|Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide|
|This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.|
On 29 June 1860 in the village of Road, near Frome, Wiltshire, a dreadful murder took place. A three year old child Francis Saville Kent, was found murdered, his throat cut by a razor, there was also a wide deep wound to the chest which was said to have been caused by a weapon, other than the razor. Suspicion for the crime fell upon Constance Kent, Francis's sixteen year old half sister. Scotland Yard were called in, and they quickly centred their attention on Constance. After questioning, and despite pleading her innocence, she was charged with the child's murder. The evidence against her however was weak and she was summarily discharged into the care of her father Samuel.
Constance Emille Kent was born in February 1844 and was one of nine children, four of whom died within a few months of birth. She was said to have been an unpleasant child, sulky, rude and morose. Her mother Mary Ann, began to display signs of mental instability and died of an obstruction of the bowel on 5 May 1853. Her father Samuel, had been a partner in a London company, who within a few months of his wife's death married Miss Pratt, who was the governess of the children, and they moved to Road, Wiltshire. Constance, who was said to have taken her father's remarriage badly, became a nuisance to them, so much so in fact that she was sent off to school in London. When she returned it was to discover the news that Mrs Kent had given birth to a boy named Francis Saville, whom the Kent's doted upon.
Following her release through a lack of evidence for the murder of her stepbrother, Constance was sent away to a convent in France for two years. Upon her return she attended a religious school in Brighton. The school encouraged confession and sometime between 1863 and 1865 she confessed to the Rev. Arthur Wagner, the murder of her stepbrother and requested the confession be made public. In 1865 Constance appeared before Bow Street magistrates and confessed publicly to the murder. In a detailed confession she told how she had obtained a razor from her father's wardrobe a few days before, waited until everyone was asleep, then took the child from his cot to the shrubbery outside and proceeded to cut the child's throat, she then thrust the razor like knife into his chest.
This version of events however conflicts with the autopsy report which stated that the body wound could not have been caused by a razor. Her motive for the crime she claimed, was revenge against her stepmother, whom she felt slighted the children of her mother. Constance was sentenced to death, though due to public sympathy her sentence was commuted to imprisonment.
One theory circulating was that she had confessed to the crime in order to protect her father who had been having an affair with the dead child's nurse. Constance spent 20 years in Portland and Millbank prisons where she trained to be a nurse, and was released in 1885 at the age of 41. What became of her after this is unknown. Some have suggested that she emigrated to either Canada or Australia, others claim she was as insane as her mother, and due to her deep hatred of her stepmother, considered all women to be whores, therefore in 1888 using her skill with a razor, savagely murdered five prostitutes on the streets of London.
Whatever the fate of Constance Kent may have been, there is not a single eyewitness account of Jack the Ripper being described as anything other than male.
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