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November 2, 2021 38 mins

Swedish farmer’s daughter Elizabeth fell pregnant out of wedlock. The authorities considered her no better than a prostitute and subjected her to myriad physical and emotional humiliations. After she lost the baby, Elizabeth fled Sweden - embarking on a life of deceit that would end in her vicious murder on the streets of Whitechapel.  

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Speaker 1 (00:15):
Pushkin. It's a warm September evening. The sky has darkened
and a moon has risen over the flat, oily river.
Hundreds of day trippers and pleasure seekers are aboard the

(00:36):
Princess Alice as she steams through London. Music, singing, and
the excited shouts of children give the so called Moonlight
Cruise a holiday. Few no one notices that the craft
is moving directly into the course of a great iron
hulled freighter. The Princess Alice plows on her paddle wheels,

(00:59):
biting into the rank sewage bread waters at the Thames.
What unfolds over the next few terrible minutes will be
a tragedy for the city, but an opportunity for Elizabeth Stride,
maybe the first time she has benefited from the misfortune
of others, but it will not be the last, before

(01:20):
she meets her murderer on the streets of Whitechapel. I'm
Hallie rubbin Holt. 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 their stories
so wrong. One side, money plenty and friends too. By

(01:49):
the score, then fortune smild upon me. Now one passmo
anney and not with her to make Elizabeth, Gustav's daughter,

(02:31):
was borne by candlelight in the darkness of a Swedish November.
Her father tended the land and rural towards lander, cultivating
fields of grain, flax and potatoes. He also owned a barn,
several cows, pigs, chickens, and a horse. The family was
more prosperous than many in the area, and Elizabeth grew
up in a sturdy clapboard farmhouse as a farmer's daughter

(02:54):
in the eighteen forties. She would have been initiated into
the routine of agricultural life as soon as she was
steady enough on her feet to carry pails and gather eggs.
When she grew older, she would have assisted with milking,
tending the chickens and pigs, making butter, and even distilling aquivit,
the alcoholic liquor traditionally offered at meal times in Swedish households.

(03:16):
Elizabeth's local community was small and conservative. She was raised
a Lutheran, and prayer would have punctuated her days upon waking,
before meals and before bed, asking the Lord to shepherd
his flock safely through the long night. As a girl,
little was expected of her beyond mastery of housekeeping, childcare,

(03:37):
and basic animal husbandry, all of which she could learn
from assisting her mother. She therefore received little schooling. Elizabeth
probably grew accustomed to the constant rhythm of farm life,
the turning of the seasons, the cutting of the fields,
the freezing of the earth before the sowing of seeds.

(03:58):
But just before her seventeenth birthday everything changed. Elizabeth set
out for the city of Gothenburg to seek employment as
a servant. In Sweden, as in other European it was
traditional for young women to gain experience of domestic life
beyond the confines of their homes and communities. This was
seen as a kind of apprenticeship before they eventually assumed

(04:19):
command of their own households. Elizabeth went to work as
a maid for a lower middle class family. Domestic labor
at this time was cheap and in plentiful supply, so
even families of meager means could afford to hire help.
Employers were obliged to house, feed, clothe, and tend to
their servants when they were ill. In return, servants offered

(04:41):
their complete obedience, yet Choosing and hiring a servant could
also be risky. Bringing unknown young women into the home
could have unpredictable consequences. There was a preference for the
ruddy cheeked daughters of yeomen, who smelled like grass and goats.
It was believed that these girls had not yet learned
how to deceive or steal. They were innocent and honest.

(05:05):
By contrast, urban girls had been exposed to avarice and licentiousness.
Although it was a master or mistress's responsibility to keep
them safe, peril nonetheless lurked at every turn for maidservants,
whether or not she encouraged the advances of the master
or his son, his brother, cousin, friend, or father. There

(05:27):
were plenty of opportunities for a young servant woman to
find herself alone with men, to be coerced, overpowered, or
to give in to mutual desire. And so while service
was believed to be the making of a young working
class woman, becoming entangled with a man could be her undoing.

(05:48):
Some women's lovers would promise to look after them, and
many made good on these pledges, establishing their mistresses and lodgings.
Some men lived alongside their paramours and they posed as
married couples. Others visited only on occasion. Some relationships continued
for many years, if not a lifetime, but many more
fell upon art within weeks. The nineteenth century double standard

(06:12):
enabled men to walk away from such attachments. By contrast,
it often devastated the lives of the women who were
left to bear the crying and gurgling consequences of these unions.
Elizabeth has taken to the grave the name of the
man who altered her life with his lust. It will
never be known whether her first encounter with him was

(06:34):
consensual or forced, where it occurred, or under what circumstances,
But by March eighteen sixty five she was six months pregnant,
and whoever had got her into that position was no
longer present to shield her from the consequences. Until the
eighteen sixties, in Sweden, extramarital sex and illegitimate pregnancy were illegal,

(06:56):
punishable offenses. In fact, across all Europe and its colonies,
sexual immorality was a source of anxiety, verging on para noia.
In Gothenburg, the prostitution police charge placing women on the
sex trade register, colloquially referred to as the Register of Shame.
There were two lists, one containing the names of acknowledged

(07:19):
prostitutes and the other of suspected women, pregnant, single women,
women frequently seen alone with men or out at night,
and mistresses. The chief concern was the spread of venereal disease,
specifically syphilis, and bad women were seen as responsible for
its spread. This belief was then used to justify the

(07:41):
harsh treatment of women in legislation designed to prevent infection.
When her pregnancy began to show, it was surmised that
twenty one year old Elizabeth was guilty of lecherous living.
She was ordered to appear at the Police Inspection House.
On her first visit, she was entered into the official
register as public woman number ninety seven. She was then

(08:03):
further questioned and her answers included in the ledger age
twenty one years, appearance, blue eyes, brown hair, straight nose,
oval face, five foot two inches, slender build. I surmise
that this woman has not been living a life of gluttony.
The rules that were to govern Elizabeth's daily life would

(08:25):
then have been explained to her a lecture intended to
humiliate her. You will attend the inspection house twice a
week on Tuesdays and Fridays, or face a rest and
a fine, or three nights in prison on rations of
bread and water. You will not be permitted outdoors after
eleven at night. You must conduct a quiet and a
silent life. You must not loiter in the windows or

(08:45):
doorway of your home. You must dress in a decent
way when appearing in public and not call attention to yourself.
At the Police Inspection House, Elizabeth would have been subjected
to regular examinations of her genitalia. This routine was designed
as much to chasen the city's public women as to
screen them against the dreaded syphilis. Syphilis is transmitted primarily

(09:11):
through sexual intercourse, and it has three key stages in
its acquired form, primary, secondary and tertiary. And Hanley is
a lecturer in the History of science and Medicine at
Birkbeck University of London. The primary stage is characterized by
the presence of a soft saw or canker at the

(09:31):
side of infection. So in most cases this would have
been on a person's genitals. And you know this saw
could appear a couple of weeks to several months after
infection and it will last for a short period of
time and then disappear, and when it disappeared, the patient
moved into a period of disease latency. The secondary stage
could occur anywhere from several months to several years. Later,

(09:53):
patients would experience flu like symptoms, a fever, swollen glands,
a sore throat, and then the eruption of a rash,
as well as wart like growths and lesions on their genitals. Eventually,
it would attack the person's central nervous system. Suffer might
experience behavioral changes, including paranoia and mood swings, deterioration of

(10:15):
the spinal cord, and seizures. There were other visible symptoms
as well. The soft tissue in a person's face begins
to break down. This type of necrotic deterioration where person's
nose disintegrates essentially, as does their soft palate and parts
of their frontal though, syphilis affected fertility too and could

(10:36):
be passed on to a fetus before birth, so called
congenital syphilis. In the days before antibiotics, this was a
terrible disease. So as to avoid giving offense to Gothenburg's
respectable citizens, all suspected and known public women were required
to enter the police inspection house through a concealed rear

(10:58):
passage jetty line. Once inside, they had to strip naked
and form a line. Sometimes, if the weight was a
long one, they were ordered to stand in the outdoor courtyard,
shivering in the cold as the uniformed officers stood over them.
For a young woman who had been raised in a
religious community, the indignity of the experience would have been shocking. However,

(11:23):
as Elizabeth was pregnant with an illegitimate child, she may well,
like so many women of her era, have internalized her
punishment as a justifiable one. Elizabeth can only have been
subjected to this routine a handful of times before it
was discovered that she was presenting the symptoms of syphilis.

(11:43):
She was immediately admitted to the cahousit or cure house,
the local venereal disease hospital. These treatment centers, also known
as lack hospitals, were designed for poor people. A stay
here carried profound stigma, and this was in part a
deterrent as well, like the shaven stigma that accompanied entry

(12:05):
into a workhouse. A similar stigma existed for the law hospitals,
and these were institutions that were often seriously underfunded, understaffed,
and lacked the facilities needed to be able to provide
people with effective care even by Victorian standards. Patients at
these institutions were effectively imprisoned, hence the name Lock hospital.

(12:30):
Some women entered voluntarily, but many were incarcerated against their will.
At Gothenburg's cure House, attendance and nurses used force to
subdue patients. It was also overcrowded, and when the number
of patients exceeded capacity, inmates were made to sleep on
the floor. Mercury was the go to treatment for syphilis

(12:51):
at this time. The standard forms were an ointment, pill,
or tonic, but doctors also experimented with other modes of
administration fumigation. I think it's the best way to describe it.
So you'd sit essentially something that looked a bit like
a steam room and mercury infused vapors pumped in and
you sit there and just sort of absorb it through
your skin. There was no standardized dosage for mercury. Doctor

(13:16):
saw its administration as an art rather than a science.
It was also highly toxic and potentially deadly severe. Mercury
poisoning could result in everything from loosened to lost teeth
and fettered breath all the way through to hair loss
and changed mental state, very similar symptoms to what you

(13:38):
might expect in the later stages of syphilis itself. Pregnant
Elizabeth was spared mercury but treated internally with acid while
her genital wartz would have been dehydrated or cut off.
After receiving this cure for seventeen days, she went into
premature labor. Elizabeth gave birth to a stillborn girl at

(14:00):
seven months while under lock and key at the cure house.
A birth certificate was still required. The space for the
far this name was left blank. Methods of treating syphilis
varied between countries, but they shared an underlying concept. Women
should shoulder the blame for its transmission. If the state

(14:23):
could control the morally corrupt woman the disease is spreaders,
then the problem would be isolated. Sexually transmitted disease involves
two parties, of course, but male carriers were exempt from regulation. Unfortunately,
the idea that women, specifically female sex workers, are solely
responsible for the spread of disease and should be punished

(14:45):
for it, is one that we haven't left behind. There's
been a long history of sex workers being imprisoned under
public health justifications. Grace is a sex worker from the
UK who contacted me after reading my work on Elizabeth's life.
People fear that we will be seen as vector as
a disease, so unfortunately, these actually do still persist and

(15:05):
clients let you know about it. Leave me there, will
say things and you feel lange. In Elizabeth's time, as
for Grace today, attitudes and fears around the spread of
disease caused women real physical harm too. Syphilis inspections were
brutally rapid. Fifty women might be examined using the same
medical instrument in less than two hours, says Ann Hanley,

(15:29):
and that speculum was then passed to the attending nurse,
who sort of cursorily disinfected it the use of the
next patient. There's no way that these diagnostic examinations were thorough,
and there's no way that they were hygienic. In many cases,
women who may not have had a anereal disease were
being infected by the very process of examination to determine

(15:50):
whether or not they were infected. Even if women seemed
to respond to the rudimentary cures on offer and were
released from the hospital. Their slate wasn't white clean. Criminal
convictions followed those who had been inmates at lock hospitals,
and once a woman appeared on a police register, she
would not be able to secure respectable work. One of

(16:11):
the only ways that she could actually sustain herself would
be to resort to the profession she had been accused
of practicing prostitution. Inside, Elizabeth joined the ranks of women
who sold themselves on a notorious Gothenburg thoroughfare known mockingly
as the Street of many Nymphs. As open solicitation on

(16:33):
the street was forbidden, she would have traded discreetly indoors
at a brothel, perhaps or in a coffee house. Elizabeth
had been publicly denounced as a whore, had suffered the
indignity of police examination, had discovered she carried a potentially
deadly and disfiguring disease, and had been incarcerated and subjected
to excruciating medical procedures. Estranged from her family and from

(16:57):
respectable life, she had then been released onto the street,
with no friend to whom she could turn in the city.
It was now that the symptoms of syphilis returned and
medical incarceration was ordered once more. But just when things
looked to be at their bleakest, an opportunity appeared, one

(17:18):
that would change Elizabeth's life forever. The ripper retold, will
be back in just a moment. Sweden, like many European countries,
was witnessing a swell of interest in rescuing prostitutes. Middle

(17:43):
and upper class women sought to rehabilitate back into Christian life,
those who would otherwise have been lost to God. During
one visit to the Cahust, Elizabeth was picked out by
Maria Weisner, the wife of a German musician. The Weasners
were looking for a reasonably priced maid, and they offered
Elizabeth the job. This was an exceptional stroke of good fortune.

(18:05):
According to the law, employment and domestic service was the
only way, outside of marriage, that a woman on the
police register could have her name removed and thereby recover
her life and her reputation. That process of having one's
name struck from the register of shame required an employer
to write a letter of surety to the police. Maria
Weisner did just this. The servant maid, Elizabeth Gustafson, was

(18:29):
engaged in my service on November the tenth, and I
am responsible for her good conduct as long as she
stays in my service. Public Woman number ninety seven was
no more, and then Elizabeth received a further opportunity to
reinvent herself. Trade links between Gothenburg and Britain meant that
the city was home to a dynamic British community. It

(18:52):
was likely through this expat enclave that Elizabeth learned of
a position for a maid servant wishing to travel with
a British family back to London. Although Elizabeth was no
longer on the police register or working as a prostitute,
there were reminders of her former life everywhere in Gothenburg.
As long as she remained in the city, she would

(19:13):
never escape her past, and so the possibility of beginning
again in London as a housemaid to an affluent family
must have seemed a gift from providence. Elizabeth was still
just twenty two years old on the day she departed Sweden.
Snow lay thickly along the streets, and the canals were

(19:34):
slicked with ice. At the port dock, workers, sailors and
passengers were swathed in wool and fir against the sharp
cold as the peaks and domes of the city skyline
diminished from view. She could not have felt much remorse.
Gothenburg had left a cruel mark upon her, one that

(19:54):
would always remain no matter where she called home. When
she arrived in London, Elizabeth lived in an elegant townhouse
near one of the city's royal parks, where she worked
for a prosperous cosmopolitan. As a young woman in London,
with an exotic foreign accent, a high forehead, and dark

(20:15):
wavy hair, she would have caught the eye of many admirers.
A policeman courted her for a while, but due to
the long hours she worked, this relationship failed blossom. It's
possible that an all too familiar scandal led Elizabeth to
eventually quit or lose her job. She has been linked
to her employer's brother, though we cannot be sure what

(20:37):
occurred or who instigated it. Next, Elizabeth went to work
for one Missus Bond, who ran a genteel lodging house
near the furniture district, with a scent of freshly cut
mahogany and oak perfumed the air. Missus Bond let furnished
rooms through a respectable clientele as a well trained Swedish maid,

(20:58):
Elizabeth would have conferred a certain sophistication on her establishment,
though the drudgery of her chores would have been no different.
One day, Elizabeth was noticed by a forty seven year
old carpenter named John Stride. Perhaps they crossed paths on
multiple occasions, on the street moving to and from work,

(21:18):
or in the wooden stalls of the local coffee house,
drinking a dark sugared brew, whatever the case. By the
early months of eighteen sixty nine, the pair was engaged.
Elizabeth was twenty five at this point, and her fiance,
almost twice her age, was likely turning gray. John, who
had been a bachelor for many years, would have had

(21:39):
money put aside. He was also a teetotaler from a
religious Methodist family. After Elizabeth's tumultuous past and her experiences
of the harm that men could do her, he may
well have seemed like a safe and solid choice as
a woman, and one on her own in a strange country.

(22:01):
Elizabeth knew she would have to marry soon. They wed
quickly on the register. Elizabeth gave a false name for
her father, a move typical of an immigrant who wished
for no shadows of her former life to fall upon
this new chapter. This fresh beginning was marked by a
new adventure for the Strides. They opened their own coffee house.

(22:25):
These establishments offered simple meals of chops, kidneys, bread and butter,
pickles and eggs, along with cups of sugared coffee. No
alcohol was served. One observer notes they are convenient to
thousands of persons who have not the comforts of domesticity
at home. The food, fire, the bright light, the supply

(22:46):
of newspapers and magazines, and the cup of simple beverage
are obtainable for a few pence. The strides hours were
long ones, but for the first time, Elizabeth scrubbing, cooking,
washing and serving would have been performed not for the
benefit of an employer, but for herself. Sadly, the business

(23:06):
failed to thrive. The Stride were likely to have encountered
competition from pubs. In spite of the popularity of coffee houses,
not every working man was prepared to abandon the alcohol
and jolly camaraderie of the local public house, so they
moved the location of their establishment, hoping to attract better trade.

(23:27):
It's also likely that John was anticipating an inheritance from
his wealthy but miserly father. However, when the old man
passed away, John was written out of his will. The
collapse of their first coffee house would likely have left
a debt, and a second failing business would have only
increased their arrears. In order to keep his concern afloat,

(23:52):
John may have borrowed money, quite probably against the promise
of inheriting property. When his father's will left him disappointed,
there was nothing to be done but shut the door
for good on their hopes and dreams of betterment. John
and Elizabeth had no children in the years they were married.

(24:12):
Elizabeth syphilis would have put her at high risk of
miscarriage and stillbirth. She may also have been too ashamed
to confide in John about the disease, simply wishing to
bury her past. Bringing syphilis into the marital home was
a social disgrace and a tragedy, says medical historian Anne Hanley.
A woman who is seeking respectability and trying to put

(24:36):
an unrespectable past behind her would not want to dredge
up old ghosts when sort of embarking on their new life,
So it wouldn't surprise me that she didn't tell him,
And also when we think about the trajectory of syphilis,
with those periods of latency, passing through the secondary stage,
and then it disappearing for decades, it's possible that she

(24:58):
would have assumed herself to be free of disease, or
at least free of a disease that was communicable to
other people, so she may not have even seen a
need to tell him. There would have been social repercussions
for both Elizabeth and John if her syphilis and her
sexual past outside of marriage had been known. I think
there was an assumption also that a woman who deviated

(25:19):
from this standard role of sort of pure femininity was
in some way deranged, and a man who wanted to
marry a woman who had done this must also be deranged.
You know. This is all tied up with the assumption
that a woman's sexuality is very much bound to her
reproductive capacity, and that if she's not having sex for
the purposes of having children, there's something wrong with her.

(25:40):
Elizabeth's failure to become a mother in an era when
a woman's identity and purpose was defined by her fertility,
would have been devastating to her. The Stride's marriage soured,
the financial hardship wrought by the collapse of their business
and their inability to produce children may have contributed to
friction between them. It is also likely that Elizabeth had

(26:03):
begun to drink eight years after their union. Elizabeth left John.
She now had to use her wits to survive, and
she alighted on a new method of supporting herself, fraud.
The ripper retold, will be back in just a moment.

(26:33):
On the deck of the Princess Alice, the ship's band
played a rousing poker, and couples gathered to dance and sing.
Children chased each other across the slippery wooden floors, and
gentlemen read their newspapers. Lulled by the mild evening, others
were retiring to the cabins below deck, but the Bywell Castle,

(26:56):
a dark, hulking coal freighter, was closing first. Her iron
bow cut into the pleasure boat, slicing her into the
commuted water rushed into the Great yawned, and within minutes
the Princess Alice had disappeared. Panic stricken survivors clung to

(27:19):
any flotsam they could find, bobbing heads gasped for breath,
and the putrid water and cried out to loved ones.
Hundreds drowned or died later from the effects of their
time in the Thames. Bodies littered the river and shoreline
for days. But such chaos presents opportunities for some. There

(27:45):
was no headcount taken of the people who went on
the boat, so they were never entirely sure who had
been on it, which made it easier for people to
claim that, oh, my husband, my wife, they were on board,
they drowned, because how would you disprove that Nell Derby
is a crime historian. There were so many unscrupulous claims
as a result of that disaster, you know, and so
many claims rejected. And part of the issue is, of course,

(28:08):
that the relief was widely advertised. People knew there was
going to be money, There was going to be compensation.
Survivors and the families of the dead were urged to
come forward and claim that compensation. In the weeks that
followed the calamity, many invented sorrowful tales of their own
in an effort to cash in. Elizabeth, it seems, was

(28:29):
among them. She spun an elaborate yarn, colored with detailed
and drama, designed to beguile the listener. Elizabeth claimed that
she had been aboard the Princess Alice with John and
two of their nine children when the pleasure cruiser was struck.
They were separated. John had attempted to save the children,

(28:49):
but they were all snatched away by the river and drowned. Elizabeth,
who found herself within one of the ships collapsing funnels,
saw a rope that had been dropped by another boat
and grabbed for it. In climbing to safety, she was
kicked in the mouth by a man above her, which
damaged her palette. It's possible that at this point, in

(29:10):
telling her tall tale, Elizabeth revealed her syphilis ravaged mouth.
She went on to say that life as a widow
was fraught with hardship, and her remaining seven children were
in an orphanage. Elizabeth's name does not appear on the
list of survivors in the records of the relief Fund.

(29:30):
It is more likely that she peddled her story to
concerned individuals who might offer handouts. In the ensuing years,
she would retell this tale enough times to convince everyone
around her of its veracity. Alone, she moved to Whitechapel
and began working as a charwoman or day servant for

(29:51):
Jewish families there as recent immigrants who had escaped persecution
and Russia, Prussia and Ukraine. Most of these families did
not speak English, and so she learned to communicate with
them in Yiddish. Working for Jewish families would have also
offered Elizabeth some modicum of security. Fellow immigrants were not

(30:13):
usually eager to discuss their pasts, and they were therefore
unlikely to make any inquiries into hers. At this point,
Elizabeth had learnt that shedding identities were simple. She was Swedish,
but she could speak English well enough to fool people.
She may also have claimed to be Irish at times,

(30:33):
using the name Annie Fitzgerald. And then, in eighteen eighty three,
fate through the thirty nine year old Elizabeth into the
path of a woman named Mary Malcolm A Taylor. S
years spent squinting over a needle had ruined missus Malcolm's eyesight.
Her attraction to the bottle probably didn't help matters. One day,

(30:57):
perhaps on the street or in a pub, she glimpsed
Elizabeth's stride and was convinced it was her estranged sister.
Mary had probably called out her sister's name, and Elizabeth
had duly and conveniently answered. The mistaken identity stuck in
part because Elizabeth was all too pleased to use this

(31:19):
new relationship to her advantage. Knowing that her real, long
lost sister had led a hard life, including at least
two marriages and a period spent in an asylum, Mary
was inclined to believe that the by now bedraggled and
impoverished Elizabeth was this same person. Mary felt compelled to

(31:41):
assist her, and for the next five years, the two
women met at least once a week. Every Saturday. At
four o'clock, Mary handed over two shillings the equivalent of
over fifty dollars today. At one point, Elizabeth left a
naked baby girl outside Mary's door. Mary naturally concluded that

(32:03):
this was Elizabeth's child and therefore her niece, though it
was more likely that Elizabeth had temporarily acquired the infant
for the purposes of begging. Such begging scams were common.
They were one of the many ways that destitute women
made ends meet. Crucially, women tended to target other women.

(32:26):
Prostitution was very much a last resort for these women
if they could find another way. To get some money
in then that's what they would do. So you've got
women who go out claiming that their husband's broken, their leg,
can't work anymore, and they need financial support. You've got
women claiming that they've been left stranded in England and
they need to get back to their country of origin.
Can they have some money to help them do that?

(32:47):
And these women tend to target other women who are
just passing by. They'll see the women and they immediately
start feigning illness or feigning some sort of situation to
get those women sympathy. And as part of that, you've
then got these begging scams where they kind of use
a child or the pretense of a child to get sympathy.

(33:09):
Get some women who go along with their own children
and saying, oh, my son or daughter's ill, can you
give me money. But then you've got women who also
kind of bundle up rags, hide them under their shawl,
and when they see a woman walking past, pretend to
be talking to the child and saying, oh, you know,
my poor child, they're really ill, they're really sick, can

(33:29):
you give me money. Some women would even go out
and hire sick children, particularly those were a bad cough,
They would take the child with them and knock on
doors asking for money. This was a well known ruse
designed to tug on both the heart and the purse strings.
Elizabeth eventually returned for the baby. Later, when Mary asked

(33:50):
after the infant, Elizabeth lied and said that she had
taken the girl to live with family in another city.
Mary would meet Elizabeth in secret, and she never invited
her into her home. Perhaps deep down, Mary had her
suspicions about Elizabeth's true identity, but so long as she
kept Elizabeth at arm's length, she could continue to fool herself.

(34:15):
Elizabeth was secretive and deceitful. She'd learned how to milk
human gullibility for financial gain. There may have been something
else going on here too, see I wonder where Elizabeth,
whether it's also about her identity, trying to find an
identity for herself, trying to get sympathy or affection of

(34:35):
other people in a way that she hadn't had in
her earlier life. When she comes to London, she's always
trying to seek that, trying to get sympathy for people,
not just for monetary reasons, but she's trying to recreate
herself in a way, trying to get herself an identity
where people care about her and worry about her. Then
Elizabeth lost one of the few people in her life

(34:56):
who had cared about her. John's health had been deteriorating
for some time. He was admitted to a workhouse infirmary,
where he died of heart disease age sixty three. Over
the years, John and Elizabeth had reconnected again and again,
and then separated again and again too. After his burial,

(35:17):
Elizabeth's life began spiraling rapidly downward. Desperate from money, she
appears to have returned the type of labor she had
abandoned so many years ago in Sweden, selling sex. Elizabeth's
name appears on the ledgers of the magistrates court for
soliciting sex on the street in eighteen eighty four. The

(35:38):
court felt there was enough evidence to convict her, and
she was sentenced to seven days hard labor. Shortly afterwards,
Elizabeth met another man, a dock worker called Michael Kidney.
Their relationship was a violent one. The pair rented a
series of dingy rooms together in Whitechapel. Both enjoyed drinking

(36:00):
to excess, and in the years leading up to her murder.
Elizabeth was repeatedly arrested not for soliciting, but for drunken
disorderliness an obscene language. Her erratic and violent behavior can
be attributed in part to her drinking, but there may
have been something else at work here too. It had

(36:21):
been over twenty years since Elizabeth had contracted syphilis, and
the disease may well have been attacking her brain and
nervous system. As part of its final phase. She had
also begun to suffer from epileptic seizures. Elizabeth had recognized
that the world didn't care about her or about what
happened to her, and she chose to use this to

(36:43):
her advantage. She weaponized her anonymity, reinventing herself at will.
Did anyone truly know Elizabeth Stride? As the summer of
eighteen eighty eight turned autumn, the opportunities for anyone to
forge a genuine connection with this sick and troubled woman
were fading fast. Elizabeth's shadowy life on the margins was

(37:08):
about to at her directly into the path of a murderer.
Bad women. The Ripper were told is brought to you
by Pushkin Industries and me Hallie Ribbinhold and is based

(37:30):
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 heard the
voice talents of Soul Boyer, Melanie Gutridge, Gemma Saunders, and
Rufus Wright. The show also wouldn't have been possible without

(37:51):
the work of Mia LaBelle, Jacob Weisberg, Jen Guerra, Heather Fane,
Carlie Migliori, Maggie Taylor, Nicole Morano and Daniella Lakhan were
special thanks to my agents, Sarah Ballard and Ellie Karen

(38:26):
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