Did Jack the Ripper kill a Bowery prostitute?

On April 23, 1891, Carrie Brown, a 60-year-old prostitute known as “Old Shakespeare” because of her penchant for quoting the Bard after a few drinks, took a customer to the East River Hotel.

The next morning, her body was found on the bed in room 31 of the hotel, on Catherine and Water Streets. She had been strangled and disemboweled. 

Her brutal murder riveted New Yorkers, and newspapers instantly raised the possibility that she could be the first U.S. victim of Jack the Ripper, who was killing prostitutes across the Atlantic in London around the same time.

Because of the fear Jack the Ripper whipped up in the city, New York cops felt a lot of pressure to solve the case.

So they arrested an Algerian, Ameer Ben Ali, who lived in an adjacent room at the East River Hotel.

Though the evidence against Ali was circumstantial, he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Eleven years later, after police reformers presented the city with evidence that the cops framed Ali, he was set free. 

The real killer, like Jack the Ripper, remains a mystery.

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8 Responses to “Did Jack the Ripper kill a Bowery prostitute?”

  1. Nabe News: February 1 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] mystery surrounding the murder of a 60-year-old prostitute on the Bowery in 1891 remains unsolved.  At the time, many believed it to be the work of Jack the Ripper [Ephemeral […]

  2. Jack – T-Shirt Black | Cult Following Says:

    […] Did Jack the Ripper kill a Bowery prostitute? « Ephemeral New York […]

  3. John Sinclair Says:

    Um, do those dates tie up with the well-known American ‘Quack’ doctor and Ripper suspect, Francis J. Tumblety?
    I’m sure I read he fled to the States somewhere about this time….

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Actually yes. He was released on bail in 1888 and fled to the U.S. sometime after:

  5. Mark C Potts Says:

    Actually she may very well have been killed by the “Ripper” I was able to link the murders of earlier Austin, TX and San Antonio, to that of London and this one in NYC. I’ve discovered that the “Ripper” letters and killings were done by Herman Mudgett from Chicago. In April of 1891, he travelled with a College-mate from Chicago to Boston. To do so, One took the Pennsylvania Limited to Jersey, then the Ferry to Manhattan to pick up the train to Boston. This was his last “Ripper” style killing before his multiple killings in Chicago. The college-mate was also dead within the year.

  6. Robert Wilhelm Says:

    Not bloody likely.

  7. Metal Goddess Says:

    Actually it’s been long suspected that the Ripper was a British aristocrat which is why he was never apprehended. Because no one actually wanted to screw with a member of the so-called aristocracy.

  8. How Brown Says:

    If readers are interested in the East River Hotel Murder and would like to see what modern research has uncovered, you’re invited to either join or simply browse our site at:

    Our repository is located at:

    Hope to see you there.
    Howard & Nina Brown

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