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  • Baxter's influence on Ripper lore

    Originally posted by Fisherman View Post
    Sam Flynn: Phillips certainly mentioned anatomical knowledge, which Baxter turned into anatomical SKILL in his summing up.

    Sorry, Gareth - this can be nothing but an unsubstatiated guess of yours.
    It is substantiated by the evidence that survives and, because it is based on the historical sources, it's not a "guess" either.
    Sam Flynn: Baxter's assertion that the killer must have been accustomed with the dissection room seems to have been conjured out of thin air...

    Fisherman No, it seems to be a quotation from Phillips´ testimony.
    That is not confirmed by the sources. This is the exchange that went on between Baxter and Phillips, reported by several newspapers, in this case the Morning Advertiser:

    Baxter: Could the wounds have been inflicted by any instrument used by a military man, such as a sword or sword bayonet?
    Phillips: No, I think.
    Baxter: Or any instrument such as a medical man would use for post-mortem purposes?
    Phillips: No ordinary case would contain such an instrument.
    Baxter: Would a slaughterman use such a knife?
    Phillips: I think so, especially if the knife was well ground down.

    Note that Phillips says quite clearly that the murder weapon was not of the kind that one would find in a post-mortem room, and - furthermore - he evidently didn't rule out the possibility that the murder weapon might have belonged to a slaughterman.

    Therefore, how on earth could Baxter, summing up a few days later, say:

    "Baxter: There are no meaningless cuts... No unskilled person could have known where to find [the uterus], or have recognised it when it was found. For instance, no mere slaughterer of animals could have carried out these operations. It must have been some one accustomed to the post mortem room." (Several sources)

    I've looked around in the sources a bit, but I cannot for the life of me find any reference to Phillips having said, or even hinted, at anything like all that. It seems to be entirely based on Baxter's opinions. No medical person worth their salt would suggest that only anatomically "skilled" people would know where the uterus was, nor that they wouldn't recognise it when found. Butchers and slaughterers might not have had many dealings with human bodies, but it's preposterous to suggest that they wouldn't have known roughly where to find and recognise a womb. And how Baxter got from Phillips' "no ordinary [post mortem] case would contain such an instrument" to "[the killer] must have been someone accustomed to the post mortem room" is baffling.
    Sam Flynn: it is perhaps significant that Baxter said this almost as a prelude to trotting out his pet theory that the killer was involved in the black market organ trade.

    Fisherman: Once again, if he had gravely misqouted Phillips, we would have heard of it.
    I don't see that we'd necessarily have heard about it at all.
    Originally posted by Fisherman
    The american doctor matter cannot be used to alter that - the whole world was listening, and there was no room for lying on behalf of a coroner.
    I'm not saying that Baxter was lying, just flowering things up. He was about to embark on trotting out his pet theory about the black-market organ trade, and my guess - yes, it is a guess this time - is that Baxter's theory may have looked a little more credible if he made the killer seem a little more skilled than Phillips actually said.

    Incidentally, perhaps world wasn't yet listening, although interest in the Ripper case was certainly picking up. I'm not even sure that Phillips was present, as Baxter's summing-up took place a few days after Phillips had been recalled to give evidence.

    I've had some fun with Bagster Phillips in the past but, on closer inspection, some of the more outlandish claims often attributed to him seem to have stemmed, if not from enterprising journalists, then from the famously flamboyant, and evidently larger-than-life figure of Coroner Wynne Baxter. How much influence, for good or ill, do you think he had on the case?

    Discuss.
    Kind regards, Sam Flynn

    "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

  • #2
    Phillips had been away at County Durham with Insp. Roots to help in the investigation of the murder of Jane Beadmore, whose murder was initially thought to possibly be connected to the atrocities in Whitechapel. Phillips only arrived at the inquest while Baxter was finishing up his summary (which Phillips did not hear.) The H division surgeon was asked a few questions by a reporter without knowing what Baxter had actually said.

    I believe the good doctor regretted doing this considering the commotion that resulted, because he seemed to avoid the press from then on.
    Best Wishes,
    Hunter
    ____________________________________________

    When evidence is not to be had, theories abound. Even the most plausible of them do not carry conviction- London Times Nov. 10.1888

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Hunter View Post
      Phillips had been away at County Durham with Insp. Roots to help in the investigation of the murder of Jane Beadmore, whose murder was initially thought to possibly be connected to the atrocities in Whitechapel. Phillips only arrived at the inquest while Baxter was finishing up his summary (which Phillips did not hear.) The H division surgeon was asked a few questions by a reporter without knowing what Baxter had actually said.

      I believe the good doctor regretted doing this considering the commotion that resulted, because he seemed to avoid the press from then on.
      Hi Cris!

      I was kind of anticipating your arrival on this thread, since Baxter seems to be a focal point of yours!

      A few questions:

      What do you think Phillips regretted doing? Answering the reporters questions?

      Do you know what the reporter asked, and what Phillips replied?

      What do you think about Baxters summary? To your mind, did he misrepresent what Phillips had said? Can we know, even?

      Comment


      • #4
        "Baxter: Or any instrument such as a medical man would use for post-mortem purposes?
        Phillips: No ordinary case would contain such an instrument.


        Note that Phillips says quite clearly that the murder weapon was not of the kind that one would find in a post-mortem room"

        Reckon you are missing what was said.

        An ordinary case is not a post-mortem room. Phillips was agreeing with Baxter.

        Strongly suspect Phillips was being coy and had a very good idea who Jack the Ripper was.
        Last edited by DJA; 11-07-2017, 08:58 PM. Reason: Spelling
        My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by DJA View Post
          "Baxter: Or any instrument such as a medical man would use for post-mortem purposes?
          Phillips: No ordinary case would contain such an instrument.


          Note that Phillips says quite clearly that the murder weapon was not of the kind that one would find in a post-mortem room"
          Then why did Baxter, in his summing-up, state that the killer "must have been someone accustomed to the post-mortem room"? It could well be argued that Baxter was putting his own agenda across with more emphasis than Phillips' more balanced answers permitted.
          Kind regards, Sam Flynn

          "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by DJA View Post
            Reckon you are missing what was said.

            An ordinary case is not a post-mortem room. Phillips was agreeing with Baxter.

            Strongly suspect Phillips was being coy and had a very good idea who Jack the Ripper was.
            So you think Phillips was saying "yes, it must have been a post mortem knife, as no ordinary medical case would contain such an instrument" rather than "no ordinary post mortem case would contain such an instrument"?

            Comment


            • #7
              I think the interpretation intended is that the knife isn't a piece Phillips thought was conventionally used in a PM environment.

              I think Baxters proclamation did have impact on the investigation Sam, but I don't believe his perception of what Phillips conveyed to him suggests that the killers talent only existed in his flowery summation and not in the actual details. Its clear Phillips was impressed by what he saw.

              On someones instructions the police reached out to medical training academies and institutions in September...they never again took that approach with any subsequent victim.
              Michael Richards

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Fisherman View Post
                Hi Cris!

                I was kind of anticipating your arrival on this thread, since Baxter seems to be a focal point of yours!

                A few questions:

                What do you think Phillips regretted doing? Answering the reporters questions?

                Do you know what the reporter asked, and what Phillips replied?

                What do you think about Baxters summary? To your mind, did he misrepresent what Phillips had said? Can we know, even?
                Hi Christer,
                I think he regretted the interview because of the controversy that followed, especially when the backlash from the medical community came. While Phillips did state that the killer had 'certain anatomical knowledge' he stopped short of ascribing it in the way Baxter would conclude in his summary. I suspect he considered such a backlash from his colleagues if he had gone further.

                He described a weapon just like a surgical knife. Then when specifically asked, backed off by saying it would not be in such a kit. But when asked about a slaughterer's knife, he said yes, but ground down, which is more like the surgical knife...the slaughterer's knife being more rigid and thicker at the hilt. What he was describing (and this is something you and I can relate to) was akin to what we now call a fillet knife - long, thin and very sharp. Phillips emphasized how sharp the murder weapon must have been.

                As I've mentioned, Phillips had just come back from Gateshead on the final day of the Chapman inquest and apparently arrived late during Baxter's summary as a reporter there filled him in on it before asking the doctor some questions. The Beadmore/Beetmore murder was center stage at that time and I'm sure the reporter was initially there to ask Phillips about that. But with Baxter's amazing revelation, the focus had been shifted.

                Ironically, Baxter justified his insistence in prying the details of the mutilations out of Phillips by the results he got from communications that fostered his organs for sale theory, while Phillips, when learning of it, did just the opposite and justified his reticence to disclose the information.

                I don't have enough time to elaborate further right now, as there are a few more details, but anyone who is interested might check the Sept. 27th issue of the Morning Advertizer
                Best Wishes,
                Hunter
                ____________________________________________

                When evidence is not to be had, theories abound. Even the most plausible of them do not carry conviction- London Times Nov. 10.1888

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Hunter View Post
                  Hi Christer,
                  I think he regretted the interview because of the controversy that followed, especially when the backlash from the medical community came. While Phillips did state that the killer had 'certain anatomical knowledge' he stopped short of ascribing it in the way Baxter would conclude in his summary. I suspect he considered such a backlash from his colleagues if he had gone further.

                  He described a weapon just like a surgical knife. Then when specifically asked, backed off by saying it would not be in such a kit. But when asked about a slaughterer's knife, he said yes, but ground down, which is more like the surgical knife...the slaughterer's knife being more rigid and thicker at the hilt. What he was describing (and this is something you and I can relate to) was akin to what we now call a fillet knife - long, thin and very sharp. Phillips emphasized how sharp the murder weapon must have been.

                  As I've mentioned, Phillips had just come back from Gateshead on the final day of the Chapman inquest and apparently arrived late during Baxter's summary as a reporter there filled him in on it before asking the doctor some questions. The Beadmore/Beetmore murder was center stage at that time and I'm sure the reporter was initially there to ask Phillips about that. But with Baxter's amazing revelation, the focus had been shifted.

                  Ironically, Baxter justified his insistence in prying the details of the mutilations out of Phillips by the results he got from communications that fostered his organs for sale theory, while Phillips, when learning of it, did just the opposite and justified his reticence to disclose the information.

                  I don't have enough time to elaborate further right now, as there are a few more details, but anyone who is interested might check the Sept. 27th issue of the Morning Advertizer
                  Thanks, Cris!

                  And in the MA, we find these two passages:

                  "Dr. Phillips attended the inquest for the purpose of answering any further questions which might be put ot him with the view of elucidating the mystery, but he arrived while the coroner was summing up, and thus had no opportunity. When apprised of the startling statements in the coroner's summing up he said he considered it a very important communication, and the public would now see his reason for not wishing in the first place to give a description of the injuries. He attached great importance to the applications which had been made to the pathological museums, and he felt strongly the advisability of following the information up, as a probable clue. With reference to the murder and mutilation in Gateshead, he stated that it was evidently not done by the same hand as the Whitechapel murder, that at Gateshead being simply a clumsy piece of butchery."

                  So Phillips recommended a follow-up of the "applications which had been made to the pathological museums" as a "probable clue". Meaning that what he had seen in Chapmans abdomen fit well with somebody having extracted the uterus on the American doctor´s account. And apparently, the Chapman murder was NOT a clumsy piece of butchery, but something quite different. And that is elucidated by the next passage:

                  "The whole facts summarised amount to this - that the murderer was no ordinary criminal; that, on the contrary, he was a man of considerable anatomical attainments; that he had a definite object in view, and was not, probably, indulging a mere lust for blood; and that he is a man who could only have obtained the knowledge his cruel work showed he possessed from assisting at post mortems."

                  This fits well, of course, with what the Lancet reporter wrote, and I think it is a very good suggestion that he quoted Phillips more or less ad verbatim. As I have pointed out on the other thread, he seems not to have been given to any exaggerations or embellishments at all. Much of what Phillips said was left out by the papers, as has been demonstrated.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi Christer,

                    While there still may have been something left out, the Morning Advertizer was the one publication that printed Phillips' description of the mutilations. The others didn't (the Lancet if course being a medical journal.)

                    No, I don't think Mr. Phillips ever indicated any clumsy butchery here. In fact, as his testimony in the Morning Advertizer indicates, he was impressed that the intestines had not been cut when the abdominal incisions were made.

                    When Baxter, in his Sept. 26 summary, mentioned 'there were no meaningless cuts,' he was taking his cue from Phillips' description.
                    Best Wishes,
                    Hunter
                    ____________________________________________

                    When evidence is not to be had, theories abound. Even the most plausible of them do not carry conviction- London Times Nov. 10.1888

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Hunter View Post
                      No, I don't think Mr. Phillips ever indicated any clumsy butchery here.
                      Indeed, Phillips never mentioned clumsy butchery, but his description of the wounds might indicate otherwise. Chapman's colon was partially cut, and the killer only succeeded in removing a portion of her bladder. Add to that the asymmetric portions of flesh - three flaps! - by which her abdomen was opened, and things don't appear quite as neat as Baxter's "no meaningless cuts" might indicate. If anything, the killer made a more "competent" job of eviscerating Eddowes in Mitre Square; neat(ish) single incision down the midline, removal of kidney and uterus whilst leaving the bladder entirely unharmed.
                      Last edited by Sam Flynn; 11-08-2017, 03:57 PM.
                      Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                      "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Joshua Rogan View Post
                        So you think Phillips was saying "yes, it must have been a post mortem knife, as no ordinary medical case would contain such an instrument" ?
                        Yes,not even "the ordinary post-mortem case".

                        That is quite a statement from Phillips,as it implies someone with access to highly sophisticated equipment is carrying such a knife around the streets.
                        Last edited by DJA; 11-08-2017, 06:19 PM. Reason: Last sentence.
                        My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                          Then why did Baxter, in his summing-up, state that the killer "must have been someone accustomed to the post-mortem room"? It could well be argued that Baxter was putting his own agenda across with more emphasis than Phillips' more balanced answers permitted.
                          Oddly you quoted your own post and attributed it to me.
                          Not an unusual tactic from yourself.



                          "It is, therefore, a great misfortune that nearly three weeks have elapsed without the chief actor in this awful tragedy having been discovered. Surely, it is not too much even yet to hope that the ingenuity of our detective force will succeed in unearthing this monster. It is not as if there were no clue to the character of the criminal or the cause of his crime. His object is clearly divulged. His anatomical skill carries him out of the category of a common criminal, for his knowledge could only have been obtained by assisting at post-mortems, or by frequenting the post-mortem room. Thus the class in which search must be made, although a large one, is limited. Moreover it must have been a man who was from home, if not all night, at least during the early hours of Sept. 8. "

                          Both CV murders so far were committed between the London Hospital and Phillips' home in Spital Square.
                          Now which "prosector" do we know that was highly skilled and walked that route regularly!
                          Hint ..... on his way home to Finsbury Square,right next door to where his mentor Sir William Withey Gull once resided.
                          My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Hunter View Post
                            Hi Christer,

                            While there still may have been something left out, the Morning Advertizer was the one publication that printed Phillips' description of the mutilations. The others didn't (the Lancet if course being a medical journal.)

                            No, I don't think Mr. Phillips ever indicated any clumsy butchery here. In fact, as his testimony in the Morning Advertizer indicates, he was impressed that the intestines had not been cut when the abdominal incisions were made.

                            When Baxter, in his Sept. 26 summary, mentioned 'there were no meaningless cuts,' he was taking his cue from Phillips' description.
                            Well, what I am saying is what you allow for - things may well have been left out by the Morning Advertiser too, just as we know that other papers did.
                            We know from the sources that Phillips was impressed by the abdominal flap cutting and even more impressed of the incisions performed to excise the uterus.
                            If, as you say, Baxter took his cue from Phillips when saying that there were no meaningless cuts, then we are left with a killer who according to Phillips cut totally deliberately throughout and who showed anatomical insights with every cut, the pinnacle being the cut/s that excised the uterus.

                            Personally, I think such a thing could very well lead a medico to conclude that the killer was medically skilled, not least since he adds some words about how he thinks that the killer would have evinced even greater skill if he had not been in haste.

                            The inference becomes one of an anatomically skilled man who only gave a less skilled impression on account of doing a super-quick hysterectomy.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                              Indeed, Phillips never mentioned clumsy butchery, but his description of the wounds might indicate otherwise. Chapman's colon was partially cut, and the killer only succeeded in removing a portion of her bladder. Add to that the asymmetric portions of flesh - three flaps! - by which her abdomen was opened, and things don't appear quite as neat as Baxter's "no meaningless cuts" might indicate. If anything, the killer made a more "competent" job of eviscerating Eddowes in Mitre Square; neat(ish) single incision down the midline, removal of kidney and uterus whilst leaving the bladder entirely unharmed.
                              There were four flaps, Gareth. Only three were left behind. A portion was missing when they put the three flaps in place.

                              The fact that the colon was cut and the bladder halved could nevertheless have been the result of meaningful cutting, if the killer was simply intent on getting the uterus. I am no medico myself, but I suppose that Phillips may have reasoned that these cuts were accepted by the killer as part of the process to cut the uterus out as quickly as possible. It was not as if he had to be wary about not damaging the body.
                              Making sure that the bladder was either left in it´s entirety in the body or taken out in the same entirety together with the uterus, would - if I guess correctly - have required more work and time. Once you do not care about leaving anything but the uterus undamaged, that will allow for a lot more speed.
                              So it may look careless and clumsy, but it may equally be part of the quickest way of getting to the goal Phillips perceived.

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