Official Blog of Author MICHAEL THOMAS BARRY.
A blog which discusses varied topics that are related to the authors many books. Michael is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com and a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.
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Friday, August 31, 2012
Jack the Ripper claims first victim (1888) & Richard Ramirez "The Night Stalker" is captured (1985)
On this date in 1888, prostitute Mary Ann Nichols, the
first victim of London serial killer "Jack the Ripper," is found
murdered and mutilated in Whitechapel's Buck's Row.
The East End of London saw four more victims of the
murderer during the next few months, but no suspect was ever found. In
Victorian England, London's East End was a teeming slum occupied by nearly a
million of the city's poorest citizens. Many women were forced to resort to
prostitution, and in 1888 there were estimated to be more than 1,000
prostitutes in Whitechapel. That summer, a serial killer began targeting these
downtrodden women. On September 8, the killer claimed his second victim, Annie
Chapman, and on September 30 two more prostitutes--Liz Stride and Kate Eddowes were
murdered and carved up on the same night. By then, London's police had
determined the pattern of the killings. The murderer, offering to pay for sex,
would lure his victims onto a secluded street or square and then slice their
throats. As the women rapidly bled to death, he would then brutally mutilate
them with the same six-inch knife. The police, who lacked modern forensic
techniques such as fingerprinting and blood typing, were at a complete loss for
suspects. Dozens of letters allegedly written by the murderer were sent to the
police, and the vast majority of these were immediately deemed fraudulent.
However, two letters--written by the same individual alluded to crime facts
known only to the police and the killer. These letters, signed "Jack the
Ripper," gave rise to the serial killer's popular nickname. On November 7,
after a month of silence, Jack took his fifth and last victim, Irish-born Mary
Kelly, an occasional prostitute. Of all his victims' corpses, Kelly's was the
most hideously mutilated. In 1892, with no leads found and no more murders
recorded, the Jack the Ripper file was closed.
On this date in 1985, Richard Ramirez, the notorious
"Night Stalker," is captured and nearly killed by a mob in East Los
Angeles, California, after being recognized from a photograph shown both on
television and in newspapers.
Recently identified as the serial killer, Ramirez was
pulled from the enraged mob by police officers. During the summer of 1985, the
city of Los Angeles was panic-stricken by a killer who crept into his victims'
homes at night. The Night Stalker, as the press dubbed the murderer, first
turned his attention on the men in the house, usually shot any men in the house
with a .22 caliber handgun before raping, stabbing, and mutilating his female
victims. He cut out one of his victim's eyes, and sometimes carved satanic
pentagrams on the bodies before he left. By August, the Night Stalker has
murdered at least a dozen people, and law enforcement officials were desperate
to stop him. One witness, who managed to note the license plate of the car in
which Ramirez fled, led police to a single, partial fingerprint left in the
vehicle. Apparently, the task force looking for the Night Stalker had already
received information that someone named Ramirez was involved, so only the
records for men with that name were checked against the fingerprint. Although
the Los Angeles Police Department's new multimillion-dollar computer database
of fingerprints only contained the records of criminals born after January
1960, Richard Ramirez, who had a record of petty crimes, had been born in
February 1960. When Ramirez was identified as the chief suspect, authorities
debated whether to release his name and picture to the public, fearing that it
might give him the chance to escape. Nonetheless, they decided to take the
risk, and Ramirez, who was actually traveling back to Los Angeles at the time,
arrived to find his face and name on the front of every newspaper. Ramirez
turned his trial into a circus by drawing pentagrams on his palms and making
devil's horns with his fingers. When he was convicted, he shouted at the jury,
"You make me sick. I will be avenged. Lucifer dwells within all of
us." After the judge imposed a death sentence, Ramirez said, "Big deal.
Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland." Ramirez
married a female admirer and pen-pal while incarcerated at California's San
Quentin Prison in 1996. In 2006, his first appeals were denied.