The Thames Torso Murders Horrified Victorian
In May 1887, some East London workers found a bundle in the Thames River that contained a female torso. Over the next few weeks, the rest of the body, except for the head and upper chest, was found in bits and pieces. Nobody could figure out the victim’s identity, nor that of her killer. However, investigators concluded that whoever cut up the body probably had medical training. It reminded police of another dismembered torso found in the Thames in 1873. In September, 1888, another dismembered female body was found, some of it in the Thames, and other bits in various London locales. The following June, yet another dismembered female torso was found in the Thames.
The similarities led police to conclude that it was the work of the same serial killer. The Thames Torso Murders, as they came to be called, overlapped with Jack the Ripper’s murder spree, which began in April, 1888. Initially, it was suspected that the Thames torsos were the work of the Ripper. However, the modus operandi differed: the Ripper gruesomely mutilated his victims, while the Thames River killer surgically dismembered his. It was little comfort to Victorian Londoners to know that instead of just one maniacal murderer on the loose, there were actually two. To this day, the Thames River Torso murders, just like those of Jack the Ripper, remain an unsolved mystery.