Mega Genius® Intelligence Briefing :
Warning: The subject of this Intelligence Briefing may not be suitable for minors or the mentally impaired.
Part V: Who Was the Man in Astrakhan?
The identity of Jack the Ripper is history’s most famous murder mystery. It even confounded Sherlock Holmes, the most renowned sleuth of all time. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the fictional Sherlock Holmes, published four novels and 56 short stories recounting the adventures of the master detective, from 1887, one year before Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror, to 40 years thereafter. The Ripper, Doyle and his character Holmes all walked the streets of London at the same time. Yet not once, in four decades of crime writing, did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle dare to apply the extraordinary talents of Sherlock Holmes to identify the world’s most infamous criminal.
Even now, the mystery continues to perplex the greatest investigative minds, just as it has stumped Scotland Yard for more than 120 years. Nevertheless, we are going to solve it today.
In the absence of highly intelligent analysis, it would never be discovered and proven, because the murderer has become eclipsed by the enigma. The “who” has lost relevance as the mystery itself has overshadowed everything. Moreover, the mystery has strengthened through the decades. For example, when Jack the Ripper slew his first victim, on 7 August 1888, he was merely an unknown murderer, whom the residents of Whitechapel hoped would soon be caught. That evening, they all knew something about him, which was that they did not know what he looked like.
Today though, that knowledge of “not knowingness” has been lost. Most people now mistakenly “know” that he wore a top hat, cape, and carried a Gladstone bag, even though there is not an iota of evidence to support those conclusions. You may be astonished to learn that there is no waxwork figure of Jack the Ripper in the Chamber of Horrors at London’s famous Madame Tussauds. You might expect it to be the centerpiece, yet it is nowhere to be found. Why? Because, factually,the public does not know what Jack the Ripper looked like. It only thinks that it knows. Accordingly, Madame Tussauds displays Jack the Ripper only as a shadow.
Do you see what has happened? The public’s perception of what Jack the Ripper looked like is less accurate today than five generations ago. Then, the public did not know. Now, it mistakenly thinks that it knows. It is perceiving less accurately.
Less perceptive than a blind person is a delusional blind person, who imagines that he can see.
Countless other aspects of the case have also been misperceived and, therefore, misconstrued through the years, resulting in an even more deeply dark-drenched mystery. Armchair investigators continually allege that some new suspect is the real serial killer; however, their research is inadequate. They accept falsehoods as facts, disregard evidence to the contrary, and misplace importance. They confine their attention, fail to examine thoroughly, and assume carelessly. They bend facts to fit their theories, rather than follow facts to logical conclusions. As a result, such authors’ “ultimate solutions” are flawed; but, of great importance to them, their published works are profitable.
Because they value financial gain above ethics, they nurture the conundrum of Jack the Ripper as they more deeply obfuscate his identity. That is why we know volumes about the mystery and scarcely anything about the Ripper himself. His victims have deserved better.
Currently, there are more than 200 suspects and theories. The 10 most popular seem to be George Chapman (aka Severin Klosowski); The Royal Conspiracy; Aaron Kosminski; Montague John Druitt; James Maybrick; Francis Tumblety; Walter Sickert; Joseph Barnett; The Lodger; and, even an unknown woman referred to as Jill the Ripper.
None of them, however, is the actual perpetrator.
It is high time that we turned to the final page of this “whodunit.” And, we can, because … "What geniuses ponder, Mega Genius® knows!™ Venture back again, deeply within the Victorian shadows of yesteryear, through the swirling midnight fog, along the narrow alleys of Spitalfields, past the flickering gas lamps near The Ten Bells pub, and let’s intelligently investigate the identity of the most famous serial killer in the recorded history of the world: Jack the Ripper!
Using criminal investigative analysis techniques developed by The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other sources, we can create a theoretical, fundamental profile of the mad man, since serial killers share basic characteristics:
1. Serial killers are almost always white males. Jack the Ripper probably was, too.
2. Serial killers rarely commit their atrocities as teenagers or after age 36. Therefore, we can expect Jack the Ripper to have been about 20 to 35 years old.
3. Serial killers must know their hunting grounds and avenues of escape. Therefore, they usually prowl for, and attack, their first victims close to their own so-called “backyards.”
Jack the Ripper stabbed to death his first victim, Martha Tabram, at No. 47 George Yard Buildings, two blocks south of The Ten Bells pub. Therefore, the Ripper almost certainly lived extremely close to that location.
4. Serial killers, if employed, are usually unskilled. Jack the Ripper was most likely a common laborer.
5. Serial killers are rarely suspected by acquaintances or neighbors, as they usually appear rational and personable. The odds are that Jack the Ripper did, too, even though some law enforcement officials, in 1888, suspected that the Ripper was a wild eyed, foaming-at-the-mouth madman.
Given Scotland Yard’s extensive house-to-house investigation in the Spitalfields and Whitechapel areas, the police probably questioned Jack the Ripper, but did not suspect him.
6. Serial killers don’t mind the dead faces of strangers, but they often disfigure the faces of victims whom they know, in hopes of destroying their personalities. Because Jack the Ripper cut up the face of his fifth victim, Catherine Eddowes, he probably knew her. Moreover, he totally obliterated the attractive face of his sixth victim, 22 year-old Mary Jane Kelly. He must have known her well.
Given Jack the Ripper’s modus operandi, we can establish several more probabilities.
7. Because Jack the Ripper murdered his victims near weekends and on holidays, he was probably employed.
8. Jack the Ripper attacked all his victims within a circle with a one-half mile (805 meter) radius. It is almost a certainty that he lived near the center of that circle.
9. Jack the Ripper butchered his fifth victim, Catherine Eddowes, in Miter Square, at about 1:45 a.m. Then he escaped in a northeasterly direction, with her kidney and a portion of her apron on which to wipe his hands. Minutes later, he dropped the bloodstained piece of apron into a doorway on Goulston Street. At that hour, and under those circumstances, he was probably fleeing toward his home, the safest spot in his “comfort zone,” which most likely was a short distance past Goulston Street, in the same northeasterly direction.
10. Jack the Ripper’s third victim was Annie Chapman. Early on the morning of 8 September 1888, just moments before Annie was slaughtered, Mrs. Elizabeth Long saw her on the sidewalk, talking with a man who almost certainly was Jack the Ripper. She heard him ask Annie, “Will you?” Annie replied in the affirmative.
The Ripper’s back was toward Mrs. Long, as she passed him. Later, she testified that he was about five feet seven inches tall, dark complexioned, and respectably dressed in a brown deerstalker hat and what she thought was a dark-colored coat.
About three weeks later, in the early morning hours of 30 September, moments before the Ripper slashed Elisabeth Stride’s throat, patrolling Constable William Smith saw her talking with a man, whom he testified was about 28 years old, about five feet seven inches tall, dark complexioned, and respectably dressed in a dark-colored deerstalker hat and a black coat.
Those recollections, and others from a couple of less reliable witnesses, do not give us much trustworthy evidence as to what Jack the Ripper looked like, especially since he may have worn other styles of clothing on other occasions. Given those testimonies though, and his techniques of strangulation and throat slashing, and anthropometry (the study of body measurements), we can expect him to have been about 28 years old, five feet six or seven inches tall, and stout or muscular.
We cannot intelligently assume any of those suppositions to be a certainty. Rather, each is a probability, which we can use to minimize the probable guilt of many suspects and zero in on those who were more likely to have been the serial killer. By themselves, our suppositions cannot prove anyone to have been the murderer. Nevertheless, when identified through an intelligent and logical analysis of the evidence, the real Jack the Ripper should match at least half of them. In the meantime, let’s call those 10 suppositions our “points of verification,” and set them aside for now.
Mary Jane Kelly, the Ripper’s sixth victim, was butchered in the early morning hours of Friday, 9 November 1888, a holiday, the Lord Mayor’s Show, one of the longest established and best known annual events in London. For the next three days, the brutality of the crime was headlines in the newspapers and on everyone’s lips.
The inquest was held three days later, on Monday, 12 November. Mrs. Sarah Lewis testified that, at about 2:30 a.m. on the morning that Mary Jane Kelly was murdered, she had seen a man, “not tall, but stout,” standing alone, in Dorset Street, opposite the small court in which Mary Jane Kelly lived. She said that he was looking up the court.
At 6:00 p.m. on that same day, that man came to the Commercial Street Police Station and made a statement to Inspector Frederick G. Abberline, of Scotland Yard, who was in charge of the detectives who were working on the case. His name was George Hutchinson, and this was his written statement:
"About 2:00 A.M., 9th, I was coming by Thrawl Street, Commercial Street, and just before I got to Flower and Dean Street I met the murdered woman Kelly and she said to me “Hutchinson, will you lend me sixpence.” I said “I can’t, I have spent all my money going down to Romford.” She said “Good morning, I must go and find some money.” She went away toward Thrawl Street. A man coming in the opposite direction to Kelly tapped her on the shoulder and said something to her. They both burst out laughing. I heard her say “Alright” to him and the man said “You will be alright for what I have told you.” He then placed his right hand around her shoulders. He also had a kind of a small parcel in his left hand, with a kind of strap around it. I stood against the lamp of the Queens Head Public House and watched him. They both then came past me and the man hung down his head with his hat over his eyes. I stooped down and looked him in the face. He looked at me stern. They both went into Dorset Street. I followed them. They both stood at the corner of the court for about 3 minutes. He said something to her. She said “Alright my dear, come along, you will be comfortable.” He then placed his arm on her shoulder and gave her a kiss. She said she had lost her handkerchief. He then pulled his handkerchief, a red one, out and gave it to her. They both then went up the court together. I then went to the court to see if I could see them but could not. I stood there for about three quarters of an hour to see if they came out. They did not so I went away."
Now, I’m going to read about 60 seconds of notes that Inspector Abberline added to Hutchinson’s statement, describing the man that George Hutchinson had seen with Mary Jane Kelly. Incidentally, he references a Russian word that I want to make sure that you understand. In Russian, which I speak, one might ask, “Что это?” meaning “What is it?” And the answer would be “Это Астрахань,” meaning “It is Astrakhan,” a word that in the context that follows means the curly, wavy wool of young lambs from Astrakhan, a major city in southern European Russia.
Now as I read the notes that Inspector Abberline added to Hutchinson’s statement, please notice the words that I emphasize:
“Description: age about 34 or 35, height 5ft 6, complexion pale, dark eyes and eye lashes, slight mustache curled up each end and hair dark, very surley [sic] looking; dress, long dark coat, collar and cuffs trimmed astracan [sic] and a dark jacket under, light waistcoat, dark trousers, dark felt hat turned down in the middle, button boots and gaiters [spats] with white buttons, wore a very thick gold chain, white linen collar, black tie with horse shoe pin, respectable appearance, walked very sharp, Jewish appearance. Can be identified.”
Inspector Abberline subsequently wrote in his report of 12 November that George Hutchinson said that he had occasionally given Mary Jane Kelly a few shillings throughout the three years that he had known her, and that he had been surprised to see a man so well dressed in her company, which had caused him to watch them. Inspector Abberline added that he had interrogated Mr. Hutchinson and was of the opinion that his statement was true. He circulated Hutchinson’s description of the man to all police stations.
Who was that man wearing a coat trimmed in astrakhan?
Inspector Abberline added in his report that George Hutchinson could recognize the man that he had seen with Mary Jane Kelly and, therefore, two officers were going to spend a few hours that evening accompanying Mr. Hutchinson around the district, in hopes of spotting the man.
They did search for the man that evening, but did not see him.
By the next day, Tuesday, Mr. Hutchinson had told his story to the press. In that version, he added that he had actually ventured from Dorset Street into Miller’s Court, but saw no light in Mary Jane Kelly’s rented room and heard nothing. He said that when he left Miller’s Court, he heard the clock on Christ Church, Spitalfields, chime 3:00 a.m.
Mr. Hutchinson’s press statement contained additional information about the man whom he said that he had seen with Mary Jane Kelly. That account included the following; again, notice the parts that I have emphasized:
"The man was about 5 ft. 6 in. in height, and 34 or 35 years of age, with dark complexion and dark moustache, turned up at the ends. He was wearing a long dark coat, trimmed with astrachan [sic], a white collar, with black necktie, in which was affixed a horseshoe pin. He wore a pair of dark ‘spats’ with light buttons over button boots, and displayed from his waistcoat a massive gold chain. His watch chain had a big seal, with a red stone, hanging from it. He had a heavy moustache curled up and dark eyes and bushy eyebrows. He had no side whiskers, and his chin was clean shaven. He looked like a foreigner…. The man I saw did not look as though he would attack another one. He carried a small parcel in his hand about 8 in. long, and it had a strap round it. He had it tightly grasped in his left hand. It looked as though it was covered with dark American cloth [oil cloth]. He carried in his right hand, which he laid upon the woman’s shoulder, a pair of brown kid gloves. One thing I noticed, and that was that he walked very softly. I believe that he lives in the neighborhood, and I fancied that I saw him in Petticoat Lane on Sunday morning, but I was not certain."
Who was that man in astrakhan?
31 October 2009
Footnote: On 5 November 2009, just five days after I published this Intelligence briefing, a psychotic maniac massacred 13 people — more than twice the number of Jack the Ripper — and wounded 29 more at Fort Hood, Texas, the world’s largest military base.
During the rampage, witnesses identified Major Nidal Malik Hasan as the shooter, who was subsequently charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder. Dr. Hasan, who trained for 6 years at Walter Reed, the United States Army’s flagship medical Center, is a psychiatrist.
To quote the ancients, “Physician, heal thyself.”
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