Catherine Eddowes is well-known for being the second victim in the "double event" during the Jack the Ripper killing spree. She was the second woman killed on September 30, 1888 in the notorious Whitechapel district of London. Despite her obscure position in society as a casual prostitute and manual labourer, there is a surprising amount of information available to form a visual of her life.
"Kate", as she was more commonly called by friends and family, moved away from her family at a young age to find work as a tin plate stamper. During this period, she met Thomas Conway, an ex-soldier, who became her common-law husband. She had three children with Thomas, but developed a drinking problem and left her family. Thomas managed to keep their two sons hidden from Kate thereafter, but she was able to maintain a strained relationship with her daughter, Annie.
After leaving Thomas Conway, Kate began a relationship with a man named John Kelly. They struggled financially, taking random odd jobs. This is the time period when most experts believe Kate engaged in prostitution in order to make ends meet. They lived at different boarding houses in the areas in which they worked.
Kate's story is interesting because she was actually in police custody only hours before her death. Earlier in the day, she told John Kelly that she wanted to ask her daughter, Annie, for some money (she didn't know that Annie had moved from her last known address). No one knows for sure what she did that day, but she was found in a drunken state lying on the street. After spending several hours in jail, she was released. That is the last item of information that is known for certain about Kate.
There was an eye-witness account of a woman of Kate's description talking to a man only a short time before her body was found, lifeless and mutilated. The police could not be sure that the witnesses were sure that it was Kate they saw. The police arrived at her body while it was still warm, perhaps only 30 minutes after she was killed. Her body was mutilated extensively, as were Jack the Ripper's other victims.
She was buried in an unmarked grave, but her resting place has since been given a marker â€“ likely because of her notoriety as a victim on London's most famous, unidentified serial killer.