No announcement yet.

R Harding Davis Report

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • R Harding Davis Report

    For some reason I really feel a connection to Inspector Moore so I thought he deserved more than an empty inbox. I will post "Moore" on this topic later. Sorry, couldn't resist.

    The following news report has always intrigued me I have spent a great deal of my time lately studying about the journalists that have any sort of connection to the subject at hand. I have many interesting things to share at some point when my time allows.

    This particular story may jog reaction out of some of you, that is why I re-posted it. It is nothing new and I'm sure many of you have read it more times than I. The end of the story has often given me a good chuckle and a cold chill at the same time.

    Now to the good part. This is a small part of the account as told by R. Harding Davis above.

    "This was about the worst of the murders," said the inspector when they reached Dorset-street. "He cut the skeleton so clean of flesh that when I got here I could hardly tell whether it was a man or a woman. He hung the different parts of the body on nails and over the backs of chairs. It must have taken him an hour and a half in all. And when he was ready to go he found the door was jammed and had to make his escape through the larger of those two windows." Imagine how this man felt when he tried the door and found it was locked; that was before he thought of the window - believing that he was locked in with that bleeding skeleton and the strips of flesh that he had hung so fantastically about the room, that he had trapped himself beside his victim, and had helped to put the rope around his own neck. One would think the shock of the moment would have lasted for years to come, and kept him in hiding. But it apparently did not affect him that way, for he has killed five women since then. We knocked at the door and a woman opened it. She spoke to some-one inside, and then told "Mister Inspector" to come in. It was a bare whitewashed room with a bed in one corner. A man was in the bed, but he sat up and welcomed us good naturedly. The inspector apologized for the intrusion, but the occupant of the bed said it didn't matter, and obligingly traced out with his forefinger the streaks of blood upon the wall at his bedside. When he had done this he turned his face to the wall to go to sleep again, and the inspector ironically wished him pleasant dreams. I rather envied his nerve, and fancied waking up with those dark streaks a few inches from one's face.

    How much of this was embellished by the author or the Inspector himself? Body parts hanging from nails and over the backs of chairs was definitely NOT in the crime scene photographs. Matter of fact, I don't recall anyone saying Inspector Moore was at the scene early enough or at all to have witnessed this gruesome sight. It brings up a few questions in my mind such as 1.) Was Inspector Moore's visit documented and if so, when did he arrive at the scene? 2.) If Inspector Moore WAS there, and I have no reason to believe a High ranking Inspector wouldn't have been, why does his account of the crime scene conflict with written documentation and photography? 3.) This Inspector accounted for 5 more murders after Kelly by the hand of this killer. What do you all think of that? And last, how about your thoughts on the killer locking himself in and leaving by the window.

    Let's start there and see where this goes?! Maybe nowhere.

    Oh and one last thing. Moore states the skeleton was cut so clean of flesh he couldn't tell if it were a man or woman. But Joe Barnett new it was Mary by the eyes and hair.


  • #2

    Hello Jerry.

    "This Inspector accounted for 5 more murders after Kelly by the hand of this killer. What do you all think of that?"

    Perhaps 3 of these were McKenzie, Coles and a torso? Also, Mylett may be another. And Farmer--who was not killed--may be #5.

    "Moore states the skeleton was cut so clean of flesh he couldn't tell if it were a man or woman."

    It has been suggested passim that the terrible disfigurement was for the purpose of confusing identification.



    • #3
      Hi Jerry,

      Good to see you around again.

      In 1889 Inspector Moore also took the London correspondent of the French newspaper Le Figaro on a Ripper walk, but here's another story written by Richard Harding Davis on the occasion of Moore's retirement.

      The Philadelphia Inquirer, 16th November 1899

      Perhaps the greatest regret Mr. Moore has is that he failed to run to earth the murderer Jack The Ripper.

      "The police." he says, "were terribly handicapped in their work. It was almost impossible to obtain anything like a reliable statement, whilst every crank in England was sending postcards or writing on walls. The class of women we had to deal with would have told any number of stories for a shilling, and it was impossible to believe any woman owing to the hysterical state of fear they got themselves into. If we had attempted to keep under observation the persons we were told were Jack the Rippers, we should have wanted every soldier in the British Army to have become a detective. We have in the East End foreigners from every corner of the earth, and when they hate they will tell such lies as would make your hair stand up.

      "Of course, everyone wants to know who Jack The Ripper was. Well, so far as I can make out, he was a mad foreign sailor, who paid periodical visits to London on board ship. He committed the crimes and then went back to his ship and remembered nothing about them. The class of the victims made the work of the police most difficult. Why, once I had occasion to stand near the arch in Pinchin street, Whitechapel, and I remarked, "This is just the place for Jack The Ripper," and sure enough, some few months later a Ripper body was found there in a sack. I may, one of these days, now I have more leisure to work, and before I die, have the luck to see Jack The Ripper standing on the dock of the Old Bailey. Its the only failure I ever had, but I'm not at all sure it is a failure yet."

      The following paragraph appeared as part of a longer article in the Sydney Morning Herald, 19th January 1900

      "Perhaps no officer had more anxious work to discharge in connection with the so-called Whitechapel murders than Mr. Moore, but he is reluctant to talk of those trying times, though, in common with his colleagues he has formed a shrewd surmise as to the identity of the actual miscreant who is now dead."

      So there you have it. Jack was a mad foreign sailor who had since died.


      Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.


      • #4
        Maybe later Moore didn't think he was a foreign sailor. Maybe he heard the Jack was a local lunatic who had died in an asylum.


        • #5
          Richard Harding Davis

          I happen to have a biography on Davis, who (in his day) was a leading reporter (and war correspondent) and even a novelist and dramatist. He is best recalled (if at all) for his stories about a man-about-town named "Van Bibber", his tale about a newspaper "go-fer" named "Gallagher" who gets a scoop on a missing criminal, and his animal novella, "A Dog's Life". His handsome, square jawed, appearance was used by Charles Dana Gibson as the model for the "Gibson Man" who dated the "Gibson Girl".

          The biography is Arthur Lubow's "The Reporter Who Would Be King" (New York, Toronto, Oxford: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1992). Davis came from an upper class Philadelphia family, and his first new scoop was his reporting on the aftermath (in May 1889) of the tragedy of the Johnstown Flood. Harding wanted broader horizons than Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. The following is from the start if Chapter 3 on page 40:

          "In the summer of 1889, not long after the Johnstown flood, Richard accompanied the Philadelphia championship cricket team on a tour of England. Another PRESS reporter had snatched the plum assignment, but Richard (probably with Clarke's help) obtained credentials from the EVENING TELEGRAPH. Sometimes one must get away from a place to realize how oppressive it is. Philadelphia's Quaker plainness cramped Richard's flamboyant style, and its fusty deference to old families choked his social ambition. On his first trip to Europe, the rudeness of the class-conscious British dismayed him. More painfully, he was oppressed by the blue-blooded Philadelphia cricketeers, who snubbed him because of his western parents, his undistinguished college, and his grand affectations. Their teasing drove him to tears. In England he realized that back in Philadelphia, the houses he wanted to enter would never welcome him. When he returned in August he itched to leave. The destination was never in doubt."

          Note that the account in our news file mentions in the first paragraph that Davis was in England in August. He did get an introduction (apparently) to Robert Anderson, who allowed Moore to shepherd him around.

          The article also mentions they discussed Moore's involvement in the "Wimbledom" poisoning case of 1881, involving Dr. George Henry Lamson (tried, found guilty, and hanged for poisoning his brother-in-law Percy Johns at Johns' boarding school in December 1881 - Lamson was executed in April 1882). Moore apparently was involved in that case, but in looking at my copy of the "Trial of George Henry Lamson" in the "Notable British Trial" Series, I could not find any reference to Moore's involvement.



          • #6
            Harding Davis's comment about the Texas Police Chief

            Looking again at the Pall Mall Gazette reprint of the Richard Harding Davis article on his trip to the Whitechapel area with Detective Moore, I noticed something I overlooked yesterday. Moore tells Davis that he had a visit from the Chief of Police from Austin, Texas, whom he also took with him to see Whitechapel. If you recall, that town (Austin) was the scene of it's own Ripper-style series of murders in 1885, and it would attract the attention (sooner or later) of the local Chief of Police to compare notes with the Detective handling the Whitechapel Murders investigation.

            Also, this reprint is from W. T. Stead's "Pall Mall Gazette". Stead certainly was deeply interested in the Whitechapel Murders, and was impressed by the views of occasional writer D'Onston Stevenson.