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

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  #1  
Old 05-15-2012, 08:34 PM
SarahLee SarahLee is offline
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Default Strangulation in the case of Tabram?

A search of the forum isn’t turning up any existing threads for this so I thought I’d ask the question here. In reading up on MT I’ve come across several references to the 18th August article in the Illustrated Police News alleging that she was throttled . . .

. . . is this a case of pure sensationalism or is there some basis in fact?

I can’t find any corroborating stories or reports and the mortuary photograph doesn’t seem to show the facial swelling mentioned*. On the other hand, the rest of the report does seem to have some grounding in facts established elsewhere, so I’m left wondering whether there’s a grain of truth to it rather than it being complete invention.


Has anyone done any further digging on this or have any insight to offer?

*There is what seems to be some discolouration to the lower face but we also see the same thing in Liz Stride’s mortuary photo, which makes me wonder whether this is just a phenomenon of camera angle and lighting, rather than actual swelling / bruising.


For anyone else new to this or who hasn’t seen this before, the only link to the article I could find is here:

http://www.jtrforums.com/showthread.php?t=12824 - Scroll down to Post 7

The relevant passage is :
“The difficulty of identification arose out of the brutal treatment to which the deceased was manifestly subjected, she being throttled when held down and the face and the head so swollen and distorted in consequence that her real features are not discernable.”
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Old 05-16-2012, 12:13 AM
Tom_Wescott Tom_Wescott is offline
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Hi Sarah,

I have looked at this closely and feel that Tabram was either choked or had a hand held over her mouth until unconscious or semi-conscious. I suggest the hand because her tongue protruded to the point where it was between her teeth, but not beyond, as though something held it in place. As I'm sure you know, her hands were clenched, and it's possible the normal signs of strangulation would have been stilted by the 9 almost simultaneous stabs to the thrown, which may have prevented bruising.

I should also point out that an inebriated overweight woman who had just been hit over the head may have been quite easy to choke or smother to unconsciousness, so it should NOT be assumed that any bruising would have even occurred.

Having said all this, I don't believe it is possible to conclude either way on the choking, but I think there's enough medical evidence to conclude that her breathing had somehow been interfered with.

Yours truly,

Tom Wescott
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:11 PM
SarahLee SarahLee is offline
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Hi Tom and thank you !!!

I'd given some thought to the clenched hands but decided that they probably weren't conclusive enough evidence on their own (following up from that is what actually lead me to this article in the first place). This is the first time I've come across the suggestion of a hand over the mouth though. An intriguing idea and one that makes a lot of sense with the positioning of the tongue. Is this something that's been discussed in detail before? I feel like I want to explore the suggestion a little further before drawing my own conclusions, but piece by piece, I agree with you that it does all seem to be pointing in the direction of strangulation / smothering.

Just one other question of I may (although not strictly on the topic of strangulation) : When you mention the 9 almost simultaneous stabs to the throat - do you believe that the throat wounds were inflicted first, before any of the other injuries or are you simply suggesting that all 39 stabs were administered in a frenzy (therefore all of those wounds were in close succession and could be said to be almost simultaneous with strangulation / smothering)?

My current thinking is slightly different on that matter, but I'm open to suggestion and I'd be really interested in your thought process behind this.
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Old 05-17-2012, 12:03 AM
Tom_Wescott Tom_Wescott is offline
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Hi Sarah,

It's the first time I've suggested the 'hand over mouth' on the boards, so likely the first time anyone's read it. Of course, I can't say that the cuts to the throat were the first one's inflicted, but I'll tell you that the dagger wound to the heart was most probably NOT the first one inflicted. And yes, there were definitely two blades used. Also, there was not a bleeding wound on her head. Someone mentioned that in an earlier post, but I'm only aware of an effusion of blood that would have pooled between her scalp and skull and was only visible upon removal of her scalp. If you are aware of a second head wound, I'd love to see the source. It so happens I'm in the middle of writing my Tabram chapter for my book, so doing a 'from the ground up' investigation. The Tabram murder is very misunderstood by perhaps everyone in the field.

Yours truly,

Tom Wescott
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:11 PM
SarahLee SarahLee is offline
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Hi Tom,

Well you've certainly hooked my attention with your certainty about two blades and the chest wound not being first - I'm absolutely intrigued as to how you've reached that conclusion and how you think things panned out with Tabram. Of course, if you're not ready to share until you've completed your book, I respect that and I'm completely happy to wait.

Tabram definitely seems to be one of the lesser written about murders. Surprisingly perhaps, since I find the whole "was she or wasn't she?" question fascinating and if she was the first, there are likely some valuable answers there.


p.s. There's nothing suggesting a second or a bleeding head wound that I've come across - only the effusion of blood between scalp and skull, which to me suggests a blow with a blunt object or a bang against wall or floor.
I'm sure you're way ahead of me in your research, but I'm still digging around and if I do find a reference to anything else I'll pass it along.

Good luck with the rest of your investigation into Tabram and indeed with the rest of the book.
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:20 PM
Tom_Wescott Tom_Wescott is offline
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Hi Sarah. It's Dr. Killeen who was certain about two blades being used. I just know WHY he was certain and am inclined to agree with HIS conclusion. I think there has been some pretty good discussion on Tabram over there years. Far, far more than Smith. But these days most of the people are more interested in looking at pictures than new facts or insights, so that might explain a decline in the volume and quality of discussion. I've still got a lot of research to do. I started from square one, having never really studied Tabram the way I had canonical victims. I personally feel Pearly Poll lied about damn near everything, short of having known Tabram, that Tabram was not hanging out with any soldiers that night, that she was in fact stabbed/cut more than 39 times, and that probably more than one man was involved. But who knows, I might change my mind on some of these things before I'm done. I congratulate you on your own research. You should probably ignore everything I've said as I wouldn't want to unduly influence you.

Yours truly,

Tom Wescott
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Old 05-17-2012, 09:18 PM
SarahLee SarahLee is offline
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Tom, ignore other viewpoints? never!!!

I'm pretty stubborn and hard headed in finding a way through this and making my own mind up, but it's always useful to have some differing opinions as a sanity check - and who knows what new avenues they might open up?

If I'm feeling generous, PP would seem to have been very economical with the truth rather than an out and out liar. I've yet to look far enough into this aspect yet to start to draw conclusions though.
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Old 05-17-2012, 09:26 PM
Tom_Wescott Tom_Wescott is offline
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Well, the police decided she was a liar. I'm just not disagreeing with them.

Yours truly,

Tom Wescott
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Old 09-25-2014, 04:29 PM
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SirJohnFalstaff SirJohnFalstaff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom_Wescott View Post
Hi Sarah. It's Dr. Killeen who was certain about two blades being used. I just know WHY he was certain and am inclined to agree with HIS conclusion. I think there has been some pretty good discussion on Tabram over there years. Far, far more than Smith. But these days most of the people are more interested in looking at pictures than new facts or insights, so that might explain a decline in the volume and quality of discussion. I've still got a lot of research to do. I started from square one, having never really studied Tabram the way I had canonical victims. I personally feel Pearly Poll lied about damn near everything, short of having known Tabram, that Tabram was not hanging out with any soldiers that night, that she was in fact stabbed/cut more than 39 times, and that probably more than one man was involved. But who knows, I might change my mind on some of these things before I'm done. I congratulate you on your own research. You should probably ignore everything I've said as I wouldn't want to unduly influence you.

Yours truly,

Tom Wescott
Genuinely curious: what about PC Barrett's testimony?
I find it interesting that the man he saw waiting for a chum was a soldier, and not a corporal. That would mean this man was Martha's customer, if we are to believe Pearly.

So, could it be possible that Martha's killer, if not the soldier, attacked her right after the soldier left, while she was still on her back?
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