I'm wondering if it's ever occurred to anyone that Elizabeth Stride's murder may have been a distraction in order to cover for the killing of Catherine Eddowes. If the Ripper was working with one or two accomplices, which can't be ruled out just because the police weren't pursuing that line at the time of the double event, perhaps the plan was to have one of the accomplices commit a murder in one part of Whitechapel, while the Ripper got on with his more 'signature style' killing somewhere else. This would make sense for a number of reasons;
- everyone was now on high alert and looking for a lone killer, thereby making it more difficult to kill. A new strategy had to be invented to keep the police running in rings. (We see him change strategy again with MJK).
- the more I look at the killings, the more I see this as bearing the hallmarks of more than one person. First of all, there seems to be two different skill sets at work; someone who understood anatomy and/or butchery who would have been trained to a high level and therefore quite probably employed or of the middle class, and someone else who knew the back streets and haunts of the poor and homeless like the back of their hand. I don't think these two things are necessarily compatible in the late Victorian era. Basically, this seems like the job of one mastermind and a 'fixer' who set things up for him, who found the women.
-a two or even three handed operation would have meant it was easier to hide evidence, work quickly and get away. This may have been more difficult with one person rather than a team working in tandem.
-Elizabeth Stride's murder seems to bear the hallmarks of someone who had learned the basics of how the Ripper killed, but the act was performed sloppily (like an accomplice). The 'accomplice' may have been the man Schwartz saw.
-Elizabeth Stride's murder just doesn't feel as if it fits - it was done too carelessly and too much in the open. But Catherine Eddowes' death seems more like his work. Perhaps the accomplice had slightly botched the first 'distraction' murder?