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Post by Karen on Fri 13 Jul 2012 - 21:34

The Story of Knapp And his Predecessors In the Awful Crime.

The strangling of women as a favorite and effective method of taking their lives has prevailed for ages, but the practice did not enter extensively into the criminal records of the world until early in the eighteenth century, when the police department of Paris, France, was shocked by a long continued series of murders by strangulation says the Cincinnati Enquirer. Men and women alike were victims, and in nearly every case the victim, after being strangled, was thrown into the River Seine.
In nearly every case the murdered victim's pockets were turned inside out, and he was relieved of his jewelery, diamonds and valuables.
The Paris police were puzzled for several years, especially as to why the victims were invariably cast into the water after being strangled and robbed. This was not explained for a number of years until medical science came to the front with the explanation.
It was that the bodies of victims who had been strangled and cast into the Seine decomposed more rapidly in the water than did the bodies of persons whose death was caused by drowning. Decomposition was especially apparent in the region of the victim's neck, so that the very result that was sought to be obtained by the murderers was accomplished - that of obliterating all external evidences of the choking process. The decomposition of the bruised flesh and parts about the neck completely obliterated all finger marks, and useless autopsies were performed showing the victim's lungs to be free from water many of the deaths which were really caused be strangulation were attributed to suicide by drowning.
After a reign of terror in Paris, extending over a period of several years, the Paris police arrested two men in the very act of choking and robbing their victim. They confessed that they belonged to an organized body of thieves who were known as the "Stranglers of Paris." Their object was robbery and their spoils were divided among the members of the organization. The two stranglers who were caught in the act were guillotined, as were half a dozen others whose arrests were accomplished. The other members of the gang took flight and left Paris.

The Whitechapel Murders.

Strangling as a means of murder was resorted to in all the principal cities of Europe almost without interruption, but the cases were isolated and did not attract international interest. It was not until the civilized world was shocked by the series of murders by strangulation in the tough quarters of London, known as "Whitechapel," that the terror that reigned in France was felt in London.
The victims were invariably dissolute women and their bodies were horribly mutilated after their lives had been choked out of them. London's army of uniformed policemen, as well as the shrewdest men in the famous Scotland Yard, London's secret service, were unable to obtain the slightest clew to the murderer, who seemed able to operate under the very noses of the police. Whitechapel fairly swarmed with uniformed "bobbies" and Scotland Yard men who turned from one street into another, only to find the dead and mutilated body of some unfortunate women.
The murderer became so bold as to write letters to Scotland Yard telling its operatives when he intended to go on his next expedition of crime and he even went so far as to name in advance places where he intended to meet and slay his victims. In no case did he fail to keep his promise. The letters to Scotland Yard were signed "Jack, the Ripper," and as such the slayer of the unfortunates who were sent to their deaths in Whitechapel district became known and feared all over the civilized world.
The perpetrator of these awful crimes was never punished by the law and his identity was never fully established. However, a well known London physician went suddenly insane and shortly thereafter he died in an asylum. Immediately upon this physician's incarceration in an asylum the Whitechapel horrors ceased and it is the generally accepted theory in police circles that the physician was responsible for the murders. In no case was robbery or assault attempted on any of the Whitechapel victims, but invariably their bodies were horribly mutilated and sections of tissue and sometimes their internal organs were carried away by the murderer.

Epidemic in Boston.

Following closely the series of Whitechapel murders came the arrest of a nurse girl in Boston.
She was caught in the act of strangling the child who had been placed in her charge. After her arrest she confessed that she had murdered 31 children who had been placed in her care without once exciting the suspicion of the police or the parents of the innocents whose lives she sacrificed.
The case comes nearest as a parallel to that of Knapp, in that the self-confessed murderers acted neither from motives of lust nor gain, but because she could not resist the temptation to kill. Like Knapp, color and age were not factors in her wanton destruction of life. Her first excuse was that the children annoyed her while crying, but she subsequently admitted that she could not resist the impulse to choke the lives out of children who did not cry any more than those who did.
Knapp's record of five victims comes fourth in the authentic records of murder by strangulation. Knapp seemed to appreciate the discovery made by the "Stranglers of Paris" that casting his victims in the water would remove would remove all traces of death by strangulation, for he adopted this measure with at least two of his victims. The other three might have been disposed of in like manner had a stream or pond been near. Knapp did the next best thing to cover up his tracks, however, and this he did by secreting the bodies of two other victims - one of them under an out-of-the-way lumber pile, the other in a tool chest, entrance to which he was careful to make as difficult as possible.
It is significant that all of Knapp's victims, as well as all of his wives, have been frail and delicate, with one exception. Knapp's first wife weighed 135 pounds, according to his own statement, and she was the largest woman physically of all of his wives. His fourth, and last wife, who is also alive, is the most delicate and frail of all.

Other Noted Cases.

Following the commencement of Knapp's career as a strangler of women, an epidemic of like crimes swept over the country. Less than two months after Knapp had strangled Emma Littleman, Mary Ekhart and his second wife in Cincinnati, there were a series of crimes of similar nature in Denver. The real fate of Emma Littleman and Jennie Knapp was not then known, but the death of Mary Ekhart led the police to believe that her murderer fled to Denver and repeated his crimes there.
This theory was strengthened by the fact that Mary Ekhart contemplated a trip to Denver with a man known as "Vess," and it was believed that after killing Mary Ekhart he went to Denver alone and there killed three more victims by strangling them. The Denver victims were Marie Contassoit, who was strangled to death with a towel in her room in a disreputable house; Lenna Tupper and Bika Ogama, a Japanese girl, both of whom were strangled in dark places on the street of Denver. The murderer was never brought to justice.
On May 30, 1897, Millie Crow, a negress and Sally Mudge, an Indian girl, were strangled to death, evidently by the same man at Victoria, British Columbia. The murderer was never caught or punished.
Within three months three girls in San Francisco met death at the hands of a strangler and he was never arrested. They were Minnie Williams, on December 22, 1895; Marie McDermott, on February 24, 1896, and Berthat Paradis, on March 10, of the same year. On November 18, 1896, Anna Carraway was strangled to death in Jacksonville, Fla. Her murderer was never captured.
The murder by choking of three women in Evansville, Ind., less than two years ago is still fresh in the minds of Enquirer readers. A police officer named Sherwell was arrested and charged with these crimes, but he has been acquitted on the charge of committing two of the murders; the third case is still pending.
Less than two weeks ago Maggie Snedegar was choked to death in her room at Cleveland, Ohio. Joseph Kirwin is under arrest, charged with the crime, but he denies his guilt, and there is no testimony of any consequence against him.

Source: The Coshocton Age, Friday March 28, 1906, Page 2

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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