Liverpool Cotton Merchant was Jack?

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I feel like we’ve talked so much about the man over the decades that we can call him by his first name and everyone knows who you mean. For those who aren’t quick to catch on, though, I’m speaking of Jack the Ripper.

Although he’s not a paranormal figure (never been any hauntings associated with him anywhere in England), he’s been most recently linked to an American serial killer so I decided to write up the latest about who Jack really was. Frankly, this new evidence is far more plausible than thinking that an American killing in the States would suddenly decide to hop across the pond and decide to kill just a few prostitutes before returning home.

There have been many theories as to who Jack the Ripper really was, so I’m going to list all previous suspects for those who don’t know.

First the men whom the Metropolitan Police strongly suspected to be Jack:

  1. Montague John Druitt – he was suspected simply due to the timing of his suicide after being dismissed from a teaching position. His body was found immediately following the death of Mary Jane Kelly.
  2. Seweryn Antonowicz Kłosowski – he was suspected to be Jack because he lived under two separate aliases in Whitechapel where the murders took place. He also poisoned his three wives and hung for it later.
  3. Aaron Kosminski – a Polish Jew who was suspected simply because he lived in Whitechapel at the time of the murders and was living in an asylum.
  4. Michael Ostrog – a Russian-born con man and thief who claimed to be a surgeon as well. It was later discovered he was in prison in France during the time of the “canonical five” Ripper murders.
  5. John Pizer – another Polish Jew who was suspected because he lived in Whitechapel and had one prior conviction for a stabbing offense.
  6. James Thomas Sadler – he was a suspect for at least the final murder associated with Jack the Ripper simply because he knew the victim, Frances Coles.
  7. Francis Tumblety – he was a suspect due to his collection of “matrices” (wombs) purportedly from every class of woman at the time. He was also a wanted man in the United States.

Next we have the suspects that the press and other “armchair detectives” believed to be Jack. Most were never taken seriously.

  1. William Henry Bury – he moved to the East End from Dundee, Scotland where he soon strangled his wife, a former prostitute. He inflicted extensive wounds to her abdomen and packed her into a trunk. He was later convicted for her murder.
  2. Dr. Thomas Neill Cream – a doctor who specialized in abortions who was convicted in Illinois of poisoning his mistress’ husband. He moved to London after several years in prison and resumed killing. He was still imprisoned at the time of the Ripper murders.
  3. Thomas Hayne Cutbush – a medical student suffering from delusions thought to be caused by syphilis. He stabbed one woman in the backside and attempted to stab a second, then was pronounced insane and sent to Broadmoor Hospital.
  4. Frederick Bailey Deeming – he murdered his first wife and four children, then emigrated to Australia where he murdered his second wife. He boasted at the time that he was Jack the Ripper.
  5. Carl Ferdinand Feigenbaum – a merchant seaman arrested in New York City for cutting the throat of Mrs Juliana Hoffman. His lawyer stated that he had a hatred of women and a strong desire to kill and mutilate them.
  6. Robert Donston Stephenson – a journalist interested in the occult and black magic believed black magic to be responsible for the murders. It turned on him.

Finally, the more contemporary authors who have studied the murders and believe they have found the real murderer:

  1. Joseph Barnett – Mary Kelly’s former lover who was examined by the police after her murder and not found guilty. Author Bruce Paley believed that Barnett was guilty of Kelly’s murder and that he committed the other murders to scare her off the streets and away from prostitution.
  2. Lewis Carroll – suspected merely due to anagrams concocted by Richard Wallace for his book Jack the Ripper, Light-Hearted Friend.
  3. David Cohen – a Polish Jew who had violent, anti-social behaviours and whose incarceration ended at roughly the same time the murders began. Both Ripperologist Martin Fido and former FBI criminal profiler John Douglas pointed to Cohen as Ripper due to his violent tendencies and speculation on police confusion with Kosminski and suspecting David Cohen to be a “John Doe” equivalent.
  4. Sir William Withey Gull – became a suspect as part of the Masonic/royal conspiracy theory, but was never taken seriously as a suspect by historians.
  5. George Hutchinson – an unemployed laborer who followed Mary Jane Kelly and an unidentified man to a room and watched for 45 minutes. He gave a detailed description to the police. He was later suspected by various authors as Jack who was trying to confuse the police by giving testimony.
  6. James Kelly – identified as a suspect by two authors: Terence Sharkey and Jim Tully, Kelly murdered his wife by stabbing her in the neck. He was committed to Broadmoor Asylum, but escaped using a key of his own devising. He disappeared without a trace, only to turn up 40 years later and turn himself back in at the Asylum. Retired NYPD cold-case detective Ed Norris not only believed Kelly to be the Ripper, he believed Kelly was also responsible for other murders in the United States. One of Norris’ reasons for suspecting Kelly is that Kelly left behind a journal in which he strongly disapproved of prostitution.
  7. Charles Allen Lechmere – he was a witness who came upon the body of Polly Nichols and later became a suspect in the mind of three individuals: Swedish journalist Christer Holmgren, criminologist Gareth Norris and former detective Andy Griffiths. These three men believed Lechmere lied to the police about how long he was with Nichols’ body and that Lechmere’s daily routine took him near the places of all the other murders.
  8. Jacob Levy – a butcher who had contracted syphilis from a prostitute. He lived in the area at the time of the murders.
  9. James Maybrick – a Liverpool cotton merchant who was poisoned with arsenic by his wife. He became a suspect in the eyes of author Shirley Harrison who believed he was also the Servant Girl Annihilator of Austin, TX. A diary associated with Maybrick is said to have contained a confession that he was Jack the Ripper. It was later said to be faked by the man who found the diary, but the story changed over the years.
  10. Alexander Pedachenko – William Le Queux named Pedachenko as a suspect after reading a manuscript allegedly written by Rasputin stating that Jack the Ripper was an agent of the State Police of Imperial Russia sent to England to discredit Scotland Yard.
  11. Walter Richard Sickert – despite proof that Sickert was in France at the time of the murders, Sickert is one of the more well known suspects. Three authors have linked Sickert to the case: Donald McCormick, Joseph Gorman and Patricia Cornwell. He’s believed to be part of a Masonic/royal conspiracy that led to the murders.
  12. Joseph Silver – suspected by South African historian Charles van Onselen purely on speculation. No proof was ever offered of Mr. Silver ever being in London at the time of the murders.
  13. James Kenneth Stephen – put forth as a suspect by Michael Harrison while he was writing a biography of another Ripper suspect, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale. Stephen was the prince’s tutor and was suspected by Harrison due to his handwriting being similar to that of the Ripper in the “From Hell” letter. Harrison also speculated that Stephen had sexual feelings toward Prince Albert and because his feelings weren’t reciprocated, Stephen was willing to take his anger out on women.
  14. Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale – nothing more than a victim of a rumor that got passed around over and over by various men. The rumor came to the fore when Dr Thomas E. A. Stowell claimed he thought the prince committed the murders after being driven mad by syphilis.
  15. Sir John Williams – accused of being the Ripper by two of his own descendants who claimed he murdered the women as part of research into infertility.

So there we have it. Twenty-eight suspects in all. I think the two who were suspects without proof – i.e. they weren’t even in London at the time of the murders – should be dismissed as any sort of suspect. The rest have varying degrees of credibility, but there’s one who now stands out from the rest: James Maybrick.

I found a brief blurb about this suspect in the October issue of BBC History magazine which prompted this blog entry. Briefly, because this blog entry is already insanely long, the diary of Mr James Maybrick of Liverpool was discovered and shared with the world. At first the diary was suspected as a fake because one of the men involved in its discovery passed away before he could offer insight. Now, however, potentially new and compelling evidence has been discovered by writer/director Bruce Robinson. The evidence? The diary was found in Maybrick’s Liverpool home. It was apparently discovered during renovations of the home, called Battlecrease House, in 1993.

Another interesting thing that I discovered after skimming through one of the current articles about this evidence is that Mr Maybrick was addicted to arsenic. Now in today’s world, arsenic is used as a means of poisoning someone to death, but according to this source, arsenic was apparently used in the 18th century as a means of increasing a man’s sexual potency. Think of it as an early form of Viagra. If it was used as such in the 18th century, it follows that it was still probably used as such in the 19th. It would’ve likely driven him mad, but I dare say there would’ve been an element of anger and frustration if he couldn’t “get it up” and that anger and frustration is typically taken out on the woman. So that could be part of the reasoning why he did what he did.

Does this mean there will be no more questions about the identity of Jack the Ripper? Probably not. No one who has written about Jack the Ripper wants someone else to be the one who answers the question once and for all. I think it’s a mystery all of us love to speculate on.

Two stories from August and September of this year about Mr Maybrick being Jack the Ripper:

Has the true identity of Jack the Ripper been revealed? Victorian diary proven genuine contains huge clue

Evidence growing that Liverpool cotton merchant and arsenic addict James Maybrick was Jack the Ripper

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Linking H H Holmes to Jack the Ripper

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A mere three days ago, I shared with you the planned exhumation of the remains of the notorious serial killer known as Dr H H Holmes. Well, that exhumation is now officially underway and we now have a reason for the sudden exhumation: a silly television show aims to prove that H H Holmes and Jack the Ripper were one and the same. It’s a stupid idea, but anything to sell yet another television show, I guess.

The idea that Jack the Ripper and Holmes were the same man is a ludicrous one. First of all, their respective methods of murdering the women were vastly different. Second, their choice of victims were different: Jack murdered prostitutes while Holmes murdered ordinary girls who had traveled to Chicago in the hopes of finding employment. There’s never been a serial killer who has suddenly changed his method of killing nor his choice of victims. There’s usually a very specific reason why serial killers go after the people they do. Third, and most important of all, there’s a clearly documented trail of Holmes’ whereabouts here in the United States while the Ripper murders were happening. He was busy here being married to two women at the same time and having a little girl with one. I can’t see how he’d suddenly have interest in traipsing off to England to murder a few whores. Jack, on the other hand, seemingly appeared and vanished from existence just for that short span of time.

I don’t know how they will connect any DNA found in the remains of the body in Philadelphia to anyone in England. There have been many different individuals purported to be Jack the Ripper. Will they search for the descendants of each suspect until they find a match?

Video story here

Lost by Gregory Maguire

I don’t want to say too much about this book since my comrades will be reading it, so I will put the rather vague review I wrote on Goodreads with the addition of the synopsis from the back of the book.

Winifred Rudge, a writer struggling to get beyond the runaway success of her mass-market astrology book, travels to London to jump-start her new novel about a woman who is being haunted by the ghost of Jack the Ripper. Upon her arrival, she finds that her step-cousin and old friend John Comestor has disappeared, and a ghostly presence seems to have taken over his home. Is the spirit Winnie’s great-great-grandfather, who, family legend claims, was Charles Dickens’s childhood inspiration for Ebenezer Scrooge? Could it be the ghostly remains of Jack the Ripper? Or a phantasm derived from a more arcane and insidious origin? Winnie begins to investigate and finds herself the unwilling audience for a drama of specters and shades—some from her family’s peculiar history and some from her own unvanquished past.

Although I never finished reading Maguire’s iconic Wicked, I saw this book while out book shopping with a friend and decided to pick it up. I have to admit, I’m glad I did, because I managed to finish the book.

Admittedly, there were some parts that were difficult to follow, which I put down to the author’s bizarre writing style. There were parts where the text was different, which took me a bit to figure out why it was done like that. It’s not often that you read a book featuring a main character who is writing a book. And of course he allows her to follow the clichéd recommendation of writing what you know.

I should warn any of you who may be interested in a story featuring the ghost of Jack the Ripper: it’s only a very minor pseudo-plot. I bought the book mainly because there was a mention of ghosts and it was set in England, but I would be lying if I said the fact that a potential ghost of Jack the Ripper didn’t appeal as well. Buy it because you like paranormal fiction, not because Jack the Ripper is mentioned in the synopsis on the back of the book like I did.

“Dear Boss”–The Whitechapel Murderer

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The East End of London in the late 19th century was often portrayed in the media as being overrun with poverty and slums. This was not something exclusive to this particular area of London, as there were other sections for the less fortunate. It became synonymous with poverty and wretched conditions largely because it was home to the rough, crime-filled Whitechapel district. It was here that one of the most well-known serial killers of all time had his short-lived reign of terror.

He doesn’t have the body count that many serial killers after him accumulated, but few can claim the notoriety–even more than 120 years after the last unfortunate girl was murdered. This is Continue reading