Emma Elizabeth Smith - 3rd April 1888

Emma Elizabeth Smith - 3rd April 1888

In the 1880's, the Whitechapel district of London was considered a dangerous slum, and it was here that eleven women were murdered between 3 April 1888 and 13 February 1891. The Whitechapel murders are especially notable because five of the murders are suspected to be committed by the infamous Jack the Ripper. Though Emma Elizabeth Smith, a prostitute by trade, was murdered during this time, and is named among the list of Whitechapel murder victims, she is not generally considered to be a Jack the Ripper victim.

Emma was very poor, and despite a police investigation into her murder, not much information was collected about her past. She was believed to be born in 1843, so she was likely in her mid-forties when she was attacked, and had been living at 18 George Street for about a year and a half. It was never confirmed if she had a deceased husband and two children, as she claimed. The lack of information collected about her past could be related to the fact that she was only the first of a string of murders of the area.

On the night of Tuesday, April 3, 1888, Emma was returning to her boarding house when she was viciously attacked by at least three young men. She was beaten, raped, and then assaulted with a sharp object forced into her vagina. The men left her to die in the street, but she surprisingly survived, and was able to walk back to her boarding house. Two of Emma's friends were able to take her to a hospital, but she died of her wounds. She was able to provide descriptions of her attackers to the authorities before she died on the morning of April 4.

Emma's murder is unlikely to be the work of Jack the Ripper, as he is not known to have ever worked in a group, and the attack is unlike the rest of his murders. Detectives believed that the attack was carried out by a street gang, which was very common at the time. Emma's assailants were never caught.