Unspeakable Times
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17 Gruesome Facts About The Atlanta Ripper, The American South's Own 'Jack'

Updated September 30, 2020 29.8k views17 items

While most people are familiar with London's Jack the Ripper, few are aware of the existence of his southern counterpart who matched him in stealth and carnage, and who had an entire city wracked with terror during the early 1900s. No one was certain who truly bore the Atlanta Ripper identity, but the appalling murder and mutilation of nearly 20 African American women hung heavy over everyone's head. Since much of the south was still gripped by racism and segregation, the killings weren't given the attention they deserved until the Ripper had already amassed a large number of victims and, finally, caused a city-wide panic that could no longer be ignored. The sad fact is that the culprit behind the unsolved Atlanta Ripper mystery fed off of the blatant disregard of the public to reap more victims and elude police.

The increased brutality of each slaying, the notes pinned to fireboxes across the city, and the befuddlement of justice all create a grisly and disturbing tapestry of Atlanta Ripper facts. Whether the Atlanta Ripper identity belonged to a conglomeration of different individuals or a single predator is still hotly contested, and over a century later the question still endures: Who was the Atlanta Ripper?

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  • Railway Coupling Pin Used To Obliterate Addie Watts Skull
    Photo: Yasuhiro_S / Flickr

    Railway Coupling Pin Used To Obliterate Addie Watts Skull

    On June 15, 1911, a badly ravaged body of Addie Watts was found close to the Southern railway, her head completely smashed in by a coupling pin from a train, which police later found nearby. Her throat had been violently cut before her body was dragged near the tracks. Addie Watts had been a neighbor of the Sharpes, and it was her savage murder that initially caused Emma Lou to fear for the safety of her missing mother.

  • Ferocity Of Rosa Trice's Death Sets Standard For Ripper Victims

    Hotly debated as being the Atlanta Ripper's first victim, 35-year-old Rosa Trice was murdered in January of 1911. The body discovered on Gardner Street was in such a devastated state that it would set the standard for the level of brutality to be inflicted on the Ripper's future victims. The left side of Trice's head was completely crushed and her throat cut so deeply that her head was nearly severed from her neck. Her jaw had been stabbed and she was dragged a short distance from her home.

  • Slaying Of Beauty Compels Media To Take Notice Of Ripper Crimes
    Photo: Pinterest

    Slaying Of Beauty Compels Media To Take Notice Of Ripper Crimes

    On the evening of Saturday May 27, 1911, Mary “Belle” Walker left her job as a cook at a residence on Cooper Street and headed home. The following morning, her sister discovered that her bed was empty and began a frantic search of the property. Belle was found in an old field at the rear of the house with a jagged cut across her throat. It wasn't until Belle Walker's death that the white-owned and staffed newspapers began to even report the grisly deaths plaguing the Atlanta African American community.

  • The Barbaric Killer Rips Out A Woman's Heart And Puts It On Display
    Photo: Matt Batchelor / Flickr

    The Barbaric Killer Rips Out A Woman's Heart And Puts It On Display

    On November 21, 1911, a body was found hastily buried under loose dirt in a ditch near the juncture of Stewart Street and the belt line. When Mary Putnam's body was discovered at 7 am, she was still warm. Putnam's throat and breast had been viciously slashed and the killer's hand prints were plainly visible in the dirt around the body. The most disturbing sign of the Ripper reaching a frenzied crescendo was that Putnam's mutilated heart was found lying next to her and she had been disemboweled. When a bloodhound reached the scene, it followed a trail for 200 yards that abruptly ended at the car line. The cause of death was determined to be a broken skull and lacerated throat wounds.