in number 13 and Mary was still singing. After warming her hands, Mrs Cox went out again. Returning at 3 o’clock, she saw no light in Mary’s room, and all was quiet. That night it rained hard and Mrs Cox could not sleep well. Although men went in and out of the court, she did not hear anything suspicious. But another witness told a different story.

Elizabeth Prater lived above Mary’s room. She went to bed about 1.30 a.m. and fell asleep. Around two hours later she woke up suddenly because her kitten was walking over her. She guessed the time was about 3.30-4.00. At that moment she heard ‘screams of “Murder!” two or three times in a female voice’. She later changed this to a quiet cry of ‘Oh! Murder!’ Mrs Prater said she went back to sleep; she often heard cries of murder in the court.

When Sarah Lewis passed Christ Church near Dorset Street, the church clock struck 2.30. Mrs Lewis was going to stay with her friends at 2 Miller’s Court. She slept badly in a chair until 3.30, when she heard the clock strike, and was awake until nearly five o’clock. Just before 4 a.m. a young woman screamed ‘Murder!’ not far away. Mrs Lewis did nothing because cries like this were usual in Whitechapel. It is probable that Mrs Prater and Mrs Lewis paid no attention to Mary Kelly’s last terrified cry for help!

Friday November 9th was the day when the citizens of London celebrated the Lord Mayor’s Show. ‘I hope it will be a fine day tomorrow,’ Mary had told Mrs Prater the morning before, ‘as I want to go to the Lord Mayor’s Show.’ At 10.45 on Friday morning Mary’s landlord, John McCarthy, was checking his accounts in his shop at 27 Dorset Street. He noticed that Mary owed him 29 shillings in rent, so he sent his assistant Thomas Bowyer to her room to ask for the money. Bowyer got no answer when he knocked twice. He walked to his right round the corner, where there were two windows of number 13. The window nearest to the door was broken in two places. Bowyer put his hand in and pulled back the curtain. The first thing he saw was two pieces of flesh on the bedside table. Then he saw a body lying on the bed and a lot of blood. He ran back to the shop to tell McCarthy.

When McCarthy looked through the window, his face turned pale. The body on the bed resembled something in a butcher’s shop. He told Bowyer to go to Commercial Street Police Station. Inspectors Beck and Dew, the detectives on duty, went to the murder scene. The door was locked. Inspector Abbeline arrived at 11.30 a.m., but he could not give the order to break open the door until 1.30 p.m. He had to wait for some bloodhound dogs to arrive. At 1.30 when the news came that the dogs were not coming, he told McCarthy to break open the door. Nobody knew that it was not necessary. Barnett and Mary used to put a hand through the broken window and pull back the bolt to open the door.

The scene in the little room was from a nightmare. It was only 4-5 metres square and the door banged against the bedside table. There was not much furniture: an old table and two old chairs stood on the bare, dirty floor. In the fireplace were the ashes of a large fire. On the bed lay a body that was almost unrecognisable. Only the hair and eyes identified it as Mary Kelly. John McCarthy said later, ‘It looked more like the work of a devil than of a man.’ And Mrs Prater, who looked through the window, said, ‘I can never forget it if I live to be a hundred.’

Next day Inspector Abbeline examined the ashes in the fireplace. The strong heat from the fire had melted part of a kettle. In the ashes Abbeline found some women’s clothing, which Maria Harvey had left in the room. Why had the Ripper burnt them? When Abbeline discovered only one small piece of candle in the room, he thought that the killer had made a fire with the clothes because he needed more light to do his terrible work.

This time Jack the Ripper had time to finish his crime without interruption. It was truly the work of a devil.

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