Originally Posted by Phil Carter
Many thanks for this insight. You mention the "pulling out" of the heart. What if a knife was used to separate it from its position in the body? Would this require any degree of skill? And more importantly, in your opinion, what degree, if any, of anatomical knowledge would this killer need to have to locate the various organs and remove them before approaching the subject of heart removal? (the liver etc)
Well in my own opinion (bearing in mind I could write for literally hours about this):
Yes, he would still have to cut the heart out. The pulling is really to enable him to do this, bringing it lower than the thoracic cavity away from the protection of the rib cage and with the extra space now away from the lungs (although he sliced the right lung in the process). He would still need to cut it from the major blood vessels, aorta, etc. Ripping them would not have been an option. The walls of the great vessels are quite strong and there is little room for manoevre removing the heart in this way with the rib cage and lungs being so close. Besides more general devastation to the inside of the body would occur if he had tried to rip the heart from the cavity. I believe the only reason the lungs stayed in place was because he just didn't have the strength or the knowledge to be able to remove them. In other words not used to human dissection (it would seem he did try according to the post-mortem report).
The pericardium itself is actually two different sacs, one continuous with the cavity walls, which separates the heart from it's surroundings, acts to limit blood volume and helps suspend it in the thoracic cavity, and offers some protection, the other deeper serous membrane reduces frictions during contraction offers some cushioning, etc. Whether the killer knew about this could be
debateable of course. Removing the heart itself once he had got to it would not have required great skill, but certainly the killer would either have some fairly sound knowledge or be deeply determined. If we are to assume that this killing was the work of someone who didn't know what they were about, then this is a bit like a dissection, learning as he goes - no mean feat, and I doubt the killer would have done this is he was the same killer as that who killed the other victims, or a sexual killer relishing in his work.
The pericardium is not simply a bag wrapped around the heart, but a multi-layered organ sac composed of different tissues, which joins to the great vessels. The killer must have no doubt known that these membranes would need to be cut to reach the heart, rather than trying to get above it and cutting the major vessels, leaving the heart still firmly inside the chest.
Really he would have been focussed, or had a good idea about the inside of the body, otherwise he would be doing more hard work than he imagined, which wouldn't be a very easy experience when presented with a carved up human body. Even in this day and age, with modern biological knowledge not hard to come by, how many people still talk of their 'stomach' when they refer to the area of their intestines? The stomach is of course not in the place many believe, so how would these people fare if they were to dissect a body? What would they do when confronted by the liver? Now imagine you're back in the 1800s without the benefit of the internet, biology text books, hospital dramas or surgical documentaries on TV. This adds to the difficulty.
To be honest he may not
have need any real skill
to cut the heart out, as the vessels would be obvious once he could see the heart, but he certainly seems to be able to get through this pretty well, and of course it was not only the heart removal we must look at. I wouldn't suppose someone who was doing this had no general knowledge of anatomy, at least that of someone who had opened up an animal. I doubt that he had the knowledge of a surgeon or specialist, due to the other mutilations, and his feeble attempt at attacking the lungs. He clearly pushed his luck trying to remove the lungs but gave up realising this task was beyond him the way he was doing it.
Not only that, but differing from the other crimes, committed quickly in the dark, the person doing this would have needed very strong stomach to get through it. There was nothing in the reports about vomit anywhere as far as I remember. This was not a job for the feint-hearted.
The pericardium was opened, rather than him attempting to cut that away with the heart and it is also inside the sac where the vessel roots lie. The killer has obviously had to cut through the diaphragm to do this, so I would say the killer in this case only demonstrated a fairly good knowledge of anatomy. But again I cannot be certain...
The problem with this is of course that it involves timing. If we knew enough to say this had been done quickly in public like the other killings, then I would say, yes the killer had a good practical knowledge of anatomy, to be able to do it that quick he would not have had time to stop and think about it, but no doubt slashed away and tried taking the sac with the heart. But given enough time, he might have been able to figure out that he had to cut it out from the sac. It wouldn't be too hard in a closed room, with time on his hands to figure out that the diaphragm and pericardium had to be cut, although a wouldn't suppose a desperate criminal would stop to think, but rather just give up or try to remove it inside the sac, cutting at the vessels further from the heart, which is why I lean to him having some knowledge (practical knowledge, not text-book).
But then if the killer was a sexual pervert, or took great excitement in what he was doing, would he have put in the time to 'learn on the job' worrying about organ sacs or attatchments? I'm doubtful.
But you did mention the way in which the other organs were removed first. Now if you look at the reports it might seem like a pretty obvious way of doing it, but it is quite suggestive of someone who had seen the inside of an animal before. Organs are roughly in the same positions in most of animals, and we share pretty much the same types of organs too (barring some specialised ones). The way these have been removed and then placed out of the way while the killer goes in deep suggests to me he had cut up some type of animal before. There are no wild slashes as seen on the other victims (such as longitudnial and side ways abdominal cuts) during the removal of the organs, these are basically limited to the outside of the body (face, buttock, and so on). There is no mention for example of the intestines being cut in two (good job for the killer), or taken in bits found in different locations. Not bad considering that the human digestive tract is around 5m long, and an unaware person might be tempted to 'unravel' them to find the end, and cut them out not realising the whole digestive tract is continuous from the mouth the the anus, or cut off obviously different parts to make them easier to handle. This killer has literally reoved the whole digestive tract and placed it by the side of the body as one.
None of the major vessels have been removed, only organs apparently, the organs have been taken out of the body, rather than being simply pulled out and chucked still attached and the killer does not seem to have changed the position of the body barring the head at all during his post-mortem work (almost all of the mutilations were to the front of the body). He may of course have started his work with the victim lying on her side facing away from the wall, although it's more likely the mutilating was done in the position she was found. In fact in this case the killer actually placed
the organs, which is quite suggestive, as they were placed in different locations, so the killer obviously preferreed to change his position relative to the victim rather than move her position.
Notice that organs tend to be laid according to when they were removed and the killer's position when he did so - the kidneys are together for example, along with the uterus, the spleen is by it's side of the body, the inestines being on the right so the killer has placed the liver to his left (between the feet). I would suggest the killer knew the layout of the body and had done this before, removing each of these organs without much problem and having room to place them so as not throwing them around the room, or placing them one by one in different locations.
Now this wouldn't be how a surgeon or doctor would dissect a body, but it would be how someone who had cut open an animal to prepare it for being carved up wold try and remove organs, separating the different organ systems for different intentions - for offal, liver, etc.
Really this seems to me to be the work of someone who knew generally what organs were where. It's one thing to read them in a book, quite another to do it for real. Of course I am not a forensic medical examiner by any strech, but I do have a very good knowledge of anatomy being the biology geek I am, and can feel sure that my conclusions are accurate.
Given the post-mortem report I dare say it might be possible to give a blow by blow account of what happened - something I might have a bash at soon!
So long story short (yeah right!), the killer may not have had a great
knowledge of anatomy (shown by his attempt at the lungs), at least not human anatomy which differs in details, but more than likely some involving animals and would no doubt have cut some type of animal before, and known about many features the average man in the street would have been clueless about (pericardium, spleen, etc).
Having said all this to me the killing and mutilations themselves appear to be very obvious clues as to who killed Kelly, which is one of a few reasons I don't believe she was killed by the same man as the other 5 victims (the killer whom I strongly believe died in October that year).
I'm also leaning towards Kelly's killer being left-handed.