|A Ripperologist Article|
|This article originally appeared in Ripperologist No. 45, March 2003. Ripperologist is the most respected Ripper periodical on the market and has garnered our highest recommendation for serious students of the case. For more information, view our Ripperologist page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperologist for permission to reprint this article.|
Of all the witnesses in the Ripper case, Israel Schwartz is unique. He is the only person to see any type of attack on a victim, and the only one to be confronted by a Ripper suspect. It wasn't a mutual confrontation, and if the man who was assaulting Elizabeth Stride didn't shout 'Lipski' at Schwartz, or if he misheard what was yelled, or the second man didn't pursue him, then there was no confrontation at all. Yet this single word launched an immediate investigation that the Metropolitan Police hoped would be a clue to the murderer's identity.
Schwartz's statement does not survive but the details are given by Chief Inspector Swanson in a report dated 19 October 1888, and are worth repeating here. 1
12.45 a.m. 30th. Israel Schwartz of 22 Helen [sic - Ellen] Street, Backchurch Lane, stated that at this hour, on turning into Berner St. from Commercial Road & having got as far as the gateway where the murder was committed he saw a man stop & speak to a woman, who was standing in the gateway. The man tried to pull the woman into the street, but he turned her round & threw her down on the footway & the woman screamed three times, but not very loudly. On crossing to the opposite side of the street, he saw a second man standing lighting his pipe. The man who threw the woman down called out apparently to the man on the opposite side of the road 'Lipski' & then Schwartz walked away, but finding that he was followed by the second man he ran so far as the railway arch but the man did not follow so far. [Here there is a marginal note. 'The use of "Lipski" increases my belief that the murderer was a Jew'.] Schwartz cannot say whether the two men were together or known to each other. Upon being taken to the mortuary Schwartz identified the body as that of the woman he had seen & he thus describes the first man, who threw the woman down: age about 30 ht, 5 ft 5 in. comp. fair hair dark, small brown moustache, full face, broad shouldered, dress, dark jacket & trousers black cap with peak, had nothing in his hands.
Second man age 35 ht. 5 ft 11in. comp. fresh, hair light brown, moustache brown, dress dark overcoat, old black hard felt hat wide brim, had a clay pipe in his hand. 2