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October 12, 2021 37 mins

Standing over the corpse of Polly Nichols, police officers decided that in life she had been a prostitute. There's no evidence Polly ever sold sex, so why did the authorities reach this conclusion? And do the prejudices that warped the police hunt for the Ripper survive to this day?

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:15):
Pushkin. Jack the Ripper is closing in on Polly Nichols.
He stalks the streets of Whitechapel, passing the same pubs,
shops and doss houses as her. Soon their paths will cross.

(00:38):
A common prostitute outselling sex will mean a monster driven
to murder and mutilate walls. When I embarked my research,
this was the story I thought I would be telling.
But as I probed Polly's history, mining archives and scrutinizing documents,
I found loose threads. And the more I pulled at

(01:01):
those threads, the more the Jack the ripper myth unraveled.
I'm Halley Rubert, hold, you're listening to Bad Women. The
Ripper retold a series about the real lives of the
women killed by Jack the Ripper and how we got

(01:23):
their stories so wrong. One side, money plenty and friends
too by the score. Then fortune smiled upon me. Now
one pass my time, Aloney and not well Harf sees

(01:58):
to lone me. I'm come free, walkout. So far we've
traced Polly's humble beginnings in the printing district, her failed

(02:20):
marriage to William Nicholls, and their separation. We followed her
to the workhouse and working as a maid for a
well to do couple, the Cowdrey's, a position she left abruptly.
Polly absconded from the Cowdrey's home with good she could pawn.
This pocketful of change lightly kept her out of the workhouse.
By this point it was July eighteen eighty eight. She

(02:42):
landed in Whitechapel, spending a few weeks at Wilmot's, a
women only doss house, which would have been the safest
lodgings available to her. Here she shared a room with
three others, including one Ellen Holland. Polly and Ellen would
occasionally split the price of a double bed. Ellen was

(03:02):
the only person who appears to have formed anything like
a friendship with Polly, and what we know of her
in the final week, it's largely thanks to Ellen's testimony. Polly,
she said, was melancholic. At this time. She was drinking,
but she also kept herself to herself, as though some
great trouble was weighing on her mind. In the woman

(03:23):
who slept beside her, Ellen observed a personality folding in
on itself, private, alienated and grieving. On the night of
August thirty first, Ellen bumped into Polly on a dark
Whitechapel thoroughfare. It was around twelve thirty am, and Polly

(03:43):
was intoxicated. She'd spent the evening at a nearby pub,
The Frying Pan, and she'd drunk away any money for
a bed at the Doss house. She tried her luck,
all the same, She'd told Ellen, but the deputy lodging
housekeeper wasn't in the habit of handing up beds to
penniless drunks. She had sent her on her way, not
in shouts. Be off with you, Polly laughed and issued

(04:06):
a sharp retort, also get my doss money. See what
Johnny Barney I've got now. Those fourteen words would soon
take on a life of their own. They would be
translated into a tacit admission that she was a prostitute
looking for a paying client. Two hours elapsed and Ellen

(04:27):
encountered Polly again, this time slumped against a wall. Polly,
is that you. Ellen tried to convince Polly to return
with her to Wilmot's comeback with me, but she would
not be persuaded. Polly stated she had made and then
spent her lodging money three times over that day. It's
likely she begged for this money. The clock on Whitechapel

(04:49):
Church was striking half past two when the pair parted.
Ellen watched her friend sway off into the darkness, unsteady
on her feet. Perhaps Polly felt her way through the night,
leaning on walls in an effort to balance herself. Fingers outstretched,
she groped for a place that might become bed. She

(05:10):
passed flat fronted brick cottages, which offered no convenient nooks
or porches. Then the curb dipped and the wall became
a gait set slightly back from the road. Perhaps Polly
slid down to rest. Perhaps her heavy head slumped and
her eyes eventually shut asleep took over. William Nichols was

(05:35):
to see his estranged wife one last time. He had
quickly assembled an outfit for the occasion, a black coat,
tie and hat. It had been three years since he
last encountered Polly, and police inspector Frederick Aberleine warned William
that he might struggle to recognize her. The color visibly

(05:55):
drained from William's face as the coffin lid was removed.
The fatal gash across Polly's throat had been stitch closed,
but her body was still mutilated by the long and
terrible cuts and flicked did in the moments after her death.
I forgive you as you are, said William to the
body of the woman who, at eighteen had once been

(06:17):
his girlish bride, who had borne six of his children.
I forgive you an account of what you've been to me.
The authorities investigating this strange and disturbing killing showed Polly
less compassion in death than her estranged husband. In their notes,

(06:39):
the first detectives on the scene wrote definitively that Polly
was living the life of a prostitute. This baseless assumption
warped the investigation from that moment on. Initially, just two
possibilities were put forward. The first, this murder had been
committed by a gang storting money from prostitutes. The second,

(06:59):
a lone and crazed prostitute killer was behind this crime.
Either way, the authorities in the press were convinced of
one thing. Polly Nichols was selling sex that night. They
thought that Whitechapel was full of women like Polly, and
her involvement in this sordid and illegal trade had got
her killed. This supposition then colored how the evidence was

(07:22):
viewed and how the witnesses were questioned. It also seemed
into the press reports on this crime. It is still
the bedrock of the familiar Jack the Ripper murder story
and the basis for endless theories about the identity of
the killer. Trevor Marriott, for instance, believes that a visiting

(07:43):
German sailor named Carl Fagenbaum is behind these crimes. You
heard from Trevor in episode one. He's a retired detective
used to working murder cases and a ripparologist. The London
docks were very close to Whitechapel, and where you've got docks,
you've got merchant salman who go ashore while the boat's

(08:03):
in dark. And merchant seman are always matched with looking
for prostitutes, and of course Whitechapel was rife with prostitutes.
Faginborn had apparently confessed to having issues with women. Every
so often, he had this urge to kill and mutilate women.
Trevor isn't an expert on Victorian prostitution, but to his

(08:26):
detective's brain, the pieces fall into place. Faginbonn wanted to
find a woman to kill. Prostitutes made convenient victims. Prostitutes
throng the streets of Whitechapel, and Polly was also in Whitechapel.
Prostitution is the oldest occupation, isn't it. He's been around
for many, many years, since time immemorial. And obviously you

(08:48):
read between the lines. Obviously, when you've got someone like
Polly Nichols that's wandering around at nighttime, drunk in an
area that is known for prostitution, you know you can
draw your own conclusions. Here's where I hit a snag.
As far as Polly Nichols is concerned. There really is
no proof of her selling sex. And if this part

(09:10):
of the familiar Jack the Ripper story is inaccurate, is
any of it? I get so deeply uncomfortable when people
try to say, you know, these women were prostitutes. Julia
Late is a historian at Birkbeck University of London and
an expert on the city's sex trade. She says the
evidence that Polly Nichols was a prostitute is flimsy at best.

(09:31):
Given the evidence we have. We're just so reliant on
the voices of male police officers to tell us who
women were, and that fundamentally rankles me. I think just
because a police officer wrote something down doesn't make it true.
One of the things that always made me think this
Jack the prostitution narrative doesn't quite add up is that

(09:54):
the geography is slightly wrong. Julia says the vast majority
of women who made their living selling sex would have
been working not endowned Heel Whitechapel, but in the richer
west end of London, which is where all the good
customers were. It's where most of the nightlife was. But also,
even if they were selling sex in the East End,
they would have been working on busy thoroughfares, not in

(10:16):
back alleys. And I know that the argument is, oh,
they took the customer to this back alley, but it's
just too flimsy. It's the very very wee hours of
the night. Most women who were selling sex would have
been home by that point. The main night crowd would
have dissipated. There wouldn't have been much work, There wouldn't
have been much reason to hang around continuing to solicit.

(10:37):
What's more, women who were regularly selling sex would have
had more money than Polly Nichols. They wouldn't be scrounging.
They turned to sex works so that they didn't need
to scrounge. The amount of money that even a very
quote unquote low class prostitute, and I'm using the parlance
of the time, there the amount of money that they
could make dwarfed any other occupation they could perform. It's

(10:59):
very suspicious to me that Polly is having such difficulty
making ends meet if she's also supposed to be selling
sex because she just have more money. What about the
document that Polly was a so called casual prostitute selling
sex just occasionally to make ends meet or put a
roof over her own head in hard times. Well, this
was a concern of police at the time. In mixed

(11:22):
sex lodging houses, unmarried couples would rent rooms together, a
phenomenon that the authorities regarded to be unconditionally a form
of prostitution. What women might do is solicit a client.
Perhaps I should keep my language more formal, because they
may not have seen it as soliciting a client. They
were probably far more likely to have seen it as

(11:43):
meeting a man who will pay for the double room.
You just need to have sex with them, and then
you get a nice warm bed to sleep in at
no cost to yourself. But the thing is, on the
night she died, Polly Nichols wasn't in a nice, warm
bed in a lodging house with a man. And if
this kind of casual prostitution was the norm for her,
why did she prefer the single sex accommodation at Wilmot's.

(12:05):
Polly nichols staying at an all female lodging house is
already a very clear sign that she almost certainly was
not engaging in selling sex. Because women who are selling
sex in the East End used those lodging houses as
spaces to perform sex acts, that was their workspace. The
ripper retold will return shortly. Determining who exactly was and

(12:35):
who exactly wasn't selling sex in the eighteen eighties can
be tricky. The term prostitute was applied so broadly so
as to make any precise assessment of their numbers impossible.
It was a sweeping label, often used interchangeably with homeless
or vagrant. Society assumed that women who lived without male
protection or a roof over their heads would do anything

(12:58):
for food, drink, or a bed, especially sell sex. The
eighteen twenty four Vagrancy Act further muddied the Waters. It
was an Armnibus Act that was used to give police
powers to control what they thought was proper behavior or
improper behavior on the street. The law included an ill

(13:18):
defined clause that brought any prostitute behaving in a riotous
and disorderly manner within its remit. The police used this
phrase indiscriminately against any woman on the streets whom they
wished to move on or arrest. Police case files sometimes
record disorderly prostitutes without actually describing behavior that might have
warranted such a description. The burden of evidence is completely negated.

(13:42):
It's basically saying we had her name in a notebook,
and she was on the street, and we decided that
she was disorderly, so we used this really quite loose
law to either arrest her or find her or move
her on. The law was also open to abuse. Women
did sell sex in Whitechapel in eighteen eighty eight, but
we also know that the Whitechapel police inflated the scale

(14:05):
of the trade to enhance their own reputation for tackling
crime each division. Whitechapel was considered the most corrupt police
division in London at the time. They were using prostitution
arrests all the time to kind of up their numbers,
as we would say in the present day. The arrest
of Elizabeth Cass offers a great example of this. Cass

(14:27):
was a dressmaker in London's wealthy West End. One evening,
after leaving work, she was window shopping and she paused
to admire a pair of gloves. She came to the
attention of police Constable Endicott, who claimed he had seen
her soliciting on the street several times before that evening
and had written her description down in his handy little

(14:49):
police notebook. Under general practice at the time, policeman arrested
a soliciting prostitute on the third occasion that they saw her,
providing that she was annoying passers by. According to Endicott,
he had already seen cast twice. No matter what Elizabeth
Cass was doing, no matter how she had been labeled,

(15:09):
accurately or inaccurately, she certainly wasn't annoying anybody. She was
just standing on the street. So Endicott arrested her. And
this could have played out the way that it played
out for hundreds of other women, which is that they
accepted their fate understood they didn't really have any ground
to stand on, paid a fine and got out of
the police court as quickly as possible. But Elizabeth Cass

(15:30):
played it differently, not least because she had a really
supportive employer. Cass's employer, a well known dressmaker and female
business owner, came to her defense. She stormed into the
police station, claiming that her employee had been wrongfully arrested
and threatening to call for an investigation into the matter.
In fact, an investigation was called, and it was found

(15:52):
that PC Endicott had no grounds on which to arrest
Elizabeth Cass, that he in fact was going to be
brought up on perjury charges, which she was. He was
found not guilty of perjury, but he was dismissed from
the police, which is just an incredible moment, I think.
And in this case, you just see just how fragile

(16:14):
the definition of prostitute is. You see how thin the
evidence is, because it's not that the evidence against Elizabeth
Cass was any thinner than any other woman who had
been arrested. It wasn't that she was annoying people less.
It was simply that she called them on it, and
other women who didn't have the same access to support, didn't.

(16:38):
They just pled guilty. So the vast majority of arrests
for prostitution proceed and end in a finer imprisonment, not
because the women are proven to be prostitutes, are proven
to be soliciting to the annoyance of other people, but
because they plead guilty because it's the easiest way for
them to get out of the police court as quickly
as possible. In the months between the exoneration of Elizabeth

(17:02):
Cass and the White Chapel murders, arrests of women as
common prostitutes plummeted. Constables were told not to use the
word unless a woman willingly identified herself as a prostitute,
an order officers clearly ignored when they wrote their reports
over the corpse of Polly Nichols. But it was a lull,
not a change of heart. London's Police commissioner soon said

(17:25):
even sterner instructions for his officers to arrest women, and
the courts no longer asked for any corroborating evidence that
a suspect had caused an annoyance. The policeman's would was
now enough to convict, And it turns the legislation against
quote unquote common prostitutes into you're on a police register

(17:45):
as being a prostitute and you were on the street,
that's the heart of the offense. After eighteen eighty eight
and so now nothing would protect a stigmatized woman from
that kind of police attention. The police were also enforcing
a code of social and moral norms. A woman without
a house and a family, a woman who lived with

(18:06):
a man outside of marriage, and a woman who was
a victim of rape were considered one and the same.
Any woman who had sex outside of marriage under any
circumstances could be called a whore and a prostitute. And
I think that's something that's really easy to forget from
our late twentieth early twenty first century perspective. Anybody who

(18:28):
stepped out of line, any woman who stepped out of line,
was liable to be labeled a prostitute. So when the
Jack the Ripper murders or what were then called the
Whitechapel murders started happening, it was very easy to impose
that narrative they were prostitutes and therefore they were killed
because that's what happens to unrespectable women. That's their trajectory.

(18:50):
That's their story. This is what you expect to happen
to a woman who behaves this way. Reading the newspaper
reports of the coroner's inquest a legal proceeding to determine
the cause of death, it seems that the police and
the authorities had a dim view of Paully Nichol's character.
In open court, Polly's grieving father was asked, was she fast?

(19:13):
To be fast implies promiscuity or debauchery. No, I never
heard of anything of that sort. She used to go
with some young women and men that she knew, but
I never heard of anything improper. During her testimony, Ellen
Holland was asked if she knew what her former roommate
did for a living. Ellen claimed she did not. Did

(19:35):
you consider she was very clean in her habits? Oh? Yes,
she was a very clean woman. The idea that Polly
was both fast and unclean seemed to be confirmed by
her defiant parting words after she had been denied a
bed at the lodging house. I'll so get my doss money.
See what Johnny Barney I've got now. These words have

(19:58):
been used sometimes to hint, sometimes to assert that Polly
Nichols made money by selling sex. Some interpret her remark
as a boast that her head gear would make her
more attractive to potential clients. The police reference to her
jolly bonnet is opaque if indeed she even uttered those words,
and there is no guarantee that she did. She could

(20:19):
have meant any number of things. I think the most
likely thing she meant is that she was going to
beg because while society thought there were eighty thousand prostitutes,
the police estimated there are about eight thousand in London,
and if you look at the estimated number of beggars,
it's way higher. So just statistically speaking, it's more likely

(20:43):
she was referring to panhandling or begging than mercenary sex.
Polly may equally have been indicating a plan to palm
the bonnet. We know that the Cowdreyes, the couple for
whom she briefly worked, had given her a bonnet, and
that when she absconded from their home, she took this
with her. For women who had chaotic or unstable living

(21:04):
situations like Polly Nichols, you wore your credit and so,
and she said, look what a jolly bonnet I have
she may have been intending to pawnet so that she
could get toss money, or she may have been referring
to the fact that she obtains the bonnet through begging
for it or trading for it, or pawning for it
on another day. Like so many other details surrounding Polly's

(21:26):
final hours, the truth behind the fabled Jolly bonnet remark
is now unknowable, but one hundred and thirty years on,
it is still cited as proof that Polly was a
prostitute and killed by a man who bought her time
and body for a few pennies. The sworn evidence of
her father and of her friend is totally ignored, But

(21:46):
julia Our tendency to label women like Polly prostitutes speaks
volumes like why has the testimony of somebody who knew
Polly quite well been disregarded in favor of policemen who
had never seen her before except as a dead body.

(22:08):
I mean, the only explanation is that we're more comfortable
with this narrative, the narrative of the fallen woman. She
steps out of line, she has sex out of wedlock,
perhaps she has a baby out of wedlock. She has
a difficult relationship with a man, she's abandoned or she
abandons him, and the narrative is that she's supposed to die,
either throwing herself in the Thames because she's so distraught

(22:32):
at how far she's fallen, or she's supposed to die
of disease, or her body's supposed to be racked by syphilis,
or she's supposed to be a victim of violence, because
that's what happens to women like that. Before I delved
into the archive, I'd assume that the case for Polly
being a prostitute was iron clad, But as I look

(22:52):
deeper and deeper, firm evidence failed to materialize. In fact,
other more likely interpretations of her murder presented themselves. But
sharing my findings with the world put me into conflict
with people who have made careers and staked their reputations
on the Ripper being a killer of Wolls. Documentary makers,

(23:13):
to her guides, authors and self styled ripparologists all start
from the same point. Jack the Ripper posed as a
john who took as prostitute victims to a quiet place
to slaughter them. My research has picked away at the
foundation of that myth, undermining the whole edifice, and many
riparologists aren't happy. Some think I'm a liar, some compare

(23:36):
me to a Holocaust denier, and almost all simply refuse
to listen. I don't think she's dishonest. I'm not going
to say she's dishonest. All I'm saying is that what
she has written and why she wrote it as a
matter for her to live with us. That why she
has written misleading facts in the book, The Ripper Retold

(24:01):
will return shortly. Retired police detective Trevor Merritt still thinks
I'm wrong when we talk about prostitutes. There is overwhelming
evidence from both official police files and sworn in quest
testimony from witnesses that these women were prostitutes and it's recorded,

(24:25):
but she won't accept that fact. I'm the she in
question here. Trevor's ebook, The Real Truth includes a section
that states I've deliberately misinformed my readers and omitted vital facts.
As Trevor has repeatedly told me on social media. I
didn't want to engage with him in person, so my producer,

(24:46):
Alice spoke with him. Holly Nichols, there is still in
existence in police files details that shows her being recorded
as a prostitute. So that's the first thing that she
readily doesn't accept. Now matter how much you fudge it up,
these women were recorded as being prostitutes, and there was
enough evidence produced from witnesses to show that they engaged

(25:08):
in prostitution, albeit perhaps just to survive. But if you're
selling your body for money, you are by clear definition
prostituting yourself. So do you think police records can ever
be wrong? Well, I suppose there is always that argument.
But why would they record somebody as being a prostitute
as being wrong? Why would somebody stand up and give

(25:30):
swan testimony in a court that these women were prostitutes
and that's how they live from day to day. For Trevor,
my work in the archives, which I've cross referenced with
what we actually know a Victorian prostitution and police attitudes
towards it, is invalid Online. He's accused me of playing
the feminist card. Her book has seemed to attracted a

(25:54):
large proportion of female readers, and you know, I think
it's sad that those female readers, no matter what cause
they want to take up, they've been misled by some
of the things that Hallie has published in her book
some of the things which she will not readily acknowledge
as being misleading, and unfortunately these female readers have placed

(26:17):
her high on a pedestal. In effect, do you have
a sense of why women might identify with Halle's work
or hear things in it that seem valuable. Well, Obviously,
as I've said, she's attracted a host of feminist followers
who constantly thrive on the police that all females have
been subjected to oppression, hardship, and abuse both past and present.

(26:41):
So I can only assume that the bookers hit a
nerve with them and that's what they want to go with. Really,
from their perspective, Trevor, who remember conducted murder investigations as
a serving detective, has very little sympathy for poly Nichols,
a woman living a hard life with society stacking the
odds against her at every turn. For Trevor, poly Nichols

(27:02):
was the architect of her own demise. They'd fallen on
hard times a lot of time because of their own doing,
not because anybody had made them homeless, not because anybody
had made them poor, not because anybody had made them
walk the streets at night it was of their own doing,
because clearly these women in the past, many of them

(27:23):
had husbands, many of them had partners, and they themselves
chose to lead the lives that they were living at
the time. Women like Polly were victims of unfair divorce laws,
impossible barriers to securing jobs and housing, and subject to
extreme prejudice if they failed to remain within the tight
boundaries of what was expected of a wife and mother.

(27:46):
Trevor boards no truck with any of this. They were
the ones that chose to leave their husbands, or their
husbands chose to leave them because of their behavior. There
are two sides to all of this. And Howe seems
to want to portray the picture of these poor, unfortunate women.
But they're poor unfortunate because a lot of the time
they brought it on themselves, you know, And is there

(28:07):
any excuse for that. Trevor would really prefer that I
restricted myself to the subject he thinks is most important
the identity and motives of Jack the Ripper. Bringing up
the lives of the women rather annoys him, especially if
it calls into question his pet theory about the murders.
You know, I think it's all getting blown up out
of all proportion. To be fair, I've found that many

(28:30):
people heartily agree with Trevor. I find their lack of
interest and their lack of curiosity both puzzling and troubling.
It's not just that they haven't learned from the injustices
of the past. It's as if they don't want to
learn from them, and they don't even want to hear
about them. Trying to get my head around this, I
came across the work of the New York Times best

(28:53):
selling author Gillian Lauren. Gillian's writing introduced me to a
term that has helped me fathom the hostility I faced
for trying to tell the real stories of the Whitechapel women.
That term is the less dead victims who don't attract
the ssidies, interest or sympathy. So less dead is actually

(29:13):
not my invention. It was by a criminalist, Stephen Egger,
and what it means is that essentially there's priority given
to human beings. For instance, in the eighties, there were
seven serial killers in South la and women were turning
up in dumpsters every morning. The cops would call in

(29:35):
a homicide as one eighty seven. No humans involved. We
found her in a dumpster. It's a nobody. We found
somebody under tires, no humans involved, And we're very often
categorized as overdoses. I don't think a lot of people
go and decide to overdose with their skirts over their
head under a pile of tires. The less Dead applies

(29:58):
to poll Nichols and the other White Chapel victims, just
as it applies to some people killed today. The deaths
may be divided by many decades, but all these victims
united by society's indifference to their plight. It's so easy
to sort of dismiss women and also assume that you
know everything about them by saying their prostitutes. Someone's a prostitute,

(30:20):
you know everything about them already. Someone's a drug addict,
you know everything about them already. You know if somebody's poor,
you know everything about them already. And the truth is
that you don't. Jillie and I are doing something very
similar with our research. In her book and documentary series,
She's explored the lives of the women murdered by Samuel Little.
Little claimed to have murdered as many as ninety three

(30:42):
people in towns and cities all across the United States,
women of color, marginalized women, prostitutes, addicts, sometimes not. They
all had such different stories. These women were very much
the less dead. Their disappearances dating back to the nineteen
seventies were often barely investigated, let alone investigated as murders.

(31:06):
Years later, in prison, Little drue haunting pictures of the
individuals he said he had killed. The FBI is still
seeking information to help connect victims with these confessions. Little
was convicted in twenty fourteen, at the age of seventy four,
for the murders of three women in the nineteen eighties,
but throughout his life he was repeatedly charged with theft, fraud, rape,

(31:30):
and assault. Repeatedly the authorities let him go. They didn't
try hard, they didn't care. And at the same time
there were prosecutors and defense attorneys who were putting notes
in the files saying, I believe this guy is good

(31:50):
for many murmurs in this So why do you think
there was this hesitation. I mean, this guy was killing
and killing and killing, and you know he was caught
and let go and caught and let go. So is
it because we believe that, for example, homeless people are expendable,
that sex workers are expendable, is that it is that

(32:12):
the reason the white Yale College student who is murdered
on spring break is the most dead, or the governor's
daughter is the most dead. It's easy to say, like,
we have these baton institutional biases against prostitutes, women of color,
drug addicts, and I can say that all day long,
and really I think it's about power. They didn't have

(32:34):
any they didn't have any money, they didn't have any power.
There are obvious parallels between Little's crimes and the White
Chapel murders, but talking to Julian, I was struck by
one detail a court hearing that reminded me of the
treatment women like Polly would have received an eighteen eighty
eight when dealing with those in authority. Laylah McClain and

(32:55):
Hilda Nelson and pascuagal And, Mississippi were both attacked by
Samuel Little. Eight years after Layla and Hilda escaped his clutches,
they attended court to testify against him. Hilda was eight
months pregnant. She took one look sam and she yearnated
on the floor and they made her clean it up,
and then they asked them to leave. They didn't even testify.

(33:18):
Following his conviction, Gillian interviewed Little about his crimes extensively.
She even elicited new confessions from him. Her focus was
never on little psychology or motivations, but on the people
that he harmed and killed. Gillian, herself, as a survivor
of sexual assault and a violent partner, once attempted to

(33:39):
strangle her. Now she feels she has a responsibility to
tell victim's stories. The responsibility is a universal one and
a larger one, and I will continue to feel a
responsibility to these victims and a relationship with them for
the rest of my life. Little's murder victims, overlooked, ignored, ridiculed,
and religned by society, were raced before they died. Gillian

(34:03):
tells me, like they were dead already. Small wonder then,
that when they came to harm at Little's hands, society
looked the other way. It's an idea that resonates with me.
Society had killed Polly Nichols before her actual death too.
Over a hundred years later, we continue to dismiss vulnerable people,
to treat them as disposable, insisting that Polly Nichols was

(34:26):
a prostitute is part of this process. It overlooks and
so erases the complexity of her existence. It effaces her humanity,
and so makes her vicious murder slightly more palatable. The
notion that the victims were only prostitutes and so deserving
of their fate seeks to perpetuate the belief that there

(34:48):
are good women and bad women, madonnas and whores. It
suggests that there is an acceptable standard of female behavior,
and that those who deviate from the standard are fit
to be punished and unworthy to be mourned. Whenever a
woman steps out of line and contravenes the feminine norm,
whether today social media or on the Victorian street, there

(35:12):
is a task understanding that someone must put her back
in her place. Will return to this idea again and again,
as we unpicked the threads that hold the jack the
Ripper lift together. Only by bringing his victims back to life,
by permitting them to speak and attempting to understand their experiences,
can we silence the ripper and what he represents bad women?

(35:51):
The Ripper were told is brought to you by Pushkin
Industries and me Hallie Ribbinhold, and is based on my
book The five. It was produced and co written by
Ryan Dilley and Alice Fines, with help from Pete Norton.
Pascal Wise sound designed and mixed the show and composed
all the original music. You also the voice talents of
Soul Boyer, Melanie Gutridge, Gemma Saunders, and rufus Wright. The

(36:15):
show also wouldn't have been possible without the work of
mil LaBelle, Jacob Weisberg, Jen Guera, Heather Fane, Carlie Migliori,
Maggie Taylor, Nicole Morano and Daniella Lacan were special thanks
to my agents Sarah Ballard and Ellie Karen
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