Ripperologist was saddened to hear of the death of researcher, historian, and London tour guide Adrian M. Phypers, known to many as 'Viper.' He apparently died in April but we have only just now learned of his passing. Among his many accomplishments, Mr. Phypers was a major contributor to Stephen Ryder's 'Casebook: Jack the Ripper' web site, being responsible, along with a team of volunteers, for transcribing and painstakingly double-checking the transcriptons of contemporary press reports for what Ryder and Phypers termed the 'Casebook Press Project'. As a result of the work begun and coordinated by 'Viper', the Casebook press section contained 1,042 articles on the Whitechapel murders from 160 different newspapers around the world (http://casebook.org/press_reports/). Phypers also wrote informed posts to the Casebook message boards and acted as a resident expert in regularly scheduled web 'chat' sessions.
As 'Viper', Phypers penned several articles for Ripper Notes, which can now be found on the Casebook: 'Hey Joe! Your Porter Story Sounds Fishy!'; 'Jack the Ripper and "The Coffee Connection"'; and 'The Whitechapel Dossier: Dorset Street and Miller's Court'. Writing under the name of A. M. Phypers, he also wrote for the Casebook on Ripper connections to East End public houses: 'The House Where Jack Swilled?'.
Although known as a private and retiring man, 'Viper' gained a reputation of being a gentlemanly repository of information on East End history. Indeed, he readily provided to fellow researchers information on the case and the East End. As a consequence, a large number of authors on the Whitechapel murders are in his debt.
In terms of Mr. Phypers' work for the Casebook, Stephen Ryder commented on the site's message boards:
It's not an exaggeration to say that without him the Casebook wouldn't be half the site it is today. I met with Adrian in the spring of 2001, when Ally and I were staying in Kensington, to thank him in person for all his hard work in establishing and running the Casebook Press Project. He was a humble, easy-going and delightful dinner companion. At the time he was very excited to be starting a new career as a London tour guide - a job which took full advantage of his encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the city. We talked about that, and of course about the Ripper and the Casebook. One of his main concerns were these [Casebook message] boards, which he felt had limitless potential. As we left the restaurant, I gave him a copy of The Curse of Mitre Square, which I'd purchased that day in the Murder One bookstore (he'd never read it before). We shook hands and he walked alone back to the Underground station, as we returned to our hotel across the street.
My last emails from Adrian came on the 1st of April , and true to form, they contained several new and updated press reports from the Bradford Observer for inclusion on the Casebook. What many people don't know is the sheer amount of work he put into the press project. Not only did he collect and copy the articles from microfilm, but he also developed a brilliant system by which he could delegate transcription work to a series of hearty volunteers. As each transcription arrived back in his inbox, he would painstakingly double-check every word against the original, format it in Microsoft Word, and then email me the finished product. If he later found just a single spelling error or mistake in punctuation, he would immediately email me a revised copy, carefully highlighting the problem area to be fixed. Regular updates would be sent in Excel spreadsheet form, showing progress-to-date using his own color-coding system which displayed word counts, completion dates and estimates, and even productivity levels of all registered volunteers. It was an incredible effort which lasted some three-odd years, and all expenses came straight out of his own pocket. Any time you've read a U.K. press report on the Casebook, it's a likely bet that it came from the desk of Adrian M. Phypers.
Mr. Phypers was a licensed London tour guide with Londoninium Walks. In addition to his research on East End history and on the Whitechapel murders, 'Viper' was an avid gardener in his Ilford garden and a supporter of Leyton Orient Football Club. Stephen Ryder has noted that a memorial to Phypers, as yet to be determined, will likely be added to the Casebook. Stay tuned for further news.