29 April 1896
He suggested that Feigenbaum was "Jack the Ripper"
The suggestion by William S. Lawton that his client, Carl Ferdinand Feigenbaum, or Anton Zahn, who was put to death at Sing Sing Monday, for killing Juliana Hoffman, at 540 Sixth Street, this city, Sept. 1, 1894, may have been "Jack the Ripper", the Whitechapel murderer, was accepted by few as worthy of investigation.
Lawyer Lawton maintained nothing in his suggestion, and based it on his opinion that Feigenbaum had homicidal mania, his secretive and crafty nature, an unsatisfactory admission by Feigenbaum that he was in London when the crimes of "the Ripper" were committed, and an off-hand declaration by a physician that blood on the knife used to kill Mrs. Hoffman might have been on it for a year.
This theory is confronted with a declaration made by Dr. L. Forbes Winslow, the alienist, published in the New York Times Sept. 1, 1895, that the Whitechapel murders were committed by a medical student of good family, whose mind was wrecked by study. His insanity took the form of religious fervor and homicidal impulse. He was found and incarcerated in a penal asylum. No anatomical murder occurred after his arrest.
"I do not like", said Hugh O. Pentecost, who was Mr. Lawton's associate in the defense of Feigenbaum, " to spoil a good story, but I take no stock in my colleague's story myself, while, as to facts, Mr. Lawton, of course, is able to tell more than I, as I only knew our client to talk to through an interpreter.
"In Feigenbaum I found nothing in his homicidal method to remind me of 'the Ripper'. Yes, one fact, perhaps- the absence of blood on him after the killing. Of course as was brought out on the trial, he had an opportunity to wash himself at a sink, and a policeman said that at the First Avenue Station House Feigenbaum had what appeared to be blood on one of his hands.
"That Feigenbaum killed Mrs. Hoffman I haven't a particle of doubt. The motive for the crime never was clear. I believe that the theory of the People that my client was surprised while endeavoring to steal a small sum of money was an expedient."
"Feigenbaum was insane. I have no doubt of that, although Dr. Carlos F. MacDonald certified that he was sane. He was a somewhat curious individual, with no small amount of instruction, and he wrote me some excellent letters in German about his case when in prison. The handwriting was better than you could expect from a practical flower gardener, and the subject of the correspondence- the mythical Jacob Weibel, whom he accused of the murder- was well treated."
Assistant District Attorney Vernon M. Davis, who prosecuted Feigenbaum, said:
"If it were proved that Feigenbaum was 'Jack the Ripper' it would not greatly surprise me, because I always considered him a cunning fellow, surrounded by a great deal of mystery, and his life history was never found out. Of course, the statement of Dr. Winslow about 'the Ripper' should receive the consideration it deserves. The case was an odd one, and the People had to furnish a motive for the murder. This was the money which was kept in Mrs. Hoffman's closet or trunk."