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Lot 1, J. Ripper

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Lot 1, J. Ripper

Post by Karen on Thu 22 Jul 2010 - 16:50




The finding of two human legs from the knees downward at Hawthorn last night has quite upset that usually very quiet city, and given folks very much to talk about and speculate upon. The story of the finding of the legs is a very simple one. Mrs. Spinks, of Burnley, and her sister, Mrs. Underwood of Hawthorn, were passing along Manning-tree road - a very fashionable thoroughfare by the way - about a quarter past 10 o'clock last night, when they almost stumbled across a bag that was lying within a few feet of the gutter on the asphalt pavement immediately in front of the residence of Dr. Herbert Embling (but on the other side of the road) who resides at the corner of Manning-tree road and Power street. As a matter of fact, it was on the asphalt in front of the residence of Mr. Box. Mrs. Spinks stooped down and found that the article before her was a Hessian sugar bag tied with string. Further examination tended to show that in contained a couple - it might, indeed, be said


for without doubt they had belonged to the one body in life. The police were quickly made acquainted with the circumstances, and the legs subsequently forwarded in a cab to the Melbourne morgue.
It might be stated that at the bottom of the bag there were a number of cabbage leaves, and that there was also a piece of calico, in which the limbs had apparently been wrapped. Each leg was wrapped up in a piece of a Melbourne paper. On the outside of the bag there was found to be pinned a piece of brown paper, bearing an inscription in large sprawling letters. It was evidently done with a brush or the end of a penholder smeared in lamp-black. The inscription was - Lot No. 1, J. Ripper.


This was intended for


there can be no doubt; and in all probability, the word "Ripper" was spelt purposely with two "i's."
Late as the hour was the town was at once set agoing with excitement, and the question asked was - Was it a murder or was it a brutal and ghastly hoax? The general opinion was in favor of the murder theory, but this was probably because the human mind is prone to accept sensation of a really gory type than of a simple hoax. And a cursory examination of the limbs rather leads to the belief that they were cut off immediately after death, so that the murder theory was an acceptable one.
This morning, after more mature consideration by medical men, the idea gained ground that the whole thing was a ghastly joke. Medical men seen on the subject state that the legs might not have been cut off the trunk until six weeks after death. The blood in the veins of a human body does not coagulate for a very long time - in some instances, indeed, only on being brought in contact with the air.
At the same time there is nothing to show that a most


has not been committed, and that the murderer was not endeavoring to get rid of his victim piecemeal. The road in which the limbs were found leads to a very secluded and lonely part of the river, and it is averred in many quarters that the murderer was on his way with the bag to fling it in the water, when from some cause - the opening of a door or a passing footstep - he became alarmed, dropped the bag and took to his heels. The bag could not have been where it was found very long, in the opinion of the police not more than a quarter of an hour, because about every fifteen minutes a train arrives and people are passing up and down the street.
Another question is the following: -
Have the legs been amputated in the ordinary way and then placed where they were found by a medical student or students? The thought is too ghastly for belief. Besides it is asserted by medical men that amputations are never performed in this way; that legs are cut off either above or below the knees, through the bone, and not


as in this case. It is also asserted that the "work" is that of an amateur or amateurs.
But that does not do away with the murder theory, and from the medical evidence we must come to the conclusion that either a murder has been committed or that a ghastly hoax has been perpetrated upon a corpse. But what corpse and whose? There is some difference of opinion as to whether the limbs are those of


but there is no doubt whatever that they both belonged to one and the same body. Then, where was the body obtained? Was it that of a person recently deceased? and was it the work of a madman to cut off the legs before burial in such a way as to defy detection? Was the body buried without the legs? or, indeed, does it lie unburied still, or has any grave been rifled, coffin broken open, or unholy sacrilege committed on God's acre? The nearest cemetary is that of Kew, a couple of miles away. If this assumption be at all near the mark, this hoax would seem to be the work of a maniac, but it can hardly be believed that a man in his right senses could commit such an act.


is considerable discounted by the fact of the "Jack the Ripper" paper found upon the bag. As before stated, this was evidently in a disguised handwriting. At the same time it may be a murder and the work of a madman, in which case there would be nothing extraordinary in his so bringing the matter before the eyes of justice in this way; and it may be that the rest of the body is rotting away in some dark cell or lies buried beneath a hearthstone or away in a back garden. The whole thing is of such a startling and extraordinary character that it will tax the utmost ingenuity of the police force to probe it to the bottom.
At every street corner in Hawthorn and Glenferrie today are to be found groups of people discussing the situation. Strangely enough, there are a good many medical students living about this neighborhood, and some people set it down as "one of their pranks," but, from the reasons we have mentioned, this is hardly likely. The murder theory seems the most popular one, and it will be some time before the passersby at the spot where the limbs were found, will go their ways in peace after dark without a thought of the possible deed of blood which has occured in their midst, or a shudder at the river which runs dark and turgid below, burying under its waters many a tale of blood and many a story of mystery.


The official report of Constable G. McCarthy states that at about twenty minutes past 11 last night, while standing in Burwood road, Hawthorn, in company with Constable Kloester, he was accosted by a Mrs. Underwood, of Manningtree road. The lady stated that there was a parcel lying on the footpath in Manningtree road. The constables went to the spot indicated, which is just outside the residence of Dr. Embling, and saw there a Hessian sugar bag, such as would hold lewt, tied at the mouth with a piece of string. They opened the bag, and emptied its contents on the footpath. An examination showed that the bag contained


which had been cut off from just at the knee.
Each of the legs was wrapped in a piece of a Melbourne newspaper bearing date of the 19th inst. Lying on the leg was a piece of brown paper, on which was roughly daubed, as with a brush, the words, "Lot No. 1 J. Ripper." The legs appeared to be recently cut off, and Dr. Embling, who was present at the examination, said he believed them to be the legs of a man, and that they had been taken off during the previous 24 hours. The legs were removed to the Morgue by the two constables. Mrs. Isabella Spinks, of No. 5 Kartoon street, Burnley, was also present at the finding of the remains.


Dr. H. Embling, of Power street, Hawthorn, was seen this morning by a HERALD reporter in regard to the remarkable discovery. The doctor, on learning the reporter's mission, at once kindly consented to furnish all the particulars he could.

"At what time were you made acquainted with the "find" doctor?" was asked.
"It was about half-past 12 last night, or properly speaking this morning. I was walking along the street towards my house in company with a friend, when a policeman stopped me and told me of the discovery. I immediately went to the spot and found an officer of the law in possession of a bran bag, which he said contained two human legs. I requested him to convey the bag and its contents to my rsidence, which is situated near the spot, and he immediately did so."
"And what did you find on examination?"
"I discovered that there were two human legs. Each leg was wrapped up in a piece of newspaper. There was


on each leg."
"Do you think the legs were severed before or after death?"
"After death, I should say."
"Was the operation performed in such a manner as to lead you to believe that it was the work of one practiced in the art of surgery?
"Yes, I think the operation was performed by some person who understood something about the business, although, on mature consideration, I am of opinion that it could have been done by


Both legs were severed at the knee joint."
"Do you think the legs belonged to a male or female?"
"I have little hesitation in saying that they belonged to a man. For this reason; the calf of a woman's leg has


whilst the peculiarity about the calf of a man's leg is that the muscles stand out prominently, and this was noticeable on the calves of the legs in question. It does not matter how hard the occupation of a woman may be, the calves of the legs never alter to such a degree as to cause any doubt to be expressed as to the sex to which they belong."
"I suppose you could not


from the examination?"
"No, If I remember rightly the bag was labelled "Lot 1, J. Ripper." After I had made the examination and told the police that the legs belonged to a man they were greatly disappointed. Owing to


being associated with the discovery they naturally thought they were the legs of a woman, and the result of my examination knocked a lot of the sensation out of the business."
"Were the legs bruised in any way?"
"With the exception of a slight bruise on the right foot, there were


"Was there anything else in the bag besides the legs?"
"There were several cabbagestalks, but I did not trouble about closely examining them. The police removed the legs to the Morgue, where I suppose an inquiry will be held."
"Do you think a murder has been committed?"
"I would not care to advance any opinion as the affair is so mysterious."
Our representative thanked Dr. Embling for his courtesy and withdrew.


During the morning Drs. Wilkinson and Anderson, of Hawthorn, were seen with reference to the mysterious discovery, and both gentlemen agree that the amputation is not the work of a surgeon, as he rare, if ever, amputates through the knee joints in the manner that the present case has been. The fact that blood was flowing from the limbs when found led the medical experts to believe that the amputation must have taken place after death, as if it had been done during life blood would cease to flow after a minute or two. The doctors mentioned hardly think that the mystery is the work of some student, bent on a practical joke, although such a thing might happen.


Some short time before the bag was discovered by Mrs. Underwood and her sister, a gentleman named Ponsford was accompanying two ladies home, and had to pass the spot where the bag was subsequently found. One of the ladies saw the bag, and directed Mr. Ponsford's attention to it. He stooped down, and made a cursory examination of the interior, which induced him to believe that it contained the body of an infant. He said he would first take the ladies home, and then, on his return, if the bag had not been removed, he would report it to the police. But when he came back the bag was gone, and so there was no occasion for him to trouble himself further about it. He subsequently learned that it had not contained the body of an infant as he supposed, but the lower limbs of an adult human being.


No report on the matter has reached the authorities at the Russell street police station. A telephone message was sent to the office of the Metropolitan Superintendent, asking for assistance from the members of the Criminal Investigation Department. Superintendent Kennedy, the head of the department, to whom the application was referred, detailed Detective-sergeant Considine and Cawsey off to investigate the case. These two officers are those who so successfully brought Frederick Bayley Deeming to justice, and are noted for their acumen, vigilance and experience.
In conversation with them the expressed the opinion that if the case was one of murder the act was that of a lunatic. Considine inclines to the belief that the matter is a ghastly and reprehensible hoax. He pointed out that it was very unlikely that a murderer would secrete the body and then place the legs on the public footpath. The Jack the Ripper murders were alluded to, and Considine remarked that Jack the Ripper did not hack off the legs of his unfortunate victims after he had murdered them. He always left the bodies where they were afterwards found. The case of the human remains found on one of the buttresses of the bridge in London some years ago was also mentioned. Considine pointed out that in this case also it was not intended that the remains should have been left where they were found. It was evidently that they should have been thrown in the river, and they were caught as they fell on the buttress of the bridge. The very fact of the words "J. Ripper No. 1" being written on the papers in which the legs were found should satisfy any reasonable person that the matter is a disgraceful hoax. Of course it is quite possible there may be something in it, but I am strongly of opinion that there is nothing in it.
Detective Cawsey held pretty well the same opinion, but said also that some lunatic might have committed a murder, secreted the body, and placed the legs where they were found. He, however, was very doubtful about even this.
Considine and Cawsey afterwards visited the Melbourne University and Melbourne Hospital, and made certain inquiries. They however, obtained no definite or satisfactory information. They then proceeded to the Morgue, and examined the legs. They proceeded to Hawthorn shortly before 1 o'clock to pursue their investigations. Up to the present it may be confidently stated that the result of their investigation is that nothing of a definite nature relating to the case has been obtained. No clue whatsoever has been secured.


The two legs are lying on one of the slabs at the Morgue Mortuary covered with a white cloth. The cloth was removed when they were examined by a well-known medical man, Dr. Youl, and Detectives Sergeant Cawsey and Considine. The legs have been hacked off at the knee joint. They are rather coarse in outward appearance, and in some places there is a quantity of hair. Stains of blood were observed about them in various places, but this might have been occasioned by the handling they have received. The feet were short, and the toes are not cramped in like those of many women who wear tight shoes. The medical expert expressed the opinion that the legs were those of a rather small man, and that they had been removed from the body


The bones at the ankles were considered to be too coarse and prominent to be those of a woman. There were no marks on the skin of the knee joint, such as would be caused by scrubbing. Dr. Youl was also inclined to the opinion that the legs were those of a small man. An opinion was expressed that the legs might have come from some undertaker's place. It was considered impossible that they could have been obtained from the University, and very improbable that they came from the Melbourne Hospital.


The Chief Commissioner of Police has not yet received any report on the subject, but he expects to obtain one during the day. Mr. Chumley is anxious to have the matter thoroughly investigated as even if it should prove a grim fake, some action should be taken against the offender. The Commissioner is of the opinion that the legs were intended for dissection probably by some student in anatomy, and that their possession gave birth to a decidedly unpleasant joke. At the same time he could not give any information on the subject.

Source: The Herald (Melbourne) Friday Evening, November 25, 1892

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

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