Virginie Girod SEASON 2023 - 202405h00, December 07, 2023

Between 31 August and 9 November 1888, the Whitechapel district in east London was the scene of five horrific murders. Five women were found with their throats slit, their bodies horribly mutilated. The press spares no detail. Jack the Ripper has just written his legend in letters of blood. In a new story from Au cœur de l'Histoire, Virginie Girod tells you about this series of murders that marked the Victorian era.

In 1888, Victoria had already reigned over the United Kingdom, the leading power of the time, for 50 years. London concentrates wealth, but also inequality. It was in Whitechapel that all the misery of the triumphant British Empire was piled up. Many women risk their lives as prostitutes.

On August 31, Polly, a prostitute, is found dead in the neighborhood. But this murder is not like any other. The woman is disemboweled, part of her entrails are placed on her shoulder, and her uterus has been torn out. On September 8, the body of another woman was found. Its throat is slit to the point that the head is almost separated from the body. His abdomen is open, and his intestines are deposited on his right shoulder. The vagina, uterus and part of the bladder are gone. Both victims are divorced and homeless mothers of several children.

The affair is the talk of the tabloid press. The Star, the most popular tabloid of the time, was soon selling 300,000 copies a day. On September 27, 1888, the United Kingdom put a name to the killer. London's Central News Agency receives a letter. The sender takes credit for the crimes committed and signs himself "Jack the Ripper". For their part, the police made hundreds of arrests of butchers, renderers, doctors, surgeons: any man capable of deftly handling a knife. But the testimonies contradict each other and the investigation stalls.

Three days later, two more bloody murders plunged the neighborhood into mourning and residents revolted against the impotence of the police. Whitechapel thinks they've hit rock bottom... while the worst is yet to come.

On November 9, 1888, Mary Jane Kelly's body was found in her bedroom, painted with her own blood. She is unrecognizable, so relentless has the murderer been on her. He is the last known victim of Jack the Ripper. We have no idea why the killings stopped, and the identity of the killer is still unknown.

The speculation is as numerous as it is implausible: some even suggest that it is Queen Victoria's grandson, Prince Albert Victor!

Themes: Jack the Ripper, serial killer, Victorian era, cold case

"At the Heart of History" is a Europe 1 Studio podcast

- Presenter: Virginie Girod

- Producer: Camille Bichler

- Directed by: Pierre Cazalot

- Composition of the original music: Julien Tharaud

- Writing and Distribution: Nathan Laporte

- Communication: Kelly Decroix

- Visual: Sidonie Mangin

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