The police investigation of the Ripper murders was, as Paul Begg said, “professional and competent” for the resources that were available at the time; however, I believe that they could have done much more. I completely agree with Philip Sugden in The Complete History of Jack the Ripper when he states that they police were too retrospective. They insisted on using old methods such as bloodhounds, pardons, and rewards to find the killer rather than allowing themselves to have “innovative spirit” in utilizing new methods such as photography, fingerprinting, the press, and professional artists in order to create portrayals of the suspects. Had the police agreed to instate these new methods of investigation, I believe that they would have found a much higher level of success. In particular, fingerprinting would have been an extremely valuable addition to the investigation, especially considering the fingerprint that was present on the “From Hell” letter and the fingerprints that surely would have been discovered all over the victims’ bodies, unless the murderer had thought to wear gloves (which could be unlikely, considering fingerprints weren’t as big of a concern at the time due to the lack of fingerprinting within police forces). In addition to failing to utilize modern methods, the police failed to maintain crime scenes long enough to complete a full, detailed investigation. They were quick to clean the scene in order to hide specific evidence, they often failed to photograph the victim or the crime scene for documentation, and often times—even though they had insisted on using bloodhounds—they were too impatient to wait for the dogs to arrive. In addition, the bodies of the victims were on several occasions cleaned before they could be analyzed, photographed, or checked for evidence; as a result, countless pieces of incriminating evidence could have been lost over the course of the investigation. Similarly, by erasing the message written on the wall in chalk above the bloody apron, it is possible that the police had disposed of a valuable and telling piece of information that could have changed the direction of the investigation completely. In conclusion, although the police were without a doubt thorough and attentive to details, their failure to utilize any technology or methodology possible to further their investigation was an enormous oversight on their part, and may very well have cost them the identity of the murderer.
Archive for February, 2009
In my opinion, I think that Hutchinson should indeed be trusted as a credible witness in the case of Mary Kelly’s murder. First of all, the locations and times given throughout his testimony are eerily consistent with the testimonies of several other witnesses—one of which even places Hutchinson at the spot in which he claimed to have been standing for forty-five minutes in order to see if Mary Kelly should emerge following her meeting with the suspected client. In addition, Hutchinson’s extremely detailed descriptions of both the sequence of events and the suspected gentleman himself were very telling of an honest statement, and having Abberline—an experienced and outstanding detective—believe him also tells something of the worth of his testimony. In addition, it is evident that the evidence was not fabricated due to the amazing consistency between the testimony given to the police and that given to the press a few days later. Even though there were two discrepancies regarding skin tone and the suspect’s mustache, these were minor in comparison to the more than forty matching points that were found between the statements. Although some are suspicious of why Hutchinson would stand on the corner for forty-five minutes waiting for Mary Kelly to emerge, I agree with Sugden in that they probably had some sort of relationship; therefore, it would not have been suspicious for him to have waited for someone he cared about in order to insure her safety. Also, a relationship between Hutchinson and Kelly would have explained Hutchinson’s detailed description—when people are worried about someone that they care about, they tend to pay more attention to details in order to feel reassured that their loved one will be safe. Especially when considering the four murders that had preceded Mary Kelly’s, I feel that it is completely reasonable for Hutchinson to have been overly concerned upon seeing Kelly with a strange man who seemed to act suspiciously in avoiding Hutchinson’s gaze. Finally, in regard to why it took so long for Hutchinson to come forward with his testimony following the murder, I completely agree with Sugden’s belief that—if there had been a relationship between Kelly and Hutchinson—he was afraid of being implicated in her death, especially considering he had been in the vicinity at the time of her murder and had no one to testify to his innocence. In my opinion, there are far too many points supporting the validity of Hutchinson’s testimony to allow it to be dismissed; therefore, although the police did pursue a suspect fitting Hutchinson’s description, I feel that the police should have taken it more seriously in order to find the suspect and, hopefully, capture Jack the Ripper.
The story in People of the Abyss that stood out to me the most was that of the fireman in chapter four. His views about family, education, and life itself were indicative of the overall mindset of the poor people living in the East End. It seems to me that life would hardly be worth living if the only thing I had to live for were alcohol. It is sad to think that “booze” was the one thing that could truly make him happy. He didn’t even know how to read and thought it “a vain and useless accomplishment” (27). His job as a fireman probably did not require formal schooling, not that having a superior education would have helped him find a better or higher paying job. If possible, his beliefs about family were even worse than his “philosophy of life.” Today, people often consider family a gift or a blessing, but to him, family was an unnecessary burden. He says to London, “A missus! Wot for? T’ make you mis’rable? Kids? Jest take my counsel, matey, an’ don’t ‘ave ‘em” (29). However, considering the conditions in which he was living, I have to agree with London that “not only is it unwise, but it is criminal for the people of the Abyss to marry” (30). Despite his situation, he was surprisingly positive about everything, although he was only 22 and “doomed to rack and ruin in four or five short years” (30). London’s encounter with the fireman gives the reader a glimpse of what was happening in the East End around the time of Jack the Ripper, though he saw much worse during his stay in London.