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  • Eddowes' gut cut

    I've been wondering about the cut to Eddowes' abdomen.

    I'm having some trouble understanding the following passage, which describes the cut:

    We examined the abdomen. The front walls were laid open from the breast bones to the pubes. The cut commenced opposite the enciform cartilage. The incision went upwards, not penetrating the skin that was over the sternum. It then divided the enciform cartilage. The knife must have cut obliquely at the expense of that cartilage.
    While the general meaning is clear, I can't seem to make sense logically of the description.

    "breast bones" - the sternum, roughly. So the cut extends from the chest to the pubes. Ok.
    But:
    "commenced opposite the ensiform cartilage" - opposite I take to mean the cut started in the pubic area.
    then: "went upwards" i.e. towards the chest
    but:
    "not penetrating the skin that was over the sternum"

    "It then divided the ensiform cartilage" - how does this "then" make sense in a description that has already reached the sternum?

    "The knife must have cut obliquely at the expense of that cartilage" - what does this sentence mean?

    Compared to the post-autopsy photo of Eddowes, where a long incision extending from the top of the sternum to the pubic area is clearly visible, I wonder of the upper part (skin of the sternum) was cut by the doctors as part of the autopsy?
    The description seems to clearly say that the skin of the sternum was not cut, yet on the photo it has been.

    Furthermore, when reading the next paragraph about the cut, I am somewhat surprised to see the cut starts behind the rectum:
    The abdominal walls were divided in the middle line to within a quarter of an inch of the navel. The cut then took a horizontal course for two inches and a half towards the right side. It then divided round the navel on the left side, and made a parallel incision to the former horizontal incision, leaving the navel on a tongue of skin. Attached to the navel was two and a half inches of the lower part of the rectus muscle on the left side of the abdomen. The incision then took an oblique direction to the right and was shelving. The incision went down the right side of the vagina and rectum for half an inch behind the rectum.
    Compare the description to the photo.
    Since the cut started from below - the killer started the cut behind the rectum, then led the knife upwards towards the abdomen? Deftly cuts around the navel, then ends the cut severing the xiphoid process (ensiform cartilage).
    What does it mean the cut was "shelving"?

    Are there any other descriptions of the wounds available?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Kattrup View Post
    "commenced opposite the ensiform cartilage" - opposite I take to mean the cut started in the pubic area.
    Don't think so, Kat. If you follow the narrative, Brown is describing a wound that extends down to the pubic area from the sternum. You wouldn't describe a wound that started at the pubic area as "opposite the sternum", anymore than a head wound would be described as "opposite the feet". Brown must have meant that the wound was on the opposite side of the ensiform cartilage - i.e. in the notch between the ribs just below it.
    "The knife must have cut obliquely at the expense of that cartilage" - what does this sentence mean?
    That it was an abrupt diagonal (oblique) movement of the blade that sliced through the cartilage.

    I would address your other questions, but I have a bit of a headache, and Brown's quaint Victorian-speak isn't helping it! Perhaps you can fill in the gaps now that I've started you off
    Kind regards, Sam Flynn

    "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Kattrup View Post
      I've been wondering about the cut to Eddowes' abdomen.

      I'm having some trouble understanding the following passage, which describes the cut:



      While the general meaning is clear, I can't seem to make sense logically of the description.

      "breast bones" - the sternum, roughly. So the cut extends from the chest to the pubes. Ok.
      But:
      "commenced opposite the ensiform cartilage" - opposite I take to mean the cut started in the pubic area.
      then: "went upwards" i.e. towards the chest
      but:
      "not penetrating the skin that was over the sternum"

      "It then divided the ensiform cartilage" - how does this "then" make sense in a description that has already reached the sternum?

      "The knife must have cut obliquely at the expense of that cartilage" - what does this sentence mean?

      Compared to the post-autopsy photo of Eddowes, where a long incision extending from the top of the sternum to the pubic area is clearly visible, I wonder of the upper part (skin of the sternum) was cut by the doctors as part of the autopsy?
      The description seems to clearly say that the skin of the sternum was not cut, yet on the photo it has been.

      Furthermore, when reading the next paragraph about the cut, I am somewhat surprised to see the cut starts behind the rectum:


      Compare the description to the photo.
      Since the cut started from below - the killer started the cut behind the rectum, then led the knife upwards towards the abdomen? Deftly cuts around the navel, then ends the cut severing the xiphoid process (ensiform cartilage).
      What does it mean the cut was "shelving"?

      Are there any other descriptions of the wounds available?
      Hi Kattrup,

      My view would be the surface cut (skin) did not extend as far as the sterum, the cut was at an angle.
      i would read shelving as probably meaning shallowing,

      The pronability is as you suggest that the wound was opened further at PM to allow full examination.



      Steve

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
        Don't think so, Kat. If you follow the narrative, Brown is describing a wound that extends down to the pubic area from the sternum. You wouldn't describe a wound that started at the pubic area as "opposite the sternum", anymore than a head wound would be described as "opposite the feet". Brown must have meant that the wound was on the opposite side of the ensiform cartilage - i.e. in the notch between the ribs just below it.
        That it was an abrupt diagonal (oblique) movement of the blade that sliced through the cartilage.

        I would address your other questions, but I have a bit of a headache, and Brown's quaint Victorian-speak isn't helping it! Perhaps you can fill in the gaps now that I've started you off
        Agree there sir.


        Steve

        Comment


        • #5
          Re "shelving" - to "shelve" is to slope or slant gradually.
          Kind regards, Sam Flynn

          "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
            Don't think so, Kat. If you follow the narrative, Brown is describing a wound that extends down to the pubic area from the sternum. You wouldn't describe a wound that started at the pubic area as "opposite the sternum", anymore than a head wound would be described as "opposite the feet". Brown must have meant that the wound was on the opposite side of the ensiform cartilage - i.e. in the notch between the ribs just below it.
            That it was an abrupt diagonal (oblique) movement of the blade that sliced through the cartilage.

            I would address your other questions, but I have a bit of a headache, and Brown's quaint Victorian-speak isn't helping it! Perhaps you can fill in the gaps now that I've started you off
            well, I always thought that it started near the sternum, which is why I was wondering. On the photo there’s a line below her right breast which I thought was part of the cut, however it might be a crease or similar in the photo.
            Also it seemed rather imprecise of the good doctor to not state which “opposite” the cut started, left or right. And how far? Of course, one should not draw conclusions from lack of info, but when reading about the incision around the navel, the left-right directions only make sense if describing the wound coming from below.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Kattrup View Post
              Of course, one should not draw conclusions from lack of info
              We have plenty of info, Kat, and luckily it's very detailed. It describes a wound which started at the sternum then "shelved" downwards to the pelvic region, not one which started from below and went up.
              Last edited by Sam Flynn; 05-16-2018, 07:25 AM.
              Kind regards, Sam Flynn

              "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Kattrup View Post
                I've been wondering about the cut to Eddowes' abdomen.

                I'm having some trouble understanding the following passage, which describes the cut:



                While the general meaning is clear, I can't seem to make sense logically of the description.

                "breast bones" - the sternum, roughly. So the cut extends from the chest to the pubes. Ok.
                But:
                "commenced opposite the ensiform cartilage" - opposite I take to mean the cut started in the pubic area.
                then: "went upwards" i.e. towards the chest
                but:
                "not penetrating the skin that was over the sternum"

                "It then divided the ensiform cartilage" - how does this "then" make sense in a description that has already reached the sternum?

                "The knife must have cut obliquely at the expense of that cartilage" - what does this sentence mean?

                Compared to the post-autopsy photo of Eddowes, where a long incision extending from the top of the sternum to the pubic area is clearly visible, I wonder of the upper part (skin of the sternum) was cut by the doctors as part of the autopsy?
                The description seems to clearly say that the skin of the sternum was not cut, yet on the photo it has been.

                Furthermore, when reading the next paragraph about the cut, I am somewhat surprised to see the cut starts behind the rectum:


                Compare the description to the photo.
                Since the cut started from below - the killer started the cut behind the rectum, then led the knife upwards towards the abdomen? Deftly cuts around the navel, then ends the cut severing the xiphoid process (ensiform cartilage).
                What does it mean the cut was "shelving"?

                Are there any other descriptions of the wounds available?
                Hi Kattrup. I was just looking at this myself. As others have said, I think Brown is describing the cut starting adjacent to (rather than opposite as he says) the ensiform cartilage, dividing it and extanding at an angle beneath the sternum, stabbing the liver several times, but not breaking the skin above the ribs. I think the stitches visible in the photo are indeed due to the post mortem exam, although an extension of the killer's own efforts.

                The part containing the line "The knife must have cut obliquely at the expense of that cartilage" is, in some other reports (eg Times 5th Oct) transcribed as "The incision went upwards, not penetrating the skin that was over the sternum; it then divided the ensiform cartilage, and being gristle they could tell how the knife had made the cut. It was held so that the point was towards the left side and the handle towards the right. The cut was made obliquely."
                Which I find intereting.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                  We have plenty of info, Kat, and luckily it's very detailed. It describes a wound which started at the sternum then "shelved" downwards to the pelvic region, not one which started from below and went up.
                  Hi Sam,
                  As I've just posted, the Times report (to me) suggests the "shelving" is caused by the cutter being on the body's right side, so the knife is not held perpendicular to the ground but is pointing down and to the left....If that makes sense?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Foster's mortuary sketch is probably a better guide to the extent of the wounds than the photo.

                    http://photos.casebook.org/displayim...album=35&pos=8

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Joshua Rogan View Post
                      Hi Sam,
                      As I've just posted, the Times report (to me) suggests the "shelving" is caused by the cutter being on the body's right side, so the knife is not held perpendicular to the ground but is pointing down and to the left....If that makes sense?
                      I think this is how her liver was stabbed by the point of the knife

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Joshua Rogan View Post
                        Foster's mortuary sketch is probably a better guide to the extent of the wounds than the photo.

                        http://photos.casebook.org/displayim...album=35&pos=8
                        Thanks, Joshua.

                        I’m not sure it solves the “opposite” the ensiform cartilage-part to my satisfaction, though
                        As his drawing shows the starting (or ending) precisely at that point. So what’s “opposite” supposed to mean?

                        Comparing the photo to the description of the cuts around the navel, it seems clear to me that the description moves upwards, I.e. it follows the cut from the pubic area to the sternum. But perhaps I’m misinterpreting it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kattrup View Post
                          Thanks, Joshua.

                          I’m not sure it solves the “opposite” the ensiform cartilage-part to my satisfaction, though
                          As his drawing shows the starting (or ending) precisely at that point. So what’s “opposite” supposed to mean?
                          It is puzzling, but I've always taken it to be an obscure Victorian alternative term for "near". If you do that, the description of the cuts and their direction then makes sense.

                          Comparing the photo to the description of the cuts around the navel, it seems clear to me that the description moves upwards, I.e. it follows the cut from the pubic area to the sternum. But perhaps I’m misinterpreting it.
                          I think you may be. I certainly read the cut description as going down from the sternum and ending at the crotch. Allthough the navel section is slightly difficult to make out, it starts and ends with a horizontal cut, so reads the same going either way. The bit that puzzles me is why the cut goes horizontally right and then doubles back to go down the left side of the navel, then horizontally back right again. Was he intending to cut out the navel completely, a la Chapman?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Kattrup View Post
                            Comparing the photo to the description of the cuts around the navel, it seems clear to me that the description moves upwards, I.e. it follows the cut from the pubic area to the sternum. But perhaps I’m misinterpreting it.
                            You are, I'm afraid, Kat. As I said, nobody would describe a wound to the pubic area as "opposite the ensiform cartilage" anymore than one would describe a head-wound as "opposite the feet".
                            Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                            "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                              You are, I'm afraid, Kat. As I said, nobody would describe a wound to the pubic area as "opposite the ensiform cartilage" anymore than one would describe a head-wound as "opposite the feet".
                              I meant, as mentioned, the description of the cut around the navel:

                              The abdominal walls were divided in the middle line to within a quarter of an inch of the navel. The cut then took a horizontal course for two inches and a half towards the right side. It then divided round the navel on the left side, and made a parallel incision to the former horizontal incision, leaving the navel on a tongue of skin. Attached to the navel was two and a half inches of the lower part of the rectus muscle on the left side of the abdomen. The incision then took an oblique direction to the right and was shelving. The incision went down the right side of the vagina and rectum for half an inch behind the rectum.
                              The cut first moves to the right. then moves around the navel on the left, and makes a parallel horizontal cut.
                              Looking at the photo, how is that possible if the description moves from sternum to pubes? The line of the cut clearly, or somewhat semi clearly, goes to the right of the navel.

                              I wonder if there’s a comma missing in the sentence “It then divided round the navel on the left side”
                              Perhaps it should be “It then divided round, the navel on the left side”
                              Last edited by Kattrup; 05-16-2018, 10:22 AM.

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