|Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide|
|This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.|
George Chapman (Severin Klosowski)
A suspect since 1903 when he was identified as the Whitechapel murderer in the Pall Mall Gazette by Inspector Frederick George Abberline.
Born Severin Antoniovich Klosowski, on 14 December 1865, in Nagornak, Poland, to Emilie and Antonio Klosowski, a carpenter.
He trained as a junior surgeon under Moshko Rappaport in Zvolen, from December 1880 until October 1885, then later studied at the hospital of Praga in Warsaw. His passport described him in 1886 as, age 21, height medium, hair of a dark shade, eyes blue, nose and mouth medium, chin and face longish. There is some uncertainty as to exactly when Klosowski arrived in England, though documents show he was still in Poland up until February 1887, therefore the best estimate Klosowski emigrated to London is March 1887. Roman Catholic by birth he spoke Yiddish, but little or no English upon his arrival in London.
Upon arriving in London he found employment as an assistant hairdresser for Abraham Radin at 70 West India Dock Road, and later took up employment, first as assistant and later as proprietor of a basement barbers shop 89 Whitechapel High Street, below the White Hart public house.
On 29 October 1889 he married Lucy Baberski. The couple lived at various addresses within London, including 126 Cable Street, Commercial Street and Greenfield Street. In September 1890 a son, Wohystaw was born, but died on 3 March 1891. Soon after the loss of their son the couple moved to New Jersey, America. The census taken in April 1891 lists the couple as living at 2 Tewkersbury Buildings, Whitechapel, so it is likely they moved to New Jersey around April 1891.
Klosowski soon found work at a barbers shop in Jersey City, while there, and during a quarrel, Klosowski held his wife down onto the bed, pressing his face against her mouth to prevent her from screaming. When a customer entered the shop Klosowski calmly got up to attend him. Lucy then noticed a handle protruding from under the pillow and discovered a sharp and formidable knife. Klosowski later told her that he had intended to cut her head off, and pointed to a place in the room where he would have buried her. Lucy asked, 'But the neighbours would have asked where I a had gone', to which Klosowski calmly replied, 'I should simply have told them that you had gone back to New York'.
In February 1892 Lucy would return to England alone to live with her sister at 26 Scarborough Street, Whitechapel, she later gave birth to their second child Cecilia, on the 12 May.
Severin returned to England in the spring/summer of 1892 and the couple reunited for a short while before the relationship ended for good.
In the winter of 1893 Klosowski met a woman named Annie Chapman (no relation to the Ripper victim) and took her surname, henceforth he would be known as George Chapman.
In 1893/95 he was working at Haddin's hairdressers 5 West Green Road, South Tottenham High Road, and later, in 1895, was working at William Wenzel's barber's shop 7 Church Lane, Leytonstone.
George Chapman, ever the opportunist, ended the relationship with Annie Chapman and met Mary Spink, who had been left a legacy of £500. Spink was an alcoholic and had recently separated from her husband. The couple moved to Hastings in March 1896 and opened a barbershop in George Street, which was by all accounts a great success. Mary played the piano while George attended the customers.
It is claimed Mary would often be seen with bruises to her face and marks about her throat and neighbours would often hear her crying out in the night.
On 3 April 1897 Chapman bought an ounce of Tarter Emetic from William Davidson's chemist shop 66 High Street, Hastings. Tarter Emetic is a white powder often hidden in food, though has a slight bitter taste. It contains a metal called Antimony a colourless, odourless and almost tasteless poison, administered in small enough doses it causes a slow and painful death. Antimony poisoning was often misdiagnosed as gastric fever, as the symptoms were similar, in larger doses Antimony is likely to be expelled and one of it's characteristics is that is preserves the body many years after death.
In September 1897 Chapman and Mary returned to London and took the lease of the Prince of Wales public house, which was situated off City Road in Bartholomew Square. Around this period Mary began suffering from severe stomach pains and nausea and died on Christmas day with her husband by her side. The cause of death was given as phthisis / consumption.
In April 1898 Chapman appointed a new barmaid Elizabeth Taylor, known to her friends as Bessie. They became lovers and Chapman undertook yet another bogus marriage.
In March 1899 they took over the Monument public house in Union Street, however Bessie soon began to suffer the same symptoms as Mary Spink, and died on 13 February 1901. On this occasion the cause of death was given as intestinal obstruction and exhaustion.
Within a few short months Chapman was on the lookout for a new barmaid, and in August employed Maude Marsh. She soon became his lover and his next victim. In October yet another bogus marriage was entered into, despite Chapman still being legally married to Lucy Baderski.
In 1902 the couple moved to the Crown pub 213 Borough High Street. The same pattern ensued, Maud soon falling ill, though this time the victim was admitted to hospital on the insistence of her mother. While in hospital her condition quickly improved, though she soon fell ill again on her return home, she died on 22 October 1902. An investigation into her death resulted in the exhumation of the bodies of Mary Spink and Bessie Taylor. Both showed signs of Tarter Emetic poisoning and both bodies were remarkably well preserved. Chapman was arrested, found guilty of three murders and hung at Wandsworth prison on 7 April 1903.
According to H.L Adams in the book The Trial Of George Chapman, when Chapman was arrested Inspector Abberline is reported to have said to the arresting officer George Godley, 'I see you've got Jack the Ripper at last'. Adam also reported that Abberline questioned Lucy Baderski about Chapman's movements at the time of the Whitechapel murders.
Abberline retired from the police force in 1892 and therefore would have had no authority to question Baderski in 1903.
This, plus the fact that there is no evidence Baderski knew Chapman before December 1888 makes this story highly unlikely.
Abberline, in the Pall Mall Gazette 24 March 1903 said of Chapman, 'I have been so struck with the remarkable coincidences in the two series of murders that I have not been able to think of anything else for several days past. Not in fact since the attorney general made his opening statement at the recent trial, and traced the antecedents of Chapman before he came to this country in 1888. Since then the idea has taken full possession of me and everything fits in and dovetails so well that I cannot help feeling that this is the man we struggled so hard to capture fifteen years ago'.
The article goes on to say, 'There are a score of things which makes one believe that Chapman is the man and you must understand that we have never believed all those stories about Jack the Ripper being dead or that he was a lunatic, or anything of that kind'.
Was Severin Klosowski - George Chapman, Jack the Ripper.
We know he had some medical skill, though to what degree is debatable. We also know he resided in London at the time of the Ripper murders and possessed a violent and misogynistic nature. Chapman does appear to fit, apart from his age, which was described as somewhat older the remarkably detailed physical description of a suspect seen by George Hutchinson with Mary Kelly shortly before she was murdered.
Hutchinson described the man as 35 years of age, while Chapman was 23 though from the photographs of him appeared older than his years.
The main drawback against Chapman being the Ripper is would a frenzied serial killer lay down his knife and be simply content to slowly poison his victims? 'Unlikely'. Serial offenders rarely change their M.O. Chapman's victims were also dissimilar to the Ripper's victims in age and class.
If Chapman was the Ripper how did he suppress the urge to kill again for over nine years, between the murder of Mary Kelly in 1888 and Mary Spink in 1897.
Severin Klosowski, alias George Chapman, may have been a cruel and callous murderer, but there is no evidence he was Jack the Ripper.
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