At the time of Jack the Ripper's reign, the Whitechapel community's reputation was less than desirable. The district was known for its poverty and lack of resources, and when the murders began, many people thought the crime was a personification or embodiment of the community.
Nevertheless, residents and neighbors were startled to hear the news of Mary Ann Nichols' death. Nichols' body was found on August 31, 1888, in Buck's Row.
Reports said the 43-year-old prostitute's neck was slit, and she endured multiple stab wounds in the abdomen. Since the area was categorized as very poor and destitute, it was not unusual for the women who lived there to turn to sex work for money. This tragic event marked the beginning of what locals would come to know as the Autumn of Terror.
Officials talked to the local prostitutes and began following their first lead. The sex workers told police about an aggressive character who they nicknamed "Leather Apron". Police began to look into this angle, but their efforts did not come soon enough.
On September 8, 1888, just a few days after Nichols' murder, another body was found nearby, identified as Annie Chapman. She was the second official victim of Jack the Ripper.
Chapman and Nichols had more in common than their tragic demise. Similar to Nichols, Chapman worked in the prostitution field and was also in her 40s. Two days later the police identified John Pizer as the "Leather Apron" and made an arrest. However, Pizer quickly provided alibis and was able to go, leaving the police back at square one, or, so they thought.