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Escape by freight train?

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  • #16
    To Phil H

    I come at it from the opposite trajectory; that of accepting that Druitt was, of course, a discredited suspect to slowly realising that he was the 'probable' murderer.

    That it has not been a mystery since 1891, and for the public not since 1898, albeit in a semi-fictional form

    Yes, I think that the argument that since 'Kosminski' and Ostrog may well be nothing -- certainly Ostrog is cleared -- then why not M.J. Druitt too?

    Also that a source, eg. Macnaghten, may be consciously utilising fictional elements makes it, arguably, unreliable -- and thus a suspect theory built on a potential mirage.

    On the other hand ...

    Druitt we now know does not begin with Macnaghten as 'Kosminski' and Ostrog do, in the extant record. He begins as a Ripper suspect with his own people in Dorset, posthumously -- as Macnaghten in 1914 admitted, and his Report(s) had stated too.

    The 'West of England' MP article and the Mac memoirs of 1914 are a match in terms of timing, religion, race, class -- and the complete lack of police cognition about this suspect in 1888, in 1889, in 1890, and in early 1891.

    And the memoirs also treat 'Kosminski' and Ostrog as nothing.

    There is no evidence, whatsoever, that Druitt was homosexual which, though on the same level as a lack of evidence of him being anywhere near the East End is repeated as if it was almost a fact.

    Mac calls him a sexual maniac; that he gained sexual pleasure from violence against women, specfically prostitutes.

    Nothing to do with being gay.

    The family would never have regarded the timing of Montie's suicide as being indicative of his culpability as the Ripper as the 'Jack' murders were thought to be on-going, though much more infrequent, between 1888 and 1891.

    It was the discovery of Druitt's death in Dec 1888 which -- years later -- imposed upon Mac the truncated 'autumn of terror', not the other way round. This was communicated to the public by Mac in 1898, that it was the tenth anniversary of the cessation of the murders -- which was certainly not how the press and public perceived it (eg. see 'The Sun' Feb 13th 1894)

    After all, why did the Druitts, or a Druitt, not seek relief in the Coles murder, two days after their belief about Montie leaked to the media, as proof that 'Jack' was still out there and thus their deceased member could not be the fiend?

    The 'evidence' against Druitt, so far as we can glimpse it in meagre, ambiguous and fragmentary sources, is that he confessed to being the killer to a priest, 'blood-stained' clothes were found, and he was dismissed from the school as he was 'absented' -- as some sort of night warden -- on the nights of the murders.

    Remember, apparently you only had to hear the full story to be convinced.

    Rightly or wrongly, it must have been very compelling.


    • #17
      A "very compelling" story has neither to be true nor unique. It appears that Anderson and Swanson may have found the "case" against Kosminski equally compelling, after all!!

      I say again, we cannot dismiss Druitt from our thoughts, because he is a major contemporary suspect named by a senior official of the time on an official file.

      Nevertheless, whatever Macnagten was told, we do not have that information and cannot reconstruct it. It might simply have been conjectural and circumstantial, and while convincing, might not have been true. MJD was not there to refute or deny charges against him or even suspicions his death might have aroused.

      The issues with the school could be entirely related to other matters - seducing boys - and be better understood in those terms. We have no way to know whether Valentine's/the sacking/school-related information linked to the family's views or was entirely separate.

      Thus, I think we must take care with Druitt.

      Given the oddity of the inclusion of Ostrog and the "enigma" of Kosminski, we cannot even be sure that Macnaghten chose the names for his list of three
      in good faith or as a subterfuge. If he intended to mislead, then we have to be careful in assuming any reality to the association of MJD with JtR - otherwise we have, logically, to say the same of Ostrog.

      Finally, Macnaghten's mistakes about Druitt's details (which I believe may have been genuine slips of memory) are capable of several interpretations. Building any case on those foundations at this stage could be very foolhardy.

      I liked the cut of Druitt's jib at one time, but that was when Ripper studies were much less mature than they are now and the files had not been released in full. On the basis of the wider evidence we now have available, I do not believe we have any grounds to libel this unfortunate dead man.



      • #18
        Originally posted by Phil H View Post
        "Jack" might have travelled as a passenger
        I thought of that, too, but were trains going so early? On Sunday mornings?
        Especially “Jack’s” movements at the night of the “Double Event” are what I try to make sense of. Well, wiser people did already …

        Anyway, I thought of trains only as last possibility to escape when he is cornered by cops. With just going home being his typical modus operandi.

        Originally posted by Phil H View Post
        The use of the word "freight train" interests me. It sounds like an American useage.
        It is. Normally I use American English when I have to choose.


        • #19

          Not sure where Grave Maurice plucked the year 1980 from in regards to Druitt, but he is right in as much as that we shouldn't hijack this thread with another of our Druitt discussions - suffice to say that indeed his game of cricket on the day of Annie Chapman's murder is far from being an alibi, but it certainly should cast more doubt than it does. Playing a game of cricket is not easy, it's physically challenging to be in the field all day and even more so if he had been gallavanting all over London the previous night.

          Why not kill Annie, or another victim, much earlier in the night, as with his other victims, and then still have time to get back to Blackheath and get some sleep before going out to his game? Why wait until it was virtually daylight?

          That is of course one wants to peddle the argument that Annie was not a JTR victim (highly unlikely), or that Annie was killed earlier in the evening (given the witness statements to the contrary and the known confusion of Dr. Phillips on other issues, also unlikely - in fact i've placed Annie's time of death at around 5.15 AM instead of 5.30 before based on a few factors but let's not get off topic twice in one post!).

          In short, in order to cover all bases, it's important to wipe the slate of Macnaghten, Sims, Farquharson, etc etc and focus just on Druitt. To focus not on the written so-called evidence against him but to focus on what actually happened to him during those few months in 1888.

          Apologies for the off-topic, K.



          • #20
            Originally Posted by Phil H : "The use of the word "freight train" interests me. It sounds like an American useage. "

            K-453 replied: It is. Normally I use American English when I have to choose.

            I wasn't only thinking of grammar or syntax here. It was the potential for different impressions between America and Britain when imagining the situation.

            In US films etc one has a visual image of freight cars as long vehicles with slatted sides and sliding central doors which are relatively easy to open and thus accessible to those who might wish to hop on and off (I could site James Dean in "East of Eden" among others).

            British freight (or as we might say "goods") trains tended, in my recollection to have smaller closed vans and open trucks for coal etc. A "guard's van" was usually coupled to the rear of the entire train (at the opposite end to the locamotive. I'm thinking, I admit, of the early C20th, but any rail enthusiasts on Casebook muight advise whether the late C19th was significantly different.

            I just don't perceive the same ability to jump on and off trains (except as a paying passenger) in Britain in 1888 as might have been the case in the USA.



            • #21
              Hi Phil,
              My posting on P1 covered just this. Most Goods Vans in the 19C were very similar in construction and use to those more familiar to us from the 1920s. In fact they were little changed until the later 1960s when goods yards started to decline as inner town means of distribution in the face of larger goods lorries (trucks)

              The security and marshalling of these wagons was much more stringent than seems to be the case with US freight cars. Part of the guards duties were to inspect vans and wagons for secure doors and sheeting before moving off.

              Apart from that London's Goods Yards were busy places and, outside of that, the chances of JtR finding a convenient goods train stuck at a signal just waiting for him to jump aboard is, I feel, unlikely.



              • #22
                Sorry, PC Roadnight, I completely overlooked your earlier post.

                Thanks for the confirmation included there though. It's an area on which I utterly lack your expertise.