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Lusk Letter sent to George Lusk of the vigilante committee

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  • Lusk Letter sent to George Lusk of the vigilante committee

    I'm pretty sure that the ' From Hell ' letter, or ' Lusk letter ' is a hoax, i remember reading that the Kidney didn't match Eddowes missing Kidney, but was never the less from a 45 year old woman who suffered from Bright's disease and an alcoholic, i believe i read that the kidney had been preserved in spirit's or spirit's of wine, i think the hoax may have come from medical students who made a hash of trying to portray the writer of the letter, to be of low class and barely educated. Devilled Kidney's was a victorian favourite, served in a cream, and either a sherry or wine was used in the cooking of the recipe ( although it was lambs kidney's that were used for the dish!).

  • #2
    When I first looked into Jack, I got excited by this letter: "they even got a piece of the kidney!!111!"

    Sugden is less enthusiastic:

    The 'From hell' letter sent to George Lusk, backed by Openshaw's and Brown's findings on the kidney, has ben accepted as authentic by most students of the Whitechapel murders. It could have been written by the killer. But the case is by no means conclusive (Sugden, 273).
    He notes correctly that while a woman's kidney is on average smaller than a man's, the difference is small. Indeed, the ranges for both sexes overlap. Thus, he is correct to caution that it would be difficult to determine sex based on a portion of a kidney. Sugden further contends that Openshaw's examination on October 18th was "obviously misreported,":

    The first accounts of Openshaw's findings come to us through so many intermediaries that it would, indeed, be surprising if they were reliable. When directly interviewed by representatives of the press on 19 October the doctor repudiated almost every pronouncement that had been attributed to him. He did reiterate his belief that the organ was part of a left human kidney. But that is about the only view we can confidently ascribe to him, (Sugden, 273).
    As Sugden notes, Kate loses her kidney on September 30th, and Lusk receives his sixteen days later--after reports are out that her kidney was removed. Sugden notes that it would have been possible for to determine the difference between a human kidney and that of a domestic animal. He further notes that a major objection to the claim that it could have come from medical students is that such were preserved in formalin and not spirits.

    Major Smith recorded in his book long after the event that "two inches of renal artery remained in Kate's body and that only about one inch was attached to the postal kidney," and, ". . . according to Smith the right kidney left in Kate's body has been found in an advanced stage of Bright's [Glomerulonephritis--Ed.] disease and the left kidney sent to Lusk was in 'an exactly similar state,'" (Sugden, 274).

    However, it appears a press statement by Dr. Brown, ". . . discovered by Stewart Evans, cast real doubt upon his [Smith's--Ed.] account of the kidney," (Sugden, 274). Brown, ". . . would not confirm that the postal kidney was part of a left kidney and contended that it had not been immersed in spirit for more than a week," and that, ". . . no portion of renal artery adhered to the postal kidney because the organ had been 'trimmed up'," (Sugden, 274).

    I must agree that that point is curious: why would Jack trim the artery? However, Sugden cautions: "If accurately reported this [Brown's--Ed.] statement effectively refutes Smith. But therein lies the rub. Is it accurately reported? Contemporary newspapers are frequently as misleading as later police memoirs, (Sugden, 275)." Sugden has to admit, "The postal kidney could have been genuine. On the other hand we cannot prove that it had not been extracted from some other person recently autopsied. Experts continue to disagree and the jury is still out," (Sugden, 275).

    Now, one thing that bothers me is if Jack were the type to send a taunting letter with a piece of the victim, why was that the last one? That is not evidence, of course, but it raises doubt in my mind.

    Sudgen then goes into a detailed analysis of the handwriting: "Yet, although the subject of several amusing exercises in graphology, it has inspired only one detailed study by a serious handwriting expert--that of Thomas Mann, a charter member of the World Association of Document Examiners," (Sugden, 275). Briefly, "Mann's most important conclusion is that the author of the Lusk letter was a semi-literate person," citing the cramped style of writing "characteristic of . . . those who have not the assured command of the pen and easy arm motion of the practised penmen," along with "Numerous ink blots attest to someone little concerned with legibility and clarity. . . . There is no punctuation," (Sugden, 274-75).

    Now, is that just a person faking a semi-literate author. Apparently, Mann thinks otherwise. I will spare quoting it; basically according to Mann the letter lacks obvious characteristics of disguised writing.

    So . . . bottom line is the evidence is inconclusive one way or the other. I tend towards skepticism, because I do not believe if Jack was willing to call out Lusk, why did he not do more? Why no more letters?

    --J.D.
    Last edited by Doctor X; 03-26-2008, 04:02 PM.

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    • #3
      [QUOTE=Doctor X;8342]Now, one thing that bothers me is if Jack were the type to send a taunting letter with a piece of the victim, why was that the last one? QUOTE]

      We are, of course, not sure it was the last letter. Some feel that the Openshaw letter sent 10/29 was in the same handwriting as the Lusk letter. The O. letter seems important because its cleverness suggests that the "semi-literate" form of both these letters is indeed a facade.
      Last edited by paul emmett; 03-28-2008, 02:13 AM.

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      • #4
        Hello all,

        Been reading the posts here and some interesting perspectives expressed...just wanted to add my two pence If I may...

        This is easily the most thought provoking communique from someone claiming to have killed any of the Canonicals, and if a hoax, the best thought out one in my opinion. The inclusion of the kidney section...(which indeed was "trimmed up", perhaps indicating the original kidney was actually cut in portions and prepared for consumption), was smart move, as the sender knows they will have to investigate this communication thoroughly...but that also implies the sender either thought it would stand up to inspections, or that they couldn't tell for sure if it was male or female let alone from Kate, and he knew that....or, he knew it would fail to be authenticated and just did it for a lark.

        The section having been trimmed, to me, does suggest the author did send a portion from a kidney that may have been prepared for frying.

        Its actually not the fact that this claimed Canon "meat" was sent to Lusk that makes me curious about this episode..its the fact that Lusk doesn't tell anyone about it for 24 hours. And when showing it to Vigilance Committee Board members, he acts as if he cant stand the sight of it, and wants it taken away.

        Why would a guy who is appalled by the sight and very idea of his "gift box", keep it in his desk drawer and tell no-one for 24 hours? Possibly the best clue from Jack the Ripper, if the kidney was Kate's...possibly providing real samples of his handwriting to publish.

        Best regards all.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Mike,
          Originally posted by perrymason View Post
          ...but that also implies the sender either thought it would stand up to inspections, or that they couldn't tell for sure if it was male or female let alone from Kate, and he knew that....or, he knew it would fail to be authenticated and just did it for a lark
          I don't believe that there would have been any means of truly authenticating the kidney back then, as not even blood typing had been discovered at that time, and the knowledge that males and females differed in terms of sex chromosomes was a long way off. It might not have been easy to tell whether the portion came from a human being at all, for that matter - pig kidneys are quite similar.
          Kind regards, Sam Flynn

          "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

          Comment


          • #6
            Gang:

            Point taken on the Openshaw letter. I will be honest, I doubt that Jack sent any letters based on other serial killer who have sent letters tend to maintain a correspondence and use identifiers: Zodiac, BTK, Celine Dion are the most obvious examples.

            I took "trimmed up" to mean the renal artery and vein were trimmed "flush' to the organ--not an uncommon thing to do. As for identifying human versus animal kidney there are morphological differences I think that were recognizable at that time.

            Oh but if it were preserved subsequently for examination!

            --J.D.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Doctor X View Post
              As for identifying human versus animal kidney there are morphological differences I think that were recognizable at that time.
              I mentioned pig kidney specifically because it is morphologically very similar to the human kidney, albeit with smaller pyramids (source: Racusen, Solez, Burdick, "Kidney Transplant Rejection" (1998) - found on Google books). I daresay that Openshaw may well have been able to tell the difference, but it is no means impossible that even he may have been - ahem! - "gulled".
              Kind regards, Sam Flynn

              "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi JD,

                The section had been immersed in spirits to act as a preservative, but not in glycerin, which would have been used to preserve organs used for teaching or studying.

                I think its relevant to discussions that Dr Frederick Gordon Brown used this specific order of words in this line, when asked by Crawford what was taken away....

                "The uterus was cut away with the exception of a small portion, and the left kidney was also cut out."

                I personally find it revealing that he would phrase it that way...indicating to me anyway, that he may have believed the uterus to be the primary objective, and the kidney, although the only complete organ of the two, an additional target.

                Perhaps he just did that because that was the order of extraction, but I do think its odd to list what he takes away intact second, after the partial uterus.

                Best regards all.
                Last edited by perrymason; 03-28-2008, 06:15 PM.

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                • #9
                  Part of the fun of all of this--writing as a "Newbie" to responsible study of the case--is all of the speculation.

                  I think he screwed up the uterus extraction. However, from Jack's perspective, that may not have been an issue--taking a uterus without damaging anything else.

                  With the kidney, he would have had to at least made an effort to locate it. Okay . . . he could be sweeping his hand in the cavity after he removed the guts and thought "cool! What's this?!"

                  --J.D.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Why the From Hell letter is genuine

                    The main indication is the kidney of course.

                    1) The kidney was nephrotic, and probably female (age indeterminate). I doubt a hoaxer looked for the 'right kind of kidney', so its probably from someone similar if not identical to Eddowes. The nephrotic artery account may or may not be true, Brown may have claimed it was trimmed but was not the first to examine it.

                    2) Eddowes more than likely had a nephrotic kidney, although not alcohol related, many of her background did. The Renal artery tale remains suggestive and not unlikely.

                    3) The hoaxer would have had to have access to recent post mortems of bodies of the Eddowes type, or be Jack. Possibly a doctor, medical student or porter.

                    As for the letter

                    1) Its not written in the obviously phoney style of the Dear Boss letters, but merely contains spelling errors. I dont think the writer is trying to fake a stereotyped character like the other hoaxers do. It reads like an uneducated man trying to sound lower middle class, or a lower middle class person whose English is bad. I don't think its the disguised hand of a doctor or medical student therefore. Possibly a porter?

                    2) Its not signed Jack! The hoaxer has gone out of their way to get a kidney then makes the stupid mistake of making the letter different to all the others, that were thought genuine at the time. I doubt it!

                    3) The wording, particularly 'from hell' is unique, and fits the language of a genuine psycho...

                    Conclusion - Its Jack..

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A few things, Vigilantee:

                      Originally posted by Vigilantee View Post
                      1) The kidney was nephrotic, and probably female (age indeterminate).
                      There is no way to assume it was female. It was only part of a kidney and male and female kidneys overlap in range.

                      The nephrotic artery account may or may not be true, . . .
                      Arteries do not become "nephrotic." Technically, neither do kidneys--that is a condition of loss of protein in the urine. Do you mean "necrotic?" If the artery was necrotic the kidney would have been necrotic as well . . . and the original owner would not have been wandering about.

                      2) Eddowes more than likely had a nephrotic kidney, although not alcohol related, many of her background did.
                      I may misunderstand you; do you mean alcohol causing the nephrosis?

                      3) The hoaxer would have had to have access to recent post mortems of bodies of the Eddowes type, or be Jack.
                      Not really. Currently, there is no way to determine how close in pathology the Lusk kidney and Eddowes' remaining kidney were. Does not mean they were not related/the same. One simply cannot make this conclusion, however.

                      1) Its not written in the obviously phoney style of the Dear Boss letters, but merely contains spelling errors. I dont think the writer is trying to fake a stereotyped character like the other hoaxers do.
                      How so? Those could be intentional errors. I am not claiming they are. It seems a very phoney style to me, but that is my opinion, of course. Incidentally, educated men make the greater mistakes when trying to ape a style--they do not know the slang or the mistakes.

                      2) Its not signed Jack!
                      Really does not indicate anything.

                      3) The wording, particularly 'from hell' is unique, and fits the language of a genuine psycho...
                      Not at all. "Genuine psychos" write more disorganized. Hoaxers use similar terms. "Hell" was a big thing back then. You can interpret this in a number of ways that support and rebut your assumptions.

                      Conclusion - Its Jack..
                      Sorry, you cannot conclude that.

                      You may very well think that.

                      --J. "I Couldn't Possibly Comment" D.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        >There is no way to assume it was female. It was only part of a kidney and >male and female kidneys overlap in range.

                        Of course, but I doubt the hoaxer is a kidney expert, why take a male kidney and risk exposure when there's plenty of women in the post mortem room?


                        >Arteries do not become "nephrotic." Technically, neither do kidneys--that is >a condition of loss of protein in the urine. Do you mean "necrotic?" If the >artery was necrotic the kidney would have been necrotic as well . . . and >the original owner would not have been wandering about.

                        Yes sorry its late here, that should have read 'necrotic'. But I was using a term from another post. Lets stay safe and say it was a 'ginny kidney'.


                        >I may misunderstand you; do you mean alcohol causing the nephrosis?

                        I'm of the understanding the idea that kidneys are damaged by alchohol is a bit of a myth? It was merely thought so at time. However it does seem to be the case that people of Eddowes class were in appalling health, which would have included kidney degeneration. It would be surprising if her kidneys were normal, I bet her liver was in a state too.


                        >Not really. Currently, there is no way to determine how close in pathology >the Lusk kidney and Eddowes' remaining kidney were. Does not mean they >were not related/the same. One simply cannot make this conclusion, >however.

                        I'm just saying here the Lusk kidney was the kind of Kidney one would expect Eddowes to have. Her post mortem was rather badly reported by today standards so we can't be certain. My arguement is based on probabilities not certainties. I think certainties are going to be impossible 100 years on.



                        >How so? Those could be intentional errors. I am not claiming they [b]are[>/b]. It seems a very phoney style to me, but that is my opinion, of >course. Incidentally, educated men make the greater mistakes when trying >to ape a style--they do not know the slang or the mistakes.

                        Well, someone working in a hospital whose post mortems include women like Eddowes would be exposed to the slang surely?. This just doesnt sound like a letter written by a 'commoner', the language is wrong, on the other hand the spelling is too bad for someone more educated. I'd expect a much better simulcra from an observant person, and if they are not pretending to be from a lower class why the bad spelling? It may be contrived, but if it is and from a 'medical student' its apallingly badly done (hope he didnt qualify!). For someone who may be trying to create a convincing hoax (by including a kidney) they did a terrible job with the letter. I find it impossible to believe that level of incompetence. To be it reads like an uneducated writer trying to sound 'posh', as such a writer undoubtedly would. Someone like Jack is going to have a huge ego. Of course this argument doesn't discount an attention seeking porter who thinks Jack is a mad surgeon or something (maybe the loopy guy he has to work for).




                        >Not at all. "Genuine psychos" write more disorganized. Hoaxers use similar >terms. "Hell" was a big thing back then. You can interpret this in a number >of ways that support and rebut your assumptions.

                        They only write disorganised if they have schizophrenia, and theres no sign of that I agree. But I dont think Jack's a schizo I think he's a sociopath with some degenerating mental condition which includes extreme aggression.

                        Why should the murderer be 'from Hell' unless he was suffering some torment,
                        none of the other hoaxers assume that he's portrayed as a devious and successful killer.

                        I think the scales of probabilty are tipped in favour of it being genuine, but only slightly.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Some factors I think are important in assessing hoax letters

                          1) Whats the motive of the hoaxer?

                          2) If you were going to create a convincing hoax, given the available templates and assumptions of the period in question, how would you do it? And would you do it like the hoaxer did?
                          Last edited by Vigilantee; 04-19-2008, 06:03 AM. Reason: typo correction

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Vigilantee View Post
                            Of course, but I doubt the hoaxer is a kidney expert, why take a male kidney and risk exposure when there's plenty of women in the post mortem room?
                            Which assumes he could tell the difference. Sure . . . if he finds a bottle marked "Abbey Normal" [Stop that!--Ed.] "Female Kidney"--but the problem is it was not properly preserved. So he did not get it from a post-mortem room.

                            Yes sorry its late here, that should have read 'necrotic'. But I was using a term from another post. Lets stay safe and say it was a 'ginny kidney'.
                            No problem! The reason for the precision is that IF the artery were necrotic, that would mean it was not . . . well . . . "fresh!" Necrotic artery means necrotic kidney . . . which means dead kidney . . . which tends to mean dead person. Not trying to be pedantic [Just pompous.--Ed.], but I wanted to make sure I did not miss that!

                            "Nephrotic" is not quite the right term either. She is described as having "Bright's Disease" in Sudgen--who loves his old terms without defining them--which is an old eponym for glomerulonephritis--inflammation of the wee constituents of the kidney . . . cause by many things . . . which would put everyone to sleep! At that stage, they would not know, but as you note and others, people commonly misattributed it to alcohol.

                            Nephrosis is the leakage of protein into the urine--something the kidneys are not suppose to do.

                            Right . . . anyways, the point to all of my blather is that the dudes back then could not tell as much about the kidney. How could they know if the "ginny kidney" with "Bright's Disease" was the same set for Eddowes? Answer: they could not.

                            Now, again, that does not mean it was NOT her kidney; one just cannot conclude it is based on the information extant.

                            I'm of the understanding the idea that kidneys are damaged by alchohol is a bit of a myth?
                            Yes. I would not be surprised if people looked at the fatty to cirrhotic livers and concluded the two were connected. You are correct about her state of health.

                            I'm just saying here the Lusk kidney was the kind of Kidney one would expect Eddowes to have. Her post mortem was rather badly reported by today standards so we can't be certain. My arguement is based on probabilities not certainties. I think certainties are going to be impossible 100 years on.
                            No problem! I got excited too, because certainly what is described fits the expectations. However--to my recollection of Sudgen because my sources are not handy--there were reports early enough that a hoaxer could figure it out. Does not mean he did, but it leaves an "out."

                            Well, someone working in a hospital whose post mortems include women like Eddowes would be exposed to the slang surely?.
                            Then he should have gotten it correct. However, the kidney was stored in the wrong medium for hospital post mortem. Regarding spelling, it could be a case of someone trying to fake uneducated spelling without realizing the more common mistakes. Not saying it is, just that I am suspicious.

                            It may be contrived, but if it is and from a 'medical student' its apallingly badly done (hope he didnt qualify!).
                            Why I do not buy it unless he is faking it. Then, again, he stored the kidney in the wrong medium.

                            To which . . . someone could claim he intentionally stored it in the wrong medium . . . and we are rushing down trails of assumptions that can only lead to the Masons and Lee Harvey Oswald!

                            For someone who may be trying to create a convincing hoax (by including a kidney) they did a terrible job with the letter.
                            I do not know . . . we are still questioning it. Sudgen regards it as "possibly" genuine--he notes the arguments for and against. To my Newbie Knowledge, it is considered the most "probable"--which means 27 posters are going to descend upon me to denounce that!!

                            Of course this argument doesn't discount an attention seeking porter who thinks Jack is a mad surgeon or something (maybe the loopy guy he has to work for).
                            Yeah, exactly!

                            It reminds me, a bit, of a few Trolls I have encountered on OTHER BOARDS who try to pretend to be ethnic and write in an "accent" which people do not actually do when they write in a foreign language. I will not recreate it since examples tend to be racist Trolls, but I think you get the drift.

                            Which . . . goes back to the whole graffito argument--was it legitimate--a lot of people feel it was--and was Jack trying to distract or make a statement.

                            With both--Lusk letter and graffito--the thing that gets me is that he did not write again. I would think that a serial killer like Jack, who is willing to taunt authorities and a head of a "vigilance committee" would want to keep writing. That is an assumption, of course! He may have had a bunch of packages with bits of Mary Kelly ready to deliver when the Loch Ness Monster got him!

                            They only write disorganised if they have schizophrenia, and theres no sign of that I agree.
                            I do not know . . . have you read anything by Sean Hannity or Hillary Clinton [No politics!--Ed.]? Right, sorry.

                            Why should the murderer be 'from Hell' unless he was suffering some torment, . . .
                            I rather read that as he is from "Hell' because he is a devil/daemon who resides there and does evil like poke people with pointy sticks and make them listen to country-western music, and who has taken a sabbatical. In other words, I think it is just a boast. If legitimate, the letter is a cocky boast, not a emo "I am ALONE . . . in HELL" sort of letter.

                            I think the scales of probabilty are tipped in favour of it being genuine, but only slightly.
                            Look, we cannot have a flame war if we agree!

                            I am sort of there too. I tend to remain skeptical since it is sooo tempting to believe something from Jack remains. That always leaves the promise that somehow, someway, it can lead to him.

                            . . . and we all get ice cream and ponies!

                            Yours truly,

                            --J.D.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Vigilantee View Post
                              1) Whats the motive of the hoaxer?
                              Probably a lot from simply being an a-hole to being able to think you got one on somebody. Some find such things funny. I just read a review of a few decades long controversy in scholarship--lots of papers written back and forth--which seems to show that, yes, a scholar committed a hoax and left "jokes" in the work. Why? The scholar was that type of guy--thought he was smarter and cleverer than his critics. The guy responsible for the Nessie photo everyone sees apparently felt similarly.

                              One thing that struck me when I first got into this was how many letters there are. Granted nearly all of them are obvious hoaxes; however, that simply means a lot of people wrote them.

                              2) If you were going to create a convincing hoax, given the available templates and assumptions of the period in question, how would you do it? And would you do it like the hoaxer did?
                              I guess it would depend on my interest and intent. Actually, the Lusk letter is not a bad job. You read the news papers--get the reports--send the letter. This is the problem with the Lusk letter--a great hoax would be a piece of kidney! One can wonder why Jack did not send something else--like one of the suppose rings he took from a previous victim? But that is speculation on motivations . . . and we all know where that leads us!

                              Nowadays it is much harder to get away with such things.

                              --J.D.

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