“Ginger”

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These are the remains of Mary Jane Kelly, the fifth canonical victim of Jack the Ripper. Her mutilations were far more extensive than the others’, perhaps because she was the only victim killed in a private room. From the notes of police surgeon Thomas Bond:

“The whole of the surface of the abdomen and thighs was removed and the abdominal cavity emptied of its viscera. The breasts were cut off, the arms mutilated by several jagged wounds and the face hacked beyond recognition of the features. The tissues of the neck were severed all round down to the bone.

“The viscera were found in various parts viz: the uterus and kidneys with one breast under the head, the other breast by the right foot, the liver between the feet, the intestines by the right side and the spleen by the left side of the body. The flaps removed from the abdomen and thighs were on a table.”

She was last seen alive at 2 a.m. on Nov. 9, 1888, in the company of a “Jewish-looking man” as they walked to her room. Her fellow prostitute Mary Ann Cox, unable to sleep, heard someone leave the house at 5:45. In between, at about 4 a.m., two neighbors heard a faint woman’s voice cry “Murder!”

The Shark Arm Affair

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On April 25, 1935, a shark in Australia’s Coogee Aquarium disgorged a human arm. The shark had recently been caught off Sydney, but no swimmers had been reported missing. The arm, which had been severed with a knife, was eventually identified as that of 40-year-old ex-boxer James Smith, who had been missing since April 7.

Police began a murder investigation, but without a body there was no proof that Smith was dead. The case collapsed, and it remains unsolved.

Texas Dark

In 1884, America got its first serial killer. The “Servant Girl Annihilator” of Austin, Texas, would drag his victims from their beds, rape them, then kill them with an ax or a spike. In a yearlong spree he murdered at least seven women. Then he disappeared.

Three years later, Jack the Ripper surfaced in London.

See also Långrocken.

The Werewolf of Dôle

In 1572 something began killing the children of Dôle in eastern France. A 10-year-old girl was strangled and partially devoured in October; another girl succumbed after a similar attack a few weeks later, and more victims followed. The province decided there was a werewolf abroad, and one evening some workers spotted a creature carrying a child’s body through the failing light.

It wasn’t a wolf. It was Gilles Garnier, a local hermit and, as it turned out, a cannibalistic serial murderer who hunted children to feed his new wife. Garnier said that a specter had given him a magic ointment that would let him assume a wolf’s shape in order to hunt more easily.

Who’s to say he was wrong? After confessing to four murders, Garnier was convicted of “crimes of lycanthropy and witchcraft” and burned at the stake.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

On Dec. 10, 1968, a uniformed man pulled over a bank car in Tokyo. He explained that police had received a warning that dynamite had been planted in the vehicle, which was transporting bonuses for local Toshiba employees. The four passengers got out and watched as the officer crawled underneath.

After a moment he rolled out, shouting that the car was about to explode. When the passengers ran, he got in and drove off.

Thus one man stole 294,307,500 yen in broad daylight, working alone and without harming anyone. It remains the largest single heist in Japanese history. The thief was never caught.

The Alphabet Murders

In the early 1970s, an unknown assailant sexually attacked and strangled three young girls in towns near Rochester, N.Y.:

  • Carmen Colon in Churchville
  • Wanda Walkowicz in Webster
  • Michelle Maenza in Macedon

The crimes have never been solved.

The Whitehall Mystery

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Scotland Yard is built on the site of an unsolved murder.

The torso of a “well-nourished” 24-year-old woman was found in a cellar vault in October 1888, while the police service’s headquarters was being built in Westminster. Her arm had been discovered earlier on the bank of the Thames, and a reporter later discovered a leg elsewhere on the construction site.

The woman’s uterus was also missing, an unsettling echo of Jack the Ripper’s killings, which were terrorizing London at the same time. The Metropolitan Police said there was no connection.

The woman’s head and other limbs were never found, and her identity — and that of her killer — has never been established.

The “Boy in the Box”

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On Feb. 25, 1957, a pedestrian came upon a cardboard box in the Fox Chase section of Philadelphia. Inside was the naked, battered body of a young boy between 4 and 6 years old.

A media sensation ensued throughout the Delaware Valley, and pictures of the boy were inserted in every gas bill in Philadelphia. But the boy’s identity has never been established, and the case has never been solved.

Murder at the Priory

In 1876, London barrister Charles Bravo took three days to die of antimony poisoning but refused to say who had poisoned him or why.

An inquest determined it was a case of willful murder, but no one was ever arrested or charged. To this day, no one knows who killed him.

Sideshow Justice

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Frontier lawmen chose some odd fundraising techniques. When rangers killed Joaquin Murrieta, “the Mexican Robin Hood,” in 1853, they cut off his head, preserved it in brandy, and sent it on tour through California, charging spectators $1 per person to see it.

Captain Harry Love insisted it was the real article, but Murrieta was sighted several times after his “death,” and the pickled head was said to lack a characteristic scar.

So whose head was it? It was lost in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, so we’ll never know.