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Unmasking Jack the Ripper
"Perhaps the best Jack the Ripper documentary produced in recent years." North American and European DVD formats both available.
Buy now!

 A Ripperoo Article 
This article originally appeared in Ripperoo, the flagship magazine of the Australian Cloak and Dagger Club. For more information, view our Ripperoo page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperoo for permission to reprint this article.
DID JACK THE RIPPER USE CHLOROFORM?
By Leanne Perry

Jack the Ripper cared enough to end the lives of his victims, before he butchered their lifeless bodies. Edward Carter is an enthusiast/writer who has frequented the Website: 'Casebook, Jack the Ripper', and started people considering the possibility that he/they used the contemporary methods of anesthetizing patients, to render his/their victims least able to fight back or alarm bystanders. Thinking that this at least deserves some consideration, I researched the history of anesthetics and present this story to you now, so that you can make up your own mind as to whether or not to include it in your theories:

Trichloromethane or Chloroform is a colourless liquid, 40 times sweeter than sugar. It was first usd as a potent surgical anesthetic by British physician, Sir James Simpson in 1847 and became generally accepted in England after 1853, when John Snow gave it to Queen Victoria during the birth of her 8th child. Snow used it on a handkerchief folded into to shape of a cone. The methods of detecting chloroform in human blood and tissues are not very reliable because it is rapidly eliminated from the body, mainly erected when the inhaler exhales. Its use was eve- ntually abandoned, because of the dangerous side effects to one in 3,000 cases, (of paralysing the respiratory system and then heart of the inhaler). Chloroform belongs to a group of poisons which, when taken in large doses, corrodes and usually burns a consumers point of introduction, (i.e. nose or mouth).

In 1885, a man named Theodore Edwin Bartlett was murdered in South London, with a large quantity of chloroform in his stomach. As his wife, Adelaide Bartlett, was known to have asked for the purchase of chloroform to use as a cleaning fluid, she was acquitted of his murder. Yet there were no traces of any burns to his mouth or gullet. This case is to this day is causing people to debate her guilt.

An inhaler of this anesthetic usually awakens after 10 or 15 minutes 'under', if not given a re-dose. If the Whitechapel murderer of 1888 used chloroform to first render his victims unable to fight back, he could then have easily sliced the women's throats with one clean sweep of his knife. This would have rendered them unable to regain consciousness and he could have given them so little a dose, as not to be detected.

Many believe Jack the Ripper's first attack was that on Mary Anne 'Polly' Nichols. M.J. Trow, the author of the book: 'The Many Faces of Jack the Ripper', asks readers: 'Was Polly punched by the Ripper, strangled manually, or both?....A scuffle or struggle would surely have alerted their (patrolling constabes) attention.' A policeman patrolled the end of Bucks Row every half an hour. A third option to answer this question is: 'was she rendered unconscious with chloroform?'

Chloroform frequently causes convulsion, and toungue biting is one common side effect, so this could also account for the lacerations on Polly Nichols and Annie Chapman's tongues. The patches and smears of blood found on the back wall of the house where Annie Chap- man's body was found were near her head and neck, suggesting that the victim's throat was sliced as she was laying on the ground. Cadoche's statement of hearing scream "No", then hearing something fall against the fence is to be believed, she didn't lay there voluntarily. Yet there was no evidence of a struggle and nobody heard her fight for life.

An official document on the murder of Elizabeth Stride, that appears in the book: 'The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Companion' by Stewart P. Evans and Keith Skinner, says 'Although there might have been some noise in the club, it seems very unlikely that any cry could have raised without being heard by some one of those near'. And what of the packet of Cachos still in her left hand? It was as though she was rendered unconscious quickly, with little warning, and fell as she was with no energy to fight back. The book by Evans and Skinner also mentions: 'If she had been forcibly placed on the ground, as Dr. Phillips opines, it was difficult to understand how she failed to attract attention'. One could add: 'If she voluntarily laid down, why then did she have her thumb and forefinger clutching onto those sweets? And if her killer strangled her until she collapsed, why was her right hand smeared inside and out with blood? Did she need a stronger dose or a re-dose of Chloroform? And one more question: If Jack's hands were squeezing life from her, why didn't she drop the Cachous?'

At Stride's inquest, Wynne-Baxter asked if the doctor noticed any sign of chloroform or ether. The doctor replied: "I perceived neither". There is no reliable test to determine how much chloroform a body has been exposed to and it evaporates easily into the air, it's odour therefore would not have been detected at the crime scene. There was an: 'abrasion of the skin about one and a half inches in diameter, apparently stained with blood, under her right brow'.

At the scene of Catharine Eddowes's murder there was, like at the other murder scenes, no appearance of any struggle having taken place. The extensive mutilations to Catharine's face, could have been performed to hide evidence of a chloroform inhalation, which would have at least indicated her killer's profession as one which had access to it.

The maniac known as Jack the Ripper performed the most revolting mutilations possible on 25 year old Mary Jane Kelly, in her tiny room at Miller's Court. There was little left of the poor girls face with which to identify her by, and with which to search for evidence of chloroform inhalation. The suspect seen with Kelly by George Hutchinson before her death, gave her his red handkerchief which may have been soaked in chloroform. Mary Kelly's post mortem report indicated the existance of defence wounds. If her killer strangled her before mutilating her, how could she defend herself? And why were there so few defence wounds? I believe the chloroform used didn't fully 'put her under'.

SOURCES:

* 'Encyclopedia Britannica' http://www.britannicaq.com/seo/c/chloroform/
* 'Microsoft Encarta 99 encyclopedia'
* 'Forensic Clues To Murder' - Brian Marriner
* 'Anesthesia Antiques Online' http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/anaesthesia/museum/chlorfla.html
* 'The Many Faces of Jack the Ripper' - M.J. Trow
* 'The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Companion' - Stewart P. Evans & Keith Skinner.
* 'The Jack the Ripper A-Z' - Paul Begg, Martin Fido, Keith Skinner


Related pages:
  Leanne Perry
       Dissertations: A Summarized History of Forensic Science 
       Dissertations: Spring-Heeled Jack: Fiction Based on Fact 
       Dissertations: Step-by-Step Pattern of a Serial Killer 
       Dissertations: Terror in Whitechapel! 
       Dissertations: The Hitler Diaries 
       Ripper Media: Catch Me When You Can