My reading was that they were incapacitated by direct carotid artery pressure with some form of gag to muffle any residual scream (+/- chloroform or ether) before the throat was cut. The thought of the sheet being used to disguise who he was killing hadn't occurred
The question of whether or not these women were prostitutes and whether they were actually soliciting the night they were killed tends to get lumped together.
The police described them as unfortunates or prostitutes. I don't think they simply pulled that description out of a hat. In order to aid in catching the killer they needed to identify some connection among the victims. So I think it is a reasonable assumption that they had some basis for making that determination. We also know that the police considered the idea of dressing up as prostitutes. Why do that if it was non-prostitutes that were being attacked?
Now as to evidence that the women were in fact actively soliciting the night they were killed, what evidence would that be? Was it a requirement that they let someone know of their intentions or were they required to sign some document? Proving that they were in fact soliciting is difficult but it is much easier if we rely on what is more likely so.
Some have argued that if it can be shown that they were not ACTIVELY soliciting then they could not have been a Ripper victim. That argument would seem to fall short given the fact that these women were poor and had a fondness for alcohol. Even if they were not actively soliciting, we have no way of knowing their response to being approached by Jack with a reasonable story that he just got paid and wanted to have a good time and was willing to double the going price.
In conclusion it would seem that all of these women had at least some connection to prostitution even if it was only on occasion. Is that simply a coincidence and not significant? Even if a case can be made that they were not actively soliciting, is it really such a strong case that it would absolutely eliminate them as a Ripper victim?
I wouldn't think they were prostitutes in the traditional sense. Only when times got tough. Eddowes went hopping, Chapman was reported to selling sewn trinkets of sorts. I don't know about Nichols and Stride if they did anything of the sort.
Kelly was probably the only prostitute by trade and most likely a maneater based on Barnett's testimony. She apparently only went out on the streets when she didn't have a man taking care of her.
I disagree, only Eddowes seem to evade all allusion of prostitution, even casual.
Tabram was known to rely on the trade when times were rough.
Nichols was indeed solliciting for her doss money the very night she was killed.
Chapman was known to bring a man back to the doss house.
Stride had several convinction for prostitution in Sweden.
Eddowes, like I said, I can't find anything that points into prostitution.
Kelly was at one point a high end prostitute in a west end bordello.
Is it progress when a cannibal uses a fork?
- Stanislaw Jerzy Lee
To be honest, I think it's questionable whether any of them were actually prostitutes, but rather, I think it's a case of how society construed them - women who had sex outside of marriage were seen as fallen. It was as black and white as that. However, a great many poor people's marriages fell apart or their spouses died and they took up with someone else - or a succession of other people, much as we would today. Unfortunately, women needed to rely on men in the Victorian era - being footloose and fancy free wasn't a state to which any woman would aspire for social and practical reasons. The canonical five were branded as prostitutes by the police because they were down-and-outs - they were degraded in every way - poor, alcoholic and shacking up with someone to whom they weren't legally married was part and parcel of what made them reviled by the newspaper reading public. I don't feel there is any real substantial evidence to make a case for them being called prostitutes. The witness statements are all extremely woolly - so much so that they are constant source of dispute on this forum. Can we believe anything anyone said? I have a hard time believing that anyone could recognise anyone's face at night on the streets of pitch black Whitechapel. And in the case of Elizabeth Stride and MJK, who we know were prostitutes - does having been one once mean that you are forever tarred with that brush? That's pretty damning.
To be strictly fair, few serial killers target prostitutes BECAUSE they are prostitutes. They target prostitutes because prostitutes are not super safety conscious, are vulnerable, they go off with strange men, and are less likely to be missed. So any women who also fit those criteria even if they are not selling sex are also likely to be targets. Homeless women for example.
The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.