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  • Jack the Ripper-in Los Angeles?

    The following is an article by James T. Bartlett, who submitted it to Casebook for posting.
    Bartlett is a journalist and author based in Los Angeles, though originally from London. He writes for the LA Times, BBC, Inflights Magazine, and other publications.
    He's also published a couple of alternative Los Angeles guide books on true crime cases and a recent book about a 1953 murder in Fairbanks, Alaska titled The Alaskan Blonde: Sex, Secrets, and the Hollywood Story that Shocked America.

    Eventually we'll be placing this article in the Dissertation section of the site.

    Jack the Ripper – in Los Angeles?
    by James T. Bartlett


    Film database IMDB.com lists over 100 productions in every conceivable genre about or related to Jack the Ripper, with perhaps the most high-profile big screen version being 20th Century Fox’s 2001 From Hell starring Johnny Depp.

    No doubt readers will have their own favourite, but while California and Los Angeles in particular has had a number of memorably-nicknamed serial killers – the Night Stalker, the Grim Sleeper, the Sunset Strip Killers, the Golden State Killer, Charles Manson and his Family – a connection between Los Angeles and the Ripper isn’t immediately apparent, besides inspiring countless Hollywood screenwriters.

    The usage of words like “boss,” “right away,” and “fix me,” in some of letters written by the Ripper seemed to suggest an American slant, though that is of course assuming they were genuine, and that those words weren’t trying to shift suspicion to the ever-popular suspect: that of a “foreigner.”

    That said, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle expressed the opinion that the Ripper might have been someone who had been in America, and there were American copycats/possibles reported on (Texas in 1885, Illinois in 1889).

    Also, in New York in 1891 an apparent Ripper “suspect” named Ameer Ben Ali was arrested and railroaded into prison, but then released, and much later in 1995, Francis Tumblety from St Louis, Missouri, was a brief suspect sensation – though he hadn’t been high on the list for New York police at the time.

    Even so, was there ever a chance that the Ripper went West?

    In the 1880s, Los Angeles was a near-lawless backwater of 11,000 souls, but just a decade later it had 50,000 residents, and was growing fast. That meant people of every stripe were arriving, and there were real suspicions that Jack the Ripper had been roaming the streets back in 1888.
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    This was the headline in the Los Angeles Herald of March 17, 1892, and the story had hit the news in Los Angeles because an Albert Oliver Williams had been arrested near Perth in Australia, and charged with murdering his wife Emily in Melbourne.

    Born in England, Williams had previously lived in Rainhill, Liverpool, but left there around July 1891. Some months later, workmen at the house noticed a noxious smell coming from under the kitchen floor. Digging down they found the bodies of two children, a 12-year-old girl, and Marie, who had the body of a young baby in her arms. They had all been murdered, and several of them had their throats cut. It seemed that Williams’s Australian wife, Emily, suffered the same fate.

    Messages began telegraphing back and forth across 10,500 miles, and a theory emerged that Williams was the infamous Jack the Ripper, on the run from the police in London.

    Police calculated that his regular trips from Liverpool to London coincided with the dates of the Whitechapel murders, and the Herald reported that Williams’ appearance “tallies exactly” with descriptions of a man seen with several of the Ripper’s victims.

    The report added that the brutality of his murders suggested “the ferocity of Jack the Ripper,” and that “the question of who Williams really is, and how he lives, is a mystery.”

    The next day the Herald reported that Williams’ real name was Frederick Bailey Deeming, a criminal with a long career of theft, bigamy, deception and murder around the world, though his confession to the last two canonical Ripper murders was seen by many as a desperate ploy to get himself extradited to England.

    Several weeks later on April 17, the Los Angeles Times jumped on the bandwagon and added a fascinating further possibility to the story of Deeming, who they called a “phenomenal villain,” and “a fiend in human form.”

    According to their report, a man named Charles H. Williams had lived in Los Angeles around 1887 and 1888, and had married a “worthy lady” named Nannie Catching before stealing around $2,500 from her (around $70,000 today), and disappearing without a trace.

  • #2
    (cont)



    Could this Charles Williams have been Deeming in an earlier incarnation, before he turned to bloody murder?

    The Times had actually reported about the deception of Catching in April 1888, which was some four months before the murder of Mary Ann Nichols in Whitechapel, London.
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    The article had a melodramatic, jokey tone, talking about another “fascinating fellah,” and how Catching, a respected music teacher and singer, came to hear the “seraphic strains” of Charles’s voice at the First Baptist Church on Sunday mornings.

    The “exceedingly popular” Charles was “so nice, you know,” and after he “laid siege” to her affections for 15 months, they had been married on January 11 that year at Central Baptist Parsonage.

    Even so, Nannie’s friends were skeptical about him from the beginning, and had warned her against marrying him. She didn’t listen, and a few months later the “hypocritical scoundrel” and “arch hypocrite” shed “crocodile’s tears” about a few hundred dollars he had “used” (presumably meaning taken from her without permission), but faithfully vowed to repay.

    Impressed by his honesty, Catching had been lulled into a false sense of security and, when she came home from giving music lessons to find a note saying he had gone to Temecula on business (some 85 miles south) and would be back in a couple of days, she wasn’t worried.

    But as those days passed “anxiety took the place of eager expectation,” and, of course, Charles never returned. There wasn’t even a wedding photo as a memento for Catching, as her estranged husband had studiously avoided having his picture taken.

    The report added that Deeming may have developed an accent (or pretended to have one), which allowed him to present as American or Australian, and later they noted other small similarities between the two men: both were Freemasons, good at singing, and had mechanical and engineering knowledge.

    More substantial evidence in the lengthy April 17 report came in the form of several illustrations, which featured a “desperado” with a large, drooping moustache and a big hat who, according to the Times, was Charles Williams on a hiking trip to Pasadena, some 10 miles outside Los Angeles.
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    The report insisted that these illustrations closely matched photographs and an illustration of Deeming (the latter of which also featured in the report), and that to be rid of such an “unmitigated scoundrel” was a lucky escape for Catching.

    It was true that the Los Angeles newspapers never connected any local murders to Charles Williams, but even so, we can only imagine her shock when, a few years after her marital humiliation, she learned that her lying husband had been accused of being a multiple murderer, let alone Jack the Ripper.

    The initial tip-off about the Williams/Deeming connection had come from an anonymous Los Angeles attorney who read a copy of the New York World, and, when he saw a portrait of the recently-arrested Deeming, was sure that he was the Charles H. Williams he knew in L.A. back in 1887.

    The attorney had contacted the Times about his suspicions, and they also ran a chronological table of Deeming’s known whereabouts, aliases, and crimes, from the years 1880 to 1892, with a “hiatus” noted between parts of 1886-1889, the obvious implication that this was perhaps when he was in California.

    The attorney recalled a train journey he had shared with Charles and former real estate broker Charles E. Lloyd. The attorney had mentioned a case involving a man who had repeatedly married women, stolen their money, and then deserted them, and how Charles’s enthusiastic response – and many questions – gave the startled attorney the impression that he was talking to a criminal.

    The report also mentioned shoemaker Thomas Shooter, who said that in 1886 he had met a Charles H. Williams in San Francisco, and subsequently gave him a job at his business on Commercial Street in downtown Los Angeles.

    Presenting himself as somewhat of a global traveler, this Charles Williams told Shooter that he was a former shoe salesman from Australia, and was described as having “agreeable and insinuating manners,” and being “a good conversationalist.” He was said to be rather boastful too, and spoke of large sums of money he had made in the mines during his time in Australia.

    Charles worked at the shoe store for a year, and he also boarded with the Shooters too, though he always slept with the light on as he said he was “nervous of the night.”

    The Shooters never truly warmed to their employee/lodger though, and when Charles said he needed a loan of $200 to go into a real estate business with a J.J. Southworth (some reports say Southwick), they refused. Charles left immediately, and obtained the money from someone else: Nannie Catching.

    More darkly, Mrs. Shooter recalled that Charles told her he had been married with a child in Australia, but said that when his wife had died, he had “danced for joy on her grave.” It was a comment that chillingly brought to mind where Emily’s body was found – under a bedroom hearthstone. Mrs. Shooter also said that he admitted he sought out women with money, and that he frequently contradicted himself about his past.

    The Shooters and J.J. Southworth confirmed that there was a striking resemblance between Charles and the portrait of Deeming, and the Times called the similarity “one of the most remarkable coincidences on record.” Southworth, who found Charles distrustful in financial matters, had mentioned the similarities without even knowing whom the subject of the portrait was.

    Charles finally fled Los Angeles because he was recognized on the street by a lady from Ohio, and Shooter had found a photograph taken in Ohio among his abandoned personal effects: was she another victim of his scams?

    At the time, the Herald and Times newspapers were fierce rivals, and this was a sensation that could sell many extra copies. Having been somewhat scooped, the Herald hit back the next day, April 18, calling the Times story “bosh.”

    They reported that Catching now said her husband was actually called William Williams, and that in 1883 he worked for a secret organization (and at a boot factory) in Sydney, Australia. Deeming was in Sydney at the same time, though he was in prison. Thus, presumably, the later Williams/Deeming connection was just a coincidence of names and geography.

    She also said the pictures and illustrations were no match, and “thus is the sensation exploded,” concluded the Herald, though it is much more likely Catching was trying to save herself from further embarrassing publicity.

    The following day, the Times noted that, in fact, Catching had told them her estranged husband’s last name was actually Mitchell, and that the photograph Shooter found had the name Mitchell on it, and that the “lady from Ohio” told the Times that the man she saw was known to her as Mitchell.

    The discrediting of the Herald continued, when they added that their enquiries showed Deeming had been indeed been in prison in Sydney, but in 1882, not 1883, so was presumably at large at the same time as the rather unlikely “William Williams.”
    Last edited by jmenges; 08-03-2022, 01:58 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      (cont)



      On April 20, the Times reported that real estate agent A.W.H. Peyton said Charles came to see him after arriving in Los Angeles from San Francisco in 1886 (presumably around the time he started working for Shooter). Peyton had been suspicious of him, and also felt that the Deeming and Williams illustrations/photographs showed the same man.

      In fact, he said that he wouldn’t be surprised if Charles turned out to be “one of the vilest criminals on earth, for I have never met a man with a harder face…”

      In contradiction, the Herald reported on an interview given by Charles E. Lloyd, the man who had been with him when they talked to the L.A. attorney. Lloyd had first met Charles in a church choir in Los Angeles in 1887, and they became friends.

      Lloyd saw nothing to suggest that Nannie and Charles were in an unhappy marriage, despite how it ended, and that he had been one of the last people to see him before he disappeared, when he too saw an abandoned document showing the name Charles Mitchell.

      “The most callow brain can turn out dime novel stories without end,” sniffed the Herald, saying that their readers could “rest assured” that “The Demon Was Not the Los Angeles Man.” Lloyd did not notice any likenesses between the now well-thumbed illustrations, either.

      The report described Charles as about 5ft 6”, 140 pounds and “rather good looking,” though Lloyd’s wife and many other ladies of her acquaintance “never could abide him.”

      On April 21 the Times noted that several people had seen a facsimile of Deeming’s handwriting, and all had agreed there was a strong similarity to Charles H. Williams. They had no actual samples of his to compare it to however, and contemporary criminology often dismisses comparisons like this as highly unreliable.

      The Times also referenced a story from the San Francisco Examiner, which reported that George Bidwell, who was lecturing in San Francisco about his experiences as a Bank of England fraudster, had studied the case and reasoned that Charles H. Williams was a man he knew.

      Bidwell knew him as Shear, who had been released from Sing Sing in 1884 after serving time for bank fraud in New York. Shear had turned up at Bidwell’s doorstep in Hartford, Connecticut, looking for food, shelter and a job, and the Bidwell family had taken him in, and come to seem him as thoroughly trustworthy.

      They gave him a job, advanced him money for a new suit, and for a time “Shear” worked as a clerk. Then, one day he was sent to the bank to cash some checks – and was never seen again.

      The disappointed and angry Bidwell did what he could to track Shear down, apparently finding a trail of at least three other wives he had married and stolen from, but the last he heard was that Shear was in Kansas, intending to go West (to California, perhaps?).

      Bidwell confirmed the illustrations were of the man he knew as Shear, though it’s worth remembering that he was on a lecture tour at the time, and may have been looking to drum up business for his own benefit.

      A few days later on April 25, 1892, the Times reported on yet another “new complication,” and it was one that actually drew the Williams/Deeming connection closer together.

      In the small town of Los Gatos, some 60 miles outside San Francisco, a man named Albert Williams (the same fake naming Deeming used), had abandoned a daughter named Henrietta. What had happened to the mother wasn’t noted, but Henrietta was now said to be a “Salvation Army waif.” She posted a desperate letter in the Army’s newspaper War Cry that ended: “Please, dear Jesus, send papa home.”

      This apparent abandonment had happened back in July 1886, but when Deeming had been arrested recently in Australia, he was said to have had a picture of Henrietta his possession.

      The Times reminded readers that Shooter had met a man named Williams in San Francisco, and said there was “strong circumstantial evidence” that the Los Angeles job offer was the motivation for him to skip out on yet another family.

      Strangely, both the Times and the Herald then fell utterly silent about the Williams/Deeming connection to Los Angeles, and Deeming was subsequently executed in Melbourne gaol in May 1892.

      As was common practice at the time, a death mask was made. One was kept in Melbourne, where it is still on display at the Victoria Police Museum, while another was dispatched to Scotland Yard’s famous private Black Museum.
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      For many years it was described as the death mask of Jack the Ripper, and though Deeming has long been dismissed as the infamous Whitechapel killer, the books, documentaries and movies have kept coming.

      As for the many coincidences that suggest Deeming may have spent time in Los Angeles, that ultimately seems more a media fantasy than reality – or does it? When has that ever stopped an aspiring screenwriter?




      References:
      Central Register for Male Prisoners 25311 - 25809 (1892-1893). HYPERLINK "https://prov.vic.gov.au/archive/1C9ACBB3-F3A9-11E9-AE98-BBF9E30316B5?image=66" Prisoner number: 25376; Page: 66; Volume: 46. Public Record Office Victoria – North Melbourne, Australia

      Los Angeles Herald – January 10, 1888

      Los Angeles Herald – March 17, 1892

      Los Angeles Herald – April 18, 1892

      Los Angeles Herald – April 20, 1892

      Los Angeles Times – April 24, 1888

      Los Angeles Times – April 17-21, 1892

      Los Angeles Times – April 25, 1892

      San Francisco Chronicle – April 18, 1892

      An earlier version of this article appeared in the LA Weekly on May 24, 2017; it has since been revised and expanded. The Australian connection was also discussed by the author in the February 2019 Dead & Buried podcast HYPERLINK "http://www.deadandburiedpodcast.com/dont-marry-in-haste" http://www.deadandburiedpodcast.com/dont-marry-in-haste



      ****

      Comment


      • #4
        I’ve just added ‘Alaskan Blonde’ to my list of books to get. It looks an interesting one that I hadn’t seen before.
        Regards

        Sir Herlock Sholmes

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jmenges View Post
          (cont)



          On April 20, the Times reported that real estate agent A.W.H. Peyton said Charles came to see him after arriving in Los Angeles from San Francisco in 1886 (presumably around the time he started working for Shooter). Peyton had been suspicious of him, and also felt that the Deeming and Williams illustrations/photographs showed the same man.

          In fact, he said that he wouldn’t be surprised if Charles turned out to be “one of the vilest criminals on earth, for I have never met a man with a harder face…”

          In contradiction, the Herald reported on an interview given by Charles E. Lloyd, the man who had been with him when they talked to the L.A. attorney. Lloyd had first met Charles in a church choir in Los Angeles in 1887, and they became friends.

          Lloyd saw nothing to suggest that Nannie and Charles were in an unhappy marriage, despite how it ended, and that he had been one of the last people to see him before he disappeared, when he too saw an abandoned document showing the name Charles Mitchell.

          “The most callow brain can turn out dime novel stories without end,” sniffed the Herald, saying that their readers could “rest assured” that “The Demon Was Not the Los Angeles Man.” Lloyd did not notice any likenesses between the now well-thumbed illustrations, either.

          The report described Charles as about 5ft 6”, 140 pounds and “rather good looking,” though Lloyd’s wife and many other ladies of her acquaintance “never could abide him.”

          On April 21 the Times noted that several people had seen a facsimile of Deeming’s handwriting, and all had agreed there was a strong similarity to Charles H. Williams. They had no actual samples of his to compare it to however, and contemporary criminology often dismisses comparisons like this as highly unreliable.

          The Times also referenced a story from the San Francisco Examiner, which reported that George Bidwell, who was lecturing in San Francisco about his experiences as a Bank of England fraudster, had studied the case and reasoned that Charles H. Williams was a man he knew.

          Bidwell knew him as Shear, who had been released from Sing Sing in 1884 after serving time for bank fraud in New York. Shear had turned up at Bidwell’s doorstep in Hartford, Connecticut, looking for food, shelter and a job, and the Bidwell family had taken him in, and come to seem him as thoroughly trustworthy.

          They gave him a job, advanced him money for a new suit, and for a time “Shear” worked as a clerk. Then, one day he was sent to the bank to cash some checks – and was never seen again.

          The disappointed and angry Bidwell did what he could to track Shear down, apparently finding a trail of at least three other wives he had married and stolen from, but the last he heard was that Shear was in Kansas, intending to go West (to California, perhaps?).

          Bidwell confirmed the illustrations were of the man he knew as Shear, though it’s worth remembering that he was on a lecture tour at the time, and may have been looking to drum up business for his own benefit.

          A few days later on April 25, 1892, the Times reported on yet another “new complication,” and it was one that actually drew the Williams/Deeming connection closer together.

          In the small town of Los Gatos, some 60 miles outside San Francisco, a man named Albert Williams (the same fake naming Deeming used), had abandoned a daughter named Henrietta. What had happened to the mother wasn’t noted, but Henrietta was now said to be a “Salvation Army waif.” She posted a desperate letter in the Army’s newspaper War Cry that ended: “Please, dear Jesus, send papa home.”

          This apparent abandonment had happened back in July 1886, but when Deeming had been arrested recently in Australia, he was said to have had a picture of Henrietta his possession.

          The Times reminded readers that Shooter had met a man named Williams in San Francisco, and said there was “strong circumstantial evidence” that the Los Angeles job offer was the motivation for him to skip out on yet another family.

          Strangely, both the Times and the Herald then fell utterly silent about the Williams/Deeming connection to Los Angeles, and Deeming was subsequently executed in Melbourne gaol in May 1892.

          As was common practice at the time, a death mask was made. One was kept in Melbourne, where it is still on display at the Victoria Police Museum, while another was dispatched to Scotland Yard’s famous private Black Museum.
          Click image for larger version

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Size:	158.4 KB
ID:	791432




          For many years it was described as the death mask of Jack the Ripper, and though Deeming has long been dismissed as the infamous Whitechapel killer, the books, documentaries and movies have kept coming.

          As for the many coincidences that suggest Deeming may have spent time in Los Angeles, that ultimately seems more a media fantasy than reality – or does it? When has that ever stopped an aspiring screenwriter?




          References:
          Central Register for Male Prisoners 25311 - 25809 (1892-1893). HYPERLINK "https://prov.vic.gov.au/archive/1C9ACBB3-F3A9-11E9-AE98-BBF9E30316B5?image=66" Prisoner number: 25376; Page: 66; Volume: 46. Public Record Office Victoria – North Melbourne, Australia

          Los Angeles Herald – January 10, 1888

          Los Angeles Herald – March 17, 1892

          Los Angeles Herald – April 18, 1892

          Los Angeles Herald – April 20, 1892

          Los Angeles Times – April 24, 1888

          Los Angeles Times – April 17-21, 1892

          Los Angeles Times – April 25, 1892

          San Francisco Chronicle – April 18, 1892

          An earlier version of this article appeared in the LA Weekly on May 24, 2017; it has since been revised and expanded. The Australian connection was also discussed by the author in the February 2019 Dead & Buried podcast HYPERLINK "http://www.deadandburiedpodcast.com/dont-marry-in-haste" http://www.deadandburiedpodcast.com/dont-marry-in-haste



          ****
          http://www.deadandburiedpodcast.com/dont-marry-in-haste

          this link you uploaded says EXPIRED !

          Comment


          • #6
            Season Two Episode 1: Don't Marry in Haste • Dead and Buried Podcast (spotify.com)
            this might be a better link

            Comment


            • #7
              https://www.casebook.org/dissertations/dst-deeming.html
              On 8 April 1892 a report was published in the Melbourne Evening Standard claiming he had been identified by a London dressmaker as being in the East End the night Eddowes was murdered, seeing a photograph of Deeming she recognized him as a Mr Lawson. Whom she had kept company with on 30 September 1888, meeting him again the following day she claimed he displayed an intimate knowledge of Eddowes mutilations.

              It was reported that the dressmaker identified a photograph of Deeming as Mr Lawson. Harry Lawson was a well known alias used by Deeming. Unless the Melbourne Evening Standard also mentioned Deeming's alias, how did she make that connection?

              Cheers, George
              “Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be, and if it were so, it would be but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”
              If money can't buy happiness, explain motorcycles, malt whisky and pipe tobacco.
              Everybody lies - Greg House MD

              Comment


              • #8
                Oops
                Last edited by DJA; 08-07-2022, 02:09 AM.
                My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

                Comment

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