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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Victims > Non-Canonical Victims > Martha Tabram

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Old 01-24-2015, 08:10 PM
Ausgirl Ausgirl is offline
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 556
Default Things which don't make sense (to me)

There's quite a bit about Martha Tabram's murder, the autopsy and its findings, all on their own and as well in conjunction with several theories regarding her death that make very little sense to me. I'm not a Martha expert, so I'm more than happy to be corrected by facts (rather than theories, please) where applicable. I'm actually thinking out loud, so reserve the right to answer my own questions as I go, heh..

1. Martha was clearly strangled or suffocated while still alive, or a/ there'd be no point doing it, and b/ her face would not be swollen. Strangulation isn't all about lack of oxygen, it can also include pressure on the large arteries of the neck (particularly during ligature strangulation), restricting blood flow to the brain (producing cerebral anemia, which might make perfect sense of Tabram's notably "pale" looking brain tissue). Also, veinous congestion of the jugular, perhaps by a wider ligature (such as a piece of cloth) causes rapid rise in blood pressure in the head - causing swelling and discoloration of the face. I'm not sure whether this would cause a "pale" looking looking brain, though.

What doesn't make sense to me here is, if Martha was strangled *so hard* that it caused her face to bloat and discolour, how did this not also kill her? Why should we assume that it didn't? Which leads me to ...

3. If Martha lived for any amount of time after she was strangled, and then also survived for any amount of time after 9 stabs to the throat, two stabs to one lung and then five to the other -- if she was still breathing, or attempting to breathe, after any and all of that, then WHY was there no blood in her mouth?

It doesn't make sense to me that if Tabram was alive and attempting to breathe with two perforated lungs and a throat stabbed nine times, there's no blood in her mouth.

It makes much more sense, if I consider that she might have already been dead for the stabbing. Which leads me to:

4. The finding that she died from "exsanguination". Blood loss. Not the strangulation that made her face swell up like a big purple balloon. Not the stab wound to her heart, or the 7 collective stab wounds to her lungs, or aspiration of blood from the 9 stab wounds to her throat. Killeen posits that she somehow survived past all of that, and bled to death?

5: These things, in the autopsy report:

the heart was stabbed once, which was rather fatty; except for stab wound nothing about the heart to cause death;
So why isn't cause of death "fatal stab wound to the heart?"

there was a lot of blood between her legs
But no examination of what what caused it? No mention at all in the inquest report of where that blood came from? The location and type of wound that caused it? Why? Yet we're told:

the breasts, stomach, abdomen, and vagina seemed to have been the main areas
Of what? Stabbing? Can we eke from this the suggestion that Martha was stabbed in the vagina? Why not just say so? How is this not strongly suggestive of the Ripper? Why is Tabram, with these injuries to those areas of her body, NOT up there in the c5, but Stride is? That makes no sense to me.

Why did he stab in a bunch of clusters, around major organs, and not just randomly all over the place? The chest wounds. okay, I can see breasts being the target there. But lower down -- was he maybe after stabbing the ovaries and womb?

the stab wound to the heart might have been made by a dagger or bayonet by a left-handed person.
Or someone right-handed, crouching at the opposite end of her body... How'd he come to these left/right conclusions, anyway? Show your reasoning man!

death was due to hemorrhage and loss of blood
Already mentioned above. But let me just say here: REALLY? At what stage. please? How 'bout a wild guess, Dr. Killeen? No?

sexual intercourse had not recently taken place
Then what the heck had her 'date' been doing with her that night? Enjoying her scintillating conversation?

no evidence of a struggle; except for the wound on the chest bone
She's supposed to have survived being strangled blue in the face, stabbed in a bunch of vital organs, stabbed in the heart (in whatever order one chooses ot place those)... then went on, according to Killeen, to bleed to death... yet there's no signs of struggle. No drag marks, no great sloughs of blood indicating she tried to crawl away.

She was attacked, it seems, in situ and it seems, was quite quickly and utterly overcome, probably rendered unconscious (via severe strangulation/lack of blood to the brain), before that long series of potentially fatal injuries didn't kill her and she bled out...

Or just maybe Tabram was killed outright via strangulation, and all the stabbery was post mortem. Which leads me to:

6: HOW can people insist her stab wounds could not possibly be postmortem due to the blood loss, when less than 20 seconds of Googling can pull up a whole slew of documents proving that according to forensic science, bodies can and do bleed after death?

Phew. This has likely all been argued and argued.. but at least I feel better after venting. Also, a deal more convinced JtR might have this, and Tabram was dead for all the stabbing.

Except.. 7:
If this was Jack, why'd he quit stabbing and start 'ripping', just a few weeks later? Was the womb-level stab/slice on Tabram the beginning of it?

Last edited by Ausgirl : 01-24-2015 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 01-24-2015, 08:30 PM
Damaso Marte Damaso Marte is offline
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Posts: 446

Originally Posted by Ausgirl View Post
Except.. 7:
If this was Jack, why'd he quit stabbing and start 'ripping', just a few weeks later? Was the womb-level stab/slice on Tabram the beginning of it?
The Nichols abdomen wounds could be seen as being on a spectrum ranging from Tabram to Chapman. They're not quite classic Ripper stuff, even though that's an undisputed Ripper murder.
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Old 01-25-2015, 05:05 PM
Pcdunn Pcdunn is offline
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Colorado, USA
Posts: 1,337

To Ausgirl:

Interesting questions.

I wonder if she was already insensible before she was strangled? Would this be a case of her attacker finding a sleeping or drunk woman and striking while she was particularly vulnerable? Would that account for the lack of signs of struggle? Just a thought...
Pat D.
Von Konigswald: Jack the Ripper plays shuffleboard. -- Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut, c.1970.
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Old 01-26-2015, 08:10 AM
Premium Member
Batman Batman is offline
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Posts: 1,488

I don't think it really mattered to JtR how he rendered them unconscious as long as they got unconscious. Dead or unconscious, didn't matter, as that was never the focus of his attack, just a means to an end. So the MO here can deviate quite a bit.

In Nichols case it looks like she has been punched out cold first. Chapman seems to have gone the same way. Schartz literally describes Stride being hard slammed into the concrete. Thrown down. Not pushed down. All of this stuff seems like pretty random violent blitz type attacks done when the victim is off-guard. MJK may have had a sheet pulled over her face before she was killed. There seems little in the way of there being a solid pattern in how the blitz is done, but the brusing to the face, neck and chest shows it was done and there is some.

Tabram was stabbed in the throat. She was not slashed. So that isn't really like JtR.

However the time/location and position of the body is all in line with JtR. There is obviously some attempt at sexual mutilation, like Nichols.

I postulated awhile ago on the board that the positioning is not completely sexual at all, but aids exsanguination, like someone who was feeling faint, putting their legs up helps blood flow back to the head while on your back.

As correctly stated, Tabram's death is all odd and strange. The stabs to the neck may not have been enough to kill her. Maybe the killer thought she was dead only to find her coming too during the mutilation and then having to strangle her to finish her off. So that's a mistake he won't make again. No more stabs to the neck. Next time he slashes.

What I am getting at is that it doesn't seem to matter to JtR what killed them as long as they where horizontal, unconscious and where not going to bother him any more.
Bona fide canonical and then some.
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Old 05-18-2017, 01:44 PM
YankeeSergeant YankeeSergeant is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Upstate New york, USA
Posts: 244

Very good questions all! There may not have been two knives and in fact my THEORY is that there was one knife, likely a stout and very sharp dagger. I'm not inclined to believe it was a clasp knife unless it locked like some today do because with no hilt the killer would likely have injured himself. I rule out a bayonet because their length makes them unwieldy if not on the front of a rifle.
I'm not surprised that there were no signs of sexual intercourse. It is possible that her last customer did not penetrate and instead she placed him literally between her legs rather than in her vagina.
In spite of Television and movies showing strangling as easy, it is not. It is possible that she was still alive though comatose when the killer started stabbing her.
There were 39 stab wounds She would have leaked like a sieve. Given the proximity of the abdominal wounds to the vagina that would account for the blood and if the vaginal area was not actually wounded, the coroner would not mention it.
All in all you pose some intriguing questions. Thank you for the post it was entertaining and illuminating.
Neil "Those who forget History are doomed to repeat it." - Santayana
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