Caroline Maxwell was the wife of Henry Maxwell, a Lodging House Deputy at 14 Dorset Street, Spitalfields. She claimed to have known Mary Jane Kelly for about four months, and that the two women were on speaking terms, though later questioning indicated the two had only spoken once or twice before. In her statement given to police shortly after Kelly's murder on November 9th, 1888, Maxwell claimed to have spoken with Kelly sometime between 8:00 and 8:30 that morning, when Kelly informed her that she was the worse for drink and had recently vomited on the street. After this conversation Maxwell left for an errand in Bishopsgate. As she was returning home she claimed to have again encountered Kelly, some time between 8:45 and 9:00 though this time the two women did not speak. Instead, Maxwell claimed that Kelly was standing outside of a public house, The Britannia, and conversing with a man who appeared to be a porter but who she claimed she would be unable to point out again. She was able to describe Kelly's clothing, which she described as a dark dress, a velvet body and a maroon shawl.
Maxwell recounted this testimony at the inquest, which was held three days later on the 12th. Her testimony poses a rather large problem in that that last time she claimed to have seen Kelly was well past two hours after the latest time of death given for Kelly, sometime around 6:15 that morning. It has been suggested that Maxwell may have confused her dates or perhaps spoken to some other woman and not Kelly. This has raised several theories over the years. The first is that the woman with whom Maxwell spoke was the so-called "Jill the Ripper", a female killer who has been suggested by some to be the real culprit. It has also been suggested that the killer himself simply disguised himself in Kelly's clothes in order to escape the scene of the crime. The somehow more fanciful version suggests that it was some other woman, for instance one of the two who were noted to have shared the room in the days leading up to the murder, and not Kelly who was murdered on November 9th. This suggestion implies that Kelly had some reason to want the general public to believe that she was dead. This version was portrayed in Eddie Campbell and Alan Moore's From Hell, in which Mary escaped the royal/ Masonic conspiracy and returned to Ireland. Others have suggested that the doctors may have incorrectly determined the time of death. Her testimony was discounted by contemporary police and remains hotly debated. There is no conclusive evidence or supporting testimony that substantiates Maxwell's claim.