In the dark realm of serial killers, this is ground zero: the point from which virtually all history and all discussions begin.
By modern standards, the ghostly predator who haunted the shadowy streets of London's East End between August and November of 1888 was nothing much to write home about. Sadly, many of his successors -- people I and my colleagues have had to hunt -- have been far more devastatingly productive in the number of lives they took, and even the gruesome creativity with which they took them. But none other has so quickly captured and so long dominated the public's fascination as Jack the Ripper: the Whitechapel Murderer, the personification of mindless brutality, of nameless, motiveless evil.
Why this one? Why him (although some still steadfastly maintain it was a her)? There are several reasons. For one, the crimes -- a series of fatal stabbings that escalated into total mutilation -- were concentrated in a small geographic area, directed at a specific type of preferred victim. For another, though there had been isolated sexually based killings in England and the European continent in the past, this was the first time most Victorians had ever faced or had to deal emotionally with such a phenomenon. Add to this a social reform movement and a newly energetic and outspoken press eager to call attention to the appalling living conditions in the East End, and you have all the ingredients for what became, literally, one of the biggest crime stories of all time.
The reasons why these murders continue to fascinate above all others, even in this modern age with our seemingly endless succession of "crimes of the century," are equally strong, though, as we will quickly learn, often based on misimpression. In spite of their barbarism, they represent a real-life mystery from the era of Sherlock Holmes -- the bygone romantic era of high Victorian society, gaslights and swirling London fog, though where the killings actually took place had little real relationship to Victorian splendor, and each crime was actually committed on a night without fog. On only one of the nights was it even raining. In fact, at the same time the Ripper murders were terrorizing the desperate East End, a melodrama based on Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was thrilling audiences at the Lyceum Theatre in the fashionable and comfortable West End. Together these two events, one safely fanciful and the other horrifyingly real, gave many their first dawning awareness of the potential for inherent evil in so-called ordinary or normal people.
And despite a tremendous allocation of manpower and resources on the parts of two police forces at the time, and the efforts of countless "Ripperologists" in the more than 110 years since then, the crimes remain unsolved, tantalizing us with their profound mystery (though if we were working them today, I feel confident we could crack them in relatively short order). Some of the suspects and motives are very "sexy" -- far out of the range of the normal serial killer -- including not only the royal physician but also the two men in direct line to the throne!
And as important as any other reason for the continuing fascination is that powerfully evocative and terrifying name by which the unknown subject -- or UNSUB, as we refer to him in my business -- was called. Although here again, I maintain that this was not the identity he chose for himself.
But whatever the misconceptions or qualifications, we have to acknowledge that Jack the Ripper created the myth, the evil archetype, of the serial killer.
As a criminal investigative analyst and the first full-time profiler for the FBI, I'd often speculated about the identity of Jack the Ripper. But it wasn't until 1988, the hundredth anniversary of the Whitechapel murders, that I actually approached the case as I would one that was brought to me at the Investigative Support Unit at Quantico from a local law enforcement agency.
The occasion was a two-hour television program, The Secret Identity of Jack the Ripper, set to be broadcast live from Los Angeles in October and hosted by British actor, writer, and director Peter Ustinov, with feeds from experts in London at the crime scenes themselves and at Scotland Yard, the headquarters of London's Metropolitan Police. When the producers approached me about participating in the program and constructing a profile of the killer, I decided it was worth a try for a couple of reasons. First, I thought the profile might be useful in training new agents. Second, it's difficult to resist matching wits, even a century later, with the most famous murderer in history. And third, since it was a hundred years after the fact, no negative consequences were possible other than making a fool of myself on national television, a fear I'd long since gotten over. Unlike with the scores of "real" cases I was dealing with every day, no one was going to die if I was wrong or gave the police bad information. More than a decade later, I still believe in the analysis I did, with an interesting and important addition, which we'll get to later.
I captioned the profile the way I would an actual one that would become part of a case file:
UNSUB; AKA JACK THE RIPPER;
SERIES OF HOMICIDES
NCAVC -- HOMICIDE (CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE ANALYSIS)
The FBI, like most government agencies, is addicted to acronyms. The one on the last line, NCAVC, stands for National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, the overall program established in 1985 and located at the FBI Academy to encompass a bunch of other acronyms including, but not limited to, the BSU, or Behavioral Science Unit (teaching and research); ISU, the Investigative Support Unit, which carries out the actual consulting, profiling, and criminal investigative analysis; and VICAP, the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program computer database on multiple offenders. During my tenure as chief of ISU, we and other operational entities, such as HRT, the Hostage Rescue Team, were pulled in under the umbrella of CIRG, the Critical Incident Response Group. And after I retired in 1995, my unit was, for a time, absorbed into a new group, CASCU, the Child Abduction and Serial Crimes Unit. Anyway, you get the idea.
I cautioned the producers the same way everyone in my unit had been trained to caution the police and law enforcement agencies around the United States and the world with whom we dealt: our work can only be as good as the case information provided to us. Many of the tools we'd have to work with today -- fingerprints, DNA and other blood markers, extensive crime-scene photography -- were not available in 1888, so I'd have to do without them in developing my analysis. But then, as now, I would still begin with the known facts of the crimes.
Like most serial murders, the case is complicated, with multiple victims and leads that go off in many directions. It is therefore useful to go into the case narrative in some detail, just as we would if we were receiving it from a local law enforcement agency seeking our assistance. So we'll relate the details -- anything that might be important to the profile -- and analyze each element at the proper point in the decision-making process. In that way, we can see something of how the analytical decisions in mindhunting are made and on what they are based. By the time we present the profile, you should have some background and perspective for understanding the choices and conclusions I've come to. We can then apply this process to all of the subsequent cases we'll consider. The more a profiler knows of the story of what happened, the better able he or she will be in putting together the why and the who.
Whenever we construct a profile or offer analytical or strategic assistance to a local law enforcement agency on a series of unsolved crimes, a critical part of the case materials we request is a map with crime scenes indicated and a description of what each area is like. And in this case, geography is a particularly important consideration because it so carefully defines the type of victim selected and type of offender who would feel comfortable here.
I always stress the importance of understanding the victimology and social context of the crime. And you can't understand this case without some comprehension of what life was like in the East End of London, specifically Whitechapel and Spitalfields, in the final decades of the Victorian era. Adventure novelist Jack London would characterize this area as "the Abyss" after spending seven weeks living there during the summer of 1902. The nonfiction book that emerged from this experience, The People of the Abyss, would become just as much of an instant classic in its own circles as The Call of the Wild, published the same year. And the conditions and situation described were little different in 1902 than they had been fourteen years earlier.
The most extreme areas of the East End -- the region bordering Whitechapel High Street and Whitechapel Road, just north of the Tower of London and the London Docks -- was a strange, distant, and fearful place to those fortunate enough to live elsewhere within the metropolis. Though it was but a short cab or railway journey away from central London, the virtual capital of the Western world when it was true that the "sun never set" on the richest and most economically productive empire in history, this district was a teeming, Dickensian area of factories, sweatshops, and slaughterhouses. Dominated by poor cockneys, it was increasingly populated by immigrants straight off the docks, particularly Eastern European Jews escaping persecution and pogroms, with their strange languages, insular customs, and wariness of gentiles. Many of them joined their fellow countrymen in the tailoring and leather trades centered around Brick Lane. Middlesex Street, better known as Petticoat Lane, became a bustling Sunday marketplace of Jewish goods and culture.
Here in Whitechapel, skilled jobs were scarce and disease was rampant. Those lucky enough to have a place to live were crammed into dirty and primitive accommodations without even the semblance of privacy. The rest, figured to be about 10 percent of the East End's total population of nine hundred thousand, lived a day-to-day existence -- on the streets, in the grim and notorious public workhouses, or in the hundreds of filthy "doss-houses," which offered a bed for around fourpence a night, paid in advance.
Mary Ann Nichols, known as Polly, was a prostitute, one of about twelve hundred in Whitechapel at the time, according to Metropolitan Police estimates. She was five feet two inches tall, forty-five years of age, and had five missing teeth. Many, if not most, of the women like Nichols were not prostitutes by choice. Existence for them (and often, their families) was so desperate that turning cheap tricks might mean the difference between eating and not eating, between having a place to sleep and taking their chances on the dark and dangerous streets. Add to this the chronic alcoholism through which many women tried to forget their hopelessness, and we see a segment of society living on the very fringe.
Polly Nichols was the mother of five children and the survivor of a tempestuous marriage that had finally broken up over her inability to stay away from the bottle, a situation initially caused, she claimed, by her husband William's philandering. He was given custody of the children. At a little after 1:00 in the early morning hours of Friday, August 31, 1888, Polly was attempting to finesse her way into a doss-house on Flower and Dean Street, where she'd been sleeping for about a week. She'd spent most of the last month in another doss-house one block over on Thrawl Street, in a room she shared with four other women. But this evening, she didn't have the required fourpence for her bed, having just spent money she'd earned earlier in the day on liquor at the Frying Pan pub down the block where it intersected with Brick Lane.
The deputy lodging housekeeper would not let her stay without payment. Polly told the man not to give her bed to anyone else and, giddy with drink, declared, "I'll soon get my doss money. See what a jolly bonnet I've got now." Apparently, the hat had been bought for her by a customer and made her feel more attractive.
At about 2:30 A.M., she met up with her friend Ellen Holland, also known as Emily. In the East End, multiple names were apparently common. Holland, who had previously shared the Thrawl Street room with Polly, had come out to watch a large fire, a common form of entertainment for those too poor to afford any other. She reported Polly to be extremely drunk and leaning against a wall for support.
Ellen urged her to go back to Thrawl Street, but Polly confessed, "I've had my lodging money three times today and I've spent it. It won't be long before I'm back." Then she wandered off in the direction of Flower and Dean Street.
That was the last time anyone saw Polly Nichols alive.
About 3:40 that morning, two carmen, or wagon drivers, Charles A. Cross and Robert Paul, were walking to work along Buck's Row, about a block from London Hospital on Whitechapel Road, when Cross thought he saw a tarpaulin on the other side of the street near the entrance to a stable. He went over to examine it more closely and see if it was usable. But when he neared the tarp, he realized it was the body of a woman, her eyes wide open, hands by her side, skirts hiked up to her waist, and legs slightly parted. Next to the body was a black, velvet-trimmed straw bonnet.
Cross called Robert Paul over. He felt the woman's face, which was still warm, leading him to believe she might still be alive. He listened intently and thought maybe he detected a faint heartbeat. But Cross felt her hands, which were cold, and concluded she was dead. The two men left to find a policeman.
They found Metropolitan Police constable Jonas Mizen walking his beat on nearby Hanbury Street and told him what they'd found. Mizen hurried back with them to Buck's Row, where Constable John Neil had just come upon the body on his own. With his lantern, Neil signaled another passing police officer, Constable John Thain. He directed Thain to go find Dr. Rees Ralph Llewellyn, the nearest general practitioner, then told Mizen to secure an ambulance, which in those days meant a two-wheeled wagon long enough to hold a stretcher.
Thain awakened Llewellyn, who arrived on the scene to examine the victim. By this time, two local slaughtermen, Henry Tomkins and James Mumford, were also on scene, though whether they had just happened to show up or had been passing the time with Constable Thain prior to his being called in on the case is unclear. Dr. Llewellyn noted severe lacerations to the victim's throat, but little blood on or around the body. At about ten minutes to 4 A.M., he pronounced the woman dead, estimating that, since the legs were still warm, death had occurred no more than thirty minutes previously and that she had been killed on the spot. The body was taken to the mortuary at the Old Montague Street Workhouse Infirmary. By the time Inspector John Spratling arrived around 4:30 A.M., a crowd was already forming, and the news of the murder started filtering through Whitechapel. Spratling told the other officers to search the scene and surrounding area, then went to join Dr. Llewellyn at the mortuary to record the official description of the corpse.
At the mortuary, Spratling discovered some even more disturbing information than what he'd expect from the "routine" murder of a prostitute -- though, strictly speaking, her status had not yet been confirmed since no identification had been made. Still, the circumstances and the fact that she was out on the street at that hour strongly suggested the vocation. Unfortunately, then as now, prostitute murders were not unheard of, often involving simple robbery or a customer who believed he'd contracted a disease. Once clothing had been removed from the body, Spratling could plainly see that in addition to the neck wounds, the abdomen had been ripped open and the intestines exposed.
The following morning Dr. Llewellyn returned to do a complete postmortem. He noted bruising on the face and neck and a circular incision on the neck that completely severed all the tissues down to the vertebrae as well as the major blood vessels of the neck. The deep cuts appeared to have been made with a sharp, long-bladed knife. Llewellyn believed the killer had at least some rough anatomical knowledge and, from a thumb bruise on the right side of the neck, thought he might be left-handed.
Looking at this case today with a body of knowledge and experience unavailable to the Victorian investigators (it would be several years before even fingerprinting was available), we could already start putting together some behavioral clues from the wound patterns. The severe bruising about the face suggests to me an initial "blitz-style" attack. In other words, the UNSUB attempted to neutralize his potential victim quickly and unexpectedly before she could put up a defense. This, in turn, suggests an offender who is unsure of himself and has no confidence in his ability to control her or get her where he wants her through any kind of verbal means -- an inadequate personality as opposed to one with the confidence to think he can easily dominate women. This, as we'll see, gives us even more clues to his personality and emotional background.
The neck bruising indicates an attempt to choke the victim and further render her incapable of resistance. Then we see the multiple deep stab wounds, which suggest a frenzy of anger and, generally, released sexual tension. That the face suffered no other significant wounds after the initial blitz makes me think that the UNSUB did not know the victim. If this had been a more personally directed attack, I would have expected to see more obliterating wounds to the face, which would represent her persona or humanness. Like just about everything else in profiling and criminal behavioral analysis, this is not a hard and fast rule, as we'll see in the next chapter. But in cases in which the motivation for the crime is essentially power and control -- a power and control unavailable to the UNSUB in any other aspect of life, as I would believe it to be here -- facial attack is a common phenomenon.
Then we have the deep, circular incision around the neck. This seems clear to me -- an attempt to take the head off the victim. Those who have read any of our previous books will know that one of the ways we categorize killers and other sexual predators is according to whether we consider them organized, disorganized, or mixed -- that is, a combination of the two types. A killer who wants to decapitate his victim, especially out on the street, which is always a high-risk environment, is someone who I would suggest is "not all there." This is further underscored by the ripping open of the belly and the exposure of the intestines. That doesn't mean he can't mentally form criminal intent, and it doesn't imply that organized killers are normal, socially integrated individuals. It does, however, tell me that this UNSUB's motivations and fantasies are so aberrant that they would interfere with his routine functioning, even his ability to pull off an efficient crime. This is someone who both hates women and has a bizarre and perverse curiosity about the human body that I can only characterize as demented.
While we're on this subject, let's clarify one thing. All killers and sexual predators, in my opinion, have some degree of mental illness. By definition, you can't willingly take another life in this manner and be mentally healthy. However -- and this is a big however -- though you may be mentally ill, that does not mean that (a) you do not know the difference between right and wrong and (b) you are unable to conform your behavior (not your thoughts necessarily, but your behavior) to the rules of society. This is the essence of the M'Naghten Rule, the original codified British legal test of criminal responsibility, which had already been in effect for more than half a century by the time of the Whitechapel murders and which still serves as the basis for the tests of insanity we use today. The rule is named for Daniel M'Naghten, who tried to kill British prime minister Sir Robert Peel, the organizer of London's Metropolitan Police Force.
So someone can be mentally ill but still criminally responsible -- they do what they do because they want to rather than because they have to. Some psychiatrists refer to this problem as a character disorder, a description that I think is pretty accurate.
But are some offenders so far gone that they really do not know what they're doing is wrong? Sure, there are some, and from my experience they also tend to be delusional or hallucinatory. But we can often pick out this type rather quickly, and because they're so disorganized and "crazy," we usually catch them before long. Was the Whitechapel killer one of these? Had he gone over the edge from character disorder to total nutcase? We need more evidence before we can make that determination.
The murder victim was wearing several layers of clothing, which she would have had to do if she was homeless. Her only other personal possessions were a comb, handkerchief, and broken mirror. But on one of her petticoats, police noticed the laundry mark of the Lambeth Workhouse. By process of elimination, the victim was determined to be Mary Ann, or Polly Nichols, although the initial attempt to have her body identified failed, possibly because of the mutilation. She was eventually identified by Mary Ann Monk, who had been at the Lambeth Workhouse at the same time. On September 6, 1888, she was buried in a pauper's grave in the City of London Cemetery at Little Ilford, Essex.
There was little to go on in solving the crime. Scotland Yard's Chief Inspector Donald Sutherland Swanson admitted that detectives were stumped by the "absence of motives which lead to violence and of any scrap of evidence, either direct or circumstantial." In fact, Swanson and his colleagues just didn't understand the motive. They'd have had no reason to; they'd never seen it before. However, despite the lack of experience with this type of crime, both Dr. Robert Anderson, assistant Metropolitan Police commissioner in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and CID assistant chief constable Melville Leslie MacNaghten said that it was obviously the work of a sex maniac.
It was possible, though, that the Nichols killing was related to an earlier prostitute murder in the East End; no one was certain. In fact, they're not sure to this day.
Martha Tabram, also known as Emma Turner, was the estranged wife of a warehouseman, Henry Tabram. After the estrangement, she lived on and off for a number of years with William Turner, who, though a carpenter by training, worked as a street hawker. This accounts for her two surnames. As in the case of Polly Nichols, each man eventually left her because of her excessive drinking.
On the evening of August 6, 1888, a bank holiday, Martha went out with her friend Mary Ann Connolly, known locally as Pearly Poll. Connolly later testified that the two of them had visited several pubs, including the Two Brewers, where they were picked up by two members of the Grenadier Guards, a prestigious unit of the army. They went to other pubs, including the White Swan on Whitechapel High Street, before finally parting company around 11:45 P.M. Poll and her guardsman then went into Angel Alley for stand-up sex against a wall. She saw Martha go into George Yard, presumably with similar intentions.
At around 3:30 the next morning, taxi driver Alfred Crow returned to his tenement flat on the northeast side of George Yard and saw what he thought was a derelict sleeping on the first-floor landing. About an hour and twenty minutes later, another tenant and dockyard laborer, John Saunders Reeves, came downstairs and saw what he realized was a body.
Dr. Timothy Killeen, who examined the body for the police at about 5:30 A.M., estimated that the approximately forty-year-old woman had died about two hours previously, or shortly before Crow first noticed her. Altogether, the victim had suffered thirty-nine stab wounds, with the breasts, abdomen and genitalia being the primary targets. Most of the wounds were unremarkable in terms of the likely weapon used, with the exception of a wound in the center of the sternum, which appeared to have come from a dagger or bayonet. This suggested that perhaps the crime had been committed by the guardsman with whom Martha Tabram had been seen earlier in the evening.
With two unsolved murders in the same area in the same month, uneasiness settled over Scotland Yard. But apart from those who knew either of the unfortunate victims, London as a whole, and even the East End, did not really take notice. After all, homeless prostitutes were the throwaways of society, and even though both crimes were exceedingly brutal and seemed without apparent motive, this was not something with which proper folk had to be overly concerned.
That all changed on the morning of Saturday, September 8, and in a sense, the world of criminology has not been the same since.
Just before 6 A.M., carman John Davis finally got up after having spent a restless night. He left the third-floor flat he'd occupied for about two weeks with his wife and three sons at 29 Hanbury Street and went downstairs to go to the outside privy. To the left of the back-door steps, he suddenly saw a body. A woman was lying on her back between the steps and the fence of the property's yard. Her dress had been pulled up over her head, her belly had been ripped open, and her intestines were not only visible this time, but pulled out and draped over her left shoulder. Other residents and passersby quickly assembled. Some of them and Davis each went off in search of a policeman. One, Henry Holland, found a constable a couple of blocks away at Spitalfields Market, but the officer told him he could not leave his fixed point. This was but one example of the procedural rigidity of the law enforcement of the day, which would hamper many attempts at bringing the UNSUB to justice.
The first senior police officer on the scene was Inspector Joseph Chandler. He was on duty at the Commercial Street Police Station when he saw men running up Hanbury Street. When he realized what had happened, he rushed to the murder site, covered the body, then sent for Dr. George Bagster Phillips, the police surgeon for H Division, the area where the crime had occurred. Phillips examined the brutally butchered but ritualistically arranged corpse. At the inquest, he described what he had seen:
The left arm was placed across the left breast. The legs were drawn up, the feet resting on the ground, and the knees turned outwards. The face was swollen and turned on the right side. The tongue protruded between the front teeth, but not beyond the lips. The tongue was evidently much swollen. The front teeth were perfect as far as the first molar, top and bottom, and very fine teeth they were. The body was terribly mutilated.... The throat was dissevered deeply; the incisions through the skin were jagged, and reached round the neck.... On the wooden paling between the yard in question and the next, smears of blood, corresponding to where the head of the deceased lay, were to be seen.
Phillips went on to observe that all of the wounds appeared to have been made by a sharp knife with a narrow blade and that the evisceration indicated some medical knowledge. He speculated that all of the mutilations may have taken as long as an hour, though with what I've seen from even moderately experienced serial killers, I would suspect less time. As in the case of Polly Nichols, there was no evidence of a struggle. Apparently, the UNSUB had also attacked this one suddenly, neutralizing her before she could fight back.
A message was sent to Inspector Frederick George Abberline of Scotland Yard's H Division, and he quickly showed up on the scene. Abberline, who was forty-five years old and married for the second time (his first wife died of consumption the same year he married her), is something of a legend in police circles, though details of his personal life are rather sketchy. He had risen quickly through the ranks from constable (patrolman) to sergeant, to undercover operative and detective, and then to inspector. Abberline would come to take charge of all the detectives in the Whitechapel investigation.
As he waited for Abberline and other Scotland Yard officials to arrive, Inspector Chandler had the crime scene thoroughly searched. The woman's pocket had been slit open and its contents included such ordinary items as two combs, a piece of muslin, and a folded envelope containing two pills. About two feet away, they found a bloodstained leather apron, of the type worn by slaughterhouse workers or possibly cobblers or leather workers. Since the apron was not wet with blood, it was highly questionable whether it was related to the crime. And since in those days there was no scientific means of typing blood, or even determining for certain whether it was from a human being or an animal, a bloodstained garment from one of the many slaughterhouses in the area would have been easily explainable. Still, any potential clue was likely to have a "life of its own," as this one certainly did.
Dr. Phillips told the inquest he believed the three personal items had been placed with some care -- the muslin and the combs at the victim's feet and the envelope by her head. Two farthing coins were also near the body, though this detail was kept secret by the police to help qualify suspects. If this description is accurate, it's another indication of a particular psychosis and mental instability. We often find this in disorganized or mixed offenders -- that is, a brutal frenzy of attack, together with careful, ritualistic elements that indicate a need to control or master small, discrete components of the crime scene or victim.
One of my earliest major profiling cases involved the murder of a twenty-six-year-old teacher of handicapped children who was mildly handicapped herself with curvature of the spine. She was found strangled, severely beaten, and sexually abused at the top of the stairwell of the apartment building where she lived with her parents on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx, New York. She had been spread-eagled and tied with her own belt and nylon stockings around her wrists and ankles, though the medical examiner determined she was already dead when that was done. The cause of death was ligature strangulation with the strap of her pocketbook. The NYPD photos showed a scene of appalling gore and cruelty, and this told me a lot about the offender. What told me even more was that her nipples had been cut off after death and placed on her chest, her comb was set in her pubic hair, and her earrings had been placed symmetrically on the ground on either side of her head. This type of compulsiveness and strange ritualism amidst such a frenzy of disorganized mayhem said to me that my prey had some deep and long-term psychological problems. The method of sexual assault, with the victim's umbrella inserted into the vagina, told me that this guy had real problems with normal sexual functioning and, even though he'd be in his twenties, was still very much in the pre- or early adolescent stage of sexual fantasy, experimentation, and curiosity about the female body. Taken together with his obvious sociopathic hostility, it didn't take much imagination to see that we were dealing with a very dangerous individual. I was therefore extremely gratified that we were able to help in hunting down and catching the offender, who, as I'd predicted, lived in the neighborhood, was underemployed, without a car or meaningful job, and had close relatives in the victim's building.
Based at least in part on Dr. Phillips's description of the murder scene at Hanbury Street, I believe the police were dealing with a similar type of offender there, but, of course, they would not have had sufficient comprehension to realize it. Though all the evidence was not yet in, I would have begun honing my profile to reflect a fairly unsophisticated offender, like the killer ninety years later in New York, a combination of a violent and sexually immature and inadequate personality.
Dr. Phillips had the unidentified body removed to the Whitechapel Infirmary Mortuary on Eagle Street, and in the afternoon he conducted a full postmortem, which confirmed some of his earlier observations, including facial bruising as we have discussed previously. Laceration wounds of the neck showed that the killer had tried to separate the various bones of the neck after death, the type of perverse anatomical curiosity I would liken to the attempt to remove Nichols's head.
But there was more. Not only had the intestines been severed from their attachments within the abdomen and placed over the shoulder, the uterus, half of the vagina, and most of the bladder had been entirely removed, apparently cut out with some care. They were not found with the body. The murder of street prostitutes, as we've suggested, was not uncommon. But the postmortem mutilation was essentially unknown to the Victorians.
Not so, unfortunately, to us. What we see here is not only a fevered overkill, but a man who may be taking anatomical souvenirs. The removal of the uterus and vagina suggests to me someone who hates women and probably fears them. By removing the victim's internal sexual organs, he is, in effect, attempting to neuter her, to take away that which he finds sexually threatening. Since, along with this, there is no evidence of traditional rape, the fear of women and their sexual power is a pretty strong bet.
The victim was identified as Annie Chapman by a washerwoman friend named Amelia Palmer. Chapman, born Eliza Anne Smith, was a stout five feet two with brown hair and blue eyes. Of all the victims, she was the most pathetic. In her late forties, her autopsy showed signs of malnutrition and chronic diseases of the lungs and membrane surrounding the brain, which might have killed her before long if the UNSUB hadn't. She had been married to John Chapman, who'd made his living as a coachman for wealthy families in Mayfair. They had three children, one of whom was a girl who died in infancy and another who was physically handicapped. This was not unusual for the poor. Her marriage, like those of Martha Tabram and Polly Nichols, was said to have broken up over her drinking, but since John died four years later of cirrhosis, one might suspect the problem was not one-sided. In any event, she was living by her wits, supplementing whatever small amounts of money she could earn on the streets from selling matches, flowers, and her own crocheting with even smaller amounts from prostitution, working the area right around Spitalfields Market. At the time of her death she was living in Crossingham's Common Lodging House on Dorset Street, where she'd earned a reputation for a violent temper through brawls with other prostitutes. She was also alleged to be a petty thief, and her late former husband had lost at least one job in Mayfair because of her thievery.
Chapman had been wearing three cheap rings, which were not found on her hand. The killer -- or some desperate soul -- must have taken them, either for their monetary value or as souvenirs.
The accounts of her last night are tragically similar to that of Polly Nichols. Earlier in the afternoon, she had told her friend Amelia Palmer that she was too sick to work but would have to do something to get money for her bed that night. Another resident at Crossingham's saw her in the kitchen, already drunk and taking two pills from a box she kept in her pocket. She dropped the box, which broke, and at that point, she put the remaining pills in a torn piece of envelope lying on the floor. She spent the late night and early-morning hours of Friday, September 7, to Saturday, September 8, drinking, then returned to the lodging house about 1:35 A.M., where John Evans, the night watchman, demanded the fourpence doss money.
She replied, "I haven't got it. I am weak and ill and have been in the infirmary." But, like Nichols, she added, "Don't let the bed. I'll be back soon." She then went upstairs to convey the same message to deputy manager Timothy Donovan, asking him to let her stay on credit. He refused and escorted her off the premises and out to try to make the doss money. As she was leaving, she called out to Evans, "I won't be long, Brummy. See that Tim keeps the bed for me." It's likely that all of the witnesses who reported they saw Chapman drunk that night probably mistook the fact that she was actually very sick. The autopsy showed little alcohol in her body.
From this point on, the narrative gets a little fuzzy. Someone thought he saw her in the Ten Bells pub across from Spitalfields Market soon after it opened at 5 A.M., but this seems to be a case of mistaken identity. A half hour later, Elizabeth Darrell, also known as Elizabeth Long, saw a woman she thought was Annie Chapman on Hanbury Street, talking to a man slightly taller than herself. Darrell characterized the man as foreign-looking, which at the time in the East End was often a euphemism for someone who appeared to be a Jewish immigrant. According to Darrell, the man asked, "Will you?"
Chapman replied, "Yes."
Albert Cadoche, a young carpenter who lived at 27 Hanbury Street, thought he heard a fierce struggle and someone yelling "No!" in the next-door backyard at number 29. But police weren't sure what he'd heard, and like so many other facts about the case, this one remains ambiguous.
Among Inspector Abberline and his colleagues at Scotland Yard, the conclusion was inescapable. The man who had murdered Annie Chapman had also killed Mary Ann Nichols.
Panic spread throughout the East End. Someone was murdering women and the police seemed unable to stop him. Everything was coming together. Did the same fiend who killed Nichols and Chapman also murder Martha Tabram? At first, it had seemed likely that her guardsman escort had done it. But if two other murders had taken place within such a close time and proximity, then that first one could have been done by the same man, too. I would also not discount the possibility that the killer of Polly Nichols was actually attempting to copycat the murder of Martha Tabram.
And some thought maybe that wasn't even the first. On April 2, 1888, another prostitute, Emma Elizabeth Smith, who lived in Spitalfields, had been robbed and raped and a blunt instrument, possibly a bottle, forced into her vagina. Three days later, she died of peritonitis at London Hospital. At the time, police believed she had been the victim of a local gang, though no arrests were ever made. Now, it looked to the terrified residents as if she was merely the Whitechapel killer's first tune-up.
"LEATHER APRON" AND OTHER THEORIES
Suddenly, this forsaken area of London was on everyone's mind. Newspaper reporters flooded in, describing the East Enders as if they were some strange foreign species. The sites of each murder became tourist attractions. The Home Office was advised to offer a reward for information leading to the killer's arrest, but the home secretary decided against it, believing that the locals were so desperate for money that they'd give false information and make the police department's job even more difficult. Though he might have been reacting to his own experience with the local newspapers, for whom playing fast and loose with facts for the sake of a more sensational story was a way of life, he was actually following official Home Office policy. His esteemed predecessor, Sir William Harcourt, had prohibited rewards when he found that they led to false accusations and even deliberately inspired crimes.
The East End was rife with rumors. At least one of the doctors who'd examined the bodies thought the killer showed some medical or anatomical knowledge. Did that mean he was a depraved physician? Perhaps a medical student? London Hospital and its medical college were just across Whitechapel Road from where Polly Nichols was murdered. Were they the killer's training ground and refuge? The poor East Enders were a cynical and mistrustful lot, used to either being ignored or getting the worst of everything. It certainly wasn't beyond the realm of imagination that a healer could be perverted into a brutal taker of lives.
dOne of the most prevalent suspicions arose from the leather apron found near Annie Chapman's body. When police began questioning Whitechapel street hookers, one of the stories that kept coming up concerned a local bully and hustler known as Leather Apron for the article he was always seen with, supposedly because he was a slipper-maker. According to reports, Leather Apron, who was often seen around Commercial Street, would shake down women and demand money from them. He was generally described as a short, thickset man in his late thirties or early forties, with black hair, a black mustache, and an unusually thick neck. The word on the street was that Leather Apron might well be the Whitechapel killer.
One individual who apparently met this description was a Jewish boot-finisher named John Pizer. A sometime resident of Hanbury Street identified him as the man he had seen threatening a woman with a knife in the early morning hours of September 8. Pizer had a reputation for getting into fights, as well as abusing prostitutes. He was arrested at his residence on Mulberry Street, in the heart of Whitechapel, on Monday morning, September 10. Five long-bladed knives were found there. He was taken to the Leman Street police station and placed in two police lineups. In one, a female witness was unable to identify him. In the other, a male witness confirmed he was the one seen on September 8, and that Pizer was known around the neighborhood as Leather Apron. Pizer expressed astonishment and outrage at the charge, claiming he didn't know what the police were talking about.
In spite of that, he was a likely suspect, at least for a couple of hours. Then the case began to fall apart. The man who identified him could not identify Annie Chapman's body at the morgue as the woman he had seen being threatened. Then Pizer's alibis for the nights of the Nichols and Chapman murders were checked out and proved ironclad. After a day and a half, he was released.
The John Pizer story provides us with a cautionary tale. Pizer sure looked good for the crimes, and a lot of the surface details fit. Only after police investigated his circumstances was he exonerated. Why am I mentioning this here? Because most of the suspects who've emerged as candidates to be the killer, particularly those who've emerged long after the events, fit with just such convenient circumstantial evidence, as we shall see. Now there's nothing wrong with circumstantial evidence. Sometimes, as we'll further see, it's all we've got and it can be compelling enough for a solid conviction. But the important point to remember here is that anyone we consider as a suspect whom the police at the time could not examine and alibi out in the way they did Pizer is not getting a "fair trial" from us. Of course, no one can, this many years later, but it's something to keep in mind when you hear some of the more interesting, often outlandish, claims.
The police and the press both made a concerted effort to find the "actual" Leather Apron, without any success, while hysteria about the identity of the "Whitechapel fiend" continued to grow.
And a strong undercurrent was emerging as to who he might be. The Jews, emigrating to England to escape persecution in Russia and Eastern Europe, had become a prominent force in the East End. But they spoke a strange language and kept largely to themselves and their own community, maintaining a wary, distrustful distance from gentiles -- in other words, "real" Englishmen. When you combine the general resentment of whoever is the most recent immigrant group with the quiet but long-standing strain of anti-Semitism that had been a part of English culture for almost a thousand years, you've got a ready-made scapegoat population. Then add two other factors: Whatever scanty evidence there was suggested that the killer worked in either the local livestock slaughtering industry or shoe and leather trade, both of which were dominated by Jewish immigrants. Just as important, no one believed a true Englishman could do such a horrible thing, so it had to be someone from the largest non-English group evident -- the Jews.
And such a horrible thing as what? Who kills and eviscerates just for the hell of it, not for robbery, not for revenge, not even to make a political statement? This was something people hadn't seen before. Was it possible that the character of Mr. Hyde had gone out the stage door of the Lyceum and taken up residence in Whitechapel?
THE LUST MURDERER
In April 1980, my Behavioral Science Unit colleague Roy Hazelwood and I published an article in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin entitled "The Lust Murderer." We wrote:
The lust murder is unique and is distinguished from the sadistic homicide by the involvement of a mutilating attack or displacement of the breasts, rectum, or genitals. Further, while there are always exceptions, basically two types of individuals commit the lust murder. These individuals will be labeled as the Organized Nonsocial and the Disorganized Asocial personalities.
We've moved away from such terms as nonsocial and asocial because they're difficult to understand and differentiate, but it is fair to say that the organized type tends to be someone who may interact well with society; he just has no regard for or interest in the welfare of anyone other than himself. He understands the implications of his crimes and commits them because they give him a feeling of satisfaction and empowerment not present anywhere else in his life. Though he will have a deep-seated sense of personal inadequacy, this sensation will be warring within him with an equally strong sense of grandiosity and entitlement that has nothing to do with his own highly limited accomplishments. He will plan his crimes and is smart enough to commit them some distance from where he lives or works and to take measures to keep them undetected (e.g., hide the body) for as long as possible.
The disorganized offender, on the other hand, is the traditional loner who feels rejected by society. He is not sophisticated enough to commit an organized, well-planned act or to think to hide the body. The crimes, particularly the early ones, will likely be committed close to his home or workplace, where he feels some measure of comfort and familiarity. While we expect some sort of rape or penetration with the organized offender, we often see none from the disorganized one. And as we suggested earlier, while the organized type may mutilate the body as a sign of his contempt or to hinder identification, mutilation by the disorganized type may represent not only his fear, but a basic sexual curiosity about what goes on below the body's surface.
What connects the two types of lust murderers is an obsessive fantasy of the act, beginning long before it is committed. In just about every case of lust murder we've seen or studied, the fantasy comes before the act. Particularly in the case of the disorganized offender, the victim may simply present herself or become available at a time and place at which the subject is ready to act, ready to forcibly draw a human being into his fantasy world. Seldom will the murder weapon be a firearm, because it affords too little interpersonal, psychosexual gratification. More likely, the killer will use his hands, a blade, and/or a club or blunt object of some sort. If an anatomical souvenir is taken, it is often symbolic of wanting to totally possess the victim, even in death.
The term lust inevitably brings up the idea of sex, and indeed, sex is a key component of the crime. But as we've already suggested, the motivation for the act, the psychological need it addresses, can be summed up in three words: manipulation, domination, and control. These are the elements that give the perpetrator a heightened satisfaction that he does not achieve from anything else in his life.
So where does the sexual component come in? Clearly, for the lust murderer, sex is joined in his mind and fantasies with power and control. Perhaps the best way to explain it is to use the definition of rape proposed by my friend Linda Fairstein, head of the New York County District Attorney's Office Sex Crimes Unit and one of the great heroes in the constant war against these predators. In the ongoing debate over whether to classify rape as a crime of sex or violence, Linda calls it a crime of violence in which sex is the weapon. Though in the Whitechapel crimes we're not dealing with rape per se, the distinction is still instructive.
In our 1980 article, Roy Hazelwood and I proposed that the formation of a lust murderer personality happens early in life, and subsequent research has given us no reason to alter that opinion. There will be a pattern of behavior leading up to the violence, usually starting with voyeuristic activities or the theft of women's clothing, which serve as a substitute for his inability to deal with women in a mature and confident manner. The organized type will be aggressive during his adolescent years, as if he is trying to get back at society for perceived wrongs or slights. He has trouble dealing with authority and is anxious to exert control over others wherever he can.
If I were examining these cases today, by the Chapman murder I would already be suspecting a lust killer, which will be important when we finally get to our list of possible suspects. Though the crimes largely represent a disorganized UNSUB, mixed aspects suggest a personality somewhere along the continuum.
Did lust murderers exist before the Whitechapel murders? Probably, though for one reason or another they were overlooked as a pattern or misinterpreted as robberies or revenge killings, particularly if the mutilation involved was too extreme. And keep in mind that prior to Victorian London and the Industrial Revolution, cities were smaller and communities more homogeneous. We've speculated that stories and legends about witches, werewolves, and vampires (blood-drinking, or anthropophagy, is a not-uncommon trait of the disorganized offender) may have been a way of explaining outrages so hideous that no one in the small and close-knit towns of Europe and early America could comprehend such perversities.
THE DOUBLE EVENT
The police sent hundreds of extra officers into the East End each evening -- one of them reportedly disguised as a woman -- trying to catch the killer in the act. This was one of the few effective means of catching a killer of random strangers. If the victim knew the killer, police could follow a trail of relationships and reliable witnesses. If the killer was a robber who followed a pattern in his criminal enterprise, any of a number of casual witnesses or snitches might give him up. But with no precedent for this type of crime, the best strategy seemed to be to use manpower to prevent him from having the opportunity to kill or, if that failed, to have the mechanism in place to stop him as he fled.
About 1:00 in the morning of Sunday, September 30, after a long afternoon and evening of selling, a street jewelry merchant named Louis Diemschutz was returning to the International Workingmen's Educational Club on Berner Street, a fraternal organization founded by immigrant Jewish socialists and intellectuals. He heard Yiddish or Russian singing coming from the open windows of the club. He was driving a small pony cart. As he turned off Berner Street into the entrance to Dutfield's Yard, the animal suddenly stopped and wouldn't move forward. Diemschutz noticed a bundle against the gate and prodded it with his long-handled whip. He struck a match and saw that it was actually a woman, who appeared to be drunk. This would have been a common sight in this neighborhood at this time of night. Concerned that the drunk might be his wife, he got down from the cart and went into the club, where she worked. It wasn't she, and he soon returned with several club members. They examined the woman more closely and realized her throat had been slashed. Quickly, two of them ran off to find a policeman, on the way meeting another acquaintance, Edward Spooner. He was talking with a woman, probably a prostitute, outside the Beehive pub on Fairclough Street, which intersected Berner at the first corner. The three of them found Constable Henry Lamb on the corner of Fairclough and Grove Street and brought him back with them to the scene.
Lamb sent for Dr. William Blackwell, who arrived at 1:16 A.M. by his own watch. He pronounced her and stated she had been dead for less than twenty minutes, which meant only a few minutes or less before Diemschutz happened upon the body. The time he took to go into the club in search of his wife may have afforded the lurking killer the opportunity to escape. Dr. Blackwell believed she'd been killed standing up, her head forced backward by the silk kerchief around her neck, and her throat cut. A lot of blood was at the scene, and unlike in the previous murders, defense wounds on the victim's hands indicated a struggle.
A hysterical woman, Mary Malcolm, married to a local tailor, was convinced the victim was her sister Elizabeth Watts Stokes and identified the body by an adder bite on the leg. She claimed she'd had a ghostly premonition that Elizabeth would be murdered that night.
At 1:30 the same morning, thirty minutes after Louis Diemschutz had discovered the body, Constable Edward Watkins of the City of London Police Force was passing through Mitre Square on a beat he completed every twelve to fourteen minutes. He found the square empty and peaceful.
You may have noticed that I identified Constable Watkins as belonging to the City Police rather than the Metropolitan Police. In London, they faced (and still face) one of the same problems that dogs American law enforcement agencies today: overlapping jurisdictions. The City of London refers to a one-square-mile area that comprises the traditional business and historic districts, built on the site of the original Roman settlement. The City boundary runs north from the Thames, just to the west of the Tower of London, and includes St. Paul's Cathedral, the Bank of England, the Royal Courts of Justice, and the Guildhall. It has its own police force, which is separate and distinct from Robert Peel's Metropolitan Police. In the United States, this is a common phenomenon. Beverly Hills and Santa Monica each have their own police forces separate from both the Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, even though geographically they are completely within L.A. territory. Various parts of Washington, D.C., are patrolled by the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Park Police, the U.S. Capitol Police, the Secret Service's Executive Protective Division, etc. So who does what, and when, can become problematic. It really gets to be a challenge when an offender is not administratively considerate enough to confine his illicit activities to one jurisdiction.
This is the problem they began facing in London on the night of what became known as the Double Event.
Between 1:40 and 1:42 A.M. Constable James Harvey walked down his beat on Church Passage, one of the three routes into Mitre Square, which fell within the jurisdiction of the City Police. He didn't see anyone and didn't hear anything suspicious. Three minutes later, Constable Watkins began his next tour through the square, approaching from the opposite side. And this time he discovered a body in the southwest corner. A woman was lying on her back in a pool of blood. When Watkins shined his light on the scene, he saw that her throat had been slashed, her dress pulled up above her waist, her abdomen slit open, and her intestines pulled out. Watkins ran to a nearby warehouse to get help, then rushed back to stay with the body. One of the responding officers brought back Dr. George William Sequeira, who said that the woman had been dead only a few minutes. Within another ten minutes, they'd sent for Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown, the City Police surgeon.
Dr. Brown arrived shortly after 2 A.M. and conducted a meticulous examination. A thimble was lying near one of the victim's fingers on the right side. The intestines had been positioned over the right shoulder. The uterus and kidneys had been removed from the body and were not at the scene. The face and right ear had been severely mutilated in what appeared to be a deliberate, ritualistic manner, unlike the seemingly random slashing and cutting of the rest of the body. Dr. Brown determined the death would have been practically immediate, from hemorrhage from the left common carotid artery. All of the mutilations were inflicted postmortem.
THE GOULSTON STREET GRAFFITO
City police fanned throughout the area, hoping to catch a killer whose trail was still hot. At 2:20 A.M. Metropolitan Police Constable Alfred Long, on his first night on the beat, passed down Goulston Street, which came off Whitechapel High Street on the north side and was just over the line (Middlesex Street) from City jurisdiction. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Thirty-five minutes later something was there. A bloody piece of cloth, still wet, was lying on the landing of an entryway to 108-119 Goulston Street, a tenement known as the Wentworth Model Dwellings. It turned out to be part of an apron worn by the Mitre Square victim and was probably the only documented piece of physical evidence in the entire case.
On the wall above where the apron fragment was lying, Long saw a message written with white chalk. By his recollection it read: "The Juwes are the men That Will not be Blamed for nothing."
Other officers reported the wording and capitalization as "The Juwes are not The men That Will be Blamed for nothing."
The discrepancy arose because no evidentiary record of what became known as "the Goulston Street graffito" remains. Superintendent Thomas Arnold, head of H Division, arrived at the scene. Alarmed by the implication of the scrawled message and fearing, whether it was related to the killer or not, that it would incite violent anti-Semetic passions already kicked up by the Leather Apron rumors, he sent for an officer with a wet sponge to have it erased. Others, particularly in the competing City Police, argued that it would soon be daylight, at which point the evidence could be photographed before its destruction, but Arnold did not want to take the chance. Police Commissioner Sir Charles Warren arrived on the scene sometime later and confirmed Arnold's order. He thought the graffito was written by someone who wanted to cast general blame on Jewish socialists. The message was wiped out just before sunup, about 5:30 A.M.
Three weeks later, amidst a firestorm of criticism, both personal and as to how the Met was handling the case, Warren would resign his post.
Even if the Goulston Street graffito had been preserved and was known to have come from the killer, it would have been of limited forensic value. Chalk on a wall will not give you the handwriting exemplar of ink or pencil on paper, so attempting to match up the scrawl with any known handwriting would be fairly meaningless. Behaviorally, it might be of some use, but largely, I would think, to say that the writer was unstable, anti-Semitic, or both.
The location where the apron was found, however, is a much more important indicator, because behaviorally, we may reasonably conclude that Goulston Street was along the killer's route between two critical locations: Mitre Square, where the murder took place, and the unknown spot where the killer lived or sought refuge that night. We have to be a little careful about this because, as Scotland Yard pointed out when they retraced the suspected path, a stray dog could have picked up the cloth wherever the killer dropped it and carried it as much as a hundred yards. But I think we can still be confident about the general direction. We should also mention that Mitre Square is only about a twelve-minute walk from Berner Street, where the night's first victim was discovered.
Yet, having said all that, we cannot discount the enormous significance of Arnold's and Warren's decision to erase the message. By doing so, they spawned one of the great conspiracy theories of the case -- that of Masonic involvement -- and we might as well go into it here.
Most people within the police ranks believed that "Juwes" was merely an illiterate spelling of Jews, the people already resented by much of the East End and suspected of involvement with the murders. But there was another interpretation. Juwes, according to some, referred in the secret traditions of Freemasonry to three traitors who had worked on King Solomon's temple and had murdered its architect and master mason, Hiram Abiff. Their names were Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum. According to the tradition, the three Juwes had all manner of insidious tortures inflicted on them as punishment and warning, including the removal of their tongues and ritual disembowelment, with the intestines thrown over one shoulder. This, of course, recalls the mutilation of some of the Whitechapel victims, particularly with regard to the intestines. However, with all the mayhem, the tongues were not cut out, which would seem to have been just as symbolic and therefore just as important. As far as the intestines are concerned, there was so much mutilation that you could practically connect any historical mutilating torture with it and not be too far off.
A significant number of those involved with the case, including Warren and for a brief period Dr. Robert Anderson, were Masons. The conspiracy thinking had it that the murders were part of a vast Masonic plot, and that by erasing the graffito, Warren was attempting to protect his fellow Masons, even if it meant destroying evidence and hampering an investigation. Of course, if we accept that it was a warning, why would he then erase it before anyone could be warned? Either way, the logic is just too messy to make much sense from an investigative analysis perspective. It must be said, however, that the Masonic conspiracy theory continued to grow and become more elaborate until finally it even attached itself to already established royal-family theories.
All in all, I tend to agree with the police that the graffito was an incidental finding, not related to the murder. Coincidence that it just happened to be on the wall above the apron? Maybe, maybe not. Graffiti were common in that area, particularly with similar sentiments. The first thing we have to ask is, what the hell does "The Juwes are the men That Will not be Blamed for nothing" or "The Juwes are not The men That Will be Blamed for nothing" mean? For the most logical interpretation, I turn to Martin Fido, the prominent British scholar, author, and crime historian, and among the most knowledgeable and resourceful of Ripper investigators. Fido interprets the syntax of the Goulston Street graffito as being characteristic of the cockney tendency to use double negatives. Fido notes that Goulston Street is right around the corner from Middlesex Street, or Petticoat Lane, the largest Jewish marketplace in London. Connecting the two was Wentworth Street, site of a cheap shoe market. Given anti-Semitism, and that it was well-known that one could obtain inexpensive shoes, clothing, and other goods from Jewish merchants, Fido explains that in cockney dialect the graffito can be "translated" into "The Jews are the men who won't take responsibility for anything" and was probably scrawled by a bigoted and irate (not to mention poor-spelling) East Ender who felt he had been cheated by a Jewish merchant who would not stand behind his product. It would, therefore, be mere happenstance that the angry message was seen right above the bloody apron fragment.
If you accept Fido's double-negative interpretation, which I do, then why couldn't the message just as easily refer to the Juwes of Freemasonry lore? Why couldn't it hearken to a Masonic conspiracy? Well, for one thing, in 1888 London, the "Juwes" reference would have been extremely esoteric. According to Fido's research, all references to Jubelo, Jubela, and Jubelum had disappeared from the already highly secretive English Masonic ritual between 1811 and 1815. Anyone who would know something that obscure was not the type who would scrawl it on a tenement entryway, particularly in flight from a bloody and disorganized murder. And as for its being a Masonic warning about the fate that might befall "traitors," if you're that secretive, why give yourself away in so crude a manner? No, it just doesn't add up.
THE VICTIMS IDENTIFIED
On the evening of October 1, the identity of the Berner Street victim was finally known. Notwithstanding Mary Malcolm's identification of her sister Elizabeth Watts Stokes as the dead woman, Mrs. Stokes turned up very much alive. The actual victim was Elizabeth Stride, a forty-four-year-old emigre from Sweden who was identified by her former husband's nephew, Metropolitan Police Constable Walter Frederick Stride. It is difficult to know what she looked like in life as the only known photograph of her was taken in the mortuary after death. All of the teeth were missing from her left lower jaw, which indicates she seemed to have lived a life of chronic disease and poverty as did the other victims.
And like the other victims, her marriage had broken down at least a few years before. She gravitated from the grim Whitechapel Workhouse to one of the common lodging houses on Flower and Dean Street, then moved to Dorset Street with a laborer named Michael Kidney, who was seven years her junior. Kidney had a criminal record and was said to have beaten her from time to time. She was known in the neighborhood as Long Liz and had repeatedly been arrested for drunkenness.
As closely as the police could reconstruct, Liz Stride was seen at the Queen's Head pub at around 6:30 P.M. on September 29, then returned to Flower and Dean Street at about 7 P.M. Around 11 P.M., two laborers saw her leaving the Bricklayers' Arms pub on Settles Street between Whitechapel Road and Commercial Road. She was with a man who appeared to them to be very properly British, about five feet five. The two men called out teasingly to Liz to be careful in case her escort was Leather Apron. Forty-five minutes later, another laborer saw her with apparently the same man on Berner Street. After the couple kissed, the man said to her, "You would say anything but your prayers." Fifteen minutes after that, fruit merchant Matthew Packer sold a half pound of grapes to a man he believed to be the one others saw with Liz. It was raining, and he noted that the couple stood outside, across Berner Street from his shop, for almost half an hour. They were still there when Metropolitan Police Constable William Smith noted a couple that matched the other descriptions.
Like the previous crimes, this one also gets fuzzy. Dock worker James Brown saw a couple he thought was Liz Stride and her client leaning up against a wall on Fairclough Street. She was saying, "Not tonight. Maybe some other night." When Brown saw Stride's body at the mortuary, he stated he was certain that was the woman he had seen.
Yet at the same time, a Hungarian Jewish immigrant named Israel Schwartz was returning to the International Workingmen's Club on Berner Street when he thought he saw a man throwing Liz Stride to the ground. He crossed the street, at which point the man shouted "Lipski!" at him, an anti-Semitic epithet referring to a Jewish murderer who had recently been hanged. Schwartz said he noticed another man nearby lighting his pipe and, fearful of being mugged, ran away. He gave a complete account to the police, and when he was taken to Stride's body in the mortuary, he also identified her as the woman he had seen.
It was only about fifteen minutes after Schwartz's encounter that Louis Diemschutz encountered the body in approximately the same place. Was it, in fact, Elizabeth Stride that Schwartz had seen? If so, was she killed by the man who threw her down? Or did she get away from him only to be fatally attacked by another? Could this person have been the second man Schwartz saw lighting his pipe? Perhaps that man and the one who threw Liz down had nothing to do with each other. In any event, neither of them matched the description of the man in the couple Constable Smith had seen fifteen minutes earlier.
When you can't resolve conflicting witness statements -- and it happens with great regularity -- you try to put them all in the back of your mind and move on with other evidence, forensic or behavioral, that seems more solid and reliable. Then, if any other lead opens up, you can go back to what the witnesses thought they saw and see if any of it fits in.
The Mitre Square victim was identified with less difficulty than Elizabeth Stride. She was wearing and carrying all of her worldly possessions, and among them was a mustard tin containing two pawn tickets. One of them was in the name of Anne Kelly, close to the name Mary Anne Kelly given by a woman who had been picked up drunk on the pavement at eight-thirty Saturday night and taken to Bishopsgate police station to sleep it off. The following Tuesday, an unemployed market porter named John Kelly went to the police, fearing that the pawn tickets belonged to his common-law wife, Catherine Kelly, also known as Catherine Conway, whose first husband had been a soldier named Thomas Conway. The victim turned out to be the woman Kelly feared, though the name she was most commonly known by was her nickname Kate and her own maiden name, Eddowes. In a pathetic replay of earlier victims, Conway had left her eight years before over her drinking. She and Kelly, though desperately poor, apparently got on well together.
They had just gotten back on Thursday from a trip to Kent where they had been paid for picking hops, something like migrant farm labor. This was a common activity for East Enders. It got them out into the fresh air while giving them a little money for their efforts. When Kate and Kelly had returned, still nearly broke, they spent a night together at the Shoe Lane Workhouse, where she was well-known. On Friday, Kate gave Kelly a few pennies to stay at a doss-house on Flower and Dean Street while she went to the Mile End Workhouse to try to squeeze out another night before they'd put her to work. On Saturday, she met Kelly back at Shoe Lane and took a pair of his boots to pawn, receiving two shillings and sixpence.
The couple used the money to buy groceries and have breakfast, and then, broke again, Kate went to try to find her daughter to borrow money, but couldn't find her. The next time she was accounted for was that evening, when City Police Constable Louis Robinson found her lying drunk on the pavement. When she couldn't stand up on her own, that's how she ended up at Bishopsgate police station.
She woke up about half past midnight and asked to be released. Constable George Hutt promised to let her go when she was "capable," finally opening the door for her at 1 A.M., when he thought it would be too late for her to get any more to drink.
"I shall get a damned fine hiding when I get home," she said, testifying to the domestic violence that was rampant then.
At about 1:35 A.M., Joseph Lawende, a cigarette salesman, Harry Harris, a furniture dealer, and Joseph Levy, a butcher, believed they saw Kate Eddowes at one of the entrances to Mitre Square, talking amicably to a man. But none of the three of them saw her face, only what she was wearing.
That was the last sighting of Catherine Eddowes alive.
Now, the first thing we have to ask ourselves as profilers is, were the two murders of the Double Event related? The initial response would be yes, but before we jump to conclusions, let's look at the behavioral evidence.
The crimes were committed within a twelve-minute walk of each other, within about a twenty-to-thirty-minute period. The victimology was similar in both cases. What are the chances that there would be two lust killers operating in the same area at the same time, with virtually the same modus operandi -- or MO? I used to get asked that kind of question quite frequently by detectives, and then later on if I testified in court trying to link several cases together to show a pattern of behavior.
We were able to argue this quite successfully in the 1993 trial of Cleophus Prince Jr., accused of murdering six women in San Diego. We felt Prince was extremely dangerous, and if the prosecution could prove he was guilty of all six murders, rather than merely the one they had solid DNA evidence on, then this would qualify under California law as "special circumstances," which would make it a capital case. If that could be established, then there'd be no chance of Prince's getting out on the street again to wreak more human destruction. By showing the similarity of victimology, modus operandi, signature elements, weapons, and locations, we showed the jury how it was beyond reason that two or more different offenders who happened to have identical behavioral traits could be operating in the same San Diego area at the same time.
But is that what we're talking about here in the Double Event in Whitechapel? What are the chances of two lust killers operating at the same time and place? Well, we have a couple of issues to consider.
In the first place, Stride's throat was cut and there was deep bruising on her face and neck, but she was not mutilated in the same way as Nichols, Chapman, and Eddowes. According to the terminology we would use at Quantico, the MO is the same, but the signature appears to be different. MO and signature are two of the most important terms we deal with. Both are used in evaluating behavior and tracking UNSUBs. But they're two distinct aspects of a crime. MO refers to the techniques the offender employs to commit the crime. Signature refers to the elements not necessary to carry out the crime, but what the offender has to do to satisfy his emotional needs. If a bank robber tapes over the lens of a surveillance camera, that's MO. If he feels a need to tear his clothes off and dance naked before that same camera, that's signature. It doesn't help him commit the crime -- in fact, in this case, it hurts him -- but it's something he has to do to make the experience emotionally satisfying.
Let's take a more serious example of these two elements, and we can get it right from the Whitechapel murders. The killer blitz-attacked Annie Chapman because that's what he thought he had to do to neutralize her so he could commit murder. But then when the murder's been accomplished, the victim dead, he needs to mutilate her. This is very much what we refer to as a signature crime. The murder is not a means to an end, such as robbery or political statement. It is done so the offender can rip her up to satisfy his psychosexual needs.
Okay then, is there a reasonable way of explaining this divergence of signatures between Stride and the previous three victims? Sure there is. His name is Louis Diemschutz. A logical reason why the UNSUB did not butcher Liz Stride after he'd killed her is that Diemschutz surprised him and he had to flee before his work was completed. But then, his bloodlust was not sated, so he had to go find another woman, a vulnerable prostitute, to mutilate. This next time, with Kate Eddowes, he had his way. In fact, maybe he had so much time that he actually wrote a cryptic message on the wall of Goulston Street for his pursuers to find and interpret.
This is good criminological analysis so far. But we've got another issue, one potentially more serious than the divergence of signature elements. It is clear from the postmortem examination of Elizabeth Stride that she was killed with a short-bladed knife, not a long-bladed one as was obviously used on Nichols and Chapman. Maybe this isn't a problem. The killer would likely own more than one knife, particularly if he was in either the livestock or the leather trade. But from a crime analysis perspective, this is a problem. Why? Because Catherine Eddowes was also killed with a long-bladed knife.
If the short knife had been used on the second victim of the evening, whether or not it was used on the first, we wouldn't have a linkage problem. That would mean either that the UNSUB had simply changed knives for whatever reasons of MO, or that after the first killing, he thought he could be traced by the long knife and had better switch to another one. But as it is, the long knife is used slightly later in the evening on Eddowes, referring us straight back to Nichols and Chapman but not necessarily to Stride.
Could this mean there was another killer out that night? It could. In fact, a number of Ripperologists think that it does.
Maybe it was a copycat. But so close in time and place? Wouldn't it be awfully coincidental that the copycat struck and then less than half an hour later the original killer struck close by? Yes, coincidences do happen in this business, but I think it is highly unlikely. Based on the victimology, the MO, and the location, I would advise the Metropolitan and City Police to link the Stride murder with the three (and possibly four) others.
But then, what's the behavioral answer for the use of the short knife with Stride? I don't know. It doesn't add up. Did the UNSUB take two knives with him on a whim, then, when he killed Elizabeth Stride, decide that the short one didn't work as well? Could be. This is not an exact science. People, criminals included, do all sorts of things for no particular conscious reason, and this is difficult to factor into your analysis. From my experience, every major case seems to have loose ends. If you're a detective or a profiler, you get used to this ambiguity. You don't like it, but you learn to live with it.
If the Annie Chapman murder sent the East End into a spasm of terror, the Liz Stride and Kate Eddowes killings sent all of London into paroxysms. And now, the evil finally had a name.
By Monday, October 1, the world became aware of the contents of two communications -- a letter and a postcard -- mailed four days apart from two separate locations in east London to the Central News Agency and reprinted in the morning Daily News and evening Star. By that point, they'd already been forwarded to Scotland Yard for analysis, and the police would disseminate them on their own with the expectation that someone would recognize the wording or handwriting and come forward. The letter, written in red ink and crayon, with a flowing, proper-looking handwriting, read:
25 Sept 1888
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldnt you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife's so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance.
Jack the Ripper
Don't mind me giving the trade name
There was a second postscript attached sideways, and this was the part written in red crayon:
Wasn't good enough to post this before I get all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I'm a doctor now ha ha.
This became known forever more as the "Dear Boss" letter, and the first appearance of "Jack the Ripper," a name that quickly superseded the "Whitechapel Murderer" in public dialogue and private nightmare.
The other communication, referred to as the "Saucy Jacky" postcard, was also written in crayon and read:
I was not codding dear old Boss when I gave you the tip, youll hear about saucy Jacky s work tomorrow double event this time number one squealed a bit couldnt finish straight off. had not time to get ears for police thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again.
Jack the Ripper
0 So the phantom monster had finally communicated with the world and given out his bloodcurdling name. Or had he?
Let me say here that although the police were immediately suspicious of the communications, many Ripperologists, after careful consideration, continue to believe that the "Dear Boss" letter and "Saucy Jacky" postcard are authentic. After some analysis of my own, I go with Scotland Yard and believe them to be fakes.
The process we use to evaluate communications from UNSUBs, such as ransom notes and letters to the police, is known as psycholinguistic analysis. It is not a handwriting analysis -- we can get other experts to do that for us when we think we need it -- but rather stresses the actual use of language, the style, and of course, the underlying message.
Of all the self-styled Jack the Ripper "copycats" over the years, perhaps the most famous and notorious was the so-called Yorkshire Ripper, who bludgeoned and stabbed women, mostly prostitutes, in the north of England from 1975 through 1980. There had been eight deaths, three other women had escaped, and the case had become the largest manhunt in the history of British law enforcement when I happened to be in England to teach a course at the Bramshill police academy, their equivalent to Quantico, about an hour outside London. The police had already conducted literally tens of thousands of interviews.
As might be expected in a case of this enormity, both the police and the media had received a number of letters purporting to be from the Ripper. They were all evaluated, but I don't think the police placed much evidentiary value on any of them. But then a two-minute tape cassette arrived by mail to Chief Inspector George Oldfield, taunting the police and promising to strike again. Just as the "Dear Boss" letter had been reprinted in newspapers throughout England, the Oldfield tape was played everywhere -- on television and radio, on toll-free telephone numbers, even over the PA systems at soccer matches -- in the hope that someone would recognize the voice and identify the UNSUB.
I'd heard a copy of the tape back at Quantico, and after classes at Bramshill one evening, they asked me what I thought. I asked them to describe the scenes to me. It seemed the UNSUB maneuvered to get his female victims into a vulnerable position, then, like the Whitechapel Murderer, he'd blitz-attack them, in this case with a knife or hammer. And as in Whitechapel, he'd mutilate them after death. I thought the voice on the tape was pretty articulate and sophisticated for someone who got his ultimate satisfaction out of life from killing and mutilating prostitutes, so I said, "Based on the crime scenes you've described and this audiotape I heard back in the States, that's not the Ripper. You're wasting your time with that." In my business, it is extremely important to be able to evaluate any and all behavioral clues so that the police do not waste their time and always limited resources. With a serial offender, wasted time equals wasted lives.
The actual perpetrator of these crimes would not communicate with the police in this fashion. He'd be an almost invisible loner in his late twenties or early thirties with a pathological hatred of women, a school dropout, and possibly a truck driver since he seemed to get around the countryside quite a bit. When thirty-five-year-old truck driver Peter Sutcliffe was arrested on a fluke on January 2, 1981, then admitted and was proved to be the Yorkshire Ripper, he bore little resemblance to the individual who had made and sent the tape. The impostor turned out to be a retired policeman who had a grudge against Inspector Oldfield.
I suspect something similar was going on with the "Dear Boss" letter. But the letter is clever and legitimate enough that it has led on a lot of people for over a hundred years. So, like the Oldfield tape, I believe it had to be forged by someone who knew how the game was played. The most likely candidate would be a reporter, a conclusion we can arrive at from several directions.
First, the boss referred to is not the boss of the police but the boss of the Central News Agency. While it would not be unusual for a certain type of sexually oriented predator to communicate with the press, to blow his own horn and let the world know how he thinks of himself and what he wants to be called, we would expect this communication to be with an individual newspaper. We know, for example, that both the Star and News, among many other papers, were publishing regular and lurid details of the Whitechapel murders. On the other hand, it takes a fair amount of sophistication for an offender not associated with the business of journalism even to realize that a news agency exists that supplies the various papers. This type of insider information would be particularly beyond the range of the type of largely disorganized, emotionally deficient individual that the behavioral clues had shown this killer to be.
This is further underscored, in my opinion, by the use of language in the letter. Psycholinguistically speaking, the "Dear Boss" letter is a performance, a characterization by a literate, articulate person of what a crazed killer should sound like. It's too organized, too indicative of intelligence and rational thought, and far too "cutesy." I don't believe an offender of this type would ever think of his actions as "funny little games" or say that his "knife's so nice and sharp."
Rather, this all points to someone who knows how to use language and knows the system and wants to get the message out as quickly as possible, rather than giving an individual news organization an exclusive. And when we look at journalism in Victorian England, we find it to be a freewheeling, sensationalistic business in which truth and restraint were often sacrificed in service of a big story.
Everyone had a vested interest in the Whitechapel murders: the people of the East End who were the potential targets; the rest of London who had had their confident, insular world shaken; the police, who had been tested as never before; the government, which was increasingly embarrassed; and of course, the press. The Whitechapel murders sold papers and kept journalists employed. How much more mileage could they get out of the Jack the Ripper murders?
And it wasn't solely a matter of commerce for the press, either. The agenda for some was more complex. As Martin Fido points out, this was the time of the London County Council elections, and the radicals were attempting to take over the East End and make their mark. The year before, on November 13, 1887, the Metropolitan Police under the leadership of Sir Charles Warren had put down a massed demonstration by the unemployed in Trafalgar Square. The event became known as Bloody Sunday. The Whitechapel murders became a ready-made issue for the radical press. The fear generated became a way for them to say, "Look at the conditions here! What is being done? What would be done if this were happening in the West End?" The mainline papers had to pick up the story or be left behind.
So the "Dear Boss" letter, being made public so soon after the Double Event, helped keep the case in the forefront. Yet I remain in agreement with Assistant Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dr. Robert Anderson and Chief Inspector Donald Swanson, who believed the writer to be an enterprising journalist. In fact, they both believed they knew the identity of the man.
And just as significant as any of these considerations is that, like the Yorkshire Ripper almost a century later, this type of UNSUB would not communicate with the police in this manner. Unlike the organized antisocial type, this individual would not want to proclaim himself this way, particularly not talk about future crimes. This type thinks only of what he is doing at the moment. And he would not have come up with a nickname for himself, particularly such a flamboyant one. In my twenty-five years of experience, all of the serial offenders who communicated with the press or police and proposed names and identities for themselves leaned much more to the organized, antisocial side of the continuum than the disorganized, asocial side. I therefore believe that by disseminating the "Dear Boss" and "Saucy Jacky" communications, the police and press were actually hindering the investigation, diverting attention away from the real UNSUB.
Now, if you've been paying attention to the case chronology, another important consideration for any investigator or analyst, you may have noticed that the "Dear Boss" letter was dated September 25 and postmarked September 27. The Double Event took place on the night and morning of September 29 to 30. And the writer does refer to "clip[ping] the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly."
Catherine Eddowes's right earlobe was, in fact, sliced off. Was this a lucky guess? Probably. So much was done to Eddowes that the writer could have mentioned just about anything and have been right. If it was the real guy, wouldn't he more likely have mentioned some of the major mutilations he intended to inflict? And of course, he did not send the ear to the police.
As far as the timing, arriving just a day before the Double Event, this again may have turned out to be a lucky guess, but not an uneducated one for someone paying close attention, as an enterprising newspaperman would. The Nichols murder had taken place on a Friday. The Chapman murder had occurred a week later on a Saturday. There had been no murders for the next two weekends, so if one was going to happen at all, the weekend of September 28-29 would be a likely time. Also, with no murders in that stretch of time, the story was starting to get cold, so if you wanted to revive it, this would be the moment.
The "Saucy Jacky" postcard then, which was posted on October 1, was an attempt to "catch up" with what had actually happened and authenticate the first communication: the "double event this time number one squealed a bit couldnt finish straight off..." People believe what they want to believe, and for a public anxious to know the monster they were dealing with, this was just the kind of authentification they needed.
Of course, in one important sense, the "Dear Boss" letter became a real and self-actualizing part of the case. Because even if the communication was not authentic, it ensured that this series of crimes would be immortalized. Without the Jack the Ripper identity, I doubt whether this offender would have so captured history and the public imagination.
The frenzy was still intense. In addition to the stepped-up police patrols, locals had formed their own protective organizations. The most highly visible was probably the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, which was headed by George Akin Lusk, a builder who specialized in the restoration of music halls. Lusk attained a high profile for himself by writing about the case in the Times.
On October 16, Lusk received a package in the mail: a small cardboard box wrapped in brown paper and bearing a London postmark. In the box was half a kidney, soaked in wine to preserve it. Wrapped around the kidney was a crudely written letter:
I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer
Catch me when
Lusk assumed the organ and letter to be a hoax, possibly by a medical student or group of students with easy access to an anatomy lab. But he was persuaded by friends to hand it over to authorities for analysis. Dr. Thomas Openshaw of London Hospital believed it to be human, and from an individual of about forty-five and suffering from Bright's disease, not an inconsistent finding in a chronic alcoholic. A number of other experts had a chance to examine the kidney, with mixed opinions as to its authenticity in the Eddowes murder. That authenticity, however, has never been ruled out, and much of the scholarship over the years suggests that the kidney may actually have belonged to the victim.
I can't speak to the forensic likelihood of the kidney's having come from Catherine Eddowes's body, but the accompanying letter is certainly intriguing. Despite the apparent differences in handwriting (possibly attributed to an increasingly fragmented psyche), many of the Ripperologists and other students of the case who believe the "Dear Boss" and "Saucy Jacky" communications to be authentic believe the same of the Lusk letter, and vice versa. I'm not so sure. Handwriting experts are divided on the matter, so I can't rely on them for help.
I think it is highly significant that even after the frenzy created by the Jack the Ripper pseudonym, the writer of the Lusk letter does not use it. Even after he is tagged with such a "glamorous" title, he does not take it on himself. Since I believe the Boss and Jacky letters to be fakes, I'm intrigued by the possibilities for this one. Though I said I didn't believe this type of offender would feel the need to communicate with the public, it is possible that the Boss letter, especially arriving so soon after the Double Event, may have compelled the disorganized killer to come out and "set the record straight," to keep control, as it were. He may have sent the piece of kidney to authenticate himself after the ear mention in "Dear Boss." In other words, he wouldn't have felt a need to communicate until someone else claimed credit and tried to define his personality and identity for him.
His own sense of identity and emotional orientation is more accurately portrayed by where he says the letter is coming from: "From hell." The style of the writing itself is virtually an illiterate parody of the cleverer and more sophisticated style of the first letter, as if the writer is trying unsuccessfully to show himself equal to the wit and flair of the pretender. I might add that Donald Rumbelow, a former police officer, a gifted author, and one of the greatest experts on the case, agrees with the assessment that of all the communications, the Lusk letter is the only one likely to be genuine.
Some of the letter's critics claim that the spelling -- "Sor," "prasarved," "Mishter" -- suggests "stage Irish" dialect; in other words, an educated person's attempt to sound colloquial. Although that's possible, to me the spelling suggests someone not terribly familiar with English writing, most likely an uneducated immigrant, who is writing it the way he hears it.
That the letter was sent not to the police, not to the press, but to a local ad hoc community leader is also significant, because I believe strongly that this type of disorganized offender is going to be operating only within his own circumscribed zone of comfort. This is a concept we'll develop in more detail shortly.
It's also not beyond the realm of possibility that a disorganized offender who, we've already established, has a perverse sense of curiosity about the inside of the human body, might try to satisfy that curiosity by eating some of it. And as to the closing salutation, "Catch me when you can," that can have two meanings. One would be an obvious taunt to the police from someone who has found that he can repeatedly get away with murder. The other would be a cry for help, similar to the "For heAVens Sake cAtch Me BeFore I Kill More I cannot control myselF" message scrawled on a wall by Chicago murderer William Heirens with his victim's lipstick. One of Heirens's other victims, a six-year-old girl, was found cut up in pieces in a suburban sewer.
Could I be mistaken about the authenticity of the Lusk letter? Sure. A lot of the experts disagree with me. But what I can say is that unlike the communications that came before it, this one is consistent with what I would expect from the type of UNSUB I suspect Jack the Ripper to have been.
There was much speculation about the best way to catch this elusive and unprecedented killer, some of it from ordinary citizens, some from "experts." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, had been published the previous year, speculated that the killer might be a man disguised as a woman. A midwife walking around Whitechapel in the early-morning hours with a bloody apron would arouse little suspicion.
A few years later, in 1894, Conan Doyle suggested to an interviewer how Holmes would have attempted to crack the case. One of his techniques would have been to reproduce the "Dear Boss" letter and invite the public to respond. This is a highly legitimate proactive technique, which Special Agent Jana Monroe of my unit used successfully in the Rogers murder case in Florida when a billboard reproduction of the killer's handwriting led to a swift ID. To give the Metropolitan Police their due, however, they did reproduce the "Dear Boss" letter on posters that were placed throughout the East End, but the technique came to nothing. As I don't believe the letter to be authentic, I'm not surprised.
One newspaper reader, as described by Donald Rumbelow in his landmark Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook, suggested in a letter that police search the "Saucy Jacky" postcard; since "no two persons' thumbs are alike, the impression of one suspected person's thumb should be taken and microscopically examined." Rumbelow reports that the letter was filed away and that it would be seventeen years before the first fingerprint conviction.
When the press began circulating the idea that the killer could be a depraved doctor or medical student, Rumbelow writes how one person suggested placing the following advertisement in newspapers the Ripper might see:
Medical Man or Assistant Wanted in London, aged between 25 and 40. Must not object to assist in occasional post mortem. Liberal terms.
Although I do not believe the Ripper to have been a medical man, he certainly had the curiosity, and this is the kind of ploy that might just have brought him out.r
Dr. Forbes Winslow, a flamboyant physician and amateur detective who believed the killer to be a homicidal maniac goaded on by a religious mania, suggested having wardens from lunatic asylums patrolling with the police since they would be much more likely to recognize such tendencies in an individual. He also proposed a newspaper advertisement reading:
A gentleman who is strongly opposed to the presence of fallen women in the streets of London would like to cooperate with someone with a view to their suppression.
The police would then gather in hiding at the prearranged meeting place and grab whoever showed up.
On the morning of Friday, November 9, Thomas Bowyer, an Indian army retiree known to friends and neighbors as Indian Harry, was dispatched by his boss, local merchant John McCarthy, to collect rent at a house he owned at 13 Miller's Court. It was almost right next to Spitalfields Market and a short walk from both Goulston Street to the south and Hanbury Street, site of the Chapman murder, to the northeast. With the kinds of tenants who lived in such buildings as McCarthy's, collecting the rent was a regular ordeal for both landlord and renter.
The entrance to Miller's Court was a narrow, dingy passageway next to McCarthy's candle shop. Bowyer knocked on the door of Mary Jane Kelly, also said to have been known as Ginger, Fair Emma, and Black Mary to her various friends and clients. She was a streetwise, twenty-four-year-old Irish girl and by most accounts was quite pretty, though no photographs of her are known.
It was about 10:45 in the morning when Bowyer called on her, a good time to find her in. He knocked several times without response and began to suspect she didn't have the rent money and was avoiding him. He tried without success to spring the lock, but there was a long-broken windowpane that had never been fixed. Inside it, an old coat had been hung in place of a proper curtain for some measure of privacy. He pushed aside the coat and peered in. The room was only ten by twelve feet, and the sight that met Thomas Bowyer's eyes was one of such unmitigated horror that he was virtually paralyzed. A body was lying on the bed, but it was so mutilated, so torn apart, with so much of the flesh ripped off and the insides strewn across the bed and onto the floor, that the dimensions of the body, the outlines of its form, could no longer be discerned.
When the hideous sight had finally registered in his brain, Bowyer raced down to McCarthy's shop. McCarthy went back up with Bowyer, glanced in the broken window himself, then immediately dispatched Bowyer to the Commercial Street police station.
He returned with Inspector Walter Beck and Detective Constable Walter Dew. Dew was a tough straight-shooter known as Blue Serge because of the suit he wore habitually. He would go on to fame as the detective who caught the notorious poisoner Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen. But the image he saw at 13 Miller's Court was so emotionally harrowing that it haunted him the rest of his life. Since this was the first indoor scene, where good evidence could be collected, a conscientious effort not to disturb it was made, and not until 1:30 P.M., when Superintendent Thomas Arnold arrived, was the door finally broken in.
The bed and surrounding area were saturated with blood. The body, as described by Dr. George Bagster Phillips, showed what had to be the final escalation of the killer's homicidal mutilating frenzy. The face was cut apart and the head just about severed. The breasts had been cut off, abdomen ripped open, and the internal organs thrown about the room. Much of the remaining body, including the pubic area, right thigh, and right buttock had had the flesh removed down to the bone. The heart was missing from the scene. Not only had the killer attempted to desex this victim, he'd gone all the way to dehumanize, to depersonalize her. Some of the doctors who either visited the scene or studied the body in autopsy estimated that the mutilation had taken as long as two hours, though the cause of death, the severing of the carotid artery, had taken place far sooner.
It is difficult for normal people to conceive of an act this depraved as a sexual fantasy, but our research shows that it is. Part of the fantasy is destroying the victim to the extent that the offender feels that he becomes her sole possessor. The mutilation murderer James Clayton Lawson Jr., who teamed up with rapist James Russell Odom, whom he met in California's Atascadero State Mental Hospital, explained his 1970s killings of young women whom Odom had just raped with forthright candor: "Then I cut her throat so she would not scream.... I wanted to cut her body so she would not look like a person and destroy her so she would not exist. I began to cut on her body. I remember cutting her breasts off. After this, all I remember is that I kept cutting on her body."
When pressed about the details of his involvement with the victim as distinguished from Odom's, Lawson insisted, "I did not rape the girl. I only wanted to destroy her."
This, I think, is what investigators were seeing at 13 Miller's Court.
Inspector Frederick Abberline arrived and inspected the room. He concluded from the smoldering remains in the fireplace that the killer had burned clothing in there, as well as using the flames for illumination for his work.
For about a year before the murder, Mary Jane Kelly had been living on and off with a Billingsgate Market fish porter named Joseph Barnett. Life with him wasn't uniformly harmonious. In July 1888, he'd lost his job because of theft, and at the end of October, he'd moved out of the room they shared because Mary had invited another prostitute to share the premises. He did, however, continue to visit her almost daily, sometimes giving her small amounts of money. There are also stories that he wanted to get her out of the street trade.
He last saw her between about 7:30 and 8:00 on the evening of Thursday, November 8, when he came by the room. Mary was in the company of her friend Lizzie Allbrook. Around eleven, someone thought they saw her in the Britannica pub with a young man. About forty-five minutes later, Mary Cox, another prostitute who lived in Miller's Court, saw Mary with a different man, with a blotchy face, mustache, and hat. She was noticeably drunk. Between twelve and one, several other Miller's Court residents heard her singing.
At two, she approached George Hutchinson, an unemployed laborer whom she knew, and asked for the loan of sixpence. Hutchinson was broke, so had to turn her down. Hutchinson saw her approached by another man as she walked away, and they were both laughing. He thought he heard the man say something like "You will be all right for what I have told you."
Hutchinson couldn't see the man's face, but followed the pair back to Miller's Court. He heard Mary say, "All right, my dear, come along, you will be comfortable."
Approximately 3:45 A.M. on Friday morning, three women in Miller's Court thought they heard a scream of "Oh, murder!" from the direction of number 13. If it was Mary Kelly who uttered that scream, they would have been the last words she ever spoke.
Joseph Barnett was subjected to four hours of intense questioning by the police. They took his clothing and examined it for bloodstains and other clues. They were satisfied he was not the killer. Recently, however, he has again emerged as a suspect, most prominently in the work of Bruce Paley, whose book Jack the Ripper: The Simple Truth was published in 1995. The theory is that he murdered the other women to scare Mary into giving up prostitution, and that he finally killed her in a mad frenzy when it became clear that she had tired of him and would not take him back. During his interrogation by police, Barnett admitted that he frequently read Mary newspaper accounts of the Whitechapel murders.
This theory offers an explanation of why the murders stopped, because they did, with Kelly's death. Proponents of Barnett's candidacy also point out that he was skilled with knives, had some rudimentary knowledge of anatomy, was a local who felt comfortable in the area and could therefore probably approach local hookers without alarming them, and generally fits the eyewitness descriptions. Barnett would, obviously, have easy access to Kelly's room, and it could be more than coincidental that the "Dear Boss" letter mentions ginger beer bottles and such bottles were found in the room.
Paley also cites the analysis I did at the time of the 1988 television series, as well as more general research about serial predators that has come out of my unit at Quantico in showing how Barnett fits the profile. This could be true in certain ways -- age, race, dysfunctional childhood with no father, comfort zone, triggering emotional event such as the loss of his job, for example -- but these are the superficial characteristics, true of a lot of people. They're almost boilerplate for a certain type of offender. You have to get into the specifics to see if it really fits. And I have never seen, nor do I believe someone would, in this manner, brutally kill women he knows, even vaguely, to scare his own partner and "teach her a lesson." Particularly, on the night of the Double Event, a guy of this type would have been scared off by the first one. He would never have gone after Liz Stride.
The motive just doesn't work. Yes, there are sexual sadists who get off by torturing women. But the mutilation here is all postmortem, so that doesn't fit. Also, these are not planned, considered kills; they're frenzied, out-of-control overkills. If the perpetrator were someone with a personal relationship with the victim, we might expect to see some degree of overkill in stabbing or wounds to the face, but not this kind of ritual mutilation. There's no pattern or internal logic to it. No one who has had a relatively normal relationship with a woman, as Barnett evidently did, could perpetrate this kind of crime.
So if it wasn't Joseph Barnett, who would have had no reason to go on killing after Mary Kelly's death and would have been sufficiently scared by the police interrogation to keep his nose clean the rest of his life, why did the Ripper murders stop after Friday, November 9, 1888? That, of course, is one of the most tantalizing mysteries of the case.
Our research and experience in the Bureau shows that serial sexual predators stop for one of several key reasons, and burnout is generally not one of them. On rare occasions, an offender will have "accomplished" what he set out to do emotionally and will cease on his own. One such example would be Edmund Kemper, who abducted and murdered a series of coeds around the campus of the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the early 1970s. His rage against women was actually directed at his domineering, hectoring mother, and eventually he got up the guts to bludgeon her to death in her sleep with a claw hammer, decapitate her, rape her headless corpse, then tear out her larynx and jam it down the garbage disposal. He then called his mother's best friend, and when she arrived at the house, he clubbed and strangled her to death. Having exorcised this demon from his system, he had a good night's sleep in his mother's bed, then drove to Pueblo, Colorado, where he called the Santa Cruz police from a phone booth and told them to come and get him. But as I say, such self-limiting killers are rare.
More often, serial predators stop for one of three reasons: they're caught; they're caught and put on ice for something else such as a break-in or robbery but not linked to their predatory crimes; or they die, while committing a crime, by the hand of an associate or other offender, by suicide, or by some other "natural cause." Or they don't really stop, they merely get scared out of a particular location and move on to another where their previous crimes are not linked.
Were any of these likely in the Ripper case? Let's take a look at the profile to see if it gives us any suggestions.
All of the victims were street prostitutes with moderate to severe drinking problems. Both of these facts create "high risk" victims, which makes it difficult to develop suspects. If any evidence such as hair and fibers or semen were obtained from the victim, even if such techniques had been available in 1888, investigators would not know for certain if it came from the subject or some other partner or customer. And since these prostitutes were independent, not controlled by pimps as so many are today, there would be little monitoring of their activities and transactions. That is to say that even more so than today, a female prostitute who drank heavily and then plied the already dangerous East End streets was looking for trouble.
Notwithstanding the Barnett theory and certain of the other conspiracy theories, all reasonable evidence suggests that the victims were targeted because they were readily accessible. The offender did not have to initiate the contact. With the exception of the last victim, Mary Kelly, the others were relatively old, beaten down by life and fairly unattractive. They would have initiated the contact. These are all important investigative considerations.
The critical findings for a behavioral analysis are:
- No evidence of sexual assault.
- Subject killed victims swiftly.
- Subject was able to maintain control of victims during the initial blitz-style attack.
- Subject removed body organs from some of the victims, indicating some anatomical knowledge or curiosity.
- No evidence of physical torture prior to death.
- Severe postmortem mutilation.
- Evidence of manual strangulation.
- In most cases, blood was concentrated in small areas.
- Rings were taken from one of the victims.
- The last victim was killed indoors and was the most mutilated. Subject spent considerable time at the scene.
- Time of death in all cases was in the early-morning hours.
Crime and Crime-Scene Analysis
With the exception of Kelly's murder, all of the crimes were committed outdoors, and all within an easy walk of each other. This makes the crimes high risk for the UNSUB since these are areas that are often populated around the clock, particularly in the warmer weather months before winter. The bodies of the four outside victims were all discovered within minutes with no attempt to hide them. This in itself is indicative of a disorganized killer. All of the homicides occurred either on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday early-morning hours.
After the first homicide on Buck's Row near Whitechapel Station, the subject moved slightly across town to the west. If a line is drawn from crime scenes two, three, four, and five, a triangular configuration is formed. This has been observed in other types of serial crimes, and the triangle is viewed as a secondary comfort zone for the UNSUB. This movement is caused when a subject believes that the investigation is heating up in his primary comfort zone, which in this case would be the location of the first homicide, in the vicinity of Whitechapel Station. It's my opinion that there were other attacks in the Whitechapel area that either went unreported or for some reason were not considered to be crimes of this offender. If, for instance, the Martha Tabram murder (which occurred not on a weekend but a bank-holiday Monday, another nonworkday) is considered a possible Ripper crime, we should note that it occurred just outside this secondary comfort zone, but to the west. I could make the case that the offender then went eastward for his next kill, before moving gradually back to the area in which he felt most comfortable.
Though the modus operandi evolves with the serial predator, the signature, or ritual aspect, remains in place, often becoming more elaborate over time, as was the case with the final victim. Here, the subject had the time and the privacy to fully act out his fantasies. If there were to be further murders, then, particularly if they were outdoors, we would not expect the subject to engage in such elaborate mutilation; he would not have the time.
Communications Allegedly Received from the Subject
It is unusual for a serial killer of the disorganized asocial type to communicate with the police, media, family, etc. When they do, they generally provide specifics about the crime that are known only by the subject. In addition, they generally provide information about their motive for committing such heinous crimes. In my opinion, this series of homicides was not perpetrated by someone who set up a challenge against law enforcement. While the killer knew he would be receiving national and international publicity, this was not his primary motivation. If time and law enforcement resources were to be expended on the identity of the author or authors of the communications, emphasis should have been placed on the Lusk letter.
Offender Traits and Characteristics
As noted earlier, these homicides may be classified as lust murders. This has less to do with the traditional meaning of the word than with the fact that the subject attacks the genital and sexually oriented areas of the body. Generally, when male victims are attacked in this fashion, they have been involved in homosexual relationships. Though it has been speculated that the offender could be a woman ("Jill the Ripper"), I have never experienced a female serial lust murderer either in research or cases we've received at Quantico. We can therefore state with confidence that Jack the Ripper was, in fact, a male. He was white, since these crimes tend to be intraracial, and since a black, Hispanic, or Asian would have stood out at the crime locations.
The age of onset for these types is generally between the mid to late twenties and early thirties. Based upon the high degree of psychopathology exhibited at the scene and his ability to avoid detection despite the high-risk nature of the crimes, the age of the subject is around twenty-eight to thirty-six. However, it should be noted that age is a difficult characteristic to categorize, and consequently we would not eliminate a viable suspect exclusively because of age. For example, though we were correct on all other significant traits, we underestimated the age of a serial killer of prostitutes in Rochester, New York, in the late 1980s. The subject, Arthur Shawcross, had been in prison for fifteen years on charges of child assault and murder. When he got out, he merely picked up where he'd left off.
Jack would not look out of the ordinary. In my initial profile I suggested that the clothing he wore at the time of the assaults would not be his everyday dress, as he would want to project to unsuspecting females that he had money, so he wouldn't have to initiate contact. But experts on the era have since informed me that unlike most of the modern prostitutes that I have encountered in crime investigation, the Victorian East End prostitutes were so desperate they would have approached anyone, regardless of dress. In fact, after the rumors surfaced that Jack might have been a medical doctor, they could have been even warier of a well-dressed and decidedly out-of-place customer.
I would expect this UNSUB to have come from a family with a domineering mother and weak, passive, and/or absent father. In all likelihood, his mother drank heavily and enjoyed the company of many men. As a result, he failed to receive consistent care and contact with stable adult role models and became detached socially with a diminished emotional response toward others. He became asocial, preferring to be alone. His anger became internalized, and in his younger years, he expressed his pent-up destructive emotions by setting fires and mistreating or torturing small animals. By perpetrating these acts, he discovered increased areas of dominance, power, and control and learned how to continue violent destructive acts without detection or punishment.
As he grew older, his fantasy developed a strong component that included domination and mutilation of women, along with a basic curiosity about them, unfulfilled in his real life. For employment, he would have sought a position where he could work alone and vicariously experience his destructive fantasies. If he were capable of such work, this might include employment as a butcher, mortician's helper, hospital or morgue attendant. If employed, he'd have been off work on the weekends and holidays. He was paranoid and carried one or more knives with him in case of attack. This paranoid-type thinking would have been in part justified because of his poor self-image. He might have had some physical abnormality, scarring or speech problem that he perceived as psychologically crippling. He was not adept at meeting people socially, and most of his relationships would have been with prostitutes. Due to the lack of hygiene practices by street prostitutes at the time and the absence of treatment for venereal diseases, he may have been infected, which would have further fueled his hatred and disgust for women.
We would not expect this type of offender to have been married or to have carried on a normal relationship with a woman. If he had been married in the past, it would have been to someone older than himself, and the marriage would have been brief.
He would have been perceived as a quiet, shy loner, slightly withdrawn, obedient, and fairly neat and orderly in appearance. He may have drunk in the local pubs, at which point he may have become more relaxed and found it easier to engage in conversation. He lived or worked in the Whitechapel area, and the first homicide would have been close to either his home or workplace. Note that London Hospital is only one block from the Nichols murder.
The police might well have interviewed him more than once during the investigation. Unfortunately, at this time there is no way to correlate this type of information. Investigators and citizens in the community had a preconceived idea of what Jack the Ripper would look like. Because of the belief that he would appear odd or ghoulish, they could have looked right past this individual.
Pre- and Postoffense Behavior
Prior to each homicide, the subject was in a local pub drinking and lowering his inhibitions. He would have been observed walking all over the Whitechapel area during the early-evening hours. He did not seek a certain look in a woman; however, it was no accident that he killed prostitutes. He had the sense to know when and where to attack his victims. Many other women would have come in contact with this subject but were not assaulted because the location was not secure enough.
Postoffense behavior would have included returning to an area where he could wash his hands of blood and remove his clothing. Unlike more organized offenders, we would not expect him to have injected himself into the police investigation or to have provided bogus information.
Jack hunted nightly for his victims. When he could not find another, he would have returned to the locations of previous kills. If marked grave sites were accessible to him, he might have visited them in the early-morning hours to relive the experience of his crimes.
This subject would not have committed suicide after the last homicide. It would also be surprising for him to suddenly stop on his own without some outside cause.
Investigative and/or Prosecutorial Techniques
If the suspect had been apprehended, I would have recommended interviewing him in the early-morning hours when he would have felt most relaxed and likely to talk or write about his motivation for killing women. He would not have been visibly shaken or upset if directly accused of the homicides because he believed they were justified in removing garbage from the streets. He would, however, have been psychologically and physiologically stressed if confronted with the fact that he became personally soiled by the victims' blood. He would not have tried to outwit interrogators but might have become frustrated by their inability to understand why he took the actions he did.
It would be at this point in a typical investigation, after I'd presented my profile and suggestions, that we'd consider the local investigators' list of suspects.
We've dealt with John Pizer, the alleged Leather Apron, and Joseph Barnett, Mary Kelly's sometime live-in companion. Presented with these two, I could easily have eliminated them -- Pizer on alibi and Barnett on motive. So who else was there?
Well, there were plenty, and more and more as the years and decades went by and greater numbers of people from all over the world became interested in, then obsessed by this case. The search for Jack the Ripper's identity has become like the speculation over who "really" wrote Shakespeare's plays -- it has become a Rorschach test that often reveals more about the beholder than the subject beheld. But let's take a look.
Perhaps the most intriguing suspect is Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), and grandson of Queen Victoria. I mean, what could be more fascinating than a suspect from the highest, most powerful family in the world? I can tell you that having spent twenty-five years investigating and chasing the lowest of the lowlifes, if a local cop brought me a suspect like him, it would sure get my attention. I should point out here, though, that this theory never came up during the actual Ripper investigation. In fact, it didn't surface until the early 1960s, so I'm somewhat skeptical going in.
Known as Prince Eddie, the twenty-eight-year-old was second in the line of succession to the throne. This theory has it that the prince, never known as the brightest light or most upstanding exemplar of the Hanover line, suffered from effects of syphilis on the brain as a result of his debauching and that he used to slum in Whitechapel and pick up lowly women. The dementia caused him to kill some of these women for sport, and as a deer hunter he had the skill to disembowel his victims. Once operatives at Buckingham Palace learned what was going on, they had him put away under the supervision of royal physician Sir William Gull until he died of pneumonia in January of 1892. An alternate theory has Gull either dispatching him himself or supervising his "euthanasia" when it became clear he was too great a liability to the crown. His fiancee, Princess Mary of Teck, was then betrothed to his younger brother. Together, those two went on to become King George V and Queen Mary. Another variation of the story has Prince Eddie frequenting homosexual brothels in the East End and conducting the murders as a manifestation of his mad hatred and fear of women.
Still a third narrative -- in many ways the most interesting -- suggests that Eddie secretly married Annie Elizabeth Crook and had a baby girl by her. Since Annie was not only a poor, lower-class woman but also a Catholic (by law, members of the royal family could not marry outside the Church of England and still maintain their station and place in the line of succession), this would have been a huge scandal that would have shaken the very foundations of the monarchy. Operatives of the crown picked up Annie, spirited her off to a lunatic asylum (who there could possibly believe such a lowborn girl's claim of marriage to the Prince of Wales' son?), and figured they'd suppressed the problem.
But there was a complication, as there always is. The baby's nursemaid, Mary Jane Kelly, spilled the beans to some of her friends -- Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Liz Stride, and Kate Eddowes -- and tried to blackmail the government with what she knew. It was then necessary to eliminate all of these people to keep the story quiet. This is where Sir William Gull comes in again. It was his responsibility (with his obvious medical knowledge) to venture out into the East End with a driver and henchman, find the women, and kill them. Gull, a Freemason, employed the ritualistic punishment meted out to the Juwes as a warning to others who would interfere.
Okay, there are a number of problems with all of the Prince Eddie theories. For one, and this has nothing to do with profiling, the prince can be alibied for each of the murders by eyewitness accounts and the myriad royal diaries and court circulars. Sure, it's possible for a prince to duck out of sight, but not in situations where he's being seen by scores or hundreds of people.
A second problem, even apart from the fact that absolutely no contemporary or historical evidence supports the claim against the prince, is that no one who could commit these kinds of crimes, particularly the frenzied butchery of Mary Jane Kelly, could continue functioning and interacting with people in a relatively normal way. Someone would have noticed something, and it would not have stayed a secret. These are the crimes of an individual who does not know how to interact with women, and whatever his personal hangups or character flaws, Prince Albert Edward would have been trained to this social grace. Moreover, to me, these crimes are the work of a disorganized, paranoid offender. I cannot conceive of the killer, particularly the prince, planning the crimes to the point of venturing into a foreign neighborhood with great risk of being recognized with the intended purpose of mutilating women he'd never met. The same logic applies to Dr. Gull, who, in addition, was more than seventy years old and had had a stroke.
We face conspiracy theories over and over again in criminology, and the royal conspiracy theory will probably continue to attract attention as long as interest in the Ripper murders remains. Conspiracy theories are attractive. They make sense of the random, the banal. It is much more palatable, for instance, to suppose that the president of the United States -- the most powerful man on earth -- was murdered and history changed because of some vast and powerful group of evil men than because one lone and inadequate paranoiac didn't feel good about himself and therefore felt the need to make a stab at personal significance.
But if you have to work too hard to get a conspiracy theory to come together so all the pieces and connections fit, it's probably not authentic. Even simple conspiracies are difficult to pull off. People setting out to commit crime do not think in elaborate, step-by-step-by-step ways.
DR. FRANCIS TUMBLETY
Francis Tumblety was born into a poor family in Ireland in the 1830s, the youngest of eleven children. While he was still a child, the family moved to Rochester, New York. From an early age he was an energetic hustler, selling pornographic literature to canal-boat travelers while still in his teens, then learning about medicines from a disreputable Rochester druggist. He ventured out into the world, beginning in Detroit, and set himself up as an "herb doctor." Somehow, he got people to fall for his claims and he became rather well-off. He would move from city to city as authorities recognized him as a charlatan.
He began wearing elaborate uniforms, and during the Civil War, moved to Washington, D.C., where he claimed to be a military surgeon and friend of President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses Grant. After the war he traveled widely throughout the United States, getting in and out of trouble with the law. His personal life was shrouded in secrecy, though he was outwardly flamboyant, and at one point he was sued by another man for sexual assault. Many people who knew him believed he disliked and avoided women.
On November 7, 1888, he came to the attention of the Metropolitan Police in London when he was arrested for gross indecency and indecent assault with force and arms against four men, beginning in July. Awaiting trial, he jumped bail and fled to France and then back to the States under the alias Frank Townsend. By the time he returned, American newspapers were already printing the rumor that London police suspected him of being Jack the Ripper. The rumor gained adherents when Inspector Walter Andrews, who was working on the case, was dispatched to New York, at which point Tumblety hastily quit that city, too. It was reported that Scotland Yard had requested samples of his handwriting. He dropped out of sight, then turned back up in Rochester, where he lived with his sister. He died in St. Louis in 1903. His considerable fortune was distributed to various nieces and nephews and several charities. Obituaries mentioned that he had been a suspect in the Ripper murders. A collection of preserved human uteruses was found among his possessions.
In spite of this interesting finding, the fact that the murders stopped when he fled England, and all the contemporaneous speculation about him, I don't find Tumblety a serious suspect. He was apparently homosexual, and I do not believe he would have had the passion and frenzy for such destructive overkills and mutilation of the other sex. I also believe it unlikely that the man who perpetrated the Kelly murder could have gone on to a functioning life afterward without any outward signs of the depraved behavior. Tumblety was a con man, the exact opposite of the UNSUB I'd be looking for. His constant hustles and flights show Tumblety to be an organized, intelligent individual. And as I've mentioned, I believe the actual Ripper to have been someone who would not seek personal publicity -- again, just the opposite of Tumblety. There is also every indication that he was still in police custody awaiting bail at the time of the Kelly murder.
SEVERIN KLOSOWSKI AND NEILL CREAM
Severin Klosowski was born in Poland, where he apprenticed in surgery. He came to England in 1887 and worked as a hairdresser and barber, ultimately in a basement shop on the corner of Whitechapel High Street and George Yard, but this was proven to have happened in 1890, after the final murder. He becomes a suspect because of this physical proximity to the murders and the fact that between 1895 and 1901, and now calling himself George Chapman (after the woman he cohabited with, who coincidentally shared the name Annie Chapman with the second Ripper victim), he poisoned three successive women with whom he had lived as husband. He was charged, tried, convicted, and executed by hanging in April 1903. Some contemporaneous evidence suggests that Inspector Abberline believed Klosowski/Chapman to be the Ripper.
We can discount this one relatively quickly, too. He is not a good match for any of the eyewitness accounts. Yes, he was in the area and, from his training, knew his way around the inside of a human body. But he was still hanging around and in business when the murders ceased. And he had relationships with women, which I do not believe the Ripper would have. He was organized enough to marry and dispatch three women in succession, though since he probably wasn't technically married to any of them, the profit motive doesn't really come into play here. Still, there is no way a man hacks apart five or six women, lies low for ten years with no one noticing anything about him, then resumes his homicidal career as a poisoner, who, along with bombers, are the most cowardly and detached of all murderers.
It just doesn't happen that way in real life.
Other poisoners who have been suggested as suspects can be eliminated for similar reasons. Most prominent among these is probably Dr. Neill Cream, whose checkered career also included arson, blackmail, and illegal abortions. He was found guilty of the strychnine poisoning of four London prostitutes in 1892, so you can see why his name comes up.
On the scaffold, as he was about to be hanged, he is reputed to have declared, "I am Jack the -- " and then the trapdoor was released.
As tantalizing as this is, we have another real problem with Cream, too. He is known to have been incarcerated at the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet from November 1881 into July 1891. So the American correctional system has given him his alibi.
Since 1993, anyone doing investigation into the identity of Jack the Ripper has had to come to grips with the possibility of James Maybrick. Though he had never been considered a suspect before then, in that year a book was published entitled The Diary of Jack the Ripper. It purported to show how a successful Liverpool cotton broker led a secret life as the Whitechapel Murderer. Maybrick is an interesting case for another reason. He was allegedly the victim of murder himself, by arsenic poisoning, for which his beautiful American wife was tried, convicted, and just barely avoided the gallows.
By 1887, Maybrick's marriage to Southern belle Florence Elizabeth Chandler had become shaky. He had a mistress and Florrie had a lover. When his business started going downhill, in supposed punishment for her infidelities he began beating her. He was also a hypochondriac who treated himself with arsenic, both for his health and as a sexual stimulant.
In April 1889, Maybrick became ill. He died on May 11. Florrie became a suspect when a packet of arsenic was found in her room and it was discovered that James had changed his will to cut her out. There were, indeed, traces of arsenic in Maybrick's corpse, but since he'd been self-administering the stuff for years, who could tell how it got there? Even so, Florrie was put on trial.
The judge was Sir James Stephen, whose son James Kenneth Stephen was a tutor to Prince Eddie at Cambridge and has become a minor Ripper suspect in his own right, partially due to his poetry demonstrating a rather severe, paranoid hatred of women. At the time of the trial, Judge Stephen was practically senile and, by most accounts, completely mishandled the proceedings. After Florrie was convicted, he sentenced her to death. The sentence was commuted, and after she'd served fifteen years, she was freed. She returned to America in 1904 and lived until 1941.
The evidence against James Maybrick as the Ripper is a sixty-three-page journal, written on the leaves of a Victorian photo album that was given to Michael Barrett, a Liverpool scrap-metal dealer in 1991 by his drinking buddy Tony Devereux. Devereux died sometime after the transfer and, in any event, according to Barrett, said he knew little of the journal's provenance.
The writer of the journal does not identify himself as Maybrick, but many references in the work demonstrate that it is his. The published book consisted of a photographic copy of the diary along with extensive background and commentary by Shirley Harrison, an author brought to the project by the British publisher. When the book hit the stands, it was hyped as "the day the world's greatest murder mystery will be solved."
Through Harrison and others, the diary has been subjected to a number of tests by handwriting experts, ink and paper specialists, and historians, with ambiguous results. Some say it is genuinely of the age, and others claim it to be an elaborate forgery. The handwriting does not match any of Maybrick's known exemplars, but some supposed experts have explained this away by saying that since the writer clearly suffered from multiple personality disorder, he would have had several distinct handwriting styles. I think this is bogus, but let's go on.
The basic thrust of the diary is that the Ripper murders were caused by the writer's grief and rage over the infidelities of his wife, whom he thought of as a whore. He couldn't kill her, so he displaced that rage by killing actual prostitutes. Since a prominent Liverpool businessman couldn't do this in his own neighborhood, he'd go somewhere else during his business travels and do it there. Professionally, he frequented the area around Whitechapel Street in Liverpool, so he would carry out his murderous activities around Whitechapel Street in London. There's also some rather fancy stuff about the name Jack coming from the first two letters of James and the last two of Maybrick.
The final entry reads:
I give my name that all know of me, so history do tell, what love can do to a gentle man born.
Jack the Ripper
Dated this third day of May 1889.
First of all, take my word for it -- love can do a lot of things to a gentle man, but what the Ripper did isn't among them.
A number of forensic factors suggest the diary is fake. There is evidence that much of the writing was done at only a few sittings, rather than episodically, as an actual journal would have been. A Scotland Yard examiner stated that many of the handwriting flourishes appear to have been added after the writing was completed to make it look more authentically Victorian. Martin Fido, one of the experts called in to evaluate the diary before publication, found about twenty anachronisms in the text. Some of the descriptions appear to be based on newspaper accounts, rather than what was later learned to have actually taken place.
Then there are certain crime-scene issues. The writer speaks of a hideout on Middlesex Street, or Petticoat Lane. Yet why would the killer of Catherine Eddowes, clearly on the run from the police, flee from Mitre Square and past Middlesex Street to drop the bloody apron in Goulston Street, then return to Middlesex Street? It doesn't make sense.
Even more to the point, how does a fifty-year-old man with a family, children, and no sociopathology suddenly blossom into a disorganized serial killer? He can't, and doesn't. Anyone who thinks his situation through enough to decide that he wants to kill prostitutes to get back at his wife but must do so on trips to another city, where he'll hide out, stalk women of the night, rip them up, and then return to his own world and home, would not exactly be disorganized. In fact, I've never seen one that organized. No one plans that carefully, then goes into such a frenzy of sexual pathology. And as we've said with other suspects such as Joseph Barnett, even if he did, he wouldn't be able to return to normal life after that without someone recognizing something about his postoffense behavior.
I have seen many diaries and writings of serial offenders. This one is noteworthy not so much for what it doesn't get wrong, as for what it fails to reveal. Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, and Arthur Bremer, to name but three, all left extensive writings full of specific detail. If this diary were authentic, I would expect it to shed some new light on the crimes or their methodology, which is missing here. In a real killer's diary, I'd expect to see his whole pathological construct laid out, rather than just a simple and breast-beating excuse for why he has to kill these women. All of that is missing from the so-called Maybrick diary, which must be judged an elaborate fake.
WHAT DID THE POLICE KNOW?
We could go into many more suspects here -- there are scores of them -- but none of the theories has enough going for it to be taken seriously and they don't shed enough light on the investigative process to warrant the space.
Was Jack, then, such an elusive, clever criminal genius? Not by any means. He knew the area and he was lucky. The dark corners and back alleys favored by the lowest rung of prostitutes, who had no place indoors to go with their clients, were the same ones that facilitated a killer like Jack.
Now it's time to review those individuals the police considered suspects. And as we do that, let me profile the police actions themselves, based on the behavioral evidence they collectively left.ar
Did the police have a good idea in the end of Jack's identity? They may very well have.
The fact is, the major police effort, the tremendous expenditure of resources and manpower, stands down rather quickly after the murder of Mary Jane Kelly -- more quickly than after the previous murders. We have already noted that the police were really under the gun, being subjected to massive public and press criticism and condemnation. Would they have risked another murder by easing up on their presence in Whitechapel? Knowing the way bureaucrats and public servants respond to outside pressure, it is difficult to conceive that they would. So alternatively, we may speculate they had reason to believe that although the killer had not been captured and brought to justice, the reign of terror was over.
So who at Scotland Yard might have known or at least thought he knew?
We have three main sources for this: the MacNaghten Memoranda; Dr.(at this point, Sir) Robert Anderson's 1910 memoir, The Lighter Side of My Official Life; and the so-called Swanson Marginalia, actually Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Donald Sutherland Swanson's handwritten commentary in his copy of Anderson's book, which was released by his family after the 1987 publication of Martin Fido's book The Crimes, Detection and Death of Jack the Ripper.
Sir Melville Leslie MacNaghten had been assistant commissioner in charge of Scotland Yard's Criminal Investigation Department, having joined as assistant chief constable in 1889. We must therefore point out that his information would not have been firsthand, though he would have had access to all important information. The memorandum was written in 1894 and consisted of seven pages written in his own hand, marked "Confidential" and placed in his files. He names three likely suspects:
(1) A Mr M.J. Druitt, said to be a doctor & of good family, who disappeared at the time of the Miller's Court murder, whose body (which was said to have been upwards of a month in the water) was found in the Thames on 31st Dec. -- or about 7 weeks after that murder. He was sexually insane and from private info I have little doubt but that his own family believed him to have been the murderer.
(2) Kosminski, a Polish Jew, & resident in Whitechapel. This man became insane owing to many years indulgence in solitary vices. He had a great hatred of women, specially of the prostitute class, & had strong homicidal tendencies; he was removed to a lunatic asylum about March 1889. There were many circs connected with this man which made him a strong "suspect."
(3) Michael Ostrog, a Russian doctor, and a convict, who was subsequently detained in a lunatic asylum as a homicidal maniac. This man's antecedents were of the worst possible type, and his whereabouts at the time of the murders could never be ascertained.
In his memoirs, Robert Anderson speaks of a lower-class Polish Jew whom he does not name and states that the subject "was caged in an asylum, the only person who had ever had a good view of the murderer at once identified him, but when he learned that the suspect was a fellow-Jew he declined to swear to him."
This witness Anderson mentions is probably Joseph Lawende, the cigarette salesman who was believed to have seen Catherine Eddowes with the Ripper at the entrance to Mitre Square. The Polish Jew in question would be Aaron Kosminski, the second name in the MacNaghten Memoranda.
Kosminski was a hairdresser who moved to England in 1882. The records of the large Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum, which would have handled most of the patients in and around Whitechapel, listed attacks of mental illness going back to 1885. By the late 1880s, he was known to wander about picking food scraps out of the street and would refuse food offered by anyone else. He would not wash and had at one point threatened his sister with a knife. From 1890 on, he essentially spent the rest of his life in asylums.
In the margin of his personal copy of Anderson's book, where he talks about the Polish Jew and the witness who refused to ID him, Donald Swanson penciled:
because the suspect was also a Jew and also because his evidence would convict the suspect, and witness would be the means of murderer being hanged, which he did not wish to be left on his mind. D.S.S.
And after this identification which suspect knew, no other murder of this kind took place in London.
On the endpaper he wrote:
After the suspect had been identified at the Seaside Home [probably the police convalescent home in West Brighton where the suspect and the witness were apparently taken to get them away from the glare of London publicity] where he had been sent by us with difficulty in order to subject him to identification and he knew he was identified.
On suspect's return to his brother's house in Whitechapel he was watched by police (City CID) by day and night. In a very short time the suspect with his hands tied behind his back he was sent to Stepney Workhouse and then to Colney Hatch and died shortly afterwards -- Kosminski was the suspect -- D.S.S.
THE REMAINING SUSPECTS
When I was asked to participate in Peter Ustinov's television special in 1988 and offer a profile, I agreed with the understanding that I could only analyze the evidence, materials, and suspects presented to me.
The suspects they presented were Robert Donston Stephenson, who often went by the name of Dr. Roslyn D'Onston; Montague John Druitt and Aaron Kosminski, two of MacNaghten's three suspects; Sir William Gull, the royal physician; and Prince Edward Albert, Duke of Clarence.
The only one of these five we haven't mentioned so far is Stephenson, a self-publicizing con man who claimed to be a practitioner of magic. He was in Whitechapel at the right time and was known to be very interested in the Ripper murders, one time acting them out for startled onlookers. Since he was into witchcraft, these elements would surely have shown up in ritualized ways in the crimes. He would also have been able to bring his victims to a secure location rather than risking murdering them on the streets. Though the theory has its supporters, I have found nothing in his murky background that qualifies him as a good suspect.
Prince Eddie and Gull we have already considered. So let's consider the remaining two here, Druitt and Kosminski, plus the third MacNaghten suspect, Michael Ostrog.
Ostrog was an immigrant, probably from Russia or Poland, a known criminal and possibly a doctor. He was too old and too tall to match the witness accounts. He was imprisoned in September of 1887 but transferred to Surrey Pauper Lunatic Asylum when he displayed signs of insanity (probably faked), then released in March 1888. Since he was sentenced to prison for theft in Paris on November 18, it's unlikely he was even in London at the time of all of the Ripper murders. He surfaces again in London in 1904, partially crippled and living in the St. Giles Christian Mission.
The police were definitely paying attention to him and were concerned during the murder series when he failed to report to them as directed. That he was in and out of mental institutions also probably had something to do with MacNaghten's interest in him, but again, I find nothing compelling in the facts we know to suggest that he might be the Ripper. Nothing else in his background suggests a propensity toward the type of savage violence we see in these crimes, and despite the mental illness, he seems too organized and "together" to fit the personality I'd be looking for.
Which gets us to Montague John Druitt. Druitt is an interesting suspect primarily because of when he died. He was pulled out of the Thames on December 31, 1888, and police estimated he'd been in there more than a month. His coat was weighted down with stones, and he had cash on him and two checks from the boys' school in Blackheath where he'd taught. They were probably severance checks, and the supposition is that he had gotten into trouble for sexual advances to some of the students. Though he has been described as a doctor, he was, in fact, a schoolteacher who was just beginning to make his way as a junior barrister. There was some mental instability and a history of depression in his family, and after his father died, his mother was placed in an asylum.
I have always been a little surprised by the weight given to Druitt's candidacy as the Ripper. Aside from his untimely but convenient death, nothing really ties him to the crimes, including any known association with Whitechapel. There is no evidence of violence in his background, and a man doesn't just jump full-blown into the kinds of crimes we're talking about.
But Aaron Kosminski looked good for the murders. A Polish Jewish immigrant hairdresser with a history of mental illness and a reported dislike of women, he fit the eyewitness descriptions, the disorganized personality, and the police descriptions. The escalation of mutilation and depravity in the murders was dramatic, and the Mary Jane Kelly kill certainly strikes me as the work of a guy pretty much at the end of his mental rope. That is not to say that he'd turn himself in, as Edmund Kemper did, or kill himself. Rather, it suggests that he might not be able to continue functioning on his own much longer. And a guy who is so paranoid he eats garbage off the streets rather than accept food from anyone would tend to fit the bill.
His is also the only name that comes up in all three of the key documents (though Anderson does not mention him by name). According to Swanson, when Kosminski was placed under surveillance, the killing stopped. Though some have questioned the recollection of all three former cops, there is no compelling reason to think they were wrong in the essence of what they were saying. Martin Fido has extensively researched the lives and writings of all three men, and he states that everything else Robert Anderson wrote, on subjects far diverse from the Ripper murders, is accurate and creditable. So there is no reason to doubt him here.
My subject, it will be noted, was an immigrant Jew, the very type many of the citizens of Whitechapel suspected, feared, and despised. Is his Jewishness a significant factor in either the profile or the commission of the crimes? No. Jack the Ripper had to be a poor East End local. A significant number of poor East End locals at that time were immigrant Jews. There are sick and murderous individuals in every definable race and ethnic grouping. That's it.
Although Kosminski seemed to fit my profile and evaluation, I cautioned on the show that a hundred years after the fact, I could not prove that he was the actual killer. What I said was that Jack the Ripper would either be Aaron Kosminski or someone like the man I was describing. And I stand by that.
But, as I learned in the years after the airing of the show, there are a couple of problems with Kosminski, information I had not been given at the time. For one thing, Swanson turned out to be wrong on one critical fact: Kosminski did not die shortly after the murders, but actually lived in asylums until 1919! During that time he was often dissociative but not violent and never gave any indication of being the Ripper. I would expect a paranoid individual of this nature to talk frequently of this. Kosminski seems too docile and passive to have been a predatory animal nightly on the hunt for victims of opportunity.
Reenter Martin Fido. He had also believed that the man the police referred to as Kosminski was the answer to the Ripper mystery, but the problems struck him as just as real as they did me. Knowing that the Polish Jew description from Anderson was more reliable than the name, Fido exhaustively checked the records of all the prisons and insane asylums in the area. And of all the names he went through, he came up with one fascinating candidate.
David Cohen was a Polish Jew, twenty-three years of age at the time (exactly the same age as Kosminski), whose incarceration at Colney Hatch fits precisely with the end of the murders. He had originally been brought by police to Whitechapel Infirmary on December 12, 1888, when they "found him wandering at large and unable to take care of himself."
Unlike Kosminski, Cohen was violently antisocial and was kept in restraints. When he was given any clothing, he would rip it off his body. He spoke little, and when he did, it was a foreign language that attendants took to be German. Though we know he was in Whitechapel at the time of the crimes, we don't know where he lived or if he actually had a job.
He became ill on December 28, and while he gradually regained some of his strength during the spring and summer of 1889, he suffered a relapse and died on October 20. The cause of death was put down to "exhaustion of mania." This diagnosis, rather crude by modern standards, still fits in perfectly with the profile. The killer and mutilator of Mary Jane Kelly was at the end of his emotional rope.
His address had been given as 86 Leman Street, an unlikely possibility since this was the address of the Protestant Boys' Club. However, Fido quickly discovered that number 84 was the Temporary Shelter for Poor Homeless Jews, which seemed completely logical. But this home only accepted newly landed immigrants for two weeks. Immigrant Jews taken in by their fellow immigrants in this way were often listed for employment in one of the traditional Jewish trades, either tailor or shoemaker. Cohen is listed as a tailor, but it is certainly possible that he had been a shoemaker. The connection of shoemakers with Leather Apron would have been enough to change the designation for his own protection.
It's easy to see how 84 Leman Street could be mistranscribed as 86, but how do you confuse Kosminski and Cohen? Well, one possible way was explained to Fido. Cohen was a John Doe-type surname often given to Jewish immigrants whose actual surnames were difficult for Englishmen to pronounce or spell. It is therefore possible that the City Police were following Kosminski while Scotland Yard was following Cohen. The Yard knew their man had died, but weren't certain of his real name.
The situation is further complicated by another fellow, generally referred to as Nathan Kaminsky, an immigrant Jewish bootmaker, the same age and general description as both Kosminski and Cohen. He was treated for syphilis in a workhouse infirmary shortly before the murders and then suddenly and inexplicably vanishes from the records. He lived right in the heart of the Ripper's comfort zone. There are no death records for him.
So I think there is every chance that these three immigrant Polish Jews with documented emotional problems were combined and confused by the various police officials and agencies. I don't set much store in elaborate conspiracies and cover-ups, but I've seen enough bureaucratic gaffes and fumbles in my time to believe quite heartily in them. And yet, what is the element of truth or consistency that runs throughout the three accounts and also squares with the profile of the Whitechapel Murderer?
As we have seen, it's impossible to be certain of the true identity after all these years, but the behavioral evidence as to the type of individual he was is plentiful and compelling. Therefore, I'm now prepared to say that Jack the Ripper was either the man known to the police as David Cohen...or someone very much like him.
Copyright © 2000 by Mindhunters, Inc.
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