Archive for the Solution Category

Murderous Mastermind or Peaceful Physician?: A Careful Inquiry of Why Sir William Gull Could Not Have Been the Rampaging Ripper

Posted in Background, Solution, Suspects, Uncategorized on April 27, 2009 by chloefackler

Sir William Gull was born to John and Elizabeth Gull aboard a barge on December 31st, 1816, in Colchester and was the youngest of a family of eight children (Russo). Possibly it was this unusual start that became the root of Gull’s problems later in life. A product of a large family, Gull may have had a low status within his family due to his birth order, causing him to reach out to other means of gaining authority and power (Weiss). Gull also had an absent father, as John Gull died of Cholera when he was only ten years old (Russo), and the absence of a strong, father figure has been suggested as one of the traits of serial killers (Weiss). However many could question what relevance even this excerpt of Gull’s early life poses to him being a viable suspect in the Whitechapel Murders, and the most logical answer to this question would be that Gull has no place among the Ripper suspects. Sir William Gull is merely a product of assumptions, conveniences and generalizations that have caused him to be an ideal, yet fictional, character for movies, books and conspiracy theories. Although there are many theories as to why Gull could have possibly been Jack the Ripper, it is nonetheless easy for researchers, as with so many other Ripper suspects, to poke holes into his credibility.

By taking another glimpse at the FBI’s criminal profiling, it is obvious that although Gull does match several traits of a serial killer, such as “low birth order status”, “average to above intelligence”, “skilled work preferred”, and “situational stress” (Weiss). It is difficult to say that these classify Gull as the Ripper. If this were the case many people would be in for a rude awakening, as the profile describes common traits of any hard-working individual. Still, criminal profiling is not enough to describe any of the Ripper suspects, or group them into organized or disorganized killers. This conflict causes us to conclude that at least in the case of Sir William Gull as Jack the Ripper criminal profiles are ineffective.

After clearing up the inaccuracy in the “typical” serial killer’s profile in reference to Gull, there is not much evidence to reasonably name him as the Ripper. Gull began his physician education in Guy’s Hospital, after his mother moved the family to Thrope-le-Soken, where Gull earned his M.D. in 1846 (Russo). Gull eventually became the “Physician Extraordinary” and then “Physician in Ordinary to the Queen”, and of course to Edward, after curing both the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra’s husband. If Gull’s low status in his family was the beginning to his problems, his proximity to Prince Edward was the end all.

During this time Gull suffered a stroke that partially paralyzed him, Gull was seventy-one at the time and almost had to discontinue his practice. During the course of his life Gull would endure three more strokes and epilepsy, which in my opinion causes him to be a less then probable suspect. Not only does his age detract from the testimonies given by eyewitnesses, but also the partial paralyzed man would have been unable to make such clean incisions into the necks and bodies of his victims. This is relevant to the case, because according to a medical report, Gull’s first stroke in 1887 was said to be “slight paralysis on the right side and aphasia” (Russo) and it has been assumed that the Ripper must have used his right hand during the attacks. Also the aphasia would have interfered with Gull’s ability to speak, write, comprehend and read, as it is “a disruption of the Cerebral Cortex” (Russo). Although Gull’s aphasia must have not been so severe for his to discontinuing his daily life, it is impossible to believe that with a paralyzed arm, difficulty in mental processes, and his noticeable age qualities, Gull could have completed these tasks with the abilities necessary to go undetected by investigators. Nevertheless, Gull became the center of a conspiracy theory, which sparked interest in the Ripper murders and caused many to believe that the search for Jack the Ripper was finally finished.

The Royal Conspiracy emerged after Stephen Knight’s 1978 book, Jack the Ripper: the Final Solution presented a “fascinating tapestry of conspiracy involving virtually every person who has ever been a Ripper suspect plus a few new ones” (Casebook). It quickly became the most popular conclusion to the Whitechapel murders, despite both protests and cautions from prominent Ripperologists and even after Knight’s key informant retracted his testimony. The theory came about after a 1973 BBC television show was designed to give more attention to the recent rise in interest in the Ripper murders. What resulted was a new show that “combined their theatrical and documentary departments to produce a strange hybrid of a show…[to] solve the mystery once and for all” (Casebook). However, it seemed as though the show was more for entertainment rather than actual inquiry, as they used fictional detectives armed with already acquired evidence. Nevertheless, the producers must have decided in order to boost ratings and ensure the shows success, further research should be preformed. This brought about several individuals who “assigned to obtain all possible information on the murders” spoke to a detective in Scotland Yard who then referred them to a man named Sickert. It was said that Joseph Sickert learned from his father Walter Sickert, a famous painted who had lived in the East End during the Ripper murders, the true purpose behind the killings. According to Sickert, Prince Eddy had secretly married a lower class, Catholic named Annie Elizabeth Crook, which was the beginning of both this conspiracy theory as well as to the mayhem that ensued.

As indicated by Joseph Sickert, Prince Edward, “Eddy”, was emulating the life of a commoner when he met and fell in love with Annie Crook in a shop on Cleveland Street. After meeting and realizing their love for one another, the two lived a quiet, happy life together where eventually Annie became pregnant with Eddy’s child. Upon learning this information, the Queen became quite outraged with her grandson’s illicit and shameful actions, not only did he marry a commoner but Annie was also a Catholic. Sickert went on to explain to the researchers that the idea of a Catholic marriage during this time would have been troublesome, as the government was particularly weak and a situation like this could promote a revolution against the crown. This in mind, Queen Victoria passed along the task of managing the matter to Lord Salisbury, the Prime Minister at the time. Salisbury, in order to quell the couple, ambushed the two in their apartment and they were taken away in separate cabs, and yet their daughter, Alice Margaret escaped unharmed. Her mother Annie was supposedly stashed in an asylum where Sir William Gull, the Queen’s personal physician at the time, was then called upon by Salisbury to perform experiments designed to erase Annie’s memory. After enduring the loss of her husband, child and these experiments, Annie became epileptic and slowly went insane. Annie Crook died in that same asylum soon after her incarceration.

Mary Jane Kelly soon became immersed into the plot when Walter Sickert, no doubt now feeling the weight of being the one who introduced Eddy to Annie, found her in a poor house and hired her to help Annie with her daughter Alice. It is believed that Alice escaped Salisbury’s raid because she was with Mary Jane Kelly at the time. Despite this, after Eddy and Annie’s disappearance, Kelly hid Alice with nuns and then returned to the East End to become the prostitute and drunk investigators know her as. Not doubt due to this life of intoxication and easy morals, and perhaps feeling the guilt of knowing the reality of Prince Edward’s affair, Mary Kelly began to spread the story around Whitechapel. Catching wind of this story, a few of Kelly’s friends tired to persuade and pressure her into blackmailing the government. These women included Polly Ann Nichols, Elizabeth Stride, and Annie Chapman, the assumed Ripper victims.

It was the physician William Gull who devised a plot that would both save the royal family’s name and also dispose of the four women he believed wished to revolt against the government. With the aid of his accomplices John Netley, Eddy’s coachmen during his stints in the East End, and Sir Robert Anderson, who he called upon to help cover up the murders and be a lookout, Gull is said to have created Jack the Ripper as a “symbol of Freemasonry” (Casebook). And thus Sir William Gull began his rampage to save the royals killing first Nichols, Chapman, and then in a double event Stride and a woman named Catherine Eddowes. Sickert told researcher that Eddowes had been a mistake on the part of Gull, who believed her true name was Mary Kelly, as it was a name she often went by. Learning of this blunder, Gull quickly found the real Mary Jane Kelly and mutilated her into silence.

After the completion of this horrendous task, Gull and conspirators chose Montague Druitt as their “scapegoat”, a man who would take the blame and who was as Sickert said, murdered for it. One of Gull’s accomplices, John Netley attempted to finish the entire job by trying to run over Alice in his carriage, however he was chased away by mob of people and it was rumored was drowned in the Thames. According to Sickert, Gull died shortly after the murders, however it is alleged that he was committed to an insane asylum. Many may wonder how Sickert came into such fascinating knowledge regarding the Whitechapel murders, he was not only the man who introduced Prince Edward to Annie Crook, but also ended up marrying their daughter, and the heir to the throne, Alice Margaret. His son Joseph said that his father told him about the conspiracy to answer his questions about his mother’s depression, and also that his father Walter painted clues about the truth behind the Ripper murders into his paintings to “alleviate his guilt” (Casebook).

After hearing Joseph Sickert’s story, the researchers delved into its core, and did find a woman named Annie Crook who lived on Cleveland Street with a daughter and no recorded husband. It seemed to match up with the already placed timeline and evidence associated with the case. Later on when Steven Knight began to interview Sickert for his new book however, he attempted to not only validate the conspiracy theory but also prove that the lookout in the crimes was not Anderson, but Walter Sickert. The book and the television series did much to produce interest in the case, and were an excellent source of entertainment, however neither presented any solid evidence to confirm this theory in any extraordinarily different way then those theories proceeding it.

Although this conspiracy theory is again, an excellent source of entertainment, it is by no means the conclusion to the Jack the Ripper case. There are several discrepancies involved with naming Sir William Gull as the real Ripper, from his age to his association with the Masons. The strokes that Knight believes Gull recovered quickly from and as a result he must have possessed the strength to commit these crimes is outrageous. It is medically inaccurate to believe that one can recover “quickly” from paralysis, perhaps with rehabilitation exercises Gull might have been able to gain some of his sharp abilities back, but the cuts on the victims took strength and precision the old surgeon did not have available any longer. His age is another problem when looking at the statements given to police, that depict a man somewhere in his early thirties. It is doubtful that a seventy-year-old could be confused with a young man in the prime of life, and many Ripper suspects have been discredited for this alteration of the eyewitness testimony.

If Gull’s age and health concerns are not enough to deter from his validity of being an actual Ripper suspect, his association with the crown and Masons may be. There was enough scandals surrounding the royal family to keep them occupied, and it does not seem likely that this incident would have been of any concern to the Queen. Even the idea of the royals paying attention to, what they must have seen as a lower class urchin, like Mary Jane Kelly is absurd. Kelly would neither have been able to blackmail the Queen with this information, nor would she have know the correct course to take in doing so as she surely would not have been allowed anywhere near the royal family or Queen Victoria. Yes, the idea of the Prince marrying a commoner despite her religious orientation is an appealing conclusion, and during this time deadly and catastrophic to the credibility of the crown, yet it does not offer enough substantial evidence to enforce its authority and place in the Whitechapel murders.

This is also the case with Gull’s involvement with the Free Masons during this time. Conceivably, the Freemasonry that Gull supposedly became a symbol for is mere fiction at best, and the symbolism and rituals that seem to appear throughout the murder victims is just individuals such as Knight perceiving relationships where they wish to see them. The Freemasons give theorists an excuse to assume scandals and conspiracies resulting from a secret organization, and is extremely convenient in the connections between several poses and phrases found during the case. Still it is hard to contrive that what is known about the secrets inside the Freemasons explains all the associations to their full extent. The truth is that those outside of the Freemasons will never know whether the links to the Ripper murders with their rituals are fact or only mistaken hypothesizes.

One postulation that is somewhat agreeable is the idea that the Ripper had an accomplice with him during the attacks. However in the case of William Gull, John Netley’s involvement and also what role he exactly played in the murders is debatable. Knight presented the theory that Gull would kill and perform the rituals on the women from inside the carriage, and then Netley would place them in the final spot that they were discovered at. However according to medical evidence the victims were all killed at the spot where they were discovered. This as Russo would say, “destroys the Royal Conspiracy Theory” and in agreement it tears down Gull as a credible witness as well.

The fact that a majority of this theory is at the best hearsay does little to promote its authenticity to those investigating the Ripper murders. It appears to be a carefully contrived conspiracy theory where no plausible theory had been presented. Perhaps dreamed up, again as a matter of connivance and a desire to explain strange occurrences and relationships. It is difficult to believe that a seventy-year-old physician faked a stroke to avoid suspicion, protect the royal family’s name and the stability of the government. Sir William Gull could fit portions of the description if Jack the Ripper was indeed an upper class man who subsequently would have been quite noticeable wandering around the East End with prostitutes. However based on criminal profiling and the evidence collected by police investigators, it is my opinion that the true Jack the Ripper was no one special or unique. Just an average appearing, white male fixated on irresistible urges, possibly killing even more women such as the five canonical victims presumed to be Jack the Ripper’s handiwork, and killing possibly until he was either captured unintentionally, committed to an asylum like so many others, or even until he died a quick, but normal death.

Works Cited
Rumbelow, Donald. “GOOD KNIGHT: An Examination of THE FINAL SOLUTION (The Royal Conspiracy).” Casebook: Jack the               Ripper. 1996-2009. 24 Apr. 2009 .

Russo, Stan. “Dr. William Gull.” The Jack the Ripper Suspects Persons Cited by Investigators and Theorists. Boston: McFarland                 & Company Inc., 2004. 80-83.

Sugden, Philip. The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. New York: Carroll & Graf, Inc., 2002.

Weiss, Caren. “Taken From: The “Art” of Criminal Profiling.” LiveSource.org. Ed. Clint Van
              Zandt. 23 Apr. 2009.

Let’s try this again…

Posted in Solution with tags on April 25, 2008 by jackmerrywell

Professor Towell, I just posted the wrong (shorter) version of my essay.  Here’s the real one:

 

Jack Merrywell

 

FS 1973

 

Jack the Ripper’s London

 

April 24, 2008

John Druitt, Come on Down!

            Montague John Druitt was an Oxford-educated schoolmaster and barrister from Dorset, England.  He was first accused of the Ripper crimes by Sir Melville Macnaughten in his memorandum, in which he states “‘the truth, however, will never be known, and did indeed, at one time lie at the bottom of the Thames, if my conjections be correct.’” (Sugden 379)  This statement refers to the fact that Druitt committed suicide by weighing himself down with stones and then wading into the Thames, drowning himself.  Another statement concerning Druitt’s implication in the murders was made by author George R. Sims, who said he had it on good authority that the Ripper had been found floating in the Thames within months of Mary Kelly’s death.  (Sugden 375)  Druitt’s body was recovered on December 31, 1888, which was just over a month after Kelly’s body was discovered in her room.  (Sugden 376)

 

            Druitt had a family history plagued by mental illness; indeed, his mother was admitted to an insane asylum just months before his death in December of 1888, his grandmother and sister both successfully committed suicide, and his mother and aunt had both attempted suicide.  (Sugden 384)  It seems the whole family had a predisposition for mental instability.  In addition to a possibly unstable mental state and the recent incarceration of his mother, Druitt had been dismissed from his position as a schoolmaster on November 30, and his father had passed away just a few years before. (Sugden 381)  It seems likely that the external pressures of his life pushed him over the edge, allowing him to take his own life.  In his apparent suicide letter, he states that “‘since Friday I felt that I was going to be like mother, and the best thing was for me to die.’” (Sugden 383)  This suggests that Druitt believed himself to be rapidly slipping into an insanity from which he desperately wanted to be saved. 

 

            John Druitt seems to have been in the right frame of mind to go insane and start killing prostitutes; however, there are certainly several problems with the evidence against him that must be addressed.  The most obvious of these problems is the lack actual physical evidence against Druitt.  He cannot be placed at the scene of any of the murders, and it seems that the whole case against him is based upon his possible mental state and the tragic events surrounding his final years on Earth.  This is certainly a troublesome dilemma for anyone trying to prove Druitt’s involvement in the Ripper murders; however, it is important to remember that this is a case without much physical evidence at all and that the evidence that exists does not clearly point at anyone.  Because of this, all anyone can really say about the case is to speak about whom they feel is more or less likely to have killed the five women rather than about whom they can prove committed the crimes.   Another problem with Druitt’s implication is our lack of real knowledge of Druitt’s mental state in 1888.  We know he killed himself in early December, but it is impossible to prove whether he was insane or merely depressed by the events that were occurring in his life at that particular time.  Also, Druitt was not dismissed from his post as a schoolmaster until late November, after the final Ripper murder, so it seems unlikely that that fact played a part in his actions in the previous months (though it is possible that whatever scandal led to his dismissal, and not the dismissal himself, sent him over the edge).  Many members of his immediate family committed or attempted to commit suicide; several of them were previously diagnosed as insane.  (Sugden 384)  However, there seems to be no record of John Druitt being diagnosed with any specific mental illness, so it is dangerous for investigators living one hundred and twenty years after his death to say definitively that he was mentally unstable at any given time:  we simply do not know any circumstances of Druitt’s mental condition beyond the fact that something drove him to suicide less than a month after the final murder in Whitechapel.  This is a difficult problem to overcome; however, we must remember that these crimes took place in England during a time where the field of psychology was really in its infancy and even the best doctors in the field were quacks by today’s standards.  Therefore, we don’t really the specifics concerning any of the suspects’ mental condition, but given Druitt’s family history and suicide, there is a solid basis (if no concrete proof) for an argument favoring the opinion that he was insane.  Druitt’s suicide note, in which he seems to think that he is drifting toward insanity as his mother had before him, further supports this opinion.  The exact nature of his possible insanity, however, cannot possibly be determined.  A third problem with implicating Druitt in these crimes is a question of his medical knowledge.  He was a schoolteacher and a barrister, not a medical expert with intimate knowledge of human (or, indeed, animal) anatomy.  This, however, is not very difficult to address.  In The Complete History of Jack the Ripper, Philip Sugden addresses this problem, saying:

 

“he is by no means as ill a fit in this respect as many of the

other suspects on offer.  Although the Ripper probably did

possess some degree of medical knowledge it is impossible

 to say how much.  After studying the medical sketches of

Kate Eddowes’ injuries, Professor Camps was convinced

that the killer had been no surgeon.  He continued:  ‘One

should then consider other people who might have surgical

 knowledge but be, as it were, in the early stages of medical

 knowledge, and might have…the opportunity of access to

books.’  This could well be a perfect description of Druitt.”

             Intelligent and educated, he was raised in an environment

of medical men and medical books.  His father (William),

uncle (Robert) and cousin (Lionel) were all doctors and

Montague may well at one time have contemplated such a

career for himself.”  (391)

Clearly, it is possible that Druitt had full access to any resources he might need to perform the anatomical feats of Jack the Ripper.  Indeed, contrary to the superficial appearance of the situation, he likely had the exact amount of anatomical knowledge that Jack the Ripper may have had.

 

            The evidence that has been produced against Druitt in this case is circumstantial at best (and, really, quite shaky at that).  However, none of the suspects who have been implicated in the Jack the Ripper murders can really be spoken about any differently.  It is impossible to place Druitt in the area of any of the murders on the day and time that any of the women were killed.  There is no “bloody knife” linking him to the crime, and he didn’t seem to have a motive that can be easily deciphered, other than the fact that he might have been insane.  Indeed, that is really what it comes down to, in the end:  the possibility that John Druitt was crazy.  Looking back on the Whitechapel crimes, it seems as though modern (and, indeed, contemporary) investigators want to be able to point at a case of mental insanity and say “there, that’s what has caused these crimes.”  It’s nice to think that the atrocities of Jack the Ripper must have been committed by someone with an identifiable mental disorder and to assume that such brutality does not exist in the nature of normal people.  With so little hard evidence and so many muddled facts at our disposal, it is very unlikely that the killer’s identity will ever be proven or that any single suspect will have enough solid evidence against him to warrant real suspicion.  Jack the Ripper will, I think, remain a dark specter in our imaginations for as long as we remember the crimes he committed.  So, really, we have no real method of identifying the killer than assigning the blame to whomever we can establish happened to be the craziest guy around at the time.  When thinking about the crimes in this manner, Montague John Druitt certainly has potential as a suspect.  And establishing real potential in a suspect is about the best we can do.

 

It is absolutely impossible to prove that John Druitt murdered the victims of the Whitechapel crimes.  Indeed, by today’s standards, he is not even a likely suspect at all.  However, because this case is so cold and the hard evidence is both rather scarce and fairly difficult to examine, the circumstantial evidence in the case is all we really have to go on.  In the case of John Druitt, circumstantial evidence is plentiful and the possibility that this tragically scarred, mentally unstable character was driven to take not only his own life but those of five women is certainly compelling.  He is a likely suspect because his involvement in the case is both interesting and not impossible.  And in the past century since this case has been open, the “interesting” seems to have become interchangeable with the “provable.”  Though this shift in emphasis from evidence to imagination is neither scientific nor very helpful in coming up with the concrete identity of the killer, it has helped to keep the memory of the terror caused by the now-infamous Jack the Ripper alive over the years.  Because the case is so ambiguous, and the speculation around the case often becomes quite ridiculous, we remember victims that lost their lives to the Ripper, and we remember more clearly the world in which the killer operated. 
                                                                  Work Cited

Sugden, Phillip.  The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. New ed. New York: Carroll &    Graff Publishers (2002).

 

Did Druitt Do It?

Posted in Solution on April 25, 2008 by sesshy

Laura Morris

Lavaughn Towell

FS 1973:12

24 April 2008

It Was All Too Much

            In the fall of 1888 in the Whitechapel District of London, five women were brutally murdered. All of them were known prostitutes, even if they were only working the streets on a part time basis. Their throats were cut and their lifeless bodies were left to be discovered in the wee hours of the morning. While the case was never solved, all five women’s deaths were attributed to a single man, Jack the Ripper. Numerous men were under suspicion, but many suspects were not even considered until the late 1900s.

 Mary Ann Nichols, or Polly as she was known, was born August 26, 1845. She married a printer’s machinist, William Nichols, on January 16, 1864. Together they had five children, but the marriage ended in 1880 after several episodes of Polly leaving her family (Sugden 42). The eldest went to live with his grandfather, while the other four remained with William. Records of Polly after the breakup are sketchy, but it was known that she lived in the Lambeth Workhouse for several years and that William refused to send an allowance after hearing that she was living with a man. The Guardians of the Parish of Lambeth attempted to charge William for not caring for his wife financially, but his explanation about another man dropped the charges (Sugden 43). Polly was thought to be “clean, quiet and inoffensive” by Mrs. Holland, a woman that Polly stayed with for six weeks. Most likely Polly was really an alcoholic and the passing of her forty-third birthday without money or a stable way of life sent her into a drunken stupor (Sugden 45). On August 31, 1888 the body of Polly Nichols was discovered by a carman that was traveling down Buck’s Row to work. He beckoned another carman that was coming his way and they both examined her still form. Believing she was dead, they called the police (Sugden 36). An inspector’s report cataloged her wounds. Her throat was cut down to the spinal column, a long jagged line was torn down her abdomen, and there were two stabs on her private area (Sugden 40).

 Annie Chapman was well-acquainted with the streets of Whitechapel. Since the death of her first born child, her son being a cripple, and her daughter dying of meningitis at the tender age of twelve, Annie’s marriage disintegrated. Although her husband was sending her an allowance, she had skills in crochet working and sold flowers, her drinking forced her to turn to prostitution in order to survive. She was a bit of a nomad, but stayed in the Whitechapel portion of London (Sugden 76). On September 8, 1888 her body was discovered in the yard at No. 29 of Hanbury Street. She was forty-seven when she died. Her injuries included a slice in her throat, open abdominal cavity, and organs arranged around her corpse. There were signs of strangulation and accounts that led investigators to believe she was killed very shortly before being discovered (Sugden 86).

Elizabeth Stride was a very imaginative woman. Instead of disclosing any truth about her background, she fashioned her own version. She told everyone that her husband and two children had drowned when the Princess Alice sank in the Thames on September 3, 1878. Since this was the only story that she consistently told, no one she lived with knew where she came from or what she had really done with her life for forty plus years (Sugden 192). It was uncovered that she really was married, but he had survived the disaster by six years. A dentist proved that the disfiguration of her mouth was not due to a man attempting to escape death kicking her in the face, but rather a birth defect. It is thought that her stories were covering for a failed marriage (Sugden 193).  She was really born Elizabeth Gustafsdotter on November 27, 1843. She moved from parish to parish as a teenager working as a domestic (Sugden 193). The police of Gothenburg registered her as a prostitute in March of 1865 and registers record her several visits to Kurhuset for treatment of venereal diseases and the birth of her still-born daughter. She was married to John Thomas Stride on March 7, 1869. The couple began to have troubles in the 1870s and they separated (Sugden 194). This was when she began using the tale of her husband’s death to gain charity from the Church (Sugden195). At one in the morning of September 30, 1888, the body of Elizabeth Stride was discovered by a man driving a horse. The horse seemed a bit spooked when they entered George Yard and took to the left of the street. The driver noticed the figure on the ground and, upon striking a match, discovered that it was a woman (Sugden 167). The neighbors that came out to investigate noticed that her blood was still flowing from the wound across her neck. This was the only injury she sustained, most likely because the killer was interrupted She was forty-five(Sugden 169).

Catherine Eddowes was born on April 14, 1842. Her family moved to London not long after her birth and Kate was said to have attended a charity school, but no records stating her name exist. Her mother died in 1855 and her father followed in 1857 (Sugden 233). She then went to stay with an aunt in Wolverhampton, but did not reside there very long. Instead, she moved in with her uncle on Bagot Street. A few years later, Kate met and fell in love with Thomas Conway. They moved in together in Birmingham and, although they never married, stayed together over twenty years and had three children. They moved back to London in 1881 and soon separated. Kate’s sister Emma was sure it was a result of Kate’s drinking problem (Sugden 234). Her family and John Kelly, the man she lived with before her death, all claimed that she was not in the habit of soliciting on the street, was always timely on her rent, and was normally in bed by ten o’clock. These are most likely lies to cover her memory and retain the reputation of Kelly (Sugden 235). On September 30, 1888 Catherine’s body was found in a corner of Mitre Square. Her throat was cut and her dress rode so high on her breast that the awful gashes from the chest down through the stomach were clearly discernable. Her entrails had been removed and wrapped around her neck while her face was slashed and her nose was cut to lie on her cheek. She was forty-six (Sugden 176).

Mary Jane Kelly was born in Limerick, Ireland and soon thereafter her family moved to Wales. Her father was John Kelly and iron worker in Carnarvonshire or Carmarthenshire. Mary was said to have six or seven brothers and one sister. When Mary was sixteen, she married a collier named Davies. Unfortunately, two or three years into their union, he is killed in an explosion. After his death, she went to live with her cousin in Cardiff who introduces her to the world of prostitution. However, the police in Cardiff have no record of her career as she was ill and staying at the infirmary for most of time she lived there. She moved to London in 1884 and may have stayed at the Providence row convent on Chrisp Street. It was said that when she first arrived in London that she worked in a high-end brothel and kept the company of high class gentlemen. One in particular allowed her to ride around in his carriage and once took her to live in Paris. She was only there a week and decided that she did not like it there. Of course, her brief stay did not affect the attitude she gained from being in such company. She was twenty-five and the most stuck-up prostitute in Whitechapel. She carried herself with the airs of an East End lady. For a brief stint in 1886, Mary stays with a Morganstone and then leaves him to live in Colley’s lodging house in Thrawl Street. There she met Joseph Barnett. After their second meeting, the couple decided to live together and set up residence at No. 13 Miller’s Court. They broke up because Mary was harboring a fellow prostitute and Barnett did not like her on the streets in the first place. They remained friends and he would sometimes give her money. On November 9, 1888, while trying to get Mary to pay her rent, Thomas Bowyer looks through the window and sees her mutilated body on the bed. Her throat was cut, she was disemboweled, it appeared that she had been hacked with an axe, and parts of her were placed on the nightstand (Casebook).

If one killer was responsible for all five murders, then they fall into the killing pattern of a serial killer. Typically, this type of murderer kills their victims in different locations with many months between attacks, however, the Jack the Ripper murders took place at intervals of a month or less. Nevertheless, these murders follow a pattern. All of the victims were prostitutes at the time of death, therefore they were vulnerable and also subject to a mission-oriented killer. This means that Jack may have had a physical or mental disability that he accredited to whores and had concluded that the world would be better without. Excluding Mary, the women were in their forties and victims of failed marriages. They purposely put themselves in danger, either from violence or sexually transmitted diseases, to make a living (Generalized).

Normally, killers of this type and subtype would be “white males, aged 25 – 34, of at least average intelligence, and often with charming personalities.” They favor “hands-on methods such as strangulation and stabbing” and are often “preoccupied with sadistic fantasies involving domination and control of their victims.” The evidence of Jack the Ripper includes bruising from forcefully restraining the victims and very deep lacerations of the throat (Generalized).

Montague John Druitt was born on August 15, 1857 to surgeon William Druitt of Wimborne in Dorset and his wife, Anne Druitt (Sugden 380). He was the second born of seven and second son of the couple. When he was thirteen years old, Druitt received a scholarship to Winchester College (Rumbelow 150). He spent six years there and, in 1876, earned a scholarship to New College, Oxford. In 1880 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and, three years later, purchased his Master’s degree. Two years later he enrolled his name at the Inns of Court, a law school. Normally a student would enroll directly from a university, but Druitt could have taken a year from pursuing law in favor of medicine. To fund his schooling, Druitt acquired the legacy that his father had left him in the event of his mother’s death or his twenty-fourth birthday  (Rumbelow 151). Since that was not enough, Druitt began teaching at a school in Blackheath and became the master the year after. He remained there until the abrupt dismissal by his employer. The two most accepted reasons would be because of his homosexuality or the fact that he believed he was going insane (Rumbelow 152).

By this time his mother was already confined in Chiswick at a private mental home, presumably suffering from “melancholia and brain disease” (Rumbelow 152). The suicide letter that his brother found refers to a visit that Druitt made to his mother after being fired, “Since Friday I felt I was going to be like mother and the best thing for me is to die” (Rumbelow 153). After composing such a note, around the night of December 3, 1888 when he was last seen alive, Druitt weighted his pockets with rocks and threw himself into the Thames. Four weeks later, his decomposing corpse was dragged from the water (Rumbelow 152).

Montague Druitt was a thirty-one year old white male with a history of mental insanity, minimal medical knowledge, and resided in the Whitechapel District of London during the murders. Any murders that took place after Druitt’s suicide could not be classified as Ripper kills, therefore his death coincides with a cease of victims. The trauma of his mother becoming insane could have resulted in his becoming a “sexually dysfunctional adult” who was “unable to sustain a mature, consensual relationship with another adult.” This alone could have triggered his hatred of prostitutes.

Works Cited

Casebook. “Mary Jane Kelly A.K.A. Marie Jeanette Kelly, Mary Ann Kelly, Ginger.” 20 April 2008. < http://casebook.org/victims/mary_jane_kelly.html&gt;.

“Generalized Characteristics of Serial Murderers: Mass Murderers, Spree Killers, and Serial Murderers.” Criminal Profile Research. 20 April 2008. <http://www.criminalprofiling.ch/character.html>.

Holmes, R. “The Holmes Typology (Part 1).” 1996. Sage Publications. 20 April 2008. <http://psychology.concordia.ca/fac/Laurence/forensic/holmes1.pdf&gt;.

Rumbelow, Donald. Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook. New York: Berkley, 1988.

Sugden, Philip. The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2002.

John Druitt, Come on Down!

Posted in Solution with tags on April 25, 2008 by jackmerrywell

Jack Merrywell

 

FS 1973

 

Jack the Ripper’s London

 

April 22, 2008

John Druitt, Come on Down!

            Montague John Druitt was an Oxford-educated schoolmaster and barrister from Dorset, England.  He was first accused of the Ripper crimes by Sir Melville Macnaughten in his memorandum, in which he states “‘the truth, however, will never be known, and did indeed, at one time lie at the bottom of the Thames, if my conjections be correct.’” (Sugden 379)  This statement refers to the fact that Druitt committed suicide by weighing himself down with stones and then wading into the Thames, drowning himself.  Another statement concerning Druitt’s implication in the murders was made by author George R. Sims, who said he had it on good authority that the Ripper had been found floating in the Thames within months of Mary Kelly’s death.  (Sugden 375)  Druitt’s body was recovered on December 31, 1888, which was just over a month after Kelly’s body was discovered in her room.  (Sugden 376)

            Druitt had a family history plagued by mental illness; indeed, his mother was admitted to an insane asylum just months before his death in December of 1888, his grandmother and sister both successfully committed suicide, and his mother and aunt had both attempted suicide.  (Sugden 384)  It seems the whole family had a predisposition for mental instability.  In addition to a possibly unstable mental state and the recent incarceration of his mother, Druitt had been dismissed from his position as a schoolmaster on November 30, and his father had passed away just a few years before. (Sugden 381)  It seems likely that the external pressures of his life pushed him over the edge, allowing him to take his own life.  In his apparent suicide letter, he states that “‘since Friday I felt that I was going to be like mother, and the best thing was for me to die.’” (Sugden 383)  This suggests that Druitt believed himself to be rapidly slipping into an insanity from which he desperately wanted to be saved. 

            John Druitt seems to have been in the right frame of mind to go insane and start killing prostitutes; however, there are certainly several problems with the evidence against him that must be addressed.  The most obvious of these problems is the lack actual physical evidence against Druitt.  He cannot be placed at the scene of any of the murders, and it seems that the whole case against him is based upon his possible mental state and the tragic events surrounding his final years on Earth.  This is certainly a troublesome dilemma for anyone trying to prove Druitt’s involvement in the Ripper murders; however, it is important to remember that this is a case without much physical evidence at all and that the evidence that exists does not clearly point at anyone.  Because of this, all anyone can really say about the case is to speak about whom they feel is more or less likely to have killed the five women rather than about whom they can prove committed the crimes.   Another problem with Druitt’s implication is our lack of real knowledge of Druitt’s mental state in 1888.  We know he killed himself in early December, but it is impossible to prove whether he was insane or merely depressed by the events that were occurring in his life at that particular time.  Also, Druitt was not dismissed from his post as a schoolmaster until late November, after the final Ripper murder, so it seems unlikely that that fact played a part in his actions in the previous months (though it is possible that whatever scandal led to his dismissal, and not the dismissal himself, sent him over the edge).  Many members of his immediate family committed or attempted to commit suicide; several of them were previously diagnosed as insane.  (Sugden 384)  However, there seems to be no record of John Druitt being diagnosed with any specific mental illness, so it is dangerous for investigators living one hundred and twenty years after his death to say definitively that he was mentally unstable at any given time:  we simply do not know any circumstances of Druitt’s mental condition beyond the fact that something drove him to suicide less than a month after the final murder in Whitechapel.  This is a difficult problem to overcome; however, we must remember that these crimes took place in England during a time where the field of psychology was really in its infancy and even the best doctors in the field were quacks by today’s standards.  Therefore, we don’t really the specifics concerning any of the suspects’ mental condition, but given Druitt’s family history and suicide, there is a solid basis (if no concrete proof) for an argument favoring the opinion that he was insane.  Druitt’s suicide note, in which he seems to think that he is drifting toward insanity as his mother had before him, further supports this opinion.  The exact nature of his possible insanity, however, cannot possibly be determined.  A third problem with implicating Druitt in these crimes is a question of his medical knowledge.  He was a schoolteacher and a barrister, not a medical expert with intimate knowledge of human (or, indeed, animal) anatomy.  This, however, is not very difficult to address.  In The Complete History of Jack the Ripper, Philip Sugden addresses this problem, saying:

 

“he is by no means as ill a fit in this respect as many of the other suspects on offer.  Although the Ripper probably did possess some degree of medical knowledge it is impossible to say how much.  After studying the medical sketches of Kate Eddowes’ injuries, Professor Camps was convinced that the killer had been no surgeon.  He continued:  ‘One should then consider other people who might have surgical knowledge but be, as it were, in the early stages of medical knowledge, and might have…the opportunity of access to books.’  This could well be a perfect description of Druitt.” (391)

 

            The evidence that has been produced against Druitt in this case is circumstantial at best (and, really, quite shaky at that).  However, none of the suspects who have been implicated in the Jack the Ripper murders can really be spoken about any differently.  It is impossible to place Druitt in the area of any of the murders on the day and time that any of the women were killed.  There is no “bloody knife” linking him to the crime, and he didn’t seem to have a motive that can be easily deciphered, other than the fact that he might have been insane.  Indeed, that is really what it comes down to, in the end:  the possibility that John Druitt was crazy.  Looking back on the Whitechapel crimes, it seems as though modern (and, indeed, contemporary) investigators want to be able to point at a case of mental insanity and say “there, that’s what has caused these crimes.”  It’s nice to think that the atrocities of Jack the Ripper must have been committed by someone with an identifiable mental disorder and to assume that such brutality does not exist in the nature of normal people.  With so little hard evidence and so many muddled facts at our disposal, it is very unlikely that the killer’s identity will ever be proven or that any single suspect will have enough solid evidence against him to warrant real suspicion.  Jack the Ripper will, I think, remain a dark specter in our imaginations for as long as we remember the crimes he committed.  So, really, we have no real method of identifying the killer than assigning the blame to whomever we can establish happened to be the craziest guy around at the time.  When thinking about the crimes in this manner, Montague John Druitt certainly has potential as a suspect.  And establishing real potential in a suspect is about the best we can do.


Work Cited

Sugden, Phillip.  The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. New ed. New York: Carroll &    Graff Publishers (2002).

 

“One day men will look back and say I gave birth to the twentieth century.”

Posted in Solution with tags , , , , , , on April 25, 2008 by jmcgowan

John McGowan

Lavaughn Towell

April 24th, 2008

Jack the Ripper’s London

Joseph Barnett: Suspect No. 1

From August to November of 1888 London’s east end was terrorized by a ruthless murderer who killed without emotion. The most horrifying thing about these murders was the manner in which they were committed; brutal, ruthless, and vicious murders the likes of which the world had never seen. Female prostitutes, their throats slashed deeply, many of which had their bowels removed and placed about their dismembered bodies. What is equally frightening is that the perpetrator of these crimes was never brought to justice for his crimes. This man is known by the world as Jack the Ripper and it may never be possible to completely find out who he is for sure. What is possible is to construct the most likely suspect; the person who fills in the gaps of the Ripper mystery. With the help of modern profiling and theory it is possible to narrow down a likely suspect.

There are an incredible number of suspects in the Ripper killings. With so many suspects involved in the case how does one go about narrowing down the one who is most likely? One way is to use eyewitness accounts. On many different nights there are witnesses who stated that they saw a mustached man, between thirty to forty years in age, around 5’5″ to 5’7″ tall, wearing a hat and overcoat.

Now there could be many men in London in 1888 who perfectly fill the witnesses’ descriptions, however, a man by the name of Joseph Barnett matches the description rather well. Barnett was a fish porter and would have been gutting and boning fish all day for many years. This job would have made him proficient and quick with a knife. Along with knife skills he would have a good alibi if he had blood anywhere on him. Physically, Barnett was thirty years old and had a medium body size, as well as a mustache. It may be concluded from this that he does match the physical attributes of the Ripper from what the eyewitnesses say and has a background that would be useful as the Ripper. It should be understood that it is naive to assume that Barnett is the Ripper based solely on these accounts. Indeed, merely being seen with a victim, even all the victims, does not make you Jack the Ripper, all that means is that you were with them, not that you killed them necessarily. Barnett matches a physical description which alone cannot be used, but together may be a coordinating detail in pinning him as the best suspect.

Profiling is needed to properly suspect Joseph Barnett as the Ripper. It can first be reasoned that Jack was a male due to research which figures males to be more likely to kill by knife or strangulation rather than a woman who, by a large margin, normally kills by poisoning. A male would also be able to operate more easily at night in Whitechapel without arousing suspicion by police. A woman walking alone at night in the Victorian Era, or any era for that matter, especially in the slums, is going to be suspicious and warrant the concern of police.

Along with the Ripper being a male it can be reasoned that he was a Caucasian. This theory is upheld by research which states that, “…the data tells us that Caucasian male serial killers kill Caucasian victims. The same holds true for African-Americans; they usually murder African-American victims” (Serial Killers 6). All of the Ripper’s victims were Caucasian women. The backing of this theory with scientific data, as well as the socio-political aspects of the Victorian Era, makes Jack the Ripper most definitely Caucasian.

The relationship between the killer and his victims must be figured next. Again the research states that, “…results from this hypothesis test support the widely believed idea that [male] serial killers

mostly attack strangers” (Serial Killers 7). Based on these statistics it can be deemed more likely for the Ripper to have no relationship with his victims, however, do not blindly accept theory. The important part of projecting is to remember that these studies are inferences and statistics and are not infallible. Simply because there is a chain of thought does not mean that it is not broken.

Reasoning would lead one to believe that in 1880’s London slums would be rather difficult to navigate if one did not have a knowledge of the area. Whitechapel was filled with narrow corridors, backyards, and side doors to dilapidated buildings which would enable a killer to quickly and quietly leave the scene with no one having knowledge of his whereabouts. Joseph Barnett was, “born in 1858 and raised in 4 Hairbrain Court, less than a mile from the heart of Whitechapel.” This means that Barnett would have had an incredible knowledge of the area, something that Jack the Ripper would undoubtedly have as well in order to go undetected.

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation uses a complex profiling system known as the Holmes Typology to organize the traits of serial killers. It is with this system that serial killers are deemed either disorganized and social or organized and nonsocial in their modus operandi. With this system it is possible to pick out parts of an a crime that match with an individual’s personality.

The F.B.I. case file and psychological profile on Jack the Ripper matches some parts of Joseph Burnett’s characteristics. The F.B.I. profile states that Jack the Ripper would be a:

White male, aged 28 to 36, living or working in the Whitechapel area. In childhood, there was an absent or passive father figure. The killer probably had a profession in which he could legally experience his destructive tendencies. Jack the Ripper probably ceased his killing because he was either arrested for some other crime, or felt himself close to being discovered as the killer. The killer probably had some sort of physical defect which was the source of a great deal of frustration or anger. (Casebook: Jack the Ripper)

Burnett was 30 at the time of the murders. He was also left at age six when his father died; a trait that would be a major influence for Jack the Ripper. Along with this his profession as a fish porter would allow him to vent his frustration on a daily basis. In relation to being caught or arrested Burnett was, “…interviewed for four hours after the Kelly murder. The police seemed satisfied with his testimony and they don’t appear to have suspected him further,” (Casebook: Jack the Ripper). As for physical problems Burnett was stricken with echolalia, a disease which makes its victim repeat the words of others. This disease would possibly be a source of anger for Burnett.

Jack the Ripper was an organized killer, according to the typology of serial killers. His habits fit most of the traits which are known. The known traits are that he left a controlled crime scene, that he left little physically evidence, and dismembers the bodies. It is possible that he killed at another site and dumped the corpses (mutilating them on site), as well as followed the news of his murders, and attacked by seducing his victims, more traits of an organized killer, however, these things are almost impossible to know definitively. There is evidence of strangulation in some victims, which would support the theory of an off-site killing, but the physical evidence alone is not sufficient to support this idea. Along with the off-site theory it would have been almost impossible to work alone in such a large endeavor, something that the Ripper most likely did. It would have been easier for the Ripper to kill by seduction, especially after the initial murders had stirred up such a media frenzy, however, no one knowns of this for sure. Burnett was known to date Mary Kelly, the last of the canonical Ripper victims, another trait of an organized serial killer.

In the Ripper murders there are some things which are inconsistent with the Ripper being organized, things which should not be overlooked . Disorganized killers have nocturnal habits, a definite trait of the Ripper. They are usually uneducated and Burnett was a mere fish porter, hardly the job of a well-educated man. Disorganized killers also live or work close to the crime scene and Burnett definitely lived very close to the murder sites, he even lived at one of the sites, at 13 Miller’s Court, with Mary Kelly. This evidence in and of itself results in another conflict of interest. The door to 13 Miller’s Court was locked from the inside when the police got there, something that would only be possible if the killer had reached through the window to lock it or if he had a key. It is very possible that Burnett kept his key to Miller’s Court for a convenient time.

Even after 120 years of contemplation and fascination, discussion and dissertation, there is no resolution in Jack’s case. The fact of the matter is that while Burnett does match the physically description, had an unstable family life, a physical impediment, was a fish gutter with a proficiency in knives, lived with Mary Kelly, and knew the Whitechapel area, there are still too many loose ends in the Ripper murders to formally announce him as the killer. It is not fair to make him the Ripper due to these inconsistencies, however, what is possible is to name Joseph Burnett the most likely suspect in the murders. By making Burnett the primary suspect one is able to present the known facts while still entertaining the possibility of others being the perpetrator.

Works Cited

Bethany , Harris. “Serial Killers: An Analysis of Their Patterns.” World View of Mathematics and Data Analysis 14 July 2007 24 April 2008.

Casebook: Jack the Ripper <http://www.casebook.org&gt;.

Holmes, R. “The Holmes Typology (Part1).” Psychology. 1996. 22 Apr. 2008 <http://psychology.concordia.ca/fac/Laurence/forensic/holmes1.pdf&gt;.

William Henry Bury: The Real Ripper

Posted in Solution on April 25, 2008 by emilylsmith

Emily Smith

FS 1973 12

24 April 2008

William Henry Bury: The Real Ripper

     Ellen Bury’s murder has a similar pathology to the Ripper murders, and other incriminating evidence indicates that William Bury was indeed Jack the Ripper.

     The Ripper murders are what are known as “serial murders.” Serial killers kill three or more people, and all of the victims fit a certain type, which correlates to the killer’s fantasies (criminalprofiling). There is also usually a period of time in between the murders that the killer uses as a “cooling-off period” (criminalprofiling). The basic profile of serial killers says “they tend to select vulnerable victims of some specific type who gratify their need to control people. They prefer to kill with hands-on methods such as strangulation and stabbing” (criminalprofiling). Jack the Ripper had at least five victims, waited for weeks in between the murders, and only killed within a certain type- in this case they were prostitutes.

     Jack the Ripper has many of the traits of a serial killer, including his need to be involved in the investigation. According to criminalprofiling.ch, “many serial killers are impressed with police work and like to associate with the police”. After the first few Ripper murders, the police and newspapers began to receive letters allegedly from Jack the Ripper. Only a few of these can be authenticated, but it still proves that Jack was in some way involved in the police investigation.

     It can be proven that William Bury is guilty of at least one murder – the murder of his wife, Ellen Bury – and there is sufficient evidence to prove that Bury was in fact Jack the Ripper. In Dundee in 1889 Bury essentially gave himself up for the murder of his wife. He went to the police station of his own free will and said that his wife was dead, and although he did try and say that she had killed herself, he admitted to stabbing her abdomen after she was already dead (Macpherson 28).

     After the police discovered Ellen Bury’s body exactly where William Bury said it would be, a surgeon was called on to perform an autopsy. Dr. Templeman was in charge of the autopsy and he concluded that “the force used to strangle Ellen Bury must have been applied downwards and backwards” which suggested that “someone had been pulling the rope from behind” (Macpherson 27). This disproved Bury’s statement that he had woken up to find his wife dead.

Dr. Templeman also found bruises on Ellen Bury’s head and hand, indicating that there had been a struggle. He concluded that the “violence needed to cause the bruises would have been enough to stun the victim, thus rendering it easy for the killer to strangle her without her being able to fight back” (Macpherson 28). Templeman’s findings also indicated that Ellen had been alive, or only very recently dead, when she was stabbed in the abdomen. According to Dr. Templeman, “the wounds to the abdomen must have been inflicted either during life or at most ten minutes after death, while the victim’s body retained its warmth and elasticity” (Macpherson 28). It appeared that Ellen Bury had been alive when she was stabbed because of the defensive wounds on her hand. Back at the station, Prison Surgeon James Miller examined William Bury and found scratches on his right hand, which matched the wounds on Ellen (Macpherson 29). The other two doctors present during the autopsy, Drs. Littlejohn and Stalker, both agreed with Dr. Templeman’s findings (Macpherson 29). This directly contradicts William Bury’s story and implicates him in his wife’s murder.

Other incriminating evidence was found at Bury’s house. David Lamb found a knife on the windowsill in the same room where Ellen’s body had been, and the knife was covered in “small quantities of blood, flesh and hair” (Macpherson 25). A length of rope and bloody ulster (jacket) were also found. “The ulster was bloodstained on both the inside and outside. There were also rips on either side, suggesting a considerable amount of violence had been used” (Macpherson 26).

According to an issue of the Dundee Courier dated Tuesday, 12 February 1889,

The back premises are led to by a dirty stair, at the foot of which on an old door is the following written in chalk – Jack the Ripper [sic] is at the back of this door. At the back of this door, and just at the turn of the stair, there is the inscription – Jack the Ripper is in this seller [sic]. (Macpherson 31)

This graffiti at William Bury’s house shows that someone, if not Bury himself, believed him to be the Ripper. According to Euan Macpherson, “although the writing in chalk was made anonymously, it is hard to believe that anyone other than William Bury could have been the author” (32). There had been a period of seven days between Ellen Bury’s murder and the day William Bury went to the police. No one else had been in the apartment during this time, and once the police discovered the body there was always at least one officer standing guard. It could not have been Ellen Bury who had written the messages, as she had little to no education and could not write very well (Macpherson 32).

     Bury’s early childhood matches patterns found in serial killers. According to criminalprofiling.ch, “relationships between the researched subjects and their mothers were uniformly cool, distant, unloving, neglectful, with very little touching, emotional warmth” and that “the fathers of half the subjects disappeared in one way or another”. William Bury’s father died when Bury was only three months old, and his mother was certified as insane and put in an asylum three months after that (Macpherson 39). Serial killers are usually “intelligent, but underachievers in school; most were incapable of holding jobs, fired often or unable to live up to their intellectual abilities” (criminalprofiling). William Bury moved from job to job and was “someone who could not hold down a steady job” (Macpherson 41).

     William Bury’s whereabouts were unknown on the day of Polly Nichols’s murder, so it cannot be proved or disproved that he killed her (Macpherson 111). According to Macpherson:

It is generally accepted that the murderer strangled his victims prior to mutilation. Not only does it explain why no cries were heard from the victims but it is also consistent with the injuries they received. All the victims were found lying in such a way that their appearance gave the impression they had been fighting for their throats but it was only in the case of Chapman that the examining doctor was able to say so unequivocally. (171)

Jack the Ripper’s modus operandi, or method of operating, is very similar if not identical to the way William Bury murdered his wife. The Ripper’s modus operandi is that:

The killer stood in front of his victims in the normal position for standing intercourse but seized them by the throat with both hands, silencing them and inducing unconsciousness; he then let them fall onto their backs before cutting the throat and making other mutilations. (Macpherson 171-172)

There is one problem in William Bury’s case: Ellen Bury’s throat was not cut. It is almost impossible for Jack the Ripper to have changed his M.O. in such an obvious way. Killers do escalate over time, but once they have started doing one act they never stop. It is possible that Bury did not cut Ellen’s throat simply because he had no need to. As Macpherson says, “most of the Jack the Ripper murders were committed in the open street where it was important for the murderer to bring on death as quickly as possible without allowing the victim to cry out” (172). This indicates that Macpherson does not believe that the Ripper had the impulse to cut their throats; he suggests that it was merely a necessary way to be sure the victims were dead before he began the real work – cutting them up. Bury could take longer to make sure his wife was dead in the privacy of his own home without worrying whether a policeman would show up.

     Since there are so many witness accounts that do not support each other, it becomes difficult to determine which of the witnesses actually saw Jack the Ripper. If the witnesses’ credibility is considered and factored in, the general description of the Ripper is that he was a “small, dark-haired man who wore a long, black coat and a peaked cap. He had a foreign accent, although by ‘foreign’ we may simply mean that he was not local to the East End of London” (Macpherson 177). This description seems to loosely apply to William Bury.

     Another issue is the debate on Jack the Ripper’s medical skills – did he have any? If one believes that he did, then there is no way that Bury could have done it. Bury had no medical training at all, and he did not even have skills as a butcher or fish monger, even though that is what his father had been. One has to keep in mind that forensic science was nonexistent back in 1888, so all of the coroner’s reports must be taken with a grain of salt. This is something that simply may never be proved or disproved.

     William Bury cannot be proved to be Jack the Ripper without a shadow of a doubt, but neither can he be disproved. He was self-employed, so he never had to worry about his boss missing him while he murdered his victims. His wife often had to go searching for him when he failed to show up after several days, and it is a common idea that the Ripper did not go home after the murders but laid low in common lodging houses. Also, Bury was known to have violent tendencies (Macpherson 189).

     Bury showed extreme psychopathic tendencies by his sudden and dramatic chance in behavior. As Macpherson says, he went from being a “violent and aggressive man” and:

Turned into a quiet and considerate husband while he plotted his wife’s murder. He also stole from his wife, assaulted her, frightened her by sleeping with a knife under his pillow, gave her a venereal disease, reduced her to a life of utter misery…yet showed absolutely no guilt or remorse. (Macpherson 189)

     These are definitely characteristics that one would expect Jack the Ripper to possess. In short, the case against William Henry Bury is very convincing. There is more evidence against him than any other known suspect.

Works Cited

Criminal Profiling Research. 8 January 2008. Swiss Criminal

Profiling Scientific Research Site. 24 April 2008.

<http://www.criminalprofiling.ch/character.html&gt;.

Macpherson, Euan. The Trial of Jack the Ripper: The Case of

     William Bury (1859-1889). Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing

     Company, 2005.

 

 

    

 

James Maybrick

Posted in Solution on April 25, 2008 by tsmith512

James Maybrick: Jack the Ripper!

“My dear God my mind is in a fog. The whore is now with her maker and he is welcome to her. There was no pleasure as I squeezed […] what a joke it would be if I could gorge an eye out and leave it by the whores body for all to see. To see. Ha ha” (Maybrick 289).

Naming a suspect for the Jack the Ripper murders is a dicey task at best because of the mass of contradictory, unverified, and cursory information on the subject. One hundred ten years of studying and debating have raised and dismissed suspects from the most likely men of the time to the most absurd theory of a writer who jumbled a confession into a nonsensical poem. However, due to the volume of incriminating information about him, circumstantial evidence, peer-reviewed theories, and the discovery of an incriminating diary and engraved pocket watch, the most plausible suspect is James Maybrick.

James Maybrick has several notable incidents from his background that would lead to suspicion. First, from a young age, he experienced death. Though he had six brothers, two did not live to adulthood: one who he was named for died at the age of four months, and his brother Alfred died at the age of four. Next, James’s marriage to Florence, who was later charged with poisoning him, is well established; however there are several documents which indicate a previous marriage to a Sarah Ann. “She lived for a while on Bromley Street, near Whitechapel, and on Mark Lane, across the road from Whitechapel. In all probability, James Maybrick’s association with Sarah Ann led to familiarity with the area where the Ripper murders occurred” (Background of the Maybrick Family). Additionally, “due to his numerous holding within the cotton industry, […], James Maybrick did have an intimate knowledge of the East End of London and a readily available place to stay there in the apartment of his brother” (Russo).

He married Florence in 1881 in London. While married to her, they traveled multiple times between England and the United States for his cotton business, but eventually he retired and settled in Liverpool. While married to Florence, they had two children and both of them had affairs with other people. James’s health declined leading up to 1889, and he died in May of that year. Despite lack of evidence to support the claim, Florence was charged with poisoning him. “By any standard, [the trial against Florence] was a horrible travesty of justice” (Background of the Maybrick Family). She was sentenced to hang, but after fifteen years of appeals, hard labor, confinement, and illness, she was released. Despite all these coincidences and reasonable suspicions, Maybrick’s story was not tied to the Ripper case until the discovery of his diary in 1992. This is likely because he spent very little time residing in London around the time of the murders.

In 1992, a Mr. Mike Barrett brought forth a diary. “The writing, which is signed ‘Jack the Ripper,’ purports to be the Ripper’s record of his murderous plans and activities from c. April 1888 until he senses his approaching death in May of 1889” (Begg, Fido and Skinner 300). Unfortunately, the diary’s journeys to Mr. Barrett are very convoluted and have lead to many scholars doubting the diary’s authenticity. Mr. Barrett received the book “from a drinking-companion, a print-worker called Anthony Devereux,” who told him nothing but that the diary was authentic and died shortly after (Begg, Fido and Skinner 300). The diary represented the most important piece of evidence ever found relating to the Ripper case, so investigations immediately commenced to validate or cry foul on the diary.

Many studies have been conducted on the diary to validate it. Two such studies are based on technicalities like ink and paper. The first was performed at the Staffordshire University in 2004 to validate the authenticity of the ink used in the book. “In this report, [they concentrated on] the examination of inks from dated documents [of the time]” (Platt). The uneven distribution of the ink suggests that the writer used a pot and nib, rather than a fountain pen, which was not patented until the 1880’s, so it is unlikely that a fountain pen would be common. When the inks of the dated documents and the diary were bombarded with light of specific wavelengths, the different inks fluoresced similarly. In conclusion of the report, the “properties of the ink on the diary [yielded] no significant data on the ink itself and are consistent with it having been written either at the purported date or at a more recent date” (Platt). Essentially, the diary was not written before the murders, but there was no evidence in the ink that tells us the diary must have been created more recently. Despite this somewhat discouraging conclusion, it must be noted that significant care would have to be taken to use a period-appropriate pen, ink, and paper to make the diary if it were forged. Another study was conducted by Jennifer Pegg concerning the paper of the diary, “the paper contained no optical brighteners and is made of a majority of cotton fibers, this is in keeping with the ‘Diary’s’ alleged age” (Pegg). These two studies do not offer a strong voice in either direction, but neither of them were able to invalidate the possibility that the diary was real, so further research continued.

Of course, it is important to look at the contents of the diary and link it to other writings we have. Graphology is the study of one’s character based on his or her handwriting: not what words are written, but how they are written. Anna Koren, the graphologist to the Israeli Minister of Justice stated gave the following characteristics for the author of the diary: “unstable, inner-conflicts, inferiority, hypochondriac, brutal, a distorted image of his masculinity, deep-rooted loneliness, exhibitionism, a tendency for his behavior to be repeated in cycles,’ [and when asked if such writing could be contrived, she “forcefully” responded]: ‘Impossible’” (Jakubowski and Braund 214). This is a rather exciting result because these characteristics are in line with modern-day profiles of a serial killer and many are consistent with what we know of James Maybrick. However, as promising as the diary looks, other pieces of evidence would prove very useful.

While researcher and investigative writer Shirley Harrison was following the history of the diary, she met a man who purchased a watch at an English jeweler. After examining it closely, he noted that it bore the signature “J. Maybrick.” Shirley Harrison noted that, “the letters ‘K’ and ‘M’ were identical with the letters in the known signature on Maybrick’s wedding certificate. Across the centre, even less distinct were the words: ‘I am Jack.’ Around the edge were five sets of initials—those of the five women murdered in Whitechapel” (Harrison 256). Obviously, this artifact would have to be tested as well. “Dr. S. Turgoose, of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology’s Corrosion and Protection Centre examined the scratchings with a scanning electron microscope, and gave his opinion that they are compatible with being made in 1888-9” (Begg, Fido and Skinner). The watch, combined with the diary, start to build a stronger case against Maybrick. The evidence was finally beginning to fall together.

Many scholars still do not believe that the diary and the pocket watch are authentic, but there are other supporting coincidences that must be considered as well. A photograph of Mary Kelly’s murder scene and body was given to a researcher for a computer enhancement of what appeared to be writing on the wall above Mary Kelly’s bed. “Enlarged, this writing becomes more clearly identifiable as an F and an M – the initials of Maybrick’s wife” (Jakubowski and Braund 217). Mary Kelly was similar in age and appearance to Florence Maybrick, which, combined with the initials on the wall, has lead to the hypothesis that “Maybrick was envisioning the murder of his wife while horribly mutilating Kelly” (Russo). Additionally, a previously unpublished “Dear Boss” letter was uncovered, which is signed “The Ripper,” and refers to the writer being on his way to the Innerliethen tweed factories, an area where Liverpool cotton merchants went frequently. The handwriting of this letter is “curiously similar to that of a letter written by Maybrick aboard the SS Baltic in 1881” (Jakubowski and Braund 214). Also, researchers discovered “from private, unpublished papers, that James Maybrick’s favourite pet name for himself was ‘Sir Jim’. There was no way that a forger could, at any time, have known this, yet whoever wrote the Diary is acutely aware of the inner conflict” (Jakubowski and Braund) and used the nickname many times throughout the diary to refer to himself in the third person. Finally, the Diary mentions an empty tin box that Catherine Eddowes was carrying. “It appears as ‘one Tin Match Box, empty’ in the police list [which was never published in full] until Donald Rumbelow and Martin Fido mentioned it in their respective books published in 1987” (Jakubowski and Braund). For this detail to be included in the diary, either the murderer had to write it, or someone after 1987 did so.

However, with all these coincidences and substantial evidence stacked against him, it appears as if James Maybrick truly was Jack the Ripper.

Works Cited
“Background of the Maybrick Family.” Casebook.org. 19 Apr 2008 <http://casebook.org/suspects/james_maybrick/maybrick.html&gt;.
Begg, Paul, Martin Fido and Keith Skinner. Jack the Ripper: A to Z. London, England: Headline Book Publishing, 1994.
Harrison, Shirley. The Diary of Jack the Ripper. New York, NY: Smith Gryphon Ltd., 1994.
Jakubowski, Maxim and Nathan Braund. The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper. London, England: Robinson Publishing Ltd., 1999.
Maybrick, James. “Transcript of the Diary.” Ripper, The Diary of Jack the. Shirley Harrison. New York, NY: Smith Gryphon Ltd., 1993. Photo Insert and 287-318.
Pegg, Jennifer. “The Maybrick Diary Paper.” 1993. Casebook.org Disserations. 21 April 2008 <http://casebook.org/dissertations/maybrick_diary/maybrick-diary-analysis.paper.html&gt;.
Platt, Andrew. “Platt Diary Report.” March 2005. Casebook.org Dissertations. 21 April 2008 <http://casebook.org/dissertations/maybrick_diary/platt.html&gt;.
Russo, Stan. The Jack the Ripper Suspects. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. , 2004.