|A Ripperologist Article|
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George Chapman, convicted of serial wife poisoning and executed in 1903, has received comparatively limited attention over the past few years, in my opinion, as a candidate for Jack the Ripper; principally because many will not accept that a serial killer can change his modus operandi from that of a knife wielder to a poisoner.
The intention of this article is to reconsider his candidacy by looking a little more closely at some of the contested areas of his candidature, as well as taking a look at some of the other victims of knife assaults in Whitechapel in 1888 and a much later one in 1901. In the last instance the suspect was said by the victim to have been a “Jewish [foreign] looking” male of about 40 who she was said to have believed was Russian1.
I was recently struck by Chapman’s address at 126 Cable Street, where he had opened his first barbershop. Here was a man living on his own, operating his own barbershop, who had to be worth looking at a little more closely. Such a man would have the freedom to come and go, at all hours of the night. He lived close to the murder sites, but in a situation that was slightly out of the way and was reached through the less exposed thoroughfares of Whitechapel and the shadowed arches of a Victorian railway.
Moreover his Cable Street address in 1888 consisted of a shop — a barbershop — with flats above and probably a basement underneath. None of these shop fronts were ‘overlooked’ by neighbours, as in 1888 Cable Street was just a long row of shops and businesses on that side of the road, and an equally long row of railway arches on the other. All of these businesses and railway arches were empty of occupants after nightfall.