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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Victims > Elizabeth Stride

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Old 09-01-2011, 01:10 AM
JeffHamm JeffHamm is offline
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Default Blood Clotting Timeline: Estimation of Time of Death

Hi,

I originally posted much of this back on January 14th, 2004. I’ve made some additions to it, as at the time Tom Wescott pointed out I had overlooked Dr. Johnson’s arrival. Also, looking through the Casebook's Timeline on the Stide murder I've come across a few more quotes to add. The information pertaining to blood clotting after a murder being in the range of 5-15 minutes came from an article I read at the Crime Library, concerning the Lizzie Borden case. The focus there was on the fact that in the LB case the lack of blood clotting was considered important in the timeline, but apparently in some rare cases of violent murder the blood takes hours to clot (probably due to the body’s response to violence causes a biochemical interference to the blood clotting). As that failure to clot is quite rare, what is more pertanent to us is the normal time window of 5-15 minutes.

Anyway, thought this might be of interest.

So, here we go. With Liz Stride we can recreate a time line concerning the clotting of the blood based upon the testimony of various people who arrived at the scene of her crime. I’ll start this time line with Diemshutz. It is generally accepted that he arrived at the scene at 1 o’clock (see Casebook’s Stride timeline). When he first arrives and finds Liz lying on the ground, he goes into the club and returns with his wife and others. From the Casebook's timeline page on Stride we get the following "Mrs Diemschutz had followed her husband as far as the kitchen door, which had been and was still open. 'Just by the door,' she noticed 'a pool of blood.' From the candle light, she could see 'a dark heap,' being the body of a woman, 'lying under the wall' and a 'stream of blood trickling down the yard...terminating in the pool...first noticed.'" (from the Casebook’s Stride Timeline). Note, that means at about the time the body was discovered the blood is still apparently fluid and trickling, so no clot mentioned yet; time of death estimated at less than 5 minutes prior to Mrs. Deimshutz's viewing.

A man (Spooner) arrives on the scene when being told of the murder, and touches Strides chin (but says he did not move the position of the head) and notices the blood is still flowing from the wound (so still no clot mentioned yet). We don't know how much time has passed since the discovery of the body, but it doesn't appear to be much, a few minutes. Again, time of death less than 5 minutes prior to Spooner's arrival.

Const. Lamb states he arrives shortly before 1 (but see below), presumably his time is based upon a different clock than that of Deimshutz) and states there is some slightly congealed blood near the body, the rest is still liquid. (so, some clotting is reported at this time, but what time is it? Also, I apologize, but when I initially posted much of this I seem to have failed to include my references to where I got many of these quotes, like Const. Lamb's arrival before 1, etc. Poor form on my part.)

Dr. Johnson, Dr. Blackwell’s assistant, arrived after Spooner but before Dr. Blackwell. He reports “The body was ‘all warm except the hands, which were quite cold.’ Blood had stopped flowing from Elizabeth's throat wound. Further up the yard, a stream of blood had clotted, and there was very little blood left by the neck” (from the Casebook’s Stride Timeline). Again, mention of clot by this time, but we don’t know the time. Just that it is after Spooner and Const. Lamb.

Dr. Blackwell then arrived, and he checks his watch upon his arrival and notes the time is 1:16 am. Note, Const. Lamb estimated Blackwell’s arrival as to be about 12 or so minutes after he arrived, which would put Const. Lamb's arrival at 1:04 ish, or shortly after 1, not shortly before as stated above. This time also meshes better with the testimony of Deimshutz’s arrival at 1 o’clock, but as the times are based upon different clocks, one still has to be cautious. Blackwell’s report includes this relevant statement “…The blood was running down the gutter into the drain in the opposite direction of the feet. There was about 1 lb. of clotted blood close by the body, and a stream all the way from there to the back door of the club.” (from the Casebook’s Stride Timeline).

So, what we seem to have is the blood has definitely "clotted" by Dr. Blackwell’s arrival, and it is noted by Dr. Johnson as well, and it appears only to be starting around Const. Lamb's arrival (who notes some slightly congealed blood, but most is liquid), and based upon Mrs. Deimshutz’s statement there appears to be no clot just after the body was found. The normal range of time is between 5-15 minutes. Blackwell seems to have arrived 16 minutes after the body was found, and Const. Lamb arrived 12 or so minutes earlier, and Dr. Johnson in between the two.

Notice that these times (Const. Lamb's arrival and Dr. Blackwell's arrival) roughly correspond to the earliest and latest window for normal clotting (1:04 and 1:16 am are close to 5 and 15 min after 1 am, which is Deimshutz's testified discovery time), and Dr. Johnson’s time would therefore be typical as it is in between the stated short and long time estimates.

In other words, these estimates all are consistent with the murder having occurred just about the time Deimshutz discovered the body. In other words, the most common interruption theory is that the killer flees when the pony cart arrives (hence the pony shift to the left), and the blood clotting evidence as extracted from the testimony does not contradict that that theory, and seem to fit quite nicely with it.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the blood clotting evidence indicates that Stride must have been killed by Jack the Ripper. The interruption theory is offered as an explanation of why Jack the Ripper did not perform any abdominal mutilations upon Stride, and so had to go looking for a second victim. However, the blood clotting evidence does not in any way indicate that whoever killed Stride actually intended to mutilate her in the first place, which must be considered in terms of evaluating whether or not she was a victim of Jack the Ripper! All the blood clotting evidence suggests is that she was probably killed some 5-15 minutes prior to the formation of the clot, and this appears to suggest she was killed around the time Deimshutz arrived. So the blood clotting evidence negates the lack of mutilations as ruling out JtR, but it does not provide proof that JtR was involved.

Now, a further caveat should be noted. I'm no expert in blood clotting. It could be that the 5-15 minutes is based upon first signs of clot, which means the murder would be estimated as 5-15 minutes prior to Const. Lamb's arrival (so roughly between 12:50 and 1:00), but that still leaves Deimshutz in the picture, since he’s thought to arrive around 1:00. Second, these times are the range for the usual case, and not all individual cases will fall within this time window! What that means is that it's also possible that Stride was a "slow clotter", and we don't know what percentage of cases take more than 15 minutes.

Another caution I would like to raise is that it is important to note the testimony from Mrs. Deimshutz (who reports liquid blood only, and no clot), comes from someone viewing things in the dark, from a distance, and without any medical training that might make her look for and/or note signs of blood clotting. Also, Const. Lamb was not a doctor, and his “slightly congealed blood” might have been described as “clot” by another. And yes, it goes without saying, that a lot of these quotes could very well be unreliable. So, although taking the testimony as stated does produce a nice “interruption timeline argument”, as with so much of the evidence we have, it must be viewed with caution. That being said, I do think we have to work with the evidence we have and I do think the above time line is something worth considering since quotes like Blackwell's are from sworn testimony.

Regardless, what's important is that from what little evidence we do have, the notion that Stride was murdered just as Deimshutz arrived is not in conflict with the time course of the testimony concerning the blood clot formation. Taken with his testimony that his pony shied (which is what made him stop and look around), that tends to suggest there was movement that surprised the animal, I think the interruption theory for the Stride case must be viewed as evidentially credible.

Oh, and one other thing. The time of Schwartz's sighting is often quoted as 12:45. However, under the dissertations section (Elizabeth Stride: Her Killer and Time of Death Dave Yost) the editors note includes the police summary report of his testimony. This report seems to indicate that 12:45 corresponds to when Schwartz turned onto Berner Street from Commercial road, or more probable, that he noted the time on Commercial Road, turned onto Berner Street, walked down this towards home and then witnessed the attack on Stride.

The distance from commercial street is not great, so it's not like we can make up a full 15 minutes, but some time must have passed. In other words, Schwartz's sighting may have occurred between 12:45 and 1 am; with the time based upon some clock in Commercial street.

Regardless even with a full 15 minutes before the body is found the different estimates in times is already within a window that could reflect nothing more than "different clocks, and the expected errors of time estimation".
The blood clotting time line, especially if we take Const. Lamb’s time of around 1:04 to be the time stamp from which we work back 5-15 minutes, can cover similar times as Schwartz’s sighting. One could build an argument around that, therefore, that points to how the evidence is also consistent with the idea that Deimshutz wasn’t interrupted and that the killer never intended to mutilate Stride.

Stride’s case is so full of this kind of "works all ways" evidence.

- Jeff

Here's the link to the Casebook's page on the Timeline for Stride's murder. It includes citations to the books, and sources, for the information.

http://www.casebook.org/timeline.stride.html
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  #2  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:11 AM
Addy Addy is offline
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Very detailed statements!

It is tricky to deduce time of arrival from the clotting of the blood. Most of the members of the club were probably shocked to find Liz, so their memories, especially about the blood, are probably not completely correct. They would (in my opinion) also focus more on the body than the blood and how far it had clotted yet.

The police ofcourse would have paid more attention to the state of the blood, as part of the procedure. However, as it was dark and there is no indication that they actually examined the blood (to see how much had clotted) and the limited knowledge about properties of blood, they can only give rough estimates.

How quickly blood (especially large quantities) clot, depends also on temperature, amount of blood etc. So at best you would only get rough estimates.

You did a wonderful job deducing timelines by the clotting of the blood.

Greetings,

Addy
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Old 09-01-2011, 02:57 PM
lynn cates lynn cates is offline
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Default tempus fugit

Hello Jeff. Nice work.

One thing that intrigues me about Diemshitz's story is that IF he saw the clock registering 1 AM, then he still had to go up the street a bit and turn into the yard. Then there was the pony shying. Then the probing and subsequent match lighting. Next, he went into the club and chatted up some of the members. All this takes time. Even being conservative, it now looks like 5 minutes after 1 before anyone starts out for the police.

Also, the 1 AM estimate jibes poorly with no fewer than 3 statements--all of which tend to move the TOD up to about 12:45. If, as I surmise, Diemshitz discovered the body then, and, as I further suppose, Schwartz made up the BSM story, that would have been a good reason for the tale to have been placed around a quarter of 1.

Cheers.
LC
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:30 PM
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caz caz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lynn cates View Post
...as I further suppose, Schwartz made up the BSM story, that would have been a good reason for the tale to have been placed around a quarter of 1.
But Schwartz, a non-English speaker, would need to have been very well informed about all the facts that had been established, and witnesses grilled, concerning that crucial period between half twelve and one, before making up the BS/Stride/Pipeman cameo and expecting it to gel.

There is a fine line between brave and foolhardy - as the man said after breaking wind and realising his mistake.

Incidently, I think Dr. Blackwell would have approved of Jeff Hamm's opinion that the fatal knife wound could well have been inflicted close to the moment when the pony turned into the yard and shied.

I also suspect ponies are more clued up about such bloody events than humans.

Love,

Caz
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:47 PM
lynn cates lynn cates is offline
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Default It's about time.

Hello Caz.

"But Schwartz, a non-English speaker, would need to have been very well informed . . ."

No problem there.

"I think Dr. Blackwell would have approved of Jeff Hamm's opinion that the fatal knife wound could well have been inflicted close to the moment when the pony turned into the yard and shied."

I think so too. But when did that happen? Surely not at 1?

The 12:46-12:56 time estimate is quite correct, I think.

Cheers.
LC
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Old 09-01-2011, 11:22 PM
JeffHamm JeffHamm is offline
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Thanks all.

Indeed, this is not intended as definitive. It's just an example of how we can look at the information we have to see how things hang together. The only time we can be sure of (reasonably sure), is the 1:16 time of Dr. Blackwell, who specifically noted the time of his arrival on his watch. All the others are estimates, or otherwise ambiguous. Also, it is unfortunate that the reports that fail to mention any clotting are also from people most likely to miss it if there was, or who would not recognize the importance of mentioning it. Still, I think it is remarkable how much one can extract from the various testimonies.

- Jeff
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Old 09-02-2011, 02:46 PM
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caz caz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lynn cates View Post
But when did that happen? Surely not at 1?

The 12:46-12:56 time estimate is quite correct, I think.

Cheers.
LC
Blackwell's opinion was that death most likely occurred within 20 minutes of his arrival at 1:16, but certainly no more than 30 minutes.

By my watch I make that between 12:56 and his arrival, but certainly no earlier than 12:46.

I think that is quite correct - and his 10 minute extension of the window back from 12:56 to cover all possibilities allows us to explore those possibilities.

Love,

Caz
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PS If your theory is that Schwartz was 'coached', did his coacher(s) know that Stride was still alive at 12:45 for her role in the panto?
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Last edited by caz : 09-02-2011 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 09-02-2011, 03:20 PM
lynn cates lynn cates is offline
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Default high time

Hello Caz. I am quite happy with the 12:46 time estimate being included.

"If your theory is that Schwartz was 'coached', did his coacher(s) know that Stride was still alive at 12:45"

My assumption is that that was when she was discovered. I think the later time was invented to make up the 10 minute, or so, gap which had been used by the upper echelon club members to decide what to do about a body discovered on their premises (Do we haul her off and dump her? Do we say we saw her attacker and chased him? Etc.)

As Wess and the boys had time later, I think they hit upon a story to put in Israel's mouth:

1. At a quarter of 1, I saw an altercation.

2. The lady (Liz) was attacked by a bully.

3. He yelled a racial slur against Jews--so he was a Gentile.

4. Bet HE cut her throat.

Conclusion: So, you see, the good Jewish Socialists of Berner st had NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with it. (Likely true, at any rate.)

My take is that they were not even thinking in terms of the Whitechapel Murderer. If, however, the JTR legend had surfaced a bit before this incident, rather than after, I daresay Schwartz's lad would have been a toff with a cape and topper, carrying a Gladstone bag. Whatever it took to deflect blame.

Cheers.
LC
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Old 09-03-2011, 01:05 AM
JeffHamm JeffHamm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caz View Post
Blackwell's opinion was that death most likely occurred within 20 minutes of his arrival at 1:16, but certainly no more than 30 minutes.

By my watch I make that between 12:56 and his arrival, but certainly no earlier than 12:46.
Thanks for reminding me of that quote Caz. I keep forgetting to include it in this, which is silly of me because it is highly relevant and shows that the conclusions one could tentatively draw from the statements concerning the blood clotting time also correspond to Dr. Blackwell's opinion based upon a more complete examination (presumably).

- Jeff
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Old 09-03-2011, 07:41 PM
Wickerman Wickerman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffHamm View Post
Const. Lamb states he arrives shortly before 1 (but see below), presumably his time is based upon a different clock than that of Deimshutz) and states there is some slightly congealed blood near the body, the rest is still liquid. (so, some clotting is reported at this time, but what time is it?
Hi Jeff.
I think Const. Lamb said he was on duty in Commercial Rd between Christian & Batty street's when, just before 1:00am two men came running towards him.
That being the case it must have taken Lamb a minute or two to run along Commercial Rd and down Berner St. So, perhaps Lamb's arrival was between 1:00 - 1:05am?

Working backwards, Dr Blackwell said he checked his watch on his arrival, it was 1:16am according to the Daily Telegraph (contra the Times - 1:10am).
Blackwell's assistant, Edward Johnson, said he arrived "three or four minutes" before Dr Blackwell. PC Lamb approximated Blackwell's arrival some 10 or 12 minutes after himself.

You'll notice PC Lamb described the blood as "some was liquid, some was congealed" (Times). Nowhere does Lamb describe touching the pool of blood, which we might expect for him to determine whether any had congealed.
PC Lamb touched her face and her wrist, not able to locate a pulse.
I suspect Lamb had to have touched the blood on the ground in order to establish that it had begun to congeal (not surprising on cold stones).
This might be the reason blood was found on the inside of Stride's wrist, from PC Lamb's fingers after having touched congealed blood, he was then feeling for her pulse?

Quote:
In other words, these estimates all are consistent with the murder having occurred just about the time Deimshutz discovered the body. In other words, the most common interruption theory is that the killer flees when the pony cart arrives (hence the pony shift to the left), and the blood clotting evidence as extracted from the testimony does not contradict that that theory, and seem to fit quite nicely with it.
The time taken for blood to congeal varies, physical makeup of blood, ambient temperature, dry or humid conditions, wind or breeze, warm blood making contact with cold stones (meaning, any blood still on the body or clothes may not have congealed while that which pooled under & around the body on cold stones will congeal rather quickly).

The time it takes for blood to congeal and the effects on that congealing by outside forces do not make for a useful measurement tool.

Regards, Jon S.
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