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History's Multiple Murders

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History's Multiple Murders

Post by Karen on Sat 17 Jul 2010 - 9:31

Some of the details found in this Police Journal are quite fascinating:

Multiple Murders of By-Gone Days.

"Maniac Slayer," of New York, Sent Advance Notice of Killings to Newspaper in Code - Famous Cases of "Jack the Ripper," of London - Never Caught.

(By James M. Hepbron, in Fraternal Order of Police Journal.)

"Everything that happens has happened before," said a medieval rabbi of Spain, "and our astonishment at the actual events springs, as a rule, from our ignorance of similar ones that preceded it in the course of the ages." If the rabbi's philosophy is correct then there is nothing really new in the killings over a year ago in New York by the so-called "maniac slayer." This killer sent letters to a New York newspaper announcing in advance his intention to kill certain persons whom he designated by code numbers, such as W.R. V-8.
In the third of a series of letters to the paper, for example, he said: "You have not published the code message sent you - too bad - for your information there is more work for the police now. Tonight at 10 o'clock Sowley was bumped off near Floral Park and not very far away from the police signal station. You will find him near an automobile junk pile. We have selected this night to do it, as Moyznski was buried today. This is our second warning. Thirteen more men and women go the same way if they do not return two of the missing papers. I advise you to publish the code, message, for tomorrow one more will go.....On June 18 at 9 P.M. I will be at College Point to get W.R. V-8."

Women of Underworld.

If such letters had not been followed by actual killings they would have been thought to be penned by some practical joker or taken from one of Edgar Wallace's latest thrillers. But the medieval rabbi of Spain was right, such letters have been written before and similar crimes have taken place in almost every country. Perhaps one of the most famous cases of multiple murders is that of "Jack the Ripper."
The "Ripper" murders took place in London in 1888. This killer, like the slayer of New York sent two letters and a postcard to the Central News of London, or at least he is supposed to have sent them. The postcard was written in blood and even bore the marks of bloodstained fingers. All of the Ripper's numerous victims were women of the underworld and one of the letters to the paper contained a reference to "respectable girls and women being perfectly safe." After one of his killings, only three-quarters of an hour later than a previous murder, the Ripper tore a piece from his victim's apron, wiped his knife and hands upon it and then wrote upon a wall: "The Jews are not the men to be blamed for nothing."

Policeman's Blunder.

Unfortunately a London constable, who thought that a fast gathering crowd of morbidly curious people might be incited to disorder or possible riot by the message, quietly effaced the message. Such a blunder by the police can scarcely be imagined, for had not this writing been obliterated it might have been studied to determine whether or not it was the same as that on the letters and postcard received by the newspaper. But let us go back to the beginning of the wholesale slaughters of Jack the Ripper.
All the murders took place in London's East End, that network of dark courts and fulsome alleys between Aldgate and a point in Whitechapel road. It is an area of squalor, vice and crime. The Rippers' crimes themselves were unspeakably hideous, but the details rarely varied and almost all of them were committed out of doors in alleyways and dark corners.

Theory Discredited.

There was but little doubt that all the killings were the work of a single man who had no accomplices. Unquestionably he was left-handed - evidenced by the manner in which he dissected his victims. His knowledge of human anatomy led many to believe that he was some maniac doctor, a veritable Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. That he was such a character seems possible, since Forbes Winslow, the famous criminal pathologist, expressed the opinion that the murderer might have been normal except in moments of erratic frenzy. "He may go home each time," said Dr. Winslow, "and by the morning, when the fit has passed off, not know or remember what he has done." On the other hand, the theory that he was a doctor was discredited by the illiterate missives written to the Central News, providing the letters were really his work.
When London was in a fever over the continued killings of the Ripper, and the police were coming in for a tremendous amount of public criticism, Scotland Yard received an official communication from the Russian police. The communication told of a Russian who, after similar killings, had finally been caught red-handed three years before. This man, who was at one time a doctor, was found to be insane and was confined in a criminal lunatic asylum from which he had escaped in the early spring of 1888, just a few months prior to the first terrible crime in London's East End. Furthermore, this man had previously spent years in England and knew the language well.

Not An American.

Many persons inclined to the theory that Jack the Ripper was an American, since the missives he sent were couched in such slang as "Dear Boss" and similar American expressions. In Mrs. Belloc-Lowndes' story, "The Lodger," which deals with the Ripper murders, mention is made of the fact that months later blood-stained garments were found in a trunk in a rooming house. The lodger to whom the trunk belonged had left hurriedly, saying he would send for it. Among the clothing left in the trunk, according to the story, was a blue serge suit, the buttons of which bore the name of a Chicago tailor. Indeed, a Scotland Yard representative, Inspector Andrews, was sent to America in December of 1888 on an unsuccessful search for the Whitechapel fiend. During the early spring of 1887 and 1888 a series of murders were committed in Texas similar in nature to those in London.
The Ripper of London was never captured, despite his many killings. It seems almost incredible that the police were unable to capture him, especially when he operated in one restricted area and went so far as to give advance notice of almost the time and place of his proposed crime.

Unusual "Ripper" Style.

"For example, one of the Ripper's victims, Annie Chapman, was killed in the back yard of a house in Hanbury street. The house door was open day and night and one could pass through from the street to the yard. At a little past midnight in this case a man happened to look out of a window which faced the yard of his tenement. He saw two persons, one of whom, a woman, he heard cry out: "No, no." A few hours later another man, entering the yard to get some coal, found the body of the woman dissected in the Ripper's usual manner.
Another theory regarding the identity of the Ripper which was widely believed was disproved. Neill Cream, the man who a few years later poisoned a number of London's street women, was said to have confessed to the Ripper crimes on the scaffold. It was definitely established, however that Cream was in prison in America at the time the Whitechapel crimes were perpetrated.

Entire Crew Murdered.

One could go on enumerating instances of multiple murders almost without end. There is the case, for instance, of Albert Hicks, who murdered the entire crew of the sail vessel E.A. Johnson, bound from New York for Deep Creek, Va. The ship was found adrift without a single soul aboard, either dead or alive.
Mention might also be made of Charles Avinain, a French slayer, who was a butcher in more ways than one. The criminal dismembered his numerous victims' bodies and threw them into the Seine. Robbery was his motive and his most unusual victims were farmers who came to Paris with loads of produce to sell in the market. Meeting them on the road some distance out of the city, he would offer to buy the entire load of vegetables or produce. Avinain would then ride with his victim to a ramshackle shed and old house which he had near the banks of the Seine. It was his custom to ply his prey with drink and squander time by devious means until the hour was too late for the farmer to return home. Avinain would then induce the farmer to spend the night with him. During the night he would beat out his brains with a hammer and hack his body to pieces.

Disappeared In Sewer.

The police finally ran this criminal to his lair, but he disappeared before their very eyes. M. Claude, who was head of the French police, went to the place himself and when Avinain was seen to enter, knocked for admission and was gruffly bid to enter. When he did so the killer stepped on a trap door and precipitated himself into one of the sewers. M. Claude, however, suspected that the sewers were the means of Avinain's number of men stationed in them. It took seven men to subdue the fiend.
But no discussion of multiple murders would be complete without mention of John Williams, the Ratcliff Highway demon of London, who inspired one of the finest mysterious disappearance of the previous occasion and had a number of essays in the English language. Thomas de Quincy's "Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts." It was likewise the murders of Williams that led to the introduction of a protective device with which every American is now familiar. Thousands of English house-holders, in an effort to take extraordinary precautions against this savage killer, equipped their doors with those chains by which they might be opened partially to take stock of a caller's appearance before admitting him.
Williams wiped out whole families down to a helpless infant in its cradle, and all his killings were for the sake of relatively small sums of money or trinkets of scant value. When finally cornered he committed suicide.

Source: The Post-Democrat, Friday January 6, 1933, Page 4

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

Posts : 4907

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