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Dr Henry Howard Holmes was a serial killer in Chicago, USA. He had built and designed a hotel around the sole purpose of killing people. To him, it was obviously a game. According to The World news paper.

When he was arrested, they could only pin one murder on him, even though he was suspected of nine others.

In his written testimony, he confessed to twenty seven murders. When the investigators followed up on his confession, they found some of his supposed victims still alive. 

In the years since the whole affair, it has been cleared up that the murder castle floor plans were fictional and all of his victims were people that got in his way.

He did own a glass bending factory with a large furnace. Investigators believe no glass was ever worked there and perhaps the furnace was used to destroy evidence...

What are your thoughts?

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Another fascinating Victorian serial killer!

I don't know enough about H.H. Holmes to comment as yet but you have sparked my interest to look further into the case.  I currently reside about 5 hours east of Chicago.

 

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@Hikari-- I realize there is no True Crime section yet -- but I think we'd better enforce the "pre-1930 crimes only" rule, to avoid comments about living persons -- be they victims, relatives, or suspects.  I suggest that you copy the preceding post into a Private Message with a "to" line which can include as many as four or five possibly interested parties, so you can discuss it to your heart's content.  Then please edit the post itself down to the first three sentences.

Thank you!

 

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@SLarratt--  Thanks for bringing up the matter of H. H. Holmes, which judging by the conflicting views currently expressed online, is still quite controversial!  I had heard of him only briefly before: when Series 4 of Sherlock aired, Van Buren Supernove pointed out that he had been mentioned in one scene of "The Lying Detective," which she quotes here along with a synopsis of his "career."

I just now looked him up on Wikipedia, and see that some even debate the term "serial killer."  Not that they think he was innocent, not by a long shot -- I don't think anyone claims that he was not a multiple murderer!  It's just that the term "serial killer" usually means someone who apparently kills for the sake of killing (and/or whose crimes form a pattern), whereas (as you pointed out) he seems to have killed only those persons whose continued existence would have inconvenienced him.  (There seem to have been quite of few of those, however.)

.The two items I find most intriguing in the Wikipedia article are that a} his real name was the far less euphonious Herman Webster Mudgett (which he changed when he moved to Chicago, in an attempt to throw the law off his tail), and b} he had left a wide swath of assorted crime, deceit, and chicanery behind him in a number of states, yet by the time he was finally convicted and executed, he was only 34 years old!

 

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On 2/16/2023 at 12:01 AM, Hikari said:

Another fascinating Victorian serial killer!

I don't know enough about H.H. Holmes to comment as yet but you have sparked my interest to look further into the case.  I currently reside about 5 hours east of Chicago.

 

Hello Hikari and all,

There have been a few books written about HH Holmes as you’d expect but the best is Adam Selzer’s HH Holmes: The True Story of the White City Devil. It’s brilliantly researched and very readable. I occasionally talk to a guy who really knows a lot about the case and he recommended this one to me. They might have it in your library with a bit of luck.
 

His descendant Jeff Mudgett believes that Holmes was also Jack the Ripper but he’s a poor suspect in a subject riddled with poor suspects. I question whether Mudgett actually believes it himself but it’s an opportunity to make few $$$ of course.

Hope everyone is well?

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Hi, Herlock -- I was wondering when you'd show up here!

Could you summarize Jeff Mudgett's evidence that his ancestor could have been the Ripper?

 

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Hello Carol,

Your request shouldn’t take long as there is no evidence but sadly this can be par-for-the-course in the Whitechapel Murders case - especially in recent years. Certain writers resort to finding someone that was alive at the time and living reasonably close-by and then weaving a ‘case’ around them. If it can be shown, for example, that the suspects father had left while he was young or that the suspect had some kind of illness then ‘bingo!’  We’re now getting close to the position of wondering who hasn’t been suggested as a suspect by now (Dr. Barnado, Lewis Carroll, poet Francis Thompson, Oscar Wilde, Vincent Van Gogh and (horror of horrors) Conan Doyle!)

The latest nonsense is the suggestion that it was a police officer called Endacott. He had absolutely no connection to the case but earlier had been involved in quite an infamous case after he’d arrested a young woman for soliciting on completely spurious grounds. The woman was provably not soliciting and there was justified outrage at her treatment. The guy claims that this was some kind of ‘trigger’ (yawn) for Endscott to murder prostitutes. Anyway, on to Holmes.

Mudgett claims to have inherited diaries which ‘experts’ have shown to have been written by HH Holmes (although I’m unsure if he’s ever actually produced them?) In them Holmes claimed to have been in London at the time of the murders (this can’t be backed up with evidence despite Mudgett’s efforts) with another man who was some kind of assistant. Holmes instructed him to commit the murders as some kind of distraction to his own murders (in London?) and to discredit the police. Mudgett also claimed to be terminally I’ll due to a tumour which later magically disappeared. While he still had the tumour he was getting seizures which produced hallucinations where he heard his grandfathers voice.

The theory is completely baseless Carol. It can’t be shown that Holmes was even in London and, whilst all murders are horrible, the ripper murders were of a very different type. Holmes was a maniac but not the Whitechapel maniac.

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Thanks, Herlock!  It sounds like the term "evidence" now means "there's no proof to the contrary" -- or at best, "it seems plausible to me."

As for the purported diaries, I'd inclined to put them in the same category with other books that have supposedly been seen by only one person -- unless of course the current Mr. Mudgett actually has them authenticated by a reputable expert who's willing to state that they're genuine.

 

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14 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

Thanks, Herlock!  It sounds like the term "evidence" now means "there's no proof to the contrary" -- or at best, "it seems plausible to me."

As for the purported diaries, I'd inclined to put them in the same category with other books that have supposedly been seen by only one person -- unless of course the current Mr. Mudgett actually has them authenticated by a reputable expert who's willing to state that they're genuine.

 

I think that “there’s no proof to the contrary” is nearest the mark Carol. Someone who was provably vertical at the time is then researched for ‘clues.’ A difficult childhood, perhaps a hint of criminal behaviour or controversy, a childhood illness or disability,  maybe a grudge agains a particular woman, perhaps even a speculation that a female relative might have become a prostitute due to horrendous poverty and off we go. Two hundred pages of retelling the well documented story of the Whitechapel murders followed by thirty or forty pages of baseless speculation. I rarely buy books on the subject these days. There are some very good, well written and well researched true crime books out there though if you can avoid the dross.

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On 5/28/2023 at 3:19 PM, HerlockSholmes said:

Hello Hikari and all,

There have been a few books written about HH Holmes as you’d expect but the best is Adam Selzer’s HH Holmes: The True Story of the White City Devil. It’s brilliantly researched and very readable. I occasionally talk to a guy who really knows a lot about the case and he recommended this one to me. They might have it in your library with a bit of luck.
 

His descendant Jeff Mudgett believes that Holmes was also Jack the Ripper but he’s a poor suspect in a subject riddled with poor suspects. I question whether Mudgett actually believes it himself but it’s an opportunity to make few $$$ of course.

Hope everyone is well?

Hi, Herl,

Trudging along here . . still alive so that's something.  :)

Are you still actively involved in your Ripper community?  I guess as with Sherlock Holmes aficianados, there's no danger of interest in the Ripper dying down.  

I discount Mr. HH Holmes since I'm convinced that the Ripper was a man local to Whitechapel.  A visiting American or even a visiting toff from the better parts of town would have really been disadvantaged in navigating the district.  Not to mention the MO of the crimes that Holmes committed is worlds away from the Ripper's work, geographically and stylistically.  It's really rare for a serial killer to alter his hunting grounds and his signature methodology that much.  It's usually what trips them up in the end . . their little habits.

One suspect I've always felt incredibly sorry for is Montague Druitt, who seems to have been targeted for no other reason than because his body was found in the Thames shortly after the murder of Mary Jane Kelly.  No less a personage than the Assistant Chief Constable of the Met published his theory that Druitt was the Ripper.  Druitt was accused of 'sexual insanity' . . which I believe meant that he was a homosexual.  He had been dismissed from his post as a a schoolmaster owing to having been outed, and killed himself in despondency, at least so it seems to me.  His unfortunate death was coincidental to the cessation of the murders but because people theorized that the Ripper had stopped because he'd drowned himself in the Thames, Druitt being found there was convenient 'evidence' of the theory.  Evidently some of Druitt's associates/family members even accused him posthumously of these crimes.  I think they must have been looking for notoriety and profit from a man who could not defend himself against the charges, because apart from the fact that Mr. Druitt lived a considerable distance away from Whitechapel in Kent, he had rock solid alibis for several of the killings, having been away as far as Dorset playing in cricket tournaments.  To have boarded a train and done a round trip of some 200 miles each way to cut up some wh*ores in Whitechapel and make it back to the cricket pitch seems . . well, fantastical.  I hope that poor man has found some peace.  If he was actually the Ripper, it would have been quite a feat to pull off.  Seems unlikely that a barrister/schoolmaster would have chosen that milieu.

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2 hours ago, Hikari said:

Hi, Herl,

Trudging along here . . still alive so that's something.  :)

Are you still actively involved in your Ripper community?  I guess as with Sherlock Holmes aficianados, there's no danger of interest in the Ripper dying down.  

I discount Mr. HH Holmes since I'm convinced that the Ripper was a man local to Whitechapel.  A visiting American or even a visiting toff from the better parts of town would have really been disadvantaged in navigating the district.  Not to mention the MO of the crimes that Holmes committed is worlds away from the Ripper's work, geographically and stylistically.  It's really rare for a serial killer to alter his hunting grounds and his signature methodology that much.  It's usually what trips them up in the end . . their little habits.

One suspect I've always felt incredibly sorry for is Montague Druitt, who seems to have been targeted for no other reason than because his body was found in the Thames shortly after the murder of Mary Jane Kelly.  No less a personage than the Assistant Chief Constable of the Met published his theory that Druitt was the Ripper.  Druitt was accused of 'sexual insanity' . . which I believe meant that he was a homosexual.  He had been dismissed from his post as a a schoolmaster owing to having been outed, and killed himself in despondency, at least so it seems to me.  His unfortunate death was coincidental to the cessation of the murders but because people theorized that the Ripper had stopped because he'd drowned himself in the Thames, Druitt being found there was convenient 'evidence' of the theory.  Evidently some of Druitt's associates/family members even accused him posthumously of these crimes.  I think they must have been looking for notoriety and profit from a man who could not defend himself against the charges, because apart from the fact that Mr. Druitt lived a considerable distance away from Whitechapel in Kent, he had rock solid alibis for several of the killings, having been away as far as Dorset playing in cricket tournaments.  To have boarded a train and done a round trip of some 200 miles each way to cut up some wh*ores in Whitechapel and make it back to the cricket pitch seems . . well, fantastical.  I hope that poor man has found some peace.  If he was actually the Ripper, it would have been quite a feat to pull off.  Seems unlikely that a barrister/schoolmaster would have chosen that milieu.

Hello Hikari,

Good to hear everything’s ok with you.

I’m still a regular contributor on the JTR message boards although after around 38 years I’m not quite as keen as I used to be.

Believe it or not of the named suspects (and there have been over 150 over the years) the one that a favour slightly is Druitt but that doesn’t say much as I think that only 3 in total are worth any real consideration. I’ll try not to get too boring but…

He was named in Macnaghten’s memorandum in 1894 but my question has always been: “why would he have plucked his name out of thin air if he hadn’t felt that he had reason for doing it?” An author called Dan Farson once said something like “it’s Druitt’s unlikeliness that makes him so intriguing,” and I agree. Why pick a random guy, from the upper classes when that class stuck together at that time, who had no history of violence or criminality? He did commit suicide just after the Kelly murder but at the time many people, including his old friend and police colleague Sir James Munro and others, felt that Alice Mackenzie (killed in 1889) was also a victim. Would he have named an innocent Druitt who was related by marriage to one of MacNaghten’s best friends?

Also, in 1891, a Dorset (where Druitt came from) M.P. called Henry Farquaharsen was telling people that the ripper was the son of a surgeon who had killed himself just after the Kelly murder (Druitt was the son of a surgeon who killed himself just after the Kelly murder) Druitt had no alibi for any of the murders and he actually lived and worked in London. He had accommodation at the Blackheath School where he worked and was sacked in November (no one knows why) There’s a bit more that I could mention but I won’t cross the ‘boring’ line too far. I think that Druitt is too easily dismissed but I wouldn’t bet money on any suspect to be honest.

All I can say for certain is that it wasn’t me😀

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On 5/31/2023 at 3:11 AM, Caya said:

Even Keanu Reeves ? :lol: Just kidding, he’s far too kind to be a murderer.

That's the whole website? Holy cow. We're doing this wrong.

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On 5/30/2023 at 12:58 PM, HerlockSholmes said:

Hello Hikari,

Good to hear everything’s ok with you.

I’m still a regular contributor on the JTR message boards although after around 38 years I’m not quite as keen as I used to be.

Believe it or not of the named suspects (and there have been over 150 over the years) the one that a favour slightly is Druitt but that doesn’t say much as I think that only 3 in total are worth any real consideration. I’ll try not to get too boring but…

He was named in Macnaghten’s memorandum in 1894 but my question has always been: “why would he have plucked his name out of thin air if he hadn’t felt that he had reason for doing it?” An author called Dan Farson once said something like “it’s Druitt’s unlikeliness that makes him so intriguing,” and I agree. Why pick a random guy, from the upper classes when that class stuck together at that time, who had no history of violence or criminality? He did commit suicide just after the Kelly murder but at the time many people, including his old friend and police colleague Sir James Munro and others, felt that Alice Mackenzie (killed in 1889) was also a victim. Would he have named an innocent Druitt who was related by marriage to one of MacNaghten’s best friends?

Also, in 1891, a Dorset (where Druitt came from) M.P. called Henry Farquaharsen was telling people that the ripper was the son of a surgeon who had killed himself just after the Kelly murder (Druitt was the son of a surgeon who killed himself just after the Kelly murder) Druitt had no alibi for any of the murders and he actually lived and worked in London. He had accommodation at the Blackheath School where he worked and was sacked in November (no one knows why) There’s a bit more that I could mention but I won’t cross the ‘boring’ line too far. I think that Druitt is too easily dismissed but I wouldn’t bet money on any suspect to be honest.

All I can say for certain is that it wasn’t me😀

Hi, Herl,

Which are the other two suspects worth consideration, do you think?  My comments to follow are for the benefit of other readers, as I know you are more familiar with all the Ripper suspects than anyone else here.

I'm increasingly thinking that Charles Lechmere (aka Cross) is looking good for it.   He was found literally over the body of the first victim, Polly Ann Nichols, and absconded before police arrived.  All the murder sites were found to be on his regular round as a lorry driver.  Proximity, Whitechapel man, knew all the routes very well.  Was interviewed by police and gave an alias.  To be fair, a lot of innocent folk would still be hesitant to be too forthcoming with Old Bill, especially from the lower orders.  The other most viable suspect of the high-profile ones is Nathan Kaminsky, alias David Cohen.  He was identified in Mitre Square by a member(s) of his Jewish community, who later declined to identify him at the inquest.  He was a tailor by profession and thus would have been very likely to carry chalk about his person as a tool of his trade and seems a potential author of the Goulston St. graffito about the 'Juwes'.  His propensity for intermittent insanity made him well-known to the district.  Cohen died in Colney Hatch asylum shortly after the Kelly murder.

The arguments for and  against Montague Druitt as the Ripper are listed on this webpage, which you probably know well, too:    https://www.jack-the-ripper.org/druitt.htm

The late esteemed Mr. Macnaughten must have had his reasons for fingering a lawyer from Kent for these crimes, but one wonders why, when making such an allegation against a deceased person and tainting his family name by association for generations, he wouldn't have been more explicit as to his reasons, instead of just being coy and saying he had 'private information'.  The suspect was dead and had no further need of his reputation.  It sounds like hearsay, really.  Several pertinent facts about Mr. Druitt were gotten completely wrong by his accuser(s)--his age was overestimated by 10 years and he was misidentified as 'a doctor'.  The police work on this case was industrious but quite sloppy in many instances . . suspects Kosminski and Kaminsky being also conflated by the authorities.  I think everyone was so keen to catch the Ripper that the cops were figuratively throwing everything and everyone at the wall to see if it would stick.  

If Mr. Druitt was in fact homosexual and had created a scandal forcing his dismissal from his school (perhaps by seducing some of his underage pupils?) some of his family members might have had axes to grind over the shame on the family and threw him under the bus for his 'sexual insanity'.   One really scratches the head over Dorset MP Farquaharsen getting involved three years after the fact fingering Druitt.  How would Druitt's home MP know personally of his activities?  Had he just been listening to tittle tattle from Druitt's family members?  Whatever Monty was up to, in his London chambers or his school at Blackheath, he was not spending much time at home in Dorset apart from the odd visit to play cricket.  Unless he got drunk and confessed to a family member or to his MP, how would they know his state of mind?  Did anyone find bloody clothing, or trinkets that made no sense in his possession?  Did he have sudden, unexplained injuries that were concerning?  There are just such scanty reasons behind these accusations.  Particularly if members of the force were convinced that there was at least one more victim in 1889, that would rule Mr. Druitt out if he was already dead.  Several sites I consulted said that he did have alibis at far away cricket tournaments during the time frames for at least some of the murders.  Without knowing more of Druitt's history with women or with prostitutes in particular, it's impossible to say whether he might have felt enough rage to do what the Ripper did.  But I can't help feeling also that the fact that he was 'the son of a surgeon' was influencing people unduly.  Montague did not pursue medicine, but the law, and education.  Being the son of a surgeon wouldn't grant him knowledge of knife work by osmosis any more than the son of a bus driver could automatically know how to drive a bus without need of a CDL course.  If one is enamored of the 'Jack as a toff' theory, Montague fits the bill as far as his appearance and his class.  Perhaps a gay man would be a woman-hater enough to do this.  But if that's in the realm of damning 'private information' that's been kept from general knowledge,  without it I am not comfortable speculating that MD must have been the Ripper because of hearsay.  I need more details.  Did anyone ever come forward to assert that they witnessed Druitt in Whitechapel at any time?  There must have been a number of other individuals that ended their lives in the Thames in the latter part of 1888, but that alone seems more than anything to seal Druitt's supposed guilt.  Being dismissed from his school and probably facing the same at the bar over sexual indiscretions would probably have been enough to make him suicidal without also being responsible for 5 or more knife murders.  He does meet the 'romantic' image of the Ripper, though, more so than the Jewish lunatics or a rough-looking lorry driver.

 

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3 hours ago, Hikari said:

To be fair, a lot of innocent folk would still be hesitant to be too forthcoming with Old Bill, especially from the lower orders. 

Quite understandable, since (as I recall reading) police would often "encourage" suspects to confess by beating them till they obliged, and witnesses might hesitate to speak up lest they be considered a suspect.  To be fair to the police, though, that was the accepted method of the day, and was not considered "police brutality" at the time.  Society has come a long way since then!

3 hours ago, Hikari said:

Mr. Druitt . . . was misidentified as 'a doctor'.

You and Herlock both mention that he was apparently some sort of lawyer or teacher.  Perhaps whoever referred to him as a doctor assumed that he had a doctoral degree, or perhaps they didn't know the difference between a teacher, a professor, and someone with a doctorate?  Or were they merely confusing him with his father, the surgeon?

3 hours ago, Hikari said:

The police work on this case was industrious but quite sloppy in many instances . . suspects Kosminski and Kaminsky being also conflated by the authorities.

Many Londoners of the era were illiterate.  Policemen were not generally of the "educated class," so that many of them may have been only semi-literate.  Add to that the recent influx of immigrants (with unfamiliar names) to that part of London.  So although quite regrettable, such conflation may have been fairly common in those days.

3 hours ago, Hikari said:

Being the son of a surgeon wouldn't grant him knowledge of knife work by osmosis any more than the son of a bus driver could automatically know how to drive a bus without need of a CDL course.

Indeed!

@HerlockSholmes and @Hikari -- you both mention that Druitt "committed suicide" by drowning in the Thames.  Is this substantiated by a note, or by people saying he had been talking about suicide or acting suicidal?  Or did the authorities simply assume that it was suicide?  Surely a good many people drown in the Thames by accident, and also a good many are murdered in that way.

 

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2 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

Quite understandable, since (as I recall reading) police would often "encourage" suspects to confess by beating them till they obliged, and witnesses might hesitate to speak up lest they be considered a suspect.  To be fair to the police, though, that was the accepted method of the day, and was not considered "police brutality" at the time.  Society has come a long way since then!

You and Herlock both mention that he was apparently some sort of lawyer or teacher.  Perhaps whoever referred to him as a doctor assumed that he had a doctoral degree, or perhaps they didn't know the difference between a teacher, a professor, and someone with a doctorate?  Or were they merely confusing him with his father, the surgeon?

Many Londoners of the era were illiterate.  Policemen were not generally of the "educated class," so that many of them may have been only semi-literate.  Add to that the recent influx of immigrants (with unfamiliar names) to that part of London.  So although quite regrettable, such conflation may have been fairly common in those days.

Indeed!

@HerlockSholmes and @Hikari -- you both mention that Druitt "committed suicide" by drowning in the Thames.  Is this substantiated by a note, or by people saying he had been talking about suicide or acting suicidal?  Or did the authorities simply assume that it was suicide?  Surely a good many people drown in the Thames by accident, and also a good many are murdered in that way.

 

Carol, I defer to Herlock, who has made a special study of all the known Ripper suspects.  I think Druitt’s family and acquaintances were satisfied that it was suicide, since the death was just days after the loss of his teaching post.   If his dismissal was due to “sexual insanity”, Druitt might have been facing criminal charges as well.  The specter of prison and scandal in the papers may have overcome him.  In the absence of a note or a declaration about taking his own life, there’s the possibility that he was attacked and thrown in.  The river was frequented by all sorts of criminal elements—rough trade, robbers— If the body had been in the water for a month before it was discovered, it would’ve been beyond grim, and probably impossible to say whether the body had received injuries prior to going into the water.  Ending up in the Thames was certainly not uncommon. In a city the size of London, dozens of people a week must’ve gone in there, either intentionally, or falling and drunk or being killed and their bodies dumped.  Then there was always the potential of a boating accident.

In the case of the confusion between Kosminsky and Kaminsky, that was actually in a published report from a member of the top brass—Herlock could say whether it was the ACC— But it’s a pretty safe assumption that like a game of telephone gone wrong, he was repeating erroneous information from his subordinates. The two Jewish lunatics with similar names were about the same age, from the same neighborhood.  Both had professions but were considered crazy and were immediately suspected, since what the Ripper did could only be the work of an insane person.  Perhaps he was insane, but probably more capable of executive functioning and planning that either of these two guys who both wound up in the Colney Hatch asylum.  I’m wondering if this institution is where we get the phrase “nut hatch” from.

 

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3 hours ago, Hikari said:

... these two guys . . . both wound up in the Colney Hatch asylum.  I’m wondering if this institution is where we get the phrase “nut hatch” from.

I was unfamiliar with the term "nut hatch" (other than the name of the bird nuthatch, which has an unrelated origin), but this site lists Colney Hatch as one possible origin for the similar term "booby hatch."  (It's generally accepted, by the way, that the word "bedlam" is derived from the notorious 15th century London mental asylum St. Mary of Bethlehem.)

3 hours ago, Hikari said:

I think Druitt’s family and acquaintances were satisfied that it was suicide, since the death was just days after the loss of his teaching post.

Poor fellow!  I can see how it could seem logical to call it suicide.  According to Wikipedia, he was fired on November 30th, disappeared "in early December," and was found floating in the Thames on the 31st, with enough stones in his pockets to have kept him submerged for the intervening time.  I'd say the stones rule out any sort of accidental drowning, but leave open the question of murder vs suicide.  However the same page also mentions a note found in his room, addressed to his brother, which read "Since Friday I felt that I was going to be like mother, and the best thing for me was to die."  (His mother suffered from depression, and had been committed to an asylum just a few months earlier.)

I'll look forward to hearing Herlock's thoughts on the matter.

 

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On 6/6/2023 at 7:38 PM, Hikari said:

Hi, Herl,

Which are the other two suspects worth consideration, do you think?  My comments to follow are for the benefit of other readers, as I know you are more familiar with all the Ripper suspects than anyone else here.

I'm increasingly thinking that Charles Lechmere (aka Cross) is looking good for it.   He was found literally over the body of the first victim, Polly Ann Nichols, and absconded before police arrived.  All the murder sites were found to be on his regular round as a lorry driver.  Proximity, Whitechapel man, knew all the routes very well.  Was interviewed by police and gave an alias.  To be fair, a lot of innocent folk would still be hesitant to be too forthcoming with Old Bill, especially from the lower orders.  The other most viable suspect of the high-profile ones is Nathan Kaminsky, alias David Cohen.  He was identified in Mitre Square by a member(s) of his Jewish community, who later declined to identify him at the inquest.  He was a tailor by profession and thus would have been very likely to carry chalk about his person as a tool of his trade and seems a potential author of the Goulston St. graffito about the 'Juwes'.  His propensity for intermittent insanity made him well-known to the district.  Cohen died in Colney Hatch asylum shortly after the Kelly murder.

The arguments for and  against Montague Druitt as the Ripper are listed on this webpage, which you probably know well, too:    https://www.jack-the-ripper.org/druitt.htm

The late esteemed Mr. Macnaughten must have had his reasons for fingering a lawyer from Kent for these crimes, but one wonders why, when making such an allegation against a deceased person and tainting his family name by association for generations, he wouldn't have been more explicit as to his reasons, instead of just being coy and saying he had 'private information'.  The suspect was dead and had no further need of his reputation.  It sounds like hearsay, really.  Several pertinent facts about Mr. Druitt were gotten completely wrong by his accuser(s)--his age was overestimated by 10 years and he was misidentified as 'a doctor'.  The police work on this case was industrious but quite sloppy in many instances . . suspects Kosminski and Kaminsky being also conflated by the authorities.  I think everyone was so keen to catch the Ripper that the cops were figuratively throwing everything and everyone at the wall to see if it would stick.  

If Mr. Druitt was in fact homosexual and had created a scandal forcing his dismissal from his school (perhaps by seducing some of his underage pupils?) some of his family members might have had axes to grind over the shame on the family and threw him under the bus for his 'sexual insanity'.   One really scratches the head over Dorset MP Farquaharsen getting involved three years after the fact fingering Druitt.  How would Druitt's home MP know personally of his activities?  Had he just been listening to tittle tattle from Druitt's family members?  Whatever Monty was up to, in his London chambers or his school at Blackheath, he was not spending much time at home in Dorset apart from the odd visit to play cricket.  Unless he got drunk and confessed to a family member or to his MP, how would they know his state of mind?  Did anyone find bloody clothing, or trinkets that made no sense in his possession?  Did he have sudden, unexplained injuries that were concerning?  There are just such scanty reasons behind these accusations.  Particularly if members of the force were convinced that there was at least one more victim in 1889, that would rule Mr. Druitt out if he was already dead.  Several sites I consulted said that he did have alibis at far away cricket tournaments during the time frames for at least some of the murders.  Without knowing more of Druitt's history with women or with prostitutes in particular, it's impossible to say whether he might have felt enough rage to do what the Ripper did.  But I can't help feeling also that the fact that he was 'the son of a surgeon' was influencing people unduly.  Montague did not pursue medicine, but the law, and education.  Being the son of a surgeon wouldn't grant him knowledge of knife work by osmosis any more than the son of a bus driver could automatically know how to drive a bus without need of a CDL course.  If one is enamored of the 'Jack as a toff' theory, Montague fits the bill as far as his appearance and his class.  Perhaps a gay man would be a woman-hater enough to do this.  But if that's in the realm of damning 'private information' that's been kept from general knowledge,  without it I am not comfortable speculating that MD must have been the Ripper because of hearsay.  I need more details.  Did anyone ever come forward to assert that they witnessed Druitt in Whitechapel at any time?  There must have been a number of other individuals that ended their lives in the Thames in the latter part of 1888, but that alone seems more than anything to seal Druitt's supposed guilt.  Being dismissed from his school and probably facing the same at the bar over sexual indiscretions would probably have been enough to make him suicidal without also being responsible for 5 or more knife murders.  He does meet the 'romantic' image of the Ripper, though, more so than the Jewish lunatics or a rough-looking lorry driver.

 

Hi Hikari,

You’ve already mentioned one of the 2 other suspects, Kosminski. Like all suspects there’s no solid evidence against him but he was mentioned though not by name. Sir Robert Anderson, who was Assistant Commissioner at the time of the murders, wrote a book called The Lighter Side Of My Official Life in 1910 in which he wrote:

"...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...And after this identification which suspect knew, no other murder of this kind took place in London...after the suspect had been identified at the Seaside Home 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 & 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.”

 

Donald Swanson, the man who was in charge of the day to day running of the case, wrote in the margin of his copy of the book: “Kosminski was the suspect. DSS.

There are inaccuracies but I think it’s hard to completely dismiss someone that closely involved with the the case. As Kosminski wasn’t known to be violent it has been suggested that names could have been confused Kosminski/Kaminski for eg, or that someone unable to pronounce or spell Kosminski might have used Cohen as a kind of John Doe.

The other suspect was a man from near to where I live called William Henry Bury. A nasty piece of work living in nearby Bow. A violent man who left for Scotland with his wife just after the murders. He killed her in a manner with some similarities to the ripper murders. He was once caught kneeling over his wife with a knife threatening to cut her throat. After he’d killed his wife he went to the police station and said that he was afraid that he’d be accused of being Jack the Ripper. When the police went to his flat they found two chalk messages, “Jack Ripper is at the back of this door,” and “Jack Ripper is in the seller” (cellar)

The chances of ever finding out who did it is probably close to non-existent but it won’t stop the effort though.

I personally think that Druitt is often too easily dismissed. We know that he definitely had no alibi though Hikari. And we have no way of knowing why he was sacked from the school. There are many unanswered questions.

Why, when he could have picked from God Knows how many dead violent criminals or lunatics to throw under the bus as a possible ripper why would he have chose a man with no record of violence and someone from the upper classes? To me that points at least to MacNaghten believing that he had good reason for doing it.

Why, three years before MacNaghten mentions him, does Farquaharsen describe the killer to fit Druitt (son of a surgeon, suicide)? (After she died btw, the name Farquaharsen was found in Druitt’s mothers address book.)

Why did his brother lie at the inquest and say that he had no relatives? 

Why did Druitt have a return train ticket on him when he was pulled out of the Thames?

This post is long as it is so I won’t add more but he intrigues me as a suspect. Has done for thirty years.

 

 

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On 6/11/2023 at 4:44 PM, HerlockSholmes said:

The other suspect was a man from near to where I live called William Henry Bury. A nasty piece of work living in nearby Bow. A violent man who left for Scotland with his wife just after the murders. He killed her in a manner with some similarities to the ripper murders. He was once caught kneeling over his wife with a knife threatening to cut her throat.

To me, he sounds way more plausible than Druitt.

On 6/11/2023 at 4:44 PM, HerlockSholmes said:

 

Please ignore that empty quote -- I can't seem to get rid of it.

On 6/11/2023 at 4:44 PM, HerlockSholmes said:

Why, when he could have picked from God Knows how many dead violent criminals or lunatics to throw under the bus as a possible ripper why would he have chose a man with no record of violence and someone from the upper classes? To me that points at least to MacNaghten believing that he had good reason for doing it.

You mentioned quite a list of other improbable suspects, and pooh-poohed them en masse.  Why do you consider this one to be different?

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15 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

To me, he sounds way more plausible than Druitt.

Please ignore that empty quote -- I can't seem to get rid of it.

You mentioned quite a list of other improbable suspects, and pooh-poohed them en masse.  Why do you consider this one to be different?

I think that if we did a tick box exercise listing various possible criteria with all of the named suspects like ‘easy access to Whitechapel?” “propensity for violence?” “known to carry a knife?” “Link to prostitutes?” “Proven murderer?” “Usual serial killer age group?” “Troubled childhood?” Then Bury would undoubtedly come out top of the list. There’s just no way of proving if he was guilty or not. 
 

On the other suspects Carol, most of them have nothing going for them at all. Someone has just tried to find things that might make them ‘fit.’ Bury is a worthy suspect because of who he was, what kind of person we know that he was and what he provably did. Kosminski and Druitt were both mentioned by senior police officers, which certainly doesn’t make them guilty, but it at least means that they might have been connected to the murders. My interest in Druitt might certainly be said to have an element of a ‘hunch’ though.
 

Basically MacNaghten mentioned Druitt, Kosminski and a Russian called Ostrog, in an internal memo which was a response to an article in The Sun newspaper that an inmate asylum called Thomas Hayne Cutbush was Jack the Ripper. MacNaghten mentioned the three as all being better suspects that Cutbush. Kosminski was a known ‘lunatic’ from a low class background and Ostrog was a Russian criminal (both easy to throw under the bus) Druitt is a different kettle of fish though. Upper class, son of a respected surgeon, Barrister, Schoolteacher, no history of violence, no history of criminality. In my opinion Druitt is the very last person that MacNaghten would have favoured as a suspect (and he favoured Druitt of the three) if he hadn’t at the very least believed that he actually had good reason for doing so. He said that he received ‘private information’ and that Druitt’s family believed that he was guilty. We also know that one of MacNaghten’s best friends was related to the Druitt family by marriage. It’s a tantalising story and sadly we’ll probably never find out more.

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On 6/11/2023 at 4:44 PM, HerlockSholmes said:

I personally think that Druitt is often too easily dismissed. We know that he definitely had no alibi though Hikari. And we have no way of knowing why he was sacked from the school. There are many unanswered questions.

Why, when he could have picked from God Knows how many dead violent criminals or lunatics to throw under the bus as a possible ripper why would he have chose a man with no record of violence and someone from the upper classes? To me that points at least to MacNaghten believing that he had good reason for doing it.

Why, three years before MacNaghten mentions him, does Farquaharsen describe the killer to fit Druitt (son of a surgeon, suicide)? (After she died btw, the name Farquaharsen was found in Druitt’s mothers address book.)

Why did his brother lie at the inquest and say that he had no relatives? 

Why did Druitt have a return train ticket on him when he was pulled out of the Thames?

You of course have a lot more familiarity with the casebook of potential Ripper suspects than I do, but I'd have to call all of the so-called evidence supporting Montague Druitt as the Ripper to be entirely circumstantial.  I've seen his photograph, and he does very much resemble the popular image of the Ripper as 'a gentleman'.  Indeed, of all the suspects that have been fingered, he's nearly the only one that qualifies as a gentleman, if we leave off completely fantastical suggestions like Lewis Carroll.  But we are on a slippery slope once we start saying 'Well--this guy seems like a completely unlikely suspect . .no history of violence at all, but he's been named so he MUST be guilty of something."  That's how 22 people or thereabouts got burnt as witches in Salem, Mass.--on the hearsay of neighbors and some teenage girls that thought they seemed guilty.   MacNaghten may have had a *reason* to want to discredit Montague, but all are dead now who could say definitely it was because M. made such a convincing presentation as the Ripper.  Vendetta of some kind?  If Druitt were a sexual deviant, I don't think it would've taken much for the disgust over his orientation to seep into people's perception of him as an all-around bad element.  Let's say Monty preferred schoolboys to women and that's why he was dismissed from his post.  If he liked boys, it doesn't follow automatically that he must hate women so much he wanted to cut some up.  As for his mother having the local MP's address in her address book . . she was a constituent.  I'd have thought any number of the people he represented might have his address to write to him about civic matters.  Maybe Mrs. Druitt was involved in politics locally, even though she didn't have the vote yet.  Or maybe she was having an affair with MP Farquarharsen.  I can't really see how having the address of her local representative would implicate her son as the Ripper.  But again, it seems that Montague had shamed the family with his behavior in some way.  A number of powerful men seemed not to like him very much, to besmirch his name for these crimes after he had already ended his life.  Did Farquarharsen offer some explanation for how he came by his information about the Ripper being awfully like the dead son of his constituent?  His involvement remains murky to me. Family shame would explain why a brother might want to disown a man who possibly had unlawful relations with a minor he was entrusted by as a figure of authority . .if he'd done immoral things with school lads.  In Victorian society to be a pedarast was equivalent to being a killer in most people's minds.  I'm not sure why a family would want to court even more notoriety by accusing their loved one of being the Ripper.  That's murky . . but the family didn't offer proof either.

If every man in London in the fall of 1888 who had a fraught relationship with his family, lacked an alibi for all the nights in question and had some secret vices could by these means be a viable Ripper suspect, the suspect pool would swell to hundreds of thousands more.  As for why Druitt had a return train ticket on him when he was pulled out of the Thames, I'd suppose that at the time he purchased the tickets, he was planning on needing a return.  Suicide is very often an impulsive act.  But the fact that he was planning to return actually argues against him actively planning to do himself in over remorse at being the Ripper, doesn't it?   All that could really be determined is that this man had drowned in the Thames some several weeks before his body was found.  The presence of a return ticket in his pocket actually raises the possibility that his death was just as likely, or more, even, to be an accident or caused by some other person.  Attempted robbery?  Or someone wanted him dead and pushed him in after a struggle.  Impossible to say now.  If Monatague didn't leave a detailed note or confess his intentions to someone before he died, how is suicide absolutely assured?  It's rough down by the river, then and now.  A suicide does fit with the official reasoning for the cessation of the murders, though.  I think MD is a convenient scapegoat, whose sad and somewhat opaque last days have been molded to fit prevailing theories.  

Edit, you mention that one of McNaghten's best friends was related to the Druitts by marriage.  That would explain how McNaghten might have more knowledge of young Mr. Druitt than the average anonymous London resident, but it's this kind of tenous tie of acquaintanceship that also makes it possible that he could have been biased toward Montague in some way even before the murders.  The young man was not a complete stranger but known to him at least by reputation from his friend who was a relative.  He was not viewing MD through a completely uninvolved lens.  Maybe he was being influenced though a dislike of the young man.  For what reason, is lost.  I wish we had more details to go on.  Whoever perpetrated these acts on the five victims was an entirely depraved person.  It'd be hard to imagine anyone functioning normally and appearing normally and swanning off to play cricket tournaments whilst in the midst of a murder spree of this magnitude, with nobody the wiser.  If Montague had left papers--a diary, letters, something--to bolster the suspicions that he could have done these heinous murders on such thin extant evidence, I'd understand it more.  

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But I didn’t say that he MUST guilty Hikari, only that he could have been. The evidence for all suspects is circumstantial so we can’t come close to naming anyone with any level of confidence (although that doesn’t prevent a few people doing exactly that) Perhaps a better way of putting it from my own point of view is that from a list of largely poor suspects Druitt is one of the very few where there might be something there. I  stress the word might though.

As you know, Melville MacNaghten was the Assistant Chief Constable in 1894 (subordinate to Anderson) so he had all the resources of the Metropolitan Police at his disposal. That meant access to prison and asylum records going back way before the murders. Large lists of dead or permanently incarcerated violent men who he could have named in his memo (if he was only compiling a list of scapegoats) Druitt sticks out like the sorest of thumbs in my opinion. Now this doesn’t come close to allowing us to accuse him of being the killer of course but in my opinion it’s a valid point. So the possibilities are….

Macnaghten just plucked his name at random - unlikely in the extreme imo.

That a family member was trying to frame him - unlikely in the extreme imo. What upper class family would want the ripper as a member (given their horror of scandal and disgrace)

That the family had genuine fears that he might have been the ripper and MacNaghten agreed but they were wrong - entirely possible imo.

That the family had genuine fears that he might have been the ripper and MacNaghten agreed and they were right - entirely possible imo.

Druitt’s mother wasn’t involved in politics. She was in an asylum at the time of Druitt’s suicide. The evidence points away from a spur of the moment suicide because a note was found in his room after he was pulled out of the Thames so he wrote the note then bought the return ticket. It’s suspected that he might have gone to see his mother in the asylum.

…..

All circumstantial of course (and there is more) but we’ll never know. The ripper case, like all cases, is rife with rumour and oral histories. It’s not impossible of course that some might contain a kernel of truth (or not) An example:

In January 1899 workers at The Daily Mail opened a letter which came from an anonymous North Country Vicar who said that the ripper had confessed to a fellow priest. Strangely the vicar had titled his letter The Whitechurch Murders - Solution of a London Mystery. Why Whitechurch instead of Whitechapel which was clearly what he was referring to? There was actually a parish which was called alternately Whitchurch Canonicorum or Whitechurch though. It’s priest was The Reverend Charles Druitt…Montague’s cousin and the man who married into the family of one of MacNaghten’s best friends.

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10 hours ago, Hikari said:

Suicide is very often an impulsive act.  But the fact that he was planning to return actually argues against him actively planning to do himself in over remorse at being the Ripper, doesn't it?   All that could really be determined is that this man had drowned in the Thames some several weeks before his body was found.  The presence of a return ticket in his pocket actually raises the possibility that his death was just as likely, or more, even, to be an accident or caused by some other person. 

I'd buy "caused by some other person," but definitely not an accident, at least not an accident on his part.  I mean, how would he accidentally fill his pockets with heavy stones?

Someone else could perhaps have killed him, though, either by accident or on purpose, then weighted his body and threw it in the river.  And of course it could have been suicide.

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