|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 Hutchinson (British)
Hutchinson first came to our attention with his detailed, and according to some Ripper authors, too detailed account of a suspect seen with Mary Kelly shortly before she was murdered. The detailed description Hutchinson gave has caused some to view him with growing suspicion. The result of which has led Hutchinson himself to now be considered one of the leading Ripper suspects. Here is Hutchinson's statement.
About 2.00am, 9, I was coming by Thrawl Street, Commercial Street, and just before I got to Flower and Dean Street I met the murdered woman Kelly and she said to me, 'Hutchinson, will you lend me Sixpence', I said, 'I can't , I've spent all my money going down to Romford', she said, 'Good morning, I must go and find some money'.
She went away towards Thrawl Street, a man coming in the opposite direction to Kelly tapped her on the shoulder and said something to her, they both burst out laughing. I heard her say, 'Alright', to him, and the man said, 'You will be alright for what I have told you', he then placed his right hand around her shoulders. He also had a kind of a small parcel in his left hand, with a kind of strap round it.
I stood against the lamp of the Queens Head public house and watched him. They both came past me, and the man hung down his head with his hat over his eyes. I stooped down and looked him in the face, he looked at me stern.
They both went into Dorset Street, I followed them. They both stood at the corner of the court for about 3 minutes. He said something to her, she said, 'Alright my dear, come along, you will be comfortable'. He then placed his arm on her shoulder and gave her a kiss, she said she had lost her handkerchief. He then pulled his handkerchief , a red one, out and gave it to her. They both then went up the court together.
I then went to the court to see if I could see them, but could not . I stood there for about three quarters of an hour to see if they came out, they did not, so I went away.
Hutchinson described the man as about, 5ft 6" in height and 34 or 35 years of age, with A dark complexion and dark moustache turned up at the ends. Wearing a long Astrakhan coat, a white collar with black necktie, in which was affixed a horseshoe pin. He wore a pair of dark spats with light buttons over button boots and displayed from his waistcoat a massive gold chain. His watch chain had a big seal with a red stone hanging from it. He had a heavy moustache curled up, and dark eyes and eyelashes, he had no side whiskers and his chin was clean shaven. He looked like a foreigner. He carried a small parcel in his hand, about 8 inches long and it had a strap round it, he had it tightly grasped in his left hand, it looked as though it was covered in dark American cloth. He carried in his right hand, which he laid upon the woman's shoulder, a pair of brown kid gloves. One thing I noticed, and that was that he walked very softly.
I believe that he lives in the neighbourhood and I fancied that I saw him in Petticoat Lane on Sunday morning, but I was not certain.
A remarkably detailed statement. Not only did Hutchinson visually observe every detail, despite the poor light, but he also appeared to have heard every word that was exchanged between the couple. There are several possible scenarios to explain the statement he made.
- He was telling the truth about what he saw, and remarkable as it may seem, gave us the best eyewitness description we have of Jack the Ripper.
- He was telling the truth, but his statement was exaggerated to please the press and the police.
- He lied and was in fact himself Jack the Ripper.
- Hutchinson, noticing the man was well dressed and looked wealthy, hung around waiting for the man to appear on his own, with the intention of mugging him.
- Perhaps the reason he hung around so long was that it was Mary Kelly he was keeping a eye on, and was besotted with her, possibly even stalking her. She had said that she was frightened of someone other than the Ripper, though did not say who.
- Possibly the reason he hung around for so long was because he had no money for a bed and was just passing time. He did say to Kelly that he had spent all his money going down to Romford.
- Maybe he was just concerned for her safety and was looking out for her, after all there was a killer of prostitutes prowling the streets, and Mary, a prostitute herself, was with a stranger whom he knew by his attire was not from the local area. This may have possibly caused Hutchinson to pay such attention to the man.
Hutchinson elaborated on his statement a little more to the press, saying that his suspicions were aroused by seeing the man so well dressed, though had no suspicion the man was the murderer. And that he reported what he had seen on Sunday morning to a policeman.
Despite Hutchinson claiming to harbour no suspicion against the man, and maintaining his curiosity was aroused by seeing such a well dressed individual in the area, he immediately contradicts this statement by saying, 'I believe he lives in the area'.
Little is actually known about Hutchinson beyond the newspaper reports at the time. He was described as an unemployed groom/labourer, though in the book Autumn of Terror, Tom Cullen describes him as a night watchman. This occupation, if correct, would certainly account for Hutchinson's remarkable powers of observation. His age has variously been described as anything from 22 to 33 years old, which would put him in the right age group, according to the eyewitness sightings of the Ripper, and if he was the person seen by Sarah Lewis standing opposite Millers Court, we also know he was the right build, short and stout. He knew one of the victims, Mary Kelly, and occasionally gave her money, so was possibly a client of her's, and was one of the last people to see her alive. He lived at the Victoria Home for Working Men 39-41 Commercial Street, which was right in the heart of the Ripper's hunting ground, and waited three days before coming forward to give his important statement to the police, a statement many believe could not be true, for it described, amongst other things, the colour of the suspects eyelashes. This has led many to speculate that his whole statement was a fabrication to cover up the fact that he was spotted hanging around outside Millers Court waiting for a client of Mary Kelly's to leave, before killing her. He later told the press that he in fact had later gone to Millers Court and stood outside Mary Kelly's window. This account differs from the story he had earlier told the police. Why was this discrepancy not spotted at the time, also, why did he not notice Sarah Lewis going into Miller's Court.
Was George Hutchinson Jack the Ripper ?. After the murder of Frances Coles, there were no more Ripper style murders, yet there is no record of a George Hutchinson committing suicide, dying or being committed to an asylum, in fact we know nothing of his life after the murder of Mary Kelly. No researcher has of yet been able to uncover anything about the witness George Hutchinson. There is no starting point, no date of birth or record of his death. One newspaper described him as, 'A man of military bearing', which along with what he said to Mary Kelly about having spent all his money going down to Romford, may point to a family connection with the town. We do know there was an army barracks there, so he may possibly have been a former soldier.
Some have claimed that he was born at 43 King David Lane, Shadwell. This particular George Hutchinson, was, in 1901 however, an insurance collector. Are we expected to believe that a serial killer after murdering five prostitutes in ten weeks, suddenly stopped killing and turned up twelve years later selling insurance for a living, Interesting theory.
In the book The Ripper And The Royals, Melvyn Fairclough interviews a man named Reginald Hutchinson, who claims his father, George William Topping Hutchinson, was the man who knew Mary Kelly. He claims that his father was born on the 1 October 1866 (which would have made him 22 at the time of the murders) and described him as an honest and hard working plumber, who rarely, if ever, went without work. He said his dad took careful note of details and could remember things accurately. His father mentioned to him several times that he knew one of the women, and was interviewed at the time by the police. When asked by his son who he thought Jack the Ripper was, his father replied, 'It was more to do with the royal family than ordinary people', and believed the Ripper was someone like Lord Randolph Churchill.
Reginald also claimed that his father had been given 100 shillings, though his father would not reveal why. The suspect described by Hutchinson did possess more than a passing resemblance to Lord Randolph Churchill.
In 1895 George married Florence Jervis, at Trinity Church, Stepney. They met when she tripped over his cane after coming down the steps from the stage of the music hall, where he sat in the front row, having watched her performance as a yodeller and skipping rope artist. They became keen ice skaters, and George was an accomplished violinist. He was still working when he died from a heart attack at the age of 71 in 1938. Though George William Topping Hutchinson has been summarily dismissed by many researchers as not been the witness George Hutchinson, no one has yet put forward any evidence of a credible alternative identification of their own.
Lets take a look at George Hutchinson's statement description once again.
5ft 5"tall, black moustache, no beard, weak eyes, sandy eyelashes, wearing a morning suit and a billycock hat. Quite a detailed description, wouldn't you say. Except, this was not the description George Hutchinson gave describing the man seen with Mary Kelly, but the description of J.Best and John Gardner, describing a man they saw sheltering from the rain in the doorway of the Bricklayer's Arms, Settle Street, with a woman they later identified at the mortuary as Elizabeth Stride.
Therefore, George Hutchinson was not the only witness to give a detailed description of a suspect. Best and Gardner also gave a detailed description, including the colour of the man's eyelashes, and no one could possibly assume that Best and Gardner were suspected of being jack the Ripper, could they. Therefore, the statement of George Hutchinson may not be quite as suspicious as it first appears to be.
The inquest into Mary Kelly's death opened and closed on 12 November 1888 and the press expressed their surprise at the sudden termination of the proceedings before all the witnesses had a chance to come forward. So once again, nothing really sinister in Hutchinson not coming forward sooner with his statement.
Some Ripper authors have suggested Abberline sussed Hutchinson and knew he was lying, but just could not prove he was the Ripper, and that the detectives sent to accompany him around, hoping to spot the suspect he described, were actually keeping an eye on him to stop him killing, or even better, catch him in the act. I personally do not believe Abberline doubted Hutchinson's statement for one moment. For Hutchinson described exactly who the police at the time thought the Ripper was, a foreign looking Jew. Swanson, Macnaghten, Anderson and even Abberline with his favoured suspect, George Chapman, all believed the Ripper was foreign and Jewish looking. Therefore, when along comes George Hutchinson with his detailed description of a foreign looking suspect, perfect.
Abberline stated that he believed Hutchinson's statement was, 'Important and true'. If the police did not believe Hutchinson's statement description, why did they arrest Joseph Denny and Joseph Isaacs. Was it because they were foreign looking and wearing long Astrakhan trimmed coat's, exactly as Hutchinson had described.
In his original statement to the police, Hutchinson described the man he had seen as, 'Jewish in appearance', this was later changed to, 'looked like a foreigner', in an attempt to avoid stirring up any anti-Semitic feelings, as hostility and anger against the local Jewish population was already running high.
Hutchinson was paid the equivalent of a months wages by the police for his help in searching for his Ripper suspect, he was also paid by the press for his story. Could this be the real reason why an unemployed groom was so keen to help and perhaps why he elaborated on his statement description a little.
Until new evidence is found which sheds a little more light on Hutchinson's life after the murder of Mary Kelly, there will remain only the possibility of a genuine Ripper suspect. In all probabilities, George Hutchinson was nothing more than a man seeking his 15 minutes of fame.
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