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Joseph Helson

Contemporary sketch of Inspector Helson (1888).

Inspector Joseph Henry Helson

Witness at Mary Ann Nichols' inquest.

Born 11th April 1845 in Buckland Monachorum, Devon. Married Mary in 1875 and had four children; Florence (b.1877) Albert Henry (b.1878), Joseph Edgar (b.1879) and Edith (b.1884).

Joined Metropolitan Police on 4th January 1869; promoted to Sergeant and transferred to L-division (Lambeth) in May 1872. Promoted to Local Inspector of J-division (Bethnal Green) on 24th October 1887[1]. Living at 41 Rutland Road, Hackney in 1888, where he was also a close neighbour of Sergeant George Godley[2].

Inspector Helson was notified of the murder of Mary Ann Nichols at 6.45am, 31st August 1888. He went to the mortuary in Old Montague Street and saw the body being stripped and was shown the extent of the mutilations. He examined the murder scene after the blood had been washed away and was of the opinion that Nichols was murdered where she was found. He subsequently took charge of the investigation[3].

Retired on 14th January 1895 and settled in Tavistock, Devon[4].


  1. The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook; Stewart P Evans & Keith Skinner (Robinson 2000)
  2. Census reports 1891
  3. Inquest report, The Times, 4th September 1888
  4. Census reports 1901

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