|A Ripper Notes Article|
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American Connections to the Jack the Ripper Case
by Dave Yost and Chris George
Dr. Francis Tumblety (A-Z, 3rd ed., pp. 453-458). This suspect came to the fore in 1995 when authors Paul Gainey and Stewart P. Evans published their book The Lodger, (titled in the US Jack the Ripper: First American Serial Killer). The basis for the authors' contention that he is a major suspect is a letter of 1913 from Chief Inspector John George Littlechild to journalist George R. Sims, in which Littlechild named Tumblety as a "very likely suspect" in the Whitechapel murders. Tumblety is believed to have been born in Dublin ca. 1830. As a child, he emigrated with his family to Canada, later moving to Rochester, New York. As an adult, he lived in New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., St Louis, and Baltimore. In 1865, Tumblety was arrested under suspicion of involvement in President Lincoln's assassination, and was imprisoned in the Old Capitol Prison, Washington, D.C. This episode appears to have been a case of mistaken identity, with Tumblety being mistaken for a Dr. Blackburn who was accused of trying to spread an epidemic in the northern states (one of Tumblety's numerous aliases was Blackburn). After the Civil War, he traveled extensively throughout the US and advertised his pimple cure and other nostrums in newspapers of the day. There is no evidence that he was a surgeon, although he claimed to have been a surgeon in the Union Army. He is known to have conducted abortions, but using chemicals to induce the abortion. He is said to have had an anatomical collection that included women's wombs, and is stated to have had an inveterate hatred of women. An avowed homosexual,Tumblety was arrested in London on 7 November 1888, and charged nine days later with eight counts of gross indecency and indecent assault. Four days later, he fled England to France and then to America. Newspapers of the day stated that Scotland Yard detectives followed him to New York. It is not known why the Yard men did not catch up with him. Dr. Tumblety lived a further 14 years, dying in St. Louis on May 28, 1903.
George Hutchinson of Elgin, Illinois (A-Z, 3rd ed., pp. 182-183): In January 1889, the Pall Mall Gazette wondered if this man was Jack the Ripper. He is not to be confused with the man of the same name who saw Mary Jane Kelly with a suspicious looking man on the night of her murder. It was reported in the Panama Star Herald that (via a telegram) Hutchinson was incarcerated in a lunatic asylum, handy with a knife, enjoyed visiting the asylum's slaughterhouse, and escaped where he mutilated a "disreputable woman" in Chicago in a "similar fashion to the Whitechapel murders." After being recaptured and making several other escapes, he was reported as being at large for the past three or four years.
Florence Maybrick (A-Z, 3rd ed., p. 289): Alabama-born Florence Maybrick was convicted in August 1889 of murdering her husband James Maybrick, a recently alleged suspect following the the 1990's emergence of the "Maybrick Diary." Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick carried out business in Norfolk, Virginia, in the early 1880's where he is thought to have contracted malaria which led to his dependence on arsenic and strychnine. A recent book by Anne Graham and Carol Emmas tells the story of Mrs. Maybrick and her incarceration in Aylesbury Prison and eventual release in 1904. Another American woman with a connection to the case is Jennie Churchill, formerly Jennie Jerome, wife of alleged suspect Lord Randolph Churchill.
James Kelly (A-Z, 3rd. ed, pp. 212-213): James Kelly murdered his wife and her parents in 1883 and escaped rom Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum in January 1888. He remained at large until February 1927. During his time at large, Kelly went to America, spending some time in Texas and leaving the United States from New Orleans. Kelly was proposed as a suspect in the 1997 book by James Tully, The Secret of Prisoner 1167.
Matthew Packer (A-Z, 3rd ed., p. 338): During November 1888, Packer, a fruiterer in Berner Street who allegedly sold grapes to fourth canonical victim Elizabeth Stride and a man accompanying her, claimed that a man buying rabbits from him stated that his cousin in America was Jack the Ripper.
George Chapman (Severin Klosowski) (A-Z, 3rd ed., pp. 224-226): This Polish-born barber lived in the East End of London and later in Jersey City in 1891 at the time of the 23 April murder of Carrie Brown aka "Old Shakespeare." Said to have learned surgery while working as a hospital assistant in Poland. He was convicted and executed in 1903 for a type of crimes far different from the Ripper murders: the murders in the East End of London by poisoning of three common-law wives. Chapman is thought by some, including Philip Sugden, to have been callous enough to been Jack the Ripper. A new book by American writer R. Michael Gordon will, we are told, give us the goods on Chapman and link him also to the torso murders (Whitehall, Rainham, and Pinchin Street torsos) as well as to the New York City slaying of Carrie Brown and murders in France and Poland.
Dr. Thomas Neill Cream (A-Z, 3rd ed., p. 91), another convicted poisoner; while on the scaffold he is alleged to have said, "I am Jack the--!!!" Unfortunately for his candidacy as Jack the Ripper, at the time of the Whitechapel murders, Cream was incarcerated in Joliet Prison in Joliet, Illinois, so we doubt that he makes a viable suspect. Cream advocates, however, claim that the poisoner had a double. "Double Cream" anyone?
Dr. Roslyn D'Onston Stephenson (A-Z, 3rd ed., p. 9428-430) took part in a Californian gold rush in the late 1860's. In July 1888, claiming ill health, he checked himself into the London Hospital, Whitechapel, where he remained for 134 days during the entire duration of the Whitechapel murders. A black magician whose candidacy as a suspect has been examined in three books by Melvin Harris, D'Onston was converted to Christianity by Victoria Woodhull, who once ran for the office of President of the United States.
Dear Boss and Yours Truly: Alleged Americanisms in letters signed "Jack the Ripper." The first of these letters was dated 25 September 1888 and sent to the Central News Agency in New Bridge Street. It was followed by the undated "Saucy Jacky" postcard received by the CNA on 1 October--a communication famous for its (at the time) supposed prediction of the Double Event. These letters provoked an avalanche of copycat communiqués. Human nature has not changed much in 112 years.
American born writers on the Whitechapel murders include David Abrahamsen, Tom Cullen, Bruce Paley, Frank Spiering, Judith Walkowitz, Richard Wallace, and Stephen Wright.