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Dr Timothy R. Killeen

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  • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
    Hi Fish --

    As I read your posts, it seems to me that you think that human skin and tissue are like clay and leave a clear impression of the weapon's incision, making these calculations simple and trouble free.

    This is not true.

    Skin and tissue have collagen fibers running through them, leaving a sort of 'grain'--not unlike wood. Layers of skin are also elastic.

    Depending on how one cuts into the dermis in relationship to these fibers, the wound will either shrink shut, or gape open--which is why you cannot accurately determine the weapon used simply by looking at the wound and measuring it. Miscalculations are the norm--not the exception.

    Here is something Dr. Killeen could not have known in the 1880s, in the years before open heart surgery.

    What is perhaps the most problematic area on the entire human body in regards to an incision?

    The sternum.

    I am not a surgeon, but, if my understanding is correct, the tension lines in the layers of skin over the breast bone naturally lead the wound to gape open, which is why modern surgeons are trained to use a zig-zag pattern so they can more easily close the incision back up and allow the wound to heal properly. (Study the diagram below, which shows skin tension lines).

    Note the tensions lines to the neck, which run vertically, which is one reason cutting someone's throat horizontally leaves to such a horrible, gaping wound.

    Depending on the orientation of the knife, flesh wounds can have radically different appearances, leading to miscalculations---which is what Trevor's consultant, Dr. Biggs is saying.

    My doubts about Dr. Killeen are not 'flimsy,' to use your words, they are based on having studied a considerable number of forensic papers.

    Click image for larger version

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    Spot on - it is not true that I would think that human skin and tissue acts like clay or that I would at any occasion have said so. But it is just as untrue to beleive that a very large knife hole in a body and a very small and narrow one will magically shrink/grow to spitting images of one another. And it is truly optimistic to think that one out of 39 holes would singularly grow into a much larger hole than the other 38 - whereas none of these 38 smaller holes all stayed true to the impression that a smallish blade had made them.

    It is also a fact that the large wound to the sternum not only pierced the skin - it pierced bone and heart too, meaning that the specific properties of those materials were also involved in Killeens estimation.

    Dermis and fibers and collagen aside, we will always remain at the disadvantage of not having seen the wounds and having to phantasize about it if we want to challenge what Killeen said. That is why - regardless of your commandable studies of forensic papers - your view of the matter is and remains on a much flimsier base (usually denoted "guesswork") than that of Killeen (usually denoted "careful studies of the specific wounds). I would have thought that this was too obvious to be challenged, but Ripperology never seizes to baffle me ...

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    • If a wound to a bare sternum might naturally gape open, what about the wounds to the lower body, assuming they were made through clothing?

      The following modern study suggests they would have appeared smaller than the actual weapon used.

      Recall that skin is elastic. The clothing "dulls" the point of the knife just enough that the skin stretches as the knife enters it. It then shrinks back when the blade is withdrawn, leaving the resulting wound smaller than the width of the knife. What looks like a "pen-knife" wound may have actually been made with a larger blade.

      Experiments on cuts made through clothing were conducted by two forensic experts in New Zealand. Note the conclusion: in 93% of the cases, the wounds were the same or smaller (narrower) than the actual knife used. Only 7% were larger. This tendency alone could have thrown off Dr. Killeen's calculations and conclusions, especially considering the gaping wound to the sternum.

      I don't believe there were two knives. I think Killeen wouldn't have been trained in any of this, and was simply mistaken.

      Journal of the Forensic Science Society

      Volume 30, Issue 2, March 1990, Pages 89-95

      Do stab-cuts reflect the weapon which made them?

      P.A.Costello M.E.Lawton

      "A series of experimental stab-cuts was made using three knives and a variety of clothing. The cuts were made through single and multiple clothing layers, at angles to the warp and weft of the fabric, and when clothing was loosely draped or stretched over a surface. Comparisons between knife blade widths and resulting stab lengths were made. Stab-cut lengths were generally smaller than the blade width, with only 7% of the cuts measuring more than the blade width. Those cuts were all made by one knife. It was concluded that stab-cut dimensions in clothing do not accurately reflect the knife blade width."
      Last edited by rjpalmer; 07-01-2020, 06:02 PM.

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      • Originally posted by Kattrup View Post
        Thank you, RJ, very sensible.

        I find it amusing how Fisherman insists that Killeen would know best, having seen the wound (I agree), but Hebbert, having seen AND compared the wounds caused by JtR and Torso killer, would not
        (Yes, Fisherman, I know that Hebbert was anthropolically challenged, it’s still amusing )
        In fact, the only person to comment specifically on the similarities/dissimilarities of the wounds involved in the two series was not Hebbert. Hebbert only said that the skill level was different - which was of course always to be expected if one victim was cut at leisure and the other at great haste.

        Hebbert also said that what told the Ripper apart from the Torso killer was that he took out organs from the bodies of his victims.

        I hope that amuses you too, Kattrup.

        PS. You DO know what the one person who compared the wounds said about them? Yes?
        Last edited by Fisherman; 07-01-2020, 06:12 PM.

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        • Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post

          No problem, RJ.

          Here’s an extract from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph report, including Hewitt’s statement that I think conveys the uniqueness, in appearance at least, of the heart wound.

          I hope it works, I’m crap at putting up images on here.
          Bingo, Gary. Thanks for that. Hewitt saw numerous wounds, just a should be expected.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
            From the pen of Dr. R. Rivello:

            "There are several things that can be learned about the weapon from looking at the wound itself. However, determining the dimensions of the weapon and depth of penetration are not among them. This is due to the effect of elasticity of skin shrinking slightly on withdrawal of the object (by up to 2 mm). Also, when the blade has entered the skin at an oblique angle, the length of the entry slit may be longer than expected. Skin elasticity and Langer’s lines (orientation of collagen fibers in the dermis) can cause wounds to gape, contributing to miscalculations. If the weapon has not fully entered the skin, the wound depth will correspond to the part that has penetrated the skin and will not represent the maximum length of the weapon. In addition, objects are rarely pushed into the body and withdrawn at exactly the same angle, and rocking of the knife distorts a wound’s appearance. Finally, compressible body parts, like the abdomen or chest wall, often indent during the stabbing, and thus the area penetrated can be at a depth greater than the weapon."


            Isn't that what Dr. Killeen was claiming to do, Fish? Determining the dimension of the blade by looking at the wounds?? Why do you assume that he knew any of this in 1888, fresh out of medical school?

            The issue involved are a lot more complicated than what you let on.
            What Dr Rivello says is that the exact measures of a knife cannot always be established. And that is true. It is sometimes impossible to tell from the wounds if a blade is fourteen of sixteen millimeters wide. Bravo!

            The exact same problem arises when somebody is shot by a cannon and a fine-calibre revolver: it is hard to tell whether the cannonball had a diameter of 72 or 74 millimeters. Although most forensic specialists will be able to make an informed guess about what calibre the bullet was, if it was likely a smallish gun or a Magnum revolver that fired it, right?

            Telling that a very large stab was not made by the same blade as a very small stab is equally perfectly accomplishable. Ask Killeen.
            Last edited by Fisherman; 07-01-2020, 06:14 PM.

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            • If thereīs nothing more - and there really shouldnīt be - Iīll call it a day.

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              • Originally posted by Fisherman View Post

                In fact, the only person to comment specifically on the similarities/dissimilarities of the wounds involved in the two series was not Hebbert. Hebbert only said that the skill level was different - which was of course always to be expected if one victim was cut at leisure and the other at great haste.

                Hebbert also said that what told the Ripper apart from the Torso killer was that he took out organs from the bodies of his victims.

                I hope that amuses you too, Kattrup.

                PS. You DO know what the one person who compared the wounds said about them? Yes?
                Well, as I recall more people did so I‘m not sure who you’re thinking of. But apparently I‘m mistaken so who was it?

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Fisherman View Post

                  What Dr Rivello says is that the exact measures of a knife cannot always be established. And that is true. It is sometimes impossible to tell from the wounds if a blade is fourteen of sixteen millimeters wide. Bravo!

                  The exact same problem arises when somebody is shot by a cannon and a fine-calibre revolver: it is hard to tell whether the cannonball had a diameter of 72 or 74 millimeters. Although most forensic specialists will be able to make an informed guess about what calibre the bullet was, if it was likely a smallish gun or a Magnum revolver that fired it, right?
                  Hi Fish. Hold on a minute.

                  I usually don't like posting this sort of thing, but it does demonstrate an important principle. Here is a photograph of an actual stabbing victim. A tragic case, I might add.

                  The knife wounds vary from 15 mm, 18 mm, 20 mm, 23 mm, 24 mm, 25 mm, to 30 mm wide. (Not all are visible). The largest wound is TWICE the size of the smallest, but without conducting a layer-by-layer dissection, it appears to be just another stab wound.

                  Two weapons?

                  Nope; they were all made with the same knife, which was recovered by the police.

                  The blade was exactly 19.5 mm wide at its broadest. Thus, although all the wounds were relatively deep, one was a 4.5 mm smaller than the blade, while another was 10.5 mm wider than the blade's width. Hardly the difference between two similar cannon balls, Fish!!

                  One thing that worries me about Killeen is that nowhere does he make any observations about the difficulties that he is facing---almost as if he was unaware of those difficulties. Yet, again and again, we see modern forensic experts, such as Drs. Biggs and Rivello, acknowledging the ambiguities of knife wounds. Why wouldn't that raise alarm bells, Fish? He's fresh out of medical school--a GP--in the year 1888.

                  I think I'm done here as well. Thanks Gary and Kattrup and Fish, and to everyone for the comments and attachments. I've got more reading to do.

                  P.S. Killeen doesn't really concisely describe the wound to the sternum, does he, Fish? How do you know how large it is through the bone? Killeen seems to be stating that the penetration of the bone is what sets it apart. At least that's my reading of it.


                  Click image for larger version  Name:	Stab Victim.JPG Views:	0 Size:	30.2 KB ID:	736852
                  Last edited by rjpalmer; 07-01-2020, 06:54 PM.

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                  • P.S. I'm not certain, but in the above case, I think the wounds were generally larger than the blade because the assailant was considerably taller than the victim, and the thrusts were coming from a downward angle, making for an oblique entry.
                    Last edited by rjpalmer; 07-01-2020, 07:09 PM.

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                    • Let's not forget that all the wounds were exit wounds.That is the final appearance,as Killeen observed,would have been made by the withdrawl of the weapon.As no really detailed description of each wound was given,we are left with the one believable comment of Killeen,that the wound to the sternum differed in extent to the other wounds.His(Killeen)opinion was that the difference was due to another weapon being used.My opinion,is that the wound, being in hard tissue required more force,and equallly more and different movement,than the other wounds.So one weapon only,and untill someone can conclusively prove a penknife could not have been used in all the wounds,I'll stick with one weapon,and one assailant.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by harry View Post
                        Let's not forget that all the wounds were exit wounds.That is the final appearance,as Killeen observed,would have been made by the withdrawl of the weapon.As no really detailed description of each wound was given,we are left with the one believable comment of Killeen,that the wound to the sternum differed in extent to the other wounds.His(Killeen)opinion was that the difference was due to another weapon being used.My opinion,is that the wound, being in hard tissue required more force,and equallly more and different movement,than the other wounds.So one weapon only,and untill someone can conclusively prove a penknife could not have been used in all the wounds,I'll stick with one weapon,and one assailant.
                        Totally agree on one knife !

                        www.trevormarriott.co.uk

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                        • Im thinking the ripper was a man who was accustomed to carrying around a pen/clap/smaller knife with him most of the time. And if Millwood was his first street attack, it was with this smaller knife. Realizing that that just wouldnt do it for him, he also started carrying around a larger knife.

                          when he encountered Tabram, in the heat of the moment attacked her with the smaller knife and then switched to the larger knife to finish her off.

                          next time out he abandoned the smaller knife all together and just brought the larger knife with nichols.

                          its a narrative that makes sense. to me anyway.
                          "Is all that we see or seem
                          but a dream within a dream?"

                          -Edgar Allan Poe


                          "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
                          quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

                          -Frederick G. Abberline

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post

                            Hi Fish. Hold on a minute.

                            I usually don't like posting this sort of thing, but it does demonstrate an important principle. Here is a photograph of an actual stabbing victim. A tragic case, I might add.

                            The knife wounds vary from 15 mm, 18 mm, 20 mm, 23 mm, 24 mm, 25 mm, to 30 mm wide. (Not all are visible). The largest wound is TWICE the size of the smallest, but without conducting a layer-by-layer dissection, it appears to be just another stab wound.

                            Two weapons?

                            Nope; they were all made with the same knife, which was recovered by the police.

                            The blade was exactly 19.5 mm wide at its broadest. Thus, although all the wounds were relatively deep, one was a 4.5 mm smaller than the blade, while another was 10.5 mm wider than the blade's width. Hardly the difference between two similar cannon balls, Fish!!

                            One thing that worries me about Killeen is that nowhere does he make any observations about the difficulties that he is facing---almost as if he was unaware of those difficulties. Yet, again and again, we see modern forensic experts, such as Drs. Biggs and Rivello, acknowledging the ambiguities of knife wounds. Why wouldn't that raise alarm bells, Fish? He's fresh out of medical school--a GP--in the year 1888.

                            I think I'm done here as well. Thanks Gary and Kattrup and Fish, and to everyone for the comments and attachments. I've got more reading to do.

                            P.S. Killeen doesn't really concisely describe the wound to the sternum, does he, Fish? How do you know how large it is through the bone? Killeen seems to be stating that the penetration of the bone is what sets it apart. At least that's my reading of it.


                            Click image for larger version Name:	Stab Victim.JPG Views:	0 Size:	30.2 KB ID:	736852

                            R J, there were 37 stab wounds to Tabrams body that were reasonably all roughly similar. That would be the reason that Killeen formed the idea that they were caused by the same blade. If they had not been similar, he would not have made that call, as we know from bhow he ruled the large wound out. But these smaller wounds gave away a blade that was small and narrow (we may conclude this since Killeen thought it too frail to pierce the sternum).

                            Then there was the wound you and Killeen disagree about. it was made by a long and strong implement, and it was "by far the largest wound" on the body. It stood out as a fearful and large stab to Hewitt, who we now know saw the accompanying wounds the Star mentioned, nasty wounds too, all of them - but nothing at all as big as the sternum wound.

                            In your opinion, this humongous hole in Tabrams body could have been made by the same blade that appeared small, narrow and relatively frail to Killeen.This you base on how wounds from the same blade may vary in size, which is not exactly rocket science.

                            Where this goes awry is when you think that you are fit to challenge Killeen, a trained medico who saw the wounds and traced them in the body of Tabram, although you have no idea whatsoever how big a difference there was between the large hole and the small ones.
                            Presumably, you realize that not ALL differences can be explained away so as to produce a solution you think less "absurd"?
                            Presumably, you realize that we cannot extrapolate a picture such as the one you put up to cover ALL sorts of variations?

                            Suggesting that Killleen was not aware about the difficulties involved in these matters does not make things one bit better. Once again: he was a trained medico! Out of all the many occupations there were in the Victorian society, who du you think is most likely to know about these things?

                            My money is on the medicos. Furthermore, I think they were well aware of how wounds could differ in size and shape even if they were inflicted by the same blade - it was part of their profession.

                            Your money, however, seems to be on all medicos but Killeen...?

                            37 small wounds caused by what would have been a smallish blade and one wound that is "by far the largest and deepest of them" - that really isnīt the kind of challenge you will have us believe. The smaller wounds would have varied in apparition to some degree in Tabrams body, which is reasonably why Killeen says that they COULD have been made by the same small knife, whereas the fact that he explicitly tells us that the large one could not tells the story. Whether we want to listen to it or whether we prefer a little rewriting of the historical facts is up to each and every one of us.

                            Thank you.

                            PS. I know as little as you do about how large the hole through the sternum was. But I also know that Timothy Killeen did the post-mortem on Tabram, and HE will have known whether the hole allowed for any other interpretation than that of a large and sturdy weapon. He will even have trqaced the wound in the heart and he will have known whether there was a lot of wriggling or not as the blade was retracted. End of.
                            Last edited by Fisherman; 07-02-2020, 05:41 PM.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Abby Normal View Post
                              Im thinking the ripper was a man who was accustomed to carrying around a pen/clap/smaller knife with him most of the time. And if Millwood was his first street attack, it was with this smaller knife. Realizing that that just wouldnt do it for him, he also started carrying around a larger knife.

                              when he encountered Tabram, in the heat of the moment attacked her with the smaller knife and then switched to the larger knife to finish her off.

                              next time out he abandoned the smaller knife all together and just brought the larger knife with nichols.

                              its a narrative that makes sense. to me anyway.
                              Could be, Abby, yes. Personally, I donīt care if it all was down to how an ironmonger turned up at the George Yard landing and sold the killer a hefty dagger in the act, so to speak. "Here you are, gov - this one will do a better job!"

                              Two weapons were used, and it is up to us to make whatever sense of it we can, instead of swopping facts for personal opinions.

                              It would be nice if everything that happened always followed a "normal scenario", but alas, the world is more complicated than that!

                              Comment


                              • One more thing before I go: In the Star of the 15:th of August it was said that:
                                "The wound over the heart was alone sufficient to kill, and death must have occurred as soon as that was inflicted. Unless the perpetrator were a madman, or suffering to an unusual extent from drink-delirium, no tangible explanation can be given of the reason for inflicting the other thirty-eight injuries, some of which almost seem as if they were due to thrusts and cuts from a penknife."

                                Note how it says that SOME of the 38 lesser wounds seemed as if they had been inflicted by a pen-knife. What this tells us is that not all of these 38 wounds looked the exact same, and that stands to reason - the stabs must have rained down from various angles and the blade will have been retracted in various ways, causing significant differences. But Killen was nevertheless able to tell that these varying wounds COULD all have been made by the same blade. This is good solid evidence that the doc was no absolute fool, and as aware as R J:s doctor Whateverhisnamewas of how there will be differences involved.

                                And thatīs all the news thatīs fit to print.
                                Last edited by Fisherman; 07-02-2020, 06:01 PM.

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