Entertainment Horror

Jack or Jill?


By Tierra Welch

Jack the Ripper struck in the hearts of the people in Whitechapel in 1888. Eleven murders took place that year,  and five of those belonged to the notorious Jack the Ripper. Without modern technology, the detectives were unable to identify the murderer though there were more than ten suspects all of which were male. Many people believed Jack was a doctor. He must have known about the human anatomy in order to mutilate the bodies the way he did. But another theory is that Jack the Ripper could be a Jill the Ripper.

Evidence concludes that the Jack was possibly a Jill. It began after the murder of Mary Jane Kelley. The idea was first introduced by detective Abberline after one of the witnesses insisted that she had seen the victim alive and seriously hung over hours before the murder took place. She then described the outfit the victim was wearing that night. This witness’ name was Caroline Maxwell. The person Maxwell saw was possibly Jill the Ripper in Mary Jane Kelly’s clothes. The theory held the idea that the murderer was a mad midwife since she murdered in such a gory way and the rumor of Mary Kelley being pregnant fed the theory. Saying the murderer was indeed a midwife would raise no suspicion to the bloodied clothes, and she would also have access to many women’s houses.

The main suspect for the Jill the Ripper was Mary Pearcy, but she became a suspect after her execution. Her known crimes were equally horrifying as the Whitechapel murders. She was born Mary Eleanor Wheeler but she took the last name of a carpenter she lived with for some time. This same carpenter then left Mary after learning she was seeing other men. She soon took up with Frank Hogg, who was seeing another woman named Phoebe. When Phoebe became pregnant with Frank’s child, Mary encouraged them to get married for the sake of the child. Soon after they were married, Frank still kept sexual relations with both women. The women were very aware of each other but remained friends as the neighbors say.

October 24, 1890, Mary was seen by neighbors pushing a baby carriage through the evening. The following day, on October 25, a body of a young woman was found in a pile of trash. Her head completely smashed almost severed from the body. That same day a body of a baby suffocated was found a mile away from the woman’s body. The bodies were identified as Phoebe Hogg and her child. Neighbors told police what they saw the night before. When the officers arrived at Mary’s home, they were shocked in horror at the scene before them. Blood coated the walls, clothes, a carving knife, and a fireplace poker.

Mary’s excuse for the horrific scene was “I was having problems with mice and trying to kill them.” According to the officers she later then chanted “killing mice, killing mice, killing mice!” She claimed innocence until the very end. She was hanged on December 23, 1890. The noose of her hanging still hangs in Scotland Yard’s Black Museum.  


  1. Mr. Whitehead and I enjoy this card game, Mystery Rummy, that is both the popular game of rummy but also works to explore and “solve” the Jack the Ripper case. It wasn’t until that game did I know that there were popular theories tied to “Jill the Ripper”. Thanks for writing this as I have always (albeit somewhat morbidly) been interested in this case. Here is a link to the game if you would like to check it yourself: https://www.amazon.com/Jack-Ripper-Mystery-Rummy-Case/dp/1572810912


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