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Dr. Thomas Openshaw

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  • Dr. Thomas Openshaw

    I've always been curious about the involvement in the Ripper case of Dr. Openshaw. The kidney sent to George Lusk was brought to him for examination. The press then reported that he had found it to be a left kidney from a woman of about 45 suffering from the alcoholic condition of Bright's Disease, that it had been preserved in "spirits of wine," and that it had two inches of the 3-inch renal artery while the other inch was to be found in Catherine Eddowe's body. Conclusion- the kidney was Catherine's, which proved that the Lusk letter was indeed written by the Ripper. But then Dr. Openshaw insisted that he had been misquoted, that hardly any of that information had actually come from him and that all he had really been able to determine was that the kidney was human and from the left side. This insistence was not in time to spare Dr. Openshaw from receiving a taunting Ripper letter of his own, but it does leave the Lusk kidney and letter in perpetual limbo as to their authenticity.

    My questions- the original statements attributed to Dr. Openshaw are clearly more than just misquotes. They are so specific, if they are not his then they would have had to have been pretty much made up out of thin air, and would a journalist have even known the length of a renal artery or what Bright's Disease was? Is it possible that Dr. Openshaw actually did make the original statements and then for whatever reason (not wanting the publicity perhaps) took them back?

    I will admit to wanting to believe the Lusk letter is genuine, and am perfectly willing to be set straight by anyone with more knowledge on Dr. Openshaw than I.

  • #2
    Originally posted by kensei View Post
    would a journalist have even known the length of a renal artery or what Bright's Disease was?
    No, but any journalist (or retired police officer as the case may be) wishing to use such facts to add verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative, would only need a friend in the medical profession, or access to a library, to find them out.
    Kind regards, Sam Flynn

    "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

    Comment


    • #3
      'to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative'.

      He had hair, Sam, and was perhaps the most convincing medical pathologist of his age.
      Hence, his presence at the Old Bailey.
      I would say that Openshaw was asked to retract his earlier statement to the press by Scotland Yard; as indicated by a police memo that I threw up elsewhere a couple of weeks ago.
      Pick the sweetcorn outta that, Sam.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Cap'n Jack View Post
        Pick the sweetcorn outta that, Sam.
        Why should I? What we think Openshaw might or might not have done doesn't address the question posed at the start of this thread, viz. "would a journalist have known the length of a renal artery or what Bright's Disease was?" My point was that a journalist, police officer (or just about anyone for that matter) could have found that information in a library, or by asking a friend in the medical business - which is self-evidently true.
        Kind regards, Sam Flynn

        "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

        Comment


        • #5
          I believe the "quotes" attributed to Openshaw were an accretion of statements made by an assistant, journalistic fabrication, and Major Henry Smith's accounts. Many of the "conclusions" in those statements (like the gender of the kidney) coudln't be made with any certainy well into the 20th century.

          Openshaw himself made very basic, unspectacular conclusions about the kidney.
          “Sans arme, sans violence et sans haine”

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          • #6
            Originally posted by kensei View Post
            The press then reported that he had found it to be a left kidney from a woman of about 45 suffering from the alcoholic condition of Bright's Disease,
            Actually Openshaw was smart enough to know that Bright's Disease is not strictly an alcoholic condition.

            The correlation between a "ginny" kidney and Bright's Disease is not a mistake that a pathologist of Openshaw's abilities would make. But it is the kind of assertion that one could reasonably expect a journalist pandering to his reader's pre-conceptions to make.
            “Sans arme, sans violence et sans haine”

            Comment


            • #7
              All fair and good, but that does not explain the memo written by a senior police officer where it was stressed that it was better to obscure the diagnosis of the investigating medics into the Lusk kidney?
              If it were a porcine kidney, or a specimen from 'ospital, then why disguise such a simple explanation?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Cap'n Jack View Post
                All fair and good, but that does not explain the memo written by a senior police officer where it was stressed that it was better to obscure the diagnosis of the investigating medics into the Lusk kidney?
                If it were a porcine kidney, or a specimen from 'ospital, then why disguise such a simple explanation?
                ...because it might have caused a bigger panic and/or sensation than it might have otherwise. We've been through all this, AP - and the fact is that the science and technology was simply NOT available (not even to the world's foremost experts at that time) to have identified the portion of kidney as female, neither to ascertain its age, and still less to state that it had belonged to Catherine Eddowes. That simple fact of medical history has not changed since a month or so ago when I pointed this out ad nauseam. Whatever the reasons for this "suppressing memo", it simply could not have been attributable to any concrete evidence that definitively tied the portion of kidney to Kate's corpse.
                Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

                Comment


                • #9
                  The best reply, Sam, that Scotland Yard could have given to the press concerning this kidney would have been to affirm that it was a porcine kidney, or even of unknown origin... so the whole thing was a hoax.
                  But that didn't happen, did it Sam?
                  Instead a very senior police officer, intimately involved into the investigations of this kidney advised his superiors to say absolutely nothing about the medical evidence to the press.
                  This included Openshaw's thoughts on the kidney, and two police surgeon's.
                  If all three concluded that the kidney was non-human, or not from the victim of the murder where a kidney had been removed, then Scotland Yard would have crowed long and loud.
                  But all we have is a dreadful silence.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cap'n Jack View Post
                    All fair and good, but that does not explain the memo written by a senior police officer where it was stressed that it was better to obscure the diagnosis of the investigating medics into the Lusk kidney?
                    If it were a porcine kidney, or a specimen from 'ospital, then why disguise such a simple explanation?
                    Not this again. Didn't we just go over this exact argument last week? The memo specifically said what the diagnosis they wanted withheld was: that it was human. That's it. You can't use that to support the idea that they wanted to hide a diagnosis that it was Eddowes, or ginny, or female, or Bright's Disease, or anything of that sort, because it clearly does not say that.

                    Dan Norder
                    Ripper Notes: The International Journal for Ripper Studies
                    Web site: www.RipperNotes.com - Email: dannorder@gmail.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi All,

                      If you hope to fool/hoax the cops and medical establishment by sending a portion of kidney purporting to come from Eddowes you've got to know as much or perhaps more than them in order to stand any chance of pulling it off. Boning up at a reference library followed by a trip around the meat counter at Sainsburys ain't going to do it.

                      Tom Wescott suggested that the kidney and "From Hell" letter may have been a publicity stunt by Lusk and the Vigilance Committee.

                      It's a fine thought. If true, then perhaps Dr. F.S. Reed, Dr. Wills' assistant at 56 Mile End Road, is the person we should be looking at. Thanks to the inquest all the autopsy details were readily available, and kidneys from human corpses were easily obtainable by the medical profession.

                      As to Openshaw, his true opinion is out there with all the other evidence which was generally obfuscated during the WM. The cops were dab hands at neither confirming nor denying matters.

                      Regards,

                      Simon
                      Last edited by Simon Wood; 07-27-2008, 10:23 PM. Reason: spolling mistooks
                      Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Simon Wood View Post
                        Boning up at a reference library followed by a trip around the meat counter at Sainsburys ain't going to do it.
                        Boning up at a reference library and padding out your newspaper report or memoirs with a view to blinding your readers with science would work, though, Simon. It evidently has, because some people still believe that it was established that the portion of kidney was from a female, aged 45, suffering from an overindulgence in gin - all of which the science of that time was emphatically incapable of proving.
                        Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                        "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I don't think we should assume that the hoaxers set out to create a hoax capable of fooling doctors. It was sent to a private person. Whether it was eventually tested and determined to have not come from Eddowes (as it was) or not, whatever mischief was the reason it was sent to Lusk in the first place would still have been accomplished.

                          Dan Norder
                          Ripper Notes: The International Journal for Ripper Studies
                          Web site: www.RipperNotes.com - Email: dannorder@gmail.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Dan, with respect, I have used that police memo confirming that the kidney was indeed human in an attempt to prevent Sam from claiming that it was a porcine kidney, but he still does not accept that police memo.
                            I'd suggest you discuss the slide with him.
                            And pigs that fly.
                            But this still does not move us away from the crucial element here, that it was in Scotland Yard's best interests to refute Openshaw's findings through the examination by their own police surgeons.
                            Which of course they never did.
                            Which perversely qualifies Openshaw's findings.
                            The police memo I refer to recommended keeping the police surgeon's findings on the kidney out of the public and press remit, which leads me to the conclusion that Scotland Yard asked Openshaw to retract his statement for the public good.
                            To wit... Openshaw and the police surgeons reached the same conclusion.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hi Cap'n Jack,

                              Could you please post the police memo?

                              Many thanks.

                              Regards,

                              Simon
                              Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.

                              Comment

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