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William Bury: Jack the Ripper

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  • William Bury: Jack the Ripper

    I’ve always had a passing interest in Jack the Ripper, although my knowledge of the suspects was, until recently, limited. To find some clarity, I decided to educate myself and review the key suspects on Casebook, based on the suspect overviews, dissertations, message threads and any other material available online. I came to this process with only a basic knowledge of the subject and no expectations of finding a clear answer. To my surprise, it turns out that in amongst the twisted logic and conspiracy theories, there does seem to be an entirely plausible and very likely suspect. Strangely, no one really talks about him. Here are my thoughts for you to consider:

    1. He was there
    Bury resided in Bow, ca. 2.5 miles from Whitechapel. Bury was travelling to Whitechapel for work (selling sawdust) and pleasure – James Martin stated Bury was known to be drunk in Whitechapel. At a trotting speed of 5-10 mph Bury could have been in Whitechapel in half an hour or less. The distance is not great, but perhaps far enough for a drunk Bury to have opted to stay out, rather than return home. I don’t think there is evidence of Bury being out all night in Whitechapel, but his trial notes make clear he went missing from Bow for two days. He was also confirmed as being drunk in Whitechapel – it is only a small leap to think a man like Bury, who liked to drink, could have been staying out all night in Whitechapel. Bury is said to have been out all night when the murders were committed (I’ve never seen a source for this bit of information though).

    Some people have an issue with Bury living ‘extra-local’ – surely this is a non-issue as there is an accepted ‘commuter’ model for this type of crime.
    I can’t help thinking of a phrase that crops up in the police memoirs: ‘the man we searched so hard to find’ – perhaps he wasn’t ‘there’ i.e., in Whitechapel, to be found?

    2. He was the right type of person
    Some people seem to disregard the FBI profile. The experts that constructed the profile would have worked on lots of individual cases, from which they put together an ‘average profile,’ tailored to the specifics of the Whitechapel case. Whilst you might not expect Jack the Ripper to meet every criterion on the profile, you would, in my opinion, expect him to match with a good number of the characteristics.

    As has been identified previously, Bury’s match to the profile is very striking:
    • The age of onset for these types of homicides is generally between the mid to late 20s. Bury was 28.
    • This offender does not look out of the ordinary. However, the clothing he wears at the time of the assaults is not his everyday dress. He wants to project to unsuspecting female prostitutes that he has money; consequently, this relieves him from initiating contact. Through Ellen’s inheritance money (£300 – using the Bank of England inflation calculator that is nearly 40K in today’s money!), all of which he extracted from her, Bury would have had the means to dress smarter than average, say smart-casual, or even ‘shabby-genteel’. I read somewhere that Bury was in the habit of dressing quite smartly when he got his claws into Ellen’s money, even changing several times a day (in Dundee). He requested money from Ellen to go to a ‘smoking concert’ – no idea what this is, but it doesn’t sound like the type of thing you can rock up to in everyday scruffy clothes.
    • He comes from a family where he was raised by a domineering mother and weak, passive and/or absent father. Bury’s father died when he was a child, and his mother was in a lunatic asylum. Do we know anything about the woman/women that raised Bury?
    • For employment, he would seek a position where he could work alone and vicariously experience his destructive fantasies. Bury certainly worked alone and set his own hours, travelling around selling sawdust. There are suggestions he worked as a cats’ meat butcher, but I’m not sure this has ever been verified – I just can’t see Bury having the necessary application and work ethic to take on anything as taxing as running a shop.
    • Would not expect suspect to be married, if so, it would be to someone older and it would be short-lived. Ellen was 31, Bury was 28 – we know the marriage was short-lived and how it ended.
    • He has carried a knife for defense purposes-just in case he was ever attacked, he would be ready. Ellen discovered that Bury slept with a penknife under his pillow – surely he carried it on his person day-to-day?
    • This paranoid-type of thinking (associated with knife carrying) is in part justified because of his poor self-image. He would be expected to have some type of physical abnormality. The profilers include above or below average height in this. Bury was 5.2ish. Even if allowance is made for poor nutrition of the time, Bury’s must still have been below average height.
    • He is not adept in meeting people socially and the major extent of his heterosexual relationships would be with prostitutes – he would have contracted venereal disease. In May 1888 Bury contracted VD a gave it to his wife.
    • Quiet. Margaret Robertson describing Bury and his wife who were lodging with her in Dundee for a time. ‘They said they were going to Princes Street with it (the packing box). When with us, Prisoner was very quiet but several times worse of liquor.
    I can’t see any other suspect that fit the specifics of the profile anything like as well as Bury.

    3. A plausible customer
    This is an area where Bury makes a very convincing suspect. JtR must have had two key attributes: (1) to be a monster and, (2) the ability to hide the monster behind a façade utterly unremarkable and seemingly harmless. He would, I am sure, have presented to his victims as a safe and totally normal punter. This also allowed him to arrive and leave the crime scenes largely unremarked.
    From the way Bury treated his wife, and what he did to her body, there can be no doubt Bury was a monster – could he have pulled off the necessary deception? Ellen’s sister, Margaret, gives evidence of Bury’s ability to deceive at his trial. ‘He (Bury) was always pleasant to me. She (Ellen) told me he was violent. She said he was cunning and concealed his temper before people. It is obvious when you read the trial notes that Bury had two very different sides. The quiet/normal, even pleasant side seems to be evident when Bury is in the presence of women he does not know too well – e.g., Ellen’s sister and Margaret Robertson. There is also a reference to Bury and Ellen being ‘affectionate’ in Dundee. Given what happened later, this shows Bury’s two-sided nature. On the other hand, Bury seems to have no qualms about displaying his violent side in front of James Martin, who witnessed several assaults.
    Bury must also have pulled-off quite a deception in marrying Ellen. No doubt there was the odd pre-marriage flash of temper that he quickly glossed over – promised wouldn’t happen again. Until he got his grubby paws on the cash, I suspect he only revealed the ‘normal’ Bury to Ellen.

    There is also the curious response of Bury when he is caught out in ‘monster mode’ by his former landlady, Elizabeth Haynes:

    ‘About eleven at night I heard her cry out in the bedroom. I went up and into their room. She was in bed. He was also. He was kneeling on top of her with a table knife in his right hand. She was continuing to cry out, and said he was going to kill her. He came off the bed when I went in. I said I would send for the police. He asked me not and said he would not do it again. I took the knife from him and put it down.

    This behaviour goes against what I thought I knew about Bury. I would have expected him to have a go/become abusive, yet he behaves like a naughty little schoolboy. I don’t know whether this is deception, an attempt to conform, or maybe a guilty conscience – if Bury and his penknife were responsible for the attacks on Millwood and Wilson, was he worried about his presence and character coming to light? Bury’s fear of the police is entirely predictable if you consider what JtR was at his core: a sad, pathetic, miserable little coward.

    In summary, it is my opinion that Bury’s ability to deceive, by concealing his true nature, combined with his small, nonthreatening stature, and his ability to dress smarter than average (e.g., shabby genteel), could easily have created the seemingly harmless façade that led Kelly to take him back to her room. If the height estimates are correct, Kelly was probably a few inches taller than Bury. She would have made a quick decision – is this man safe/is he JtR? Bury certainly looks harmless in the sketch that shows him standing at the dock in shirt, tie and jacket. He is also described as being respectable and good looking – Kelly would never have suspected him.

    The ‘plausible customer’ angle is where someone like Kozminski falls down for me. I don’t get the impression he would’ve had the means to appear neatly dressed, and I get the distinct impression Kozminski would have come across as a bit of an oddball. I think you can discount suspects that are described as ending up in a lunatic asylum or a ‘patient’, or men openly bothering women. There is simply no way, at the height of the terror, the victims would have gone off into secluded locations, or their own dwelling, with anyone outwardly weird.

    4. The police didn’t rate Bury
    This point is directly related to the ‘plausible customer’ angle – i.e., the ‘implausible suspect’. What did the two officers sent north to interview Bury find? A stone-cold sober Bury, small and unthreatening, 10ish stone sopping wet, quite probably quiet – due to being sober. Bury is recorded as reading the newspapers in Dundee and he must have had a reasonable education, being able to read and write in several different hands. In the past, he had a job as a factor’s clerk. I think it quite likely that he would have come across as reasonably articulate. The biggest ‘credibility killer’ for Bury as a viable suspect from a police perspective must have been the fact that he was married. I just don’t think it would have been on the police’s radar that JtR could have been married. Bury was quite probably very different to what the police were expecting. I think from the outset the police were probably hard-wired to look for out-and-out oddballs e.g., Kozminski. Whatever James Berry’s recollections about the police officers being convinced JtR had been hanged in Dundee, their report, probably to Aberline, must have been dismissed by those higher up the food chain, as we never really hear of Bury again. I think the reason the police weren’t interested is that Bury was just too far from what they thought they were looking for. The FBI profile makes this point clearly: ‘Investigators and citizens in the community had a preconceived idea or picture of what Jack the Ripper would have looked like. Because of the belief that he would appear odd or ghoulish in appearance, he was overlooked and/or eliminated’.

    5. Bury has form for early morning violence towards women
    In the trial notes James Martin recounts how Ellen went looking for Bury as he had been missing for two days. She finds him heading towards a pub at 5.30 to 6 am on a December morning (this is after he has sold his horse and cart). When Bury sees her, he asks what she is doing there and punches her two or three times, and she falls. This has always jumped out at me. Bury has undoubtedly been on a 2-day bender, mullered off his face, yet here he is the pitch black of a December morning, on the streets at a time that sounds rather familiar. Was this his habitat? Get drunk, sober up and wander the streets in the early morning looking for women? Perhaps more significantly, in Dundee, two neighbours heard screams at 2-3 in the morning from the Burys’ direction. If this is the time Bury attacked and killed his wife, the early morning timeframe sounds familiar.

    I can’t help thinking that in the context of what he went on to do, a dangerous, cunning man like Bury, undoubtedly carrying a knife, known to use prostitutes and visit Whitechapel, with clear evidence of being actively violent in the early morning, makes a hugely compelling suspect.

    6. Ada Wilson
    Although there isn’t a lot of information about this attack, Bury must surely be a strong contender, because:
    • Wilson was assaulted by a man that demanded money and then attacked with a knife. Bury’s assaults on his wife were caused by Ellen not handing over money when he demanded. Bury slept with a penknife under his pillow.
    • There is a suggestion Wilson was a prostitute. Bury used prostitutes - he caught VD and gave it to his wife. He would’ve had reason to be in that area.
    • The physical description of the attacker is a plausible age-height match for Bury (considering boots and hat).
    • Wilson’s address in Mile End was only 1 mile from Bury’s in Bromley-by-Bow. Wilson’s attacker was chased and almost caught, which could explain why Bury didn’t attack close to home again.
    Although the description of the attacker is suitably vague, is it a coincidence that it could easily describe Bury, as well as being very similar to some of the possible Ripper descriptions? Although it is something of a leap, could the Millwood-Wilson-Tabram ‘prequel’ penknife/clasp knife-style attacks be the same hand, and that man was Bury, on his trajectory of terror to becoming JtR?

    If the C5 didn't exist and we were left with Millwood, Wilson and Tabram, and all the same suspects, who would be the most likely attacker? I would suggest Bury by a long way. If we then say Tabram was a ripper victim.....


    7. Physical description
    In amongst the fog of uncertainty created by the many and varied possible sightings of JtR, were some people catching a glimpse of Bury? Was he the man with ‘Jewish’ look – Dundee papers reported him as having sharp features that could be mistaken for Jewish? Was he the ‘shabby genteel’ man in his neat clothes? Was he the man ‘only slightly taller than the woman he was stood next to’ – Bury was a short man? Was he ‘broad shouldered man’ – the Dundee papers stated he had a powerful chest? If Bury was BS man I think Stride must have known him or she wouldn’t have then gone into the yard with him.

    8. Ellen
    I think Bury knew a thing or two about signature analysis when he said he was worried about being apprehended as Jack the Ripper.

    Ellen: ‘On the inner side of the right labium was a wound 2 inches in length, penetrating the skin. Beginning about an inch behind the anus was an incised wound running forwards and to the left, into the perineum, and dividing the sphincter muscle’.

    Eddowes: ‘The incision went down the right side of the vagina and rectum for half an inch behind the rectum’.

    As far as I can see, and I have checked several times, the rectum/anus focus of this wound is specific to Eddowes and doesn’t occur on any of the other victims. Is it really a coincidence that Bury has pulled off a very specific injury on Ellen that is all but identical to that on Eddowes? How can anyone overlook this/write it off? Ellen also has a foot of intestine protruding from here abdomen.
    Bury mirrors an aspect of the Kelly crime scene:


    Ellen – found wearing only a chemise, some of her burnt clothing found in the fire grate
    Kelly – found wearing only a chemise, some of her burnt clothing found in the fire grate

    Some of the ripper victims were strangled. Even before I knew anything about Bury, in terms of speed and silence, I always thought it more likely than not that a ligature was used. Bury used a ligature to strangle Ellen.

    JtR’s signature was genital and abdominal trauma – as per Ellen. Alice McKenzie’s wounds bear no resemblance to Ellen’s. Despite the difference in ferocity to the other crimes, the essential signature of the Whitechapel murders is evident on Ellen. Bury attacked his wife, who was well-known to him, who was not a stranger, in his own home, he was removed from Whitechapel – outside of his Whitechapel bubble. These factors, in my opinion, are more than enough to explain the difference in severity to the other victims.
    I think some people get far to hung up about the fact that crime X was done like this with Y level of ferocity, therefore the next crime must be at least the same – this takes no account of changing circumstances, as described above, and this is a very poor/flimsy reason to discount Bury.

    9. Weak points
    JtR would not have walked into a police station and claimed his wife had committed suicide when a cursory examination would reveal she had been murdered. This is a valid criticism, but only if you are normal. Despite a plausible façade, Bury was far from normal. Bury was the man who stuffed his wife’s body in a crate and had ‘friends’ (I doubt Bury had any real friends) over to play cards, using the crate as a table. Bury then went back to her body post-mortem and inflicted two further wounds. There is no way Bury was a one-time only killer. Bury was the man, I am certain, who could do THAT, to Mary Kelly. Why should we, the normal people, think we can second guess the motivations of a man like that? Especially if his wife was a key part of his frustration – this has been suggested on the Bury website and I think it has a lot of mileage.

    Bury cuts a pathetic figure in his trial notes, asking Ellen for money to go out and drink and go to concerts, and hitting her or stealing from her when she said no. Their relationship sounds more like mother-teenager than man and wife. She leaves the house with her basket of jewellery, so he doesn’t steal it. Ellen bought Bury his horse and cart and was behind his station in life – he was entirely financially dependent on her. He must have felt hugely frustrated and probably ashamed, and James Martin said Bury’s drinking got worse after he was married. When he’d got rid of Ellen – quite possibly the trigger for all his attacks – maybe he just thought, sod it, can’t be bothered anymore. Whatever his thought process, you can’t write Bury off because his actions do not conform to our own normal, rational set of expected behaviours.

    Bury was too much of a drunk to pull it off. Bury was a drunk, but he was also capable of considerable cunning and preplanning. Just look at his remarkable flight from the East End. He must have scoured the papers for a suitable company to work for, forged the job offer letter, planned the journey, ordered the packing boxes and then forged another letter from Ellen saying what a jolly good time they were having in Dundee! I think the state Bury was in when he committed the Whitechapel crimes was probably something close to what Elizabeth Haynes described when he attacked Ellen with a knife: ‘He was drunk, but not badly. He knew what he was doing’. Not so drunk that he appeared dangerous or lost his critical senses of spatial awareness and ability to analyse his options and risks and react to unforeseen circumstances.

    Bury confessed to murdering Ellen so why didn’t he confess to JtR’s crimes? I think this is a case of Bury being banged to rights for Ellen – he had been tried and found guilty. Perhaps at the end he did feel a shred of something for her and her sister who went to ID the body. Although he confessed, he also passed the blame by saying, in a rather roundabout way, that it was her fault he killed her. There are other shades of this in the trial notes. Ellen asks Bury what he is doing sleeping with a penknife under his pillow – he denies it, as if someone else tiptoed in and put it there! Ellen’s sister tells him not to mistreat Ellen, having found her beaten and bloody from his handy work – again he just denies it. Bury can’t accept responsibility for anything. Why would he confess to JtR when it must have been very clear very quickly that the London police didn’t have anything on him?

    10. Questions
    When exactly did Bury take his jolly to the west Midlands in August 1888? Was this event book ended by Tabram and Nicholls? The attack on Tabram was in a hugely risky location - if Bury was concerned he had been seen or heard, what better way to lie low than take the new wife on holiday. I read somewhere that this holiday had signs of being hastily arranged, but I don’t see how that can be known if the exact dates are unknown. In the trial notes, Bury also beats up Ellen to the extent she is bed-ridden in August ’88 – was this a sign of his levels of violence changing?
    Where was Bury’s lair? We know he slept in a stable at JM’s place and he must have been stabling his horse somewhere when he was in Whitechapel. A caveat at here is that surely stables had someone on guard to watch the horses? It wouldn’t have taken much for someone to become suspicious if he was going in and out of the same stable. I can’t believe he used a lodging house as I doubt Bury would have prioritised money for a bed over money that could be spent on drink. Wherever it was, I think it must have been no more than a 5-7 minute walk from Mitre Square or Hanbury Street. Is there a stable that tallies with the geospatial profle?

    What spooked Bury into selling his horse and cart the December following Kelly? Bury was well in the clear by this time, so why doesn’t he just sit tight a bit longer? The FBI profile states that JtR would be expected to revisit his scenes of crime - was Bury questioned for having a snoop around the yard at Hanbury Street or Miller’s Court? I think this is unlikely to warrant a move to the other end of the UK. More likely I think is some sort of bungled attempt that wasn’t reported – the woman got a really good look at him. The final option is that things had just got too risky – the sale of the horse and cart was directly related to raising funds for the steamer trip to Dundee (I think this is least likely).

    Bury's horse and cart was his means of transport and gave him a little financial freedom from Ellen, so he must have had a very good reason for selling.


    11. Conclusions
    Bury was a cunning and very dangerous man. He undoubtedly always carried a knife, he used prostitutes, he visited Whitechapel for pleasure, he had the ability to conceal his true, violent nature, the FBI profile may as well have his name on it. The timing and nature of his removal from the East End is hugely suspicious, he is the suspect who performed the only credible ripper-like murder after Nov 88 – one of the injuries on Ellen was very specific and is as good as identical to a wound on Catherine Eddowes. He was undoubtedly a psychopath. Furthermore:
    • The idea that the likes of Druitt, Kosminski, Maybrick, et al., are more likely suspects than Bury, is, quite frankly, absurd.
    • In my opinion, it is extremely likely that William Bury was Jack the Ripper.
    • By moving to Dundee Bury erected a physical and mental barrier to disassociate himself from his crimes – these barriers still exist today.
    • The paradigm that seems to govern all thinking on JtR i.e., ‘The Unsolvable Mystery/The Unknowable Identity’ is an artefact of the high number of ridiculous suspects that have been suggested. A new, simpler paradigm is needed – ‘William Bury: Jack the Ripper’.
    Acknowledgement: I made use of the trial note transcripts on the Bury website, and other useful material on there.



  • #2
    Originally posted by Aethelwulf View Post
    I’ve always had a passing interest in Jack the Ripper, although my knowledge of the suspects was, until recently, limited. To find some clarity, I decided to educate myself and review the key suspects on Casebook, based on the suspect overviews, dissertations, message threads and any other material available online. I came to this process with only a basic knowledge of the subject and no expectations of finding a clear answer. To my surprise, it turns out that in amongst the twisted logic and conspiracy theories, there does seem to be an entirely plausible and very likely suspect. Strangely, no one really talks about him. Here are my thoughts for you to consider:

    1. He was there
    Bury resided in Bow, ca. 2.5 miles from Whitechapel. Bury was travelling to Whitechapel for work (selling sawdust) and pleasure – James Martin stated Bury was known to be drunk in Whitechapel. At a trotting speed of 5-10 mph Bury could have been in Whitechapel in half an hour or less. The distance is not great, but perhaps far enough for a drunk Bury to have opted to stay out, rather than return home. I don’t think there is evidence of Bury being out all night in Whitechapel, but his trial notes make clear he went missing from Bow for two days. He was also confirmed as being drunk in Whitechapel – it is only a small leap to think a man like Bury, who liked to drink, could have been staying out all night in Whitechapel. Bury is said to have been out all night when the murders were committed (I’ve never seen a source for this bit of information though).

    Some people have an issue with Bury living ‘extra-local’ – surely this is a non-issue as there is an accepted ‘commuter’ model for this type of crime.
    I can’t help thinking of a phrase that crops up in the police memoirs: ‘the man we searched so hard to find’ – perhaps he wasn’t ‘there’ i.e., in Whitechapel, to be found?

    2. He was the right type of person
    Some people seem to disregard the FBI profile. The experts that constructed the profile would have worked on lots of individual cases, from which they put together an ‘average profile,’ tailored to the specifics of the Whitechapel case. Whilst you might not expect Jack the Ripper to meet every criterion on the profile, you would, in my opinion, expect him to match with a good number of the characteristics.

    As has been identified previously, Bury’s match to the profile is very striking:
    • The age of onset for these types of homicides is generally between the mid to late 20s. Bury was 28.
    • This offender does not look out of the ordinary. However, the clothing he wears at the time of the assaults is not his everyday dress. He wants to project to unsuspecting female prostitutes that he has money; consequently, this relieves him from initiating contact. Through Ellen’s inheritance money (£300 – using the Bank of England inflation calculator that is nearly 40K in today’s money!), all of which he extracted from her, Bury would have had the means to dress smarter than average, say smart-casual, or even ‘shabby-genteel’. I read somewhere that Bury was in the habit of dressing quite smartly when he got his claws into Ellen’s money, even changing several times a day (in Dundee). He requested money from Ellen to go to a ‘smoking concert’ – no idea what this is, but it doesn’t sound like the type of thing you can rock up to in everyday scruffy clothes.
    • He comes from a family where he was raised by a domineering mother and weak, passive and/or absent father. Bury’s father died when he was a child, and his mother was in a lunatic asylum. Do we know anything about the woman/women that raised Bury?
    • For employment, he would seek a position where he could work alone and vicariously experience his destructive fantasies. Bury certainly worked alone and set his own hours, travelling around selling sawdust. There are suggestions he worked as a cats’ meat butcher, but I’m not sure this has ever been verified – I just can’t see Bury having the necessary application and work ethic to take on anything as taxing as running a shop.
    • Would not expect suspect to be married, if so, it would be to someone older and it would be short-lived. Ellen was 31, Bury was 28 – we know the marriage was short-lived and how it ended.
    • He has carried a knife for defense purposes-just in case he was ever attacked, he would be ready. Ellen discovered that Bury slept with a penknife under his pillow – surely he carried it on his person day-to-day?
    • This paranoid-type of thinking (associated with knife carrying) is in part justified because of his poor self-image. He would be expected to have some type of physical abnormality. The profilers include above or below average height in this. Bury was 5.2ish. Even if allowance is made for poor nutrition of the time, Bury’s must still have been below average height.
    • He is not adept in meeting people socially and the major extent of his heterosexual relationships would be with prostitutes – he would have contracted venereal disease. In May 1888 Bury contracted VD a gave it to his wife.
    • Quiet. Margaret Robertson describing Bury and his wife who were lodging with her in Dundee for a time. ‘They said they were going to Princes Street with it (the packing box). When with us, Prisoner was very quiet but several times worse of liquor.
    I can’t see any other suspect that fit the specifics of the profile anything like as well as Bury.

    3. A plausible customer
    This is an area where Bury makes a very convincing suspect. JtR must have had two key attributes: (1) to be a monster and, (2) the ability to hide the monster behind a façade utterly unremarkable and seemingly harmless. He would, I am sure, have presented to his victims as a safe and totally normal punter. This also allowed him to arrive and leave the crime scenes largely unremarked.
    From the way Bury treated his wife, and what he did to her body, there can be no doubt Bury was a monster – could he have pulled off the necessary deception? Ellen’s sister, Margaret, gives evidence of Bury’s ability to deceive at his trial. ‘He (Bury) was always pleasant to me. She (Ellen) told me he was violent. She said he was cunning and concealed his temper before people. It is obvious when you read the trial notes that Bury had two very different sides. The quiet/normal, even pleasant side seems to be evident when Bury is in the presence of women he does not know too well – e.g., Ellen’s sister and Margaret Robertson. There is also a reference to Bury and Ellen being ‘affectionate’ in Dundee. Given what happened later, this shows Bury’s two-sided nature. On the other hand, Bury seems to have no qualms about displaying his violent side in front of James Martin, who witnessed several assaults.
    Bury must also have pulled-off quite a deception in marrying Ellen. No doubt there was the odd pre-marriage flash of temper that he quickly glossed over – promised wouldn’t happen again. Until he got his grubby paws on the cash, I suspect he only revealed the ‘normal’ Bury to Ellen.

    There is also the curious response of Bury when he is caught out in ‘monster mode’ by his former landlady, Elizabeth Haynes:

    ‘About eleven at night I heard her cry out in the bedroom. I went up and into their room. She was in bed. He was also. He was kneeling on top of her with a table knife in his right hand. She was continuing to cry out, and said he was going to kill her. He came off the bed when I went in. I said I would send for the police. He asked me not and said he would not do it again. I took the knife from him and put it down.

    This behaviour goes against what I thought I knew about Bury. I would have expected him to have a go/become abusive, yet he behaves like a naughty little schoolboy. I don’t know whether this is deception, an attempt to conform, or maybe a guilty conscience – if Bury and his penknife were responsible for the attacks on Millwood and Wilson, was he worried about his presence and character coming to light? Bury’s fear of the police is entirely predictable if you consider what JtR was at his core: a sad, pathetic, miserable little coward.

    In summary, it is my opinion that Bury’s ability to deceive, by concealing his true nature, combined with his small, nonthreatening stature, and his ability to dress smarter than average (e.g., shabby genteel), could easily have created the seemingly harmless façade that led Kelly to take him back to her room. If the height estimates are correct, Kelly was probably a few inches taller than Bury. She would have made a quick decision – is this man safe/is he JtR? Bury certainly looks harmless in the sketch that shows him standing at the dock in shirt, tie and jacket. He is also described as being respectable and good looking – Kelly would never have suspected him.

    The ‘plausible customer’ angle is where someone like Kozminski falls down for me. I don’t get the impression he would’ve had the means to appear neatly dressed, and I get the distinct impression Kozminski would have come across as a bit of an oddball. I think you can discount suspects that are described as ending up in a lunatic asylum or a ‘patient’, or men openly bothering women. There is simply no way, at the height of the terror, the victims would have gone off into secluded locations, or their own dwelling, with anyone outwardly weird.

    4. The police didn’t rate Bury
    This point is directly related to the ‘plausible customer’ angle – i.e., the ‘implausible suspect’. What did the two officers sent north to interview Bury find? A stone-cold sober Bury, small and unthreatening, 10ish stone sopping wet, quite probably quiet – due to being sober. Bury is recorded as reading the newspapers in Dundee and he must have had a reasonable education, being able to read and write in several different hands. In the past, he had a job as a factor’s clerk. I think it quite likely that he would have come across as reasonably articulate. The biggest ‘credibility killer’ for Bury as a viable suspect from a police perspective must have been the fact that he was married. I just don’t think it would have been on the police’s radar that JtR could have been married. Bury was quite probably very different to what the police were expecting. I think from the outset the police were probably hard-wired to look for out-and-out oddballs e.g., Kozminski. Whatever James Berry’s recollections about the police officers being convinced JtR had been hanged in Dundee, their report, probably to Aberline, must have been dismissed by those higher up the food chain, as we never really hear of Bury again. I think the reason the police weren’t interested is that Bury was just too far from what they thought they were looking for. The FBI profile makes this point clearly: ‘Investigators and citizens in the community had a preconceived idea or picture of what Jack the Ripper would have looked like. Because of the belief that he would appear odd or ghoulish in appearance, he was overlooked and/or eliminated’.

    5. Bury has form for early morning violence towards women
    In the trial notes James Martin recounts how Ellen went looking for Bury as he had been missing for two days. She finds him heading towards a pub at 5.30 to 6 am on a December morning (this is after he has sold his horse and cart). When Bury sees her, he asks what she is doing there and punches her two or three times, and she falls. This has always jumped out at me. Bury has undoubtedly been on a 2-day bender, mullered off his face, yet here he is the pitch black of a December morning, on the streets at a time that sounds rather familiar. Was this his habitat? Get drunk, sober up and wander the streets in the early morning looking for women? Perhaps more significantly, in Dundee, two neighbours heard screams at 2-3 in the morning from the Burys’ direction. If this is the time Bury attacked and killed his wife, the early morning timeframe sounds familiar.

    I can’t help thinking that in the context of what he went on to do, a dangerous, cunning man like Bury, undoubtedly carrying a knife, known to use prostitutes and visit Whitechapel, with clear evidence of being actively violent in the early morning, makes a hugely compelling suspect.

    6. Ada Wilson
    Although there isn’t a lot of information about this attack, Bury must surely be a strong contender, because:
    • Wilson was assaulted by a man that demanded money and then attacked with a knife. Bury’s assaults on his wife were caused by Ellen not handing over money when he demanded. Bury slept with a penknife under his pillow.
    • There is a suggestion Wilson was a prostitute. Bury used prostitutes - he caught VD and gave it to his wife. He would’ve had reason to be in that area.
    • The physical description of the attacker is a plausible age-height match for Bury (considering boots and hat).
    • Wilson’s address in Mile End was only 1 mile from Bury’s in Bromley-by-Bow. Wilson’s attacker was chased and almost caught, which could explain why Bury didn’t attack close to home again.
    Although the description of the attacker is suitably vague, is it a coincidence that it could easily describe Bury, as well as being very similar to some of the possible Ripper descriptions? Although it is something of a leap, could the Millwood-Wilson-Tabram ‘prequel’ penknife/clasp knife-style attacks be the same hand, and that man was Bury, on his trajectory of terror to becoming JtR?

    If the C5 didn't exist and we were left with Millwood, Wilson and Tabram, and all the same suspects, who would be the most likely attacker? I would suggest Bury by a long way. If we then say Tabram was a ripper victim.....


    7. Physical description
    In amongst the fog of uncertainty created by the many and varied possible sightings of JtR, were some people catching a glimpse of Bury? Was he the man with ‘Jewish’ look – Dundee papers reported him as having sharp features that could be mistaken for Jewish? Was he the ‘shabby genteel’ man in his neat clothes? Was he the man ‘only slightly taller than the woman he was stood next to’ – Bury was a short man? Was he ‘broad shouldered man’ – the Dundee papers stated he had a powerful chest? If Bury was BS man I think Stride must have known him or she wouldn’t have then gone into the yard with him.

    8. Ellen
    I think Bury knew a thing or two about signature analysis when he said he was worried about being apprehended as Jack the Ripper.

    Ellen: ‘On the inner side of the right labium was a wound 2 inches in length, penetrating the skin. Beginning about an inch behind the anus was an incised wound running forwards and to the left, into the perineum, and dividing the sphincter muscle’.

    Eddowes: ‘The incision went down the right side of the vagina and rectum for half an inch behind the rectum’.

    As far as I can see, and I have checked several times, the rectum/anus focus of this wound is specific to Eddowes and doesn’t occur on any of the other victims. Is it really a coincidence that Bury has pulled off a very specific injury on Ellen that is all but identical to that on Eddowes? How can anyone overlook this/write it off? Ellen also has a foot of intestine protruding from here abdomen.
    Bury mirrors an aspect of the Kelly crime scene:


    Ellen – found wearing only a chemise, some of her burnt clothing found in the fire grate
    Kelly – found wearing only a chemise, some of her burnt clothing found in the fire grate

    Some of the ripper victims were strangled. Even before I knew anything about Bury, in terms of speed and silence, I always thought it more likely than not that a ligature was used. Bury used a ligature to strangle Ellen.

    JtR’s signature was genital and abdominal trauma – as per Ellen. Alice McKenzie’s wounds bear no resemblance to Ellen’s. Despite the difference in ferocity to the other crimes, the essential signature of the Whitechapel murders is evident on Ellen. Bury attacked his wife, who was well-known to him, who was not a stranger, in his own home, he was removed from Whitechapel – outside of his Whitechapel bubble. These factors, in my opinion, are more than enough to explain the difference in severity to the other victims.
    I think some people get far to hung up about the fact that crime X was done like this with Y level of ferocity, therefore the next crime must be at least the same – this takes no account of changing circumstances, as described above, and this is a very poor/flimsy reason to discount Bury.

    9. Weak points
    JtR would not have walked into a police station and claimed his wife had committed suicide when a cursory examination would reveal she had been murdered. This is a valid criticism, but only if you are normal. Despite a plausible façade, Bury was far from normal. Bury was the man who stuffed his wife’s body in a crate and had ‘friends’ (I doubt Bury had any real friends) over to play cards, using the crate as a table. Bury then went back to her body post-mortem and inflicted two further wounds. There is no way Bury was a one-time only killer. Bury was the man, I am certain, who could do THAT, to Mary Kelly. Why should we, the normal people, think we can second guess the motivations of a man like that? Especially if his wife was a key part of his frustration – this has been suggested on the Bury website and I think it has a lot of mileage.

    Bury cuts a pathetic figure in his trial notes, asking Ellen for money to go out and drink and go to concerts, and hitting her or stealing from her when she said no. Their relationship sounds more like mother-teenager than man and wife. She leaves the house with her basket of jewellery, so he doesn’t steal it. Ellen bought Bury his horse and cart and was behind his station in life – he was entirely financially dependent on her. He must have felt hugely frustrated and probably ashamed, and James Martin said Bury’s drinking got worse after he was married. When he’d got rid of Ellen – quite possibly the trigger for all his attacks – maybe he just thought, sod it, can’t be bothered anymore. Whatever his thought process, you can’t write Bury off because his actions do not conform to our own normal, rational set of expected behaviours.

    Bury was too much of a drunk to pull it off. Bury was a drunk, but he was also capable of considerable cunning and preplanning. Just look at his remarkable flight from the East End. He must have scoured the papers for a suitable company to work for, forged the job offer letter, planned the journey, ordered the packing boxes and then forged another letter from Ellen saying what a jolly good time they were having in Dundee! I think the state Bury was in when he committed the Whitechapel crimes was probably something close to what Elizabeth Haynes described when he attacked Ellen with a knife: ‘He was drunk, but not badly. He knew what he was doing’. Not so drunk that he appeared dangerous or lost his critical senses of spatial awareness and ability to analyse his options and risks and react to unforeseen circumstances.

    Bury confessed to murdering Ellen so why didn’t he confess to JtR’s crimes? I think this is a case of Bury being banged to rights for Ellen – he had been tried and found guilty. Perhaps at the end he did feel a shred of something for her and her sister who went to ID the body. Although he confessed, he also passed the blame by saying, in a rather roundabout way, that it was her fault he killed her. There are other shades of this in the trial notes. Ellen asks Bury what he is doing sleeping with a penknife under his pillow – he denies it, as if someone else tiptoed in and put it there! Ellen’s sister tells him not to mistreat Ellen, having found her beaten and bloody from his handy work – again he just denies it. Bury can’t accept responsibility for anything. Why would he confess to JtR when it must have been very clear very quickly that the London police didn’t have anything on him?

    10. Questions
    When exactly did Bury take his jolly to the west Midlands in August 1888? Was this event book ended by Tabram and Nicholls? The attack on Tabram was in a hugely risky location - if Bury was concerned he had been seen or heard, what better way to lie low than take the new wife on holiday. I read somewhere that this holiday had signs of being hastily arranged, but I don’t see how that can be known if the exact dates are unknown. In the trial notes, Bury also beats up Ellen to the extent she is bed-ridden in August ’88 – was this a sign of his levels of violence changing?
    Where was Bury’s lair? We know he slept in a stable at JM’s place and he must have been stabling his horse somewhere when he was in Whitechapel. A caveat at here is that surely stables had someone on guard to watch the horses? It wouldn’t have taken much for someone to become suspicious if he was going in and out of the same stable. I can’t believe he used a lodging house as I doubt Bury would have prioritised money for a bed over money that could be spent on drink. Wherever it was, I think it must have been no more than a 5-7 minute walk from Mitre Square or Hanbury Street. Is there a stable that tallies with the geospatial profle?

    What spooked Bury into selling his horse and cart the December following Kelly? Bury was well in the clear by this time, so why doesn’t he just sit tight a bit longer? The FBI profile states that JtR would be expected to revisit his scenes of crime - was Bury questioned for having a snoop around the yard at Hanbury Street or Miller’s Court? I think this is unlikely to warrant a move to the other end of the UK. More likely I think is some sort of bungled attempt that wasn’t reported – the woman got a really good look at him. The final option is that things had just got too risky – the sale of the horse and cart was directly related to raising funds for the steamer trip to Dundee (I think this is least likely).

    Bury's horse and cart was his means of transport and gave him a little financial freedom from Ellen, so he must have had a very good reason for selling.


    11. Conclusions
    Bury was a cunning and very dangerous man. He undoubtedly always carried a knife, he used prostitutes, he visited Whitechapel for pleasure, he had the ability to conceal his true, violent nature, the FBI profile may as well have his name on it. The timing and nature of his removal from the East End is hugely suspicious, he is the suspect who performed the only credible ripper-like murder after Nov 88 – one of the injuries on Ellen was very specific and is as good as identical to a wound on Catherine Eddowes. He was undoubtedly a psychopath. Furthermore:
    • The idea that the likes of Druitt, Kosminski, Maybrick, et al., are more likely suspects than Bury, is, quite frankly, absurd.
    • In my opinion, it is extremely likely that William Bury was Jack the Ripper.
    • By moving to Dundee Bury erected a physical and mental barrier to disassociate himself from his crimes – these barriers still exist today.
    • The paradigm that seems to govern all thinking on JtR i.e., ‘The Unsolvable Mystery/The Unknowable Identity’ is an artefact of the high number of ridiculous suspects that have been suggested. A new, simpler paradigm is needed – ‘William Bury: Jack the Ripper’.
    Acknowledgement: I made use of the trial note transcripts on the Bury website, and other useful material on there.

    hey wulf
    bury is a very viable suspect. a known murderer. MO similar.in the area. person of interest by police. hes in my top 5.
    Last edited by Abby Normal; 08-09-2021, 05:06 AM.
    "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


    • #3
      Hi Wulf
      Thank you for a great post. I too believe Bury was the Ripper. Also I too some years back went through a process were I looked at numerous suspects and found Bury to be by far the strongest suspect of them all and also realised that Bury was likely the Ripper. Welcome to the boards. Please if you have any further thoughts about Bury please do post them. The message boards have become to my mind tiresome with endless posts on witnesses turned into suspects and numerous threads on the diary. And very few posts about more sensible suspects. And very little about Bury. I've posted about Bury but people seem to want to debate the Diary or whatever ridiculous suspect is flavour of the month.


      Cheers John

      Comment


      • #4
        Hello Aethelwulf, have you read William Beadle's book on Bury, "Jack the ripper unmasked"? A bit dated now, but still well worth a read.
        dustymiller
        aka drstrange

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Aethelwulf, except the bit about Mckenzie where I believe the argument went weak, this is a very good post.




          The Baron

          Comment


          • #6
            Obviously we've seen a lot of these points before, but you've summarised the case for Bury very well.

            For me, it all hinges on whether or not McKenzie was a Ripper victim, and I lean more towards yes. McKenzie has more in common with the other victims than Ellen Bury, in terms of throat wound, geo-location, and victim profile. I think it's stretching credulity for both of them to be 'copycat' murders, but you never know. Apparently the term 'copycat' was coined after the Ripper murders. William Bury might rank alongside William Waddell as two men who murdered their lovers in a drunken rage and tried to cover up the fact by haphazardly imitating the Ripper.

            Comment


            • #7
              Hi Aethelwulf. Thank you for a very interesting post. I dont have any strong opinions myself as to Jack The Ripper's identity,but you make a fair case for Bury there. Also glad to see a such a post after all the 'witness was Jack' threads. Pardon my english grammar,as its not my native language.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yeah, Good post Wulf!

                You summarise the case for and against Bury very well.

                I too think that he is a suspect who is often overlooked, but is worthy of more serious consideration.

                Further to Dr Strange's post above re the Beadle book, the Euan MacPherson's "The Trial of Jack the Ripper: The Case of William Bury" is also worth a look.

                Comment


                • #9
                  .
                  4. The police didn’t rate Bury
                  This point is directly related to the ‘plausible customer’ angle – i.e., the ‘implausible suspect’. What did the two officers sent north to interview Bury find? A stone-cold sober Bury, small and unthreatening, 10ish stone sopping wet, quite probably quiet – due to being sober. Bury is recorded as reading the newspapers in Dundee and he must have had a reasonable education, being able to read and write in several different hands. In the past, he had a job as a factor’s clerk. I think it quite likely that he would have come across as reasonably articulate. The biggest ‘credibility killer’ for Bury as a viable suspect from a police perspective must have been the fact that he was married. I just don’t think it would have been on the police’s radar that JtR could have been married. Bury was quite probably very different to what the police were expecting. I think from the outset the police were probably hard-wired to look for out-and-out oddballs e.g., Kozminski. Whatever James Berry’s recollections about the police officers being convinced JtR had been hanged in Dundee, their report, probably to Aberline, must have been dismissed by those higher up the food chain, as we never really hear of Bury again. I think the reason the police weren’t interested is that Bury was just too far from what they thought they were looking for. The FBI profile makes this point clearly: ‘Investigators and citizens in the community had a preconceived idea or picture of what Jack the Ripper would have looked like. Because of the belief that he would appear odd or ghoulish in appearance, he was overlooked and/or eliminated’.
                  Can we be anything like certain of this though Wulf? We know how desperately the Police wanted the killer caught and the kind of pressures they were under from the politicians and the public. Could it really be as simplistic as this for the police to go to the expense of sending two officers up to Scotland to see if Bury was their ‘Mr Hyde’ type image of the killer? Of course I’m not saying that it’s impossible that a guilty Bury couldn’t have fooled them but I don’t think we can assume that it would have been such an easy task. I think we can tend toward sidestepping the inconvenient if we use this simplistic argument to ignore the fact that the police certainly didn’t think that he was Jack the Ripper. How can we be sure for example that they didn’t discover some insurmountable fact that exonerated him? And although later on suspects were either named or hinted at by various officers and observers/confidantes (Koz, Druitt, Tumblety, Chapman etc) no one ever mentions Bury. Not even in hindsight does anyone consider him.

                  . The idea that the likes of Druitt, Kosminski, Maybrick, et al., are more likely suspects than Bury, is, quite frankly, absurd
                  Two of these of course were actually highlighted as suspects (and likely one’s in their opinion) of two very highly placed Police Officers so it’s difficult to see where ‘absurd’ comes from? Whether these suspects seem the ‘type’ or not is largely it relevant. We can take no suspect as a ‘case closed’ of course but we cannot dismiss them because they don’t ‘seem’ right. People who were around at the time and in a position to know felt the opposite. This has to give them weight.

                  …..

                  Id of course add that any perceived similarities between the murder of his wife and the victims is outweighed by the differences in a murder of strangers in the street put on display as opposed to a wife murdered and hidden in a trunk. There are some similarities of course but none are exactly unique in the annals of murder.

                  Id certainly have Bury as a person of interest but from reading comments by one proposer there has been a tendency toward serious exaggeration IMO. The case isn’t closed. I’d say that Bury is a slightly better suspect than Kelly. Worth further research certainly.
                  Regards

                  Sir Herlock Sholmes.

                  “A house of delusions is cheap to build but draughty to live in.”

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As I mentioned earlier hes in my top five least weak suspects. My main beef with bury is that IMHO mackenzie was a ripper victim. if she wasnt , he would probably number one on my list.
                    "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


                    • #11
                      Bury's a good suspect. My issue is the mustache.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ms Diddles View Post
                        Yeah, Good post Wulf!

                        You summarise the case for and against Bury very well.

                        I too think that he is a suspect who is often overlooked, but is worthy of more serious consideration.

                        Further to Dr Strange's post above re the Beadle book, the Euan MacPherson's "The Trial of Jack the Ripper: The Case of William Bury" is also worth a look.
                        I would argue that Bury is not a very "attractive" suspect for a lot of people. A drunkard who half-assed his final murder and handed himself into the police smashes the mythos of the Ripper.

                        The likes of Maybrick, Kosminski, Druitt, Lechmere, Sickert, Gull etc. are a bit more alluring than Bury, truth be damned.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Bury is on my Persons of Interest list. My reservation in the same as Abby's - McKenzie.

                          Druitt is a suspect based almost entirely on Macnaughten's opinions. Having just read Simon Wood's dissertation titled "Occam's Razor" from Ripperologist #125, I am tending to discount MacNaughtens views as being inaccurate. Kosminski, as a name, falls into inaccurate statements as well as unless the name was actually Kaminsky/Cohen the facts don't fit. If the police were still considering the ripper for the Coles murder, a lot of suspects are eliminated.

                          Cheers, George

                          They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
                          Out of a misty dream
                          Our path emerges for a while, then closes
                          Within a dream.
                          Ernest Dowson - Vitae Summa Brevis​

                          ​Disagreeing doesn't have to be disagreeable - Jeff Hamm

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by GBinOz View Post
                            Bury is on my Persons of Interest list. My reservation in the same as Abby's - McKenzie.

                            Druitt is a suspect based almost entirely on Macnaughten's opinions. Having just read Simon Wood's dissertation titled "Occam's Razor" from Ripperologist #125, I am tending to discount MacNaughtens views as being inaccurate. Kosminski, as a name, falls into inaccurate statements as well as unless the name was actually Kaminsky/Cohen the facts don't fit. If the police were still considering the ripper for the Coles murder, a lot of suspects are eliminated.

                            Cheers, George
                            Hi George,

                            Without wanting to sidetrack (and I won’t comment further on Druitt) id just mention that Henry Farquharson was saying that the ripper was a surgeons son who had taken his own life, 3 years before the Memorandum.
                            Regards

                            Sir Herlock Sholmes.

                            “A house of delusions is cheap to build but draughty to live in.”

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

                              Hi George,

                              Without wanting to sidetrack (and I won’t comment further on Druitt) id just mention that Henry Farquharson was saying that the ripper was a surgeons son who had taken his own life, 3 years before the Memorandum.
                              Thanks Herlock. I was aware of his theory, but didn't it involve the suicide being on the 9th Nov as an instant result of the horror of the MJK murder? Are you aware that by the time Macnaughton released his memoirs in 1914 the drowned doctor theory had been dropped in favour of " the Whitechapel murderer, in all probability, put an end to himself soon after the Dorset Street affair in November 1888".

                              Abilene was vocal in his oppostion to the drowned doctor theory and in 1891 Sir Edward Bradford, Chief Commissioner of the Police, was convinced that Coles was a ripper victim and was parading Sadler before a Mitre Square witness for identification.

                              Cheers, George
                              They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
                              Out of a misty dream
                              Our path emerges for a while, then closes
                              Within a dream.
                              Ernest Dowson - Vitae Summa Brevis​

                              ​Disagreeing doesn't have to be disagreeable - Jeff Hamm

                              Comment

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