Annie Chapman

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Annie Chapman

Jack The Ripper's second victim

Annie Chapman is widely accepted as Jack The Ripper's second victim.


Annie Chapman was also known as "Dark Annie".

Murder in the back yard of 29, Hanbury Street

Annie Chapman, also known as Annie Siffey, was found dead at around 6am on the 8th September 1888. Annie Chapman's mutilated body was discovered in the back yard of 29, Hanbury Street, Spitalfields.

By the late 1880s, Annie Chapman had become involved with a bricklayer named Edward Stanley. The two only seemed to meet at weekends, but Stanley frequently paid for Chapman’s bed at Crossingham’s Lodging House.

On, or about, 1st September, 1888, Annie got into a fight with another prostitute, Eliza Cooper, who was said to be a rival for Edward Sranley's affections. It resulted with Annie having a black eye!

Amelia Palmer, a friend of Annie's last saw Annie alive on Friday 7th September 1888. They had met at approximately 5pm in Dorset Street. They discussed Annie's health where Annie responded: "I feel too ill to do anything". Annie acknowledged that she had to "pull herself together and get some money or I shall have no lodgings".

Annie returned to her previous lodgings, Crossingham’s lodging house, at 35 Dorset Street and asked to be allowed to sit down in the kitchen. The deputy of Crossingham’s lodging house, Timothy Donovan, asked her where she had been for the last week. Annie explained that she'd been in the infirmary. At just after midnight Annie is said to have visited her sister in Vauxhall and returned with 5d. It is thought the money was very quickly spent on alcohol.

Annie Chapman left 35, Dorset Street at around 1.50am in order to go and "earn" her lodging money.

At 4.45am on 8th September, 1888, a man named John Richardson entered 29 Hanbury Street. He checked his premises were secure and reported not seeing anything unusual at the time.

At approximately 5.15am Elizabeth Long was walking along Hanbury Street towards Spitalfields Market, when she passed a man and a woman standing on the pavement, close against the shutters in front of number 29. Elizabeth Long recognised Annie Chapman, but didn't recognise the male with her.

Long described the male as:

  • He was dark
  • He was wearing a brown low-crowned felt hat
  • I think he had on a dark coat
  • He was over forty years of age
  • He appeared taller than the deceased
  • He was "shabby-genteel"
  • He looked like a foreigner

Albert Cadosch, a carpenter, lived next door to 29, Hanbury Street. At approximately 5.20am Albert Cadosch went into his back yard to use the outhouse. Reportedly Cadosch heard a voice from the other side of the fence say "No!". Cadosch went back inside, then reentered the yard three or four minutes later. This time he heard "a sort of fall against the fence". Unfortunately, Cadosch didn't look over the fence, but instead left for work. When he passed the clock at Spitalfields Church, it was 5.32am.

Just after 5.45am when John Davis, a resident of 29 Hanbury Street, entered the back yard and found a mutilated body. The woman was lying on her back with her clothes disarranged and her legs drawn up. There was blood everywhere.

The police were sent for. Inspector Joseph Chandler of H Division arrived at about 6.15am. Inspector Chandler sent for the divisional surgeon, Dr Bagster Phillips, who lived a few minutes away in Spital Square. After Dr. Phillips arrived, Chandler carefully examined the crime scene and searched the yard.

The body was then taken to the Whitechapel mortuary.

The Inquest

The inquest began on 10th September, 1888 and increased panic on the streets. Dr Phillips’s testimony on the third day of the inquest made it clear that not only had Chapman been brutally mutilated, but the killer had tried to decapitate her.

Dr Phillips reported:

"There were two distinct clean cuts on the body of the vertebrae on the left side of the spine. They were parallel to each other, and separated by about half an inch. The muscular structures between the side processes of bone of the vertebrae had an appearance as if an attempt had been made to separate the bones of the neck."

According to Dr Phillips, the cause of death was a severed carotid artery resulting from a jagged left-to-right incision across the throat. Annie had been "partially strangled" before her throat was cut, and he also pointed out, "The tongue protruded between the front teeth, but not beyond the lips. The tongue was evidently much swollen." Phillips also noted that "The small intestines and other portions were lying on the right side of the body on the ground above the right shoulder, but attached".

Dr Phillips thought that providing further details would be too "painful to the feelings of the jury and the public", so stopped short of giving more detailed injuries.

A few days later Coroner Wynne Baxter called Dr Phillips back to the inquest so that "all the evidence the doctor had obtained from his post-mortem should be on the records of the Court for various reasons which he need not then enumerate, however painful it might be".

Dr Phillips detailed the following:

  • The mutilation of the body was of such a character as could only have been effected by a practised hand
  • It appears that the abdomen had been entirely laid open;
  • The intestines, severed from their mesenteric attachments, had been lifted out of the body, and placed on the shoulder of the corpse;
  • From the pelvis the uterus and its appendages, with the upper portion of the vagina and the posterior two-thirds of the bladder, had been entirely removed. No trace of these parts could be found, and the incisions were cleanly cut, avoiding the rectum, and dividing the vagina low enough to avoid injury to the cervix uteri.

Phillips’s opinion that the mutilations indicated "a practised hand" led the police to consider whether the murderer might be a doctor or someone with anatomical knowledge, such as a butcher. This has been a controversial topic ever since.

The Police Investigation

Initially, Chief Constable Adolphus Williamson was in charge of the Annie Chapman murder investigation. Once public panic started to increase after the Annie Chapman murder Commissioner Warren decided to give responsibility for the entire investigation to Chief Inspector Donald Sutherland Swanson.

The police investigation followed general thoughts that the murderer was a madman who had escaped or been recently released from a lunatic asylum. Metropolitan Detective Chief Inspector Walter Dew backed this up in his memoirs stating "This angle of investigation was pursued relentlessly".

Inspector James McWilliam of the City of London CID also confirmed this theory in a Report to the Home Office on 29th October, 1888. The report stated that officers had been sent "to all the lunatic asylums in London to make enquiry respecting persons recently admitted or discharged: many persons being of the opinion that these crimes are of too revolting a character to have been committed by a sane person".

On 19th September, 1888, (day four of the Inquest) Elizabeth Long gave her evidence. She revealed that the man she saw with Annie Chapman on the morning of the murder "looked like a foreigner". Once again this stirred up bad blood with the Jewish community who had ben under suspicion already.

During the Annie Chapman investigation the "Dear Boss" arrived. On 27th September, 1888, the Central News Agency received a letter written in red ink, from a person claiming responsibility for the crimes. It was forwarded onto Scotland Yard two days later on 29th September, 1888.

Early Life

Annie Chapman was born Annie Eliza Smith in 1840 or 1841, the daughter of George Smith.

George Smith was a private in the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards.

Family Life

In 1869 Annie married John Chapman, a coachman.

Annie and George had three children:

  • Emily (Unfortunately Emily died of meningitis at the age of twelve)
  • John (1880)
  • unknown

Annie and George eventually separated, apparently due to Annie’s drinking and "immoral ways".