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Martha Tabram
Most commonly discussions of Jack the Ripper focus on - or at least mention - the concept of the Canonical Five: Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Kate Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. The "real" number of women murdered by the same killer varies, however, and more recent works on the Ripper tend to include Martha Tabram's murder.

Martha White was born in 1849, the youngest of five children. Her parents separated in 1865 and her father died shortly thereafter. Martha first lived with, then married, Henry Samuel Tabram, and the couple had two children. Henry left her in 1875 because of her heavy drinking and reduced her allowance when he heard she was living with another man. She continued to live with Henry Turner on and off until a few weeks before her death, although their relationship was troubled both by her continued drinking and by his unemployment.

On the night before her murder, Martha was out with another woman named Mary Ann Connelly and called Pearly Poll. Tom Wescott, in his book The Bank Holiday Murders (2014), suggests that more attention needs to be placed on Pearly Poll because of the way the events of that night unfolded, and because of her following interactions with the police. On the night of Martha's murder, Pearly Poll said that the two of them had gone off with a couple of soldiers. Martha likely took her soldier to the landing of the George Yard building where her body was found early in the morning of August 7, 1888. Because the landing was not lit, she was at first mistaken for simply being asleep. Martha had, in fact, been stabbed thirty-nine times. The fact that one of these wounds was possibly inflicted by a bayonet just helped point the finger at the soldier with whom she had last been seen.

At first Pearly Poll hid from the police and then missed the first scheduled identity parade at which she was meant to point out the two soldiers she and Martha had been with that night. After the first one she did attend, she provided the police with a further detail of their uniforms that meant she had just looked through the wrong soldiers. After a second parade at a different barracks, Pearly Poll selected two men whose alibis for the night of the murder were sound. In his book, Wescott explores the ways in which Poll derailed the investigation and argues that her actions were purposeful because she knew the identity of the Ripper and therefore felt threatened.

Henry Tabram was the one who formally identified his estranged wife's body. No suspect was ever named, although her death inquest gave a verdict of murder.

After Polly Nichols' murder on August 31, the two women's murders were connected in the papers - a rhetorical move that continued through the rest of the canonical five murders. Police at the time also connected the cases. Later writings have avoided the connection because Martha Tabram's throat was not cut, and her body was not mutilated in the same manner as the other five. Lately, however, authors have made the argument that this may have been the Ripper's first murder and he had not yet fully developed his preferred method of killing.

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