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  • Leonard Thornton/Daily Mail name new suspect (recovered)

    jeffl2nd December 2006, 03:47 PM
    Hi All

    I thought I'd draw your attention to the fact that the Daily Mail has today named a new JtR suspect: Leonard Booker Thorton.

    Irronically it appears that after watch last weeks Channel 5 programme on Jack the Ripper writer Michael Thornton has become convinced that his own Grandfather was Jack the Ripper.

    I Quote: "Some of the content in the documentary startled me and forced me to confront an alarming possibility that I had rejected and pushed to the back of my mind for almost thirty years. Could Jack the Ripper have been a member of my own family?".

    (No I'm sparticus and so's my wife)

    Amusingly writer Michael Thornton goes on to give the reason why he beleives his Grandfather was Jack the Ripper, quoting the Channel 5 documentary as evidence. The fact that his Grandfather was a doctor with a brown carroty mostache, something that the equally badly researched programme states that the Ripper definately was NOT leads us into ever more amusing territory.

    Does Michael Thornton give Flower and Dean Street as his Grand fathers address. No he gives the London Hospital quoting "Dennis Halsted, a doctor at the Hospital, observed that these mutilations had been performing with 'great surgical skill'.

    Had Michael Thornton actually watch the same documentary as the rest of us..what lengths will journalist go to earn a crust?

    Either this is a Daily Mail Aprils fools joke or the most ridiculus and badly researched peice of journalism since the Daily Mail backed David Cameron (which they do again on page 2).

    Perhaps i'm doing this all wrong..instead of reseaching the Ripper story perhaps I should just try and pin the murders on my Gran.

    If you get a chance to read todays Daily Mail and you watched last weeks Channel 5 documentary I urge you all to do so. I havnt laughed so much in ages.

    ...And Hey I can now claim that I've actually added a new suspect to the casebook list...201 suspects!

    Laughed I almost wet myself



    Jeff

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    jeffl2nd December 2006, 07:58 PM
    Hi Again all

    Well I guess its a little uncool replying to yourself but as I made the post in the first place I thought the least I could do was try and find a conection to the Daily Mails story today claiming that the identity of Jack the Ripper is on Leonard Booker Thornton. (I just love the name 'booker').

    Anyway I went on line did a google and came up with nothing. I then tried the Daily Mail website www.dailymail.co.uk.

    And to my surprise there still running the 'Jack the Ripper' was Freddie mercury story on there website while claiming that he was actually carroty mostache man in their printed daily addition 2.12.2006.

    So at the moment I'm a little confused. The Daily Mail does this to people.

    If I can find a link I will. Perhaps the website wont up date until the day is over? I'm not certain how it works. If anyone has read todays daily mail and has any imput I'd be most greatful.

    I will keep working at it.

    Yours Jeff x

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    Steve Stanley3rd December 2006, 04:48 AM
    Read this over my desk at work......nearly sprayed the tea I was drinking over all my paperwork,the smell of Bulls**t was so overwhelming...So,the Ripper struck because he couldn't have sex with his pregnant wife?
    Steve

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    chris3rd December 2006, 06:44 PM
    Leonard Booker Thornton
    Born: 1859 Quarter 4 in Bethnal Green
    Married: 1885 Quarter 3 in Lambeth to Hannah Sullivan
    Census:
    1881:
    401 Coldharbour Lane, Lambeth
    Head: Thomas Thornton aged 63 born Bristol - Draper
    Children:
    Mary A aged 33 - Draper's assistant
    Charles J aged 30 - Draper's assistant
    Leonard B aged 22 - Manufacturing druggist / Chemist
    1891:
    1 Devonshire Terrace, London Road, Lambeth
    Head: Leonard B Thornton aged 31 born Hackney Road - Chemist, Druggist and Postmaster
    Wife: Hannah Thornton aged 31 born Portland Place, Clapham - Postmistress
    Children:
    Mabel aged 4 born Stockwell
    Reginald L aged 2 born Stockwell
    Sister in Law:
    Jane Sullivan aged 46 born Clapham - Help in the home
    1901:
    113-115 London Road, Lambeth
    HeadL Leonard B Thornton aged 41 born Hackney - Chemist and Sub Postmaster
    Wife: Hannah Thornton aged 41 born Clapham
    Children:
    Mabel aged 14
    Reginald L aged 12
    Both born in Clapham
    Aunt:
    Jane Sullivan aged 56 born Clapham - House helper

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    joelhall9th December 2006, 02:57 AM
    Hey my dad told me about this Thornton character the other day, said it was in the DM. Haven't read the story myself but from what he said the evidence seems pretty thin at best. Something about him making some sinister remark to his half-sister or something, right?

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    tom_wescott9th December 2006, 03:14 AM
    Tell a man his mom is a whore and he beats your ass. Tell him his grandfather was a whore killer and he writes a book.

    Yours truly,

    Tom Wescott

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    Magpie9th December 2006, 03:21 AM
    Tell a man his mom is a whore and he beats your ass. Tell him his grandfather was a whore killer and he writes a book.

    Yours truly,

    Tom Wescott


    LOL--that certainly is the trend, isn't it. My timing was off--when my grandmother told me her grandad was the Ripper, I did my best to prove otherwise--today that route would be considered madness

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    cgp1009th December 2006, 09:08 AM
    A friend saved this article for me - but unfortunately omitted the first page of it.

    I must say the proposed suspect didn't sound any worse than a lot of the others who are argued over endlessly here.

    If the information in the article is correct, he was even a bona fide contemporary suspect:
    "... Len was not arrested by the police - but they were clearly very suspicious of him, even though they had no evidence. He was asked some searching questions, and for a time was followed by plain clothes officers."

    Chris Phillips

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    chrisg10th December 2006, 01:03 PM
    Tell a man his mom is a whore and he beats your ass. Tell him his grandfather was a whore killer and he writes a book.

    Yours truly,

    Tom Wescott

    Hi Tom

    Unfortunately, my Grandad was born in 1892 so he doesn't qualify. Aw, shucks!!!

    Chris

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    jdpegg10th December 2006, 04:34 PM
    Hey,

    If I said that about my grandfather he'd slap me lol

    Jenni

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    Simon Wood10th December 2006, 04:46 PM
    Hi All,

    Did Booker T carry out the murders alone, or with the help of the MGs?

    Simon

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    mwr10th December 2006, 04:54 PM
    Hi all,

    Have to say I laughed out loud at Toms comment...I like to see this lighter side Tom

    Curious though, has any family ever sued for the defaming of an individual in their ancestory? I guess Im referring to Tony Williams book mostly, seems quite a smear on his legacy to be linked with these crimes.

    All the best,
    Michael

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    jdpegg10th December 2006, 04:59 PM
    its hard to defame someone who is dead under the rnglish law

    so far as i remember and understand it

    Jenni

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    chrisg10th December 2006, 07:50 PM
    Hi All,

    Did Booker T carry out the murders alone, or with the help of the MGs?

    Simon

    Don't know, Simon, but the stink of those Green Onions should have been enough to warn the prostitutes.

    Chris

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    jeffl10th December 2006, 09:17 PM
    Hi chris

    I quote: Doreen was told by our grandmother that len (booker T) was not arrested by the police-but they were clearly very suspicious of him, even though they had no evidence. He was asked some searching questions, and for a time was folowed by plain clothes police officers. Lens diary entry of the time scawled in black ink, often seemed to reveal a man deeply troubled...

    So there you go Chris damning isnt it?

    And look on the bright side you'll have another diary to investigate now that you've totally dismissed the other forgery.


    Now I come to think about it my Gran did seem to know a hell of alot about the ripper crimes....some would say more than was healthy for a woman of her age...

    Has anyone ever put a name to ...da da der...Jill the Ripper????

    I feel another TV programme coming on must dash....

    Jeff

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    mariag11th December 2006, 02:40 PM
    Although none of my ancestors lived in England I must say I've always had a certain "special" feeling about old Great Uncle Edgar.

    Also, he used to hunt and dress deer so there you go!

    And he once went to a doctor.

    Had lots of knives.

    Never kept a diary though. Stil, I might find one if I look hard enough.

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    chris14th June 2007, 11:54 PM
    Here is the Daily Mail article which I have recently got access to:

    The Daily Mail (London, England) (Dec 2, 2006):
    THE SKELETON IN MY CUPBOARD; Many of us have dark family secrets. But when one writer saw a TV documentary about Jack the Ripper this week, he was forced to confront a chilling possibility

    LAST week, in an absorbing Channel Five television documentary, three criminologists attempted to apply modern forensic science to put a name and face to the most notorious serial killer in criminal history. For more than ten weeks in the terrorstricken autumn of 1888, an unknown solitary assailant stalked the noisome alleys of Whitechapel, in London, killing and mutilating five prostitutes, and possibly 13 other women.
    He has entered folklore as Jack the Ripper. Yet after 118 years of concentrated investigation, millions of words, more than 200 suspects, and every sort of conspiracy theory and myth imaginable, we are still no nearer to discovering his identity.
    Last week's ingenious attempt (by Laura Richards, a behavioural psychologist with the violent crime directorate at New Scotland Yard, John Grieve, formerly head of the Yard's murder squad, and Dr Kim Rossmo, of the Department of Criminal Justice in Texas) to find out who he was, ended in failure.
    A shawl allegedly taken from the butchered body of the Ripper's fourth undoubted victim, Catherine Eddowes, failed to render DNA - either her own or her killer's. The door appeared to have slammed shut on the last chance of solving the greatest unsolved crimes of all time.
    Despite this, I found myself watching the documentary transfixed, and with an overwhelming morbid fascination.
    Some of the content in the documentary startled me and forced me to confront an alarming possibility that I had rejected and pushed to the back of my mind for almost 30 years. Could Jack the Ripper have been a member of my own family?
    I was 37 and living in a flat opposite the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace Road in 1978, when I first heard this astonishing story from my half-sister, Doreen Gillham, who was 25 years my senior, and the child of my father's first marriage.
    She told me: 'Grandpa was a rather funny man - funny peculiar. Very peculiar in fact. Grandpa was a man who had secrets.
    'When I was 16, I remember Granny telling me once: "Len has a dark side to his life." And for a long time she would never tell me what she meant.
    'Then, one day, not long before she died, it all came out. They had married for love, but the first years of their marriage were really difficult.
    'There were differences between them - sexual differences, also religious differences. Then, three years after they got married, Grandpa was investigated by the police, who thought he was Jack the Ripper.' 'He was never charged, but Granny suspected it was true, and I am convinced of it.
    Doreen was sometimes given to bold statements, but this time I thought she had lost the plot.' I asked incredulously: 'You think our grandfather was Jack the Ripper?' She looked back at me with a calm, unblinking stare. 'Yes,' she said.
    Doreen was 63 at that time and I attributed this pronouncement to the ageing process.
    My sister, Jean Wheeler, the last surviving member of the family who knew my grandparents, says: 'I don't believe this story, but no one knew them as well as she did.' Before last week's documentary, I had not realised the police tracked down 13 eyewitnesses in 1888, all of whom probably saw the Ripper as he went about his murderous onslaughts.
    To my astonishment, the physical details described - in terms of age, height, colouring and appearance - matched my grandfather with uncanny precision. This caused me to look more deeply into his life.
    Leonard Booker Thornton ('Len' to his family) was born on September 24, 1859, at 24 London Terrace, Bethnal Green, a short walk away from the dark Whitechapel streets where the Ripper went about his gruesome work.
    Len's ancestors had been rectors of Birkin, Yorkshire. One branch of the family became extremely rich and influential, producing a banker, an MP, and the celebrated novelist, E.M.
    Forster, of whom his cousin, my grandfather, disapproved deeply on account of his homosexuality.
    THE other branch, by comparison, was poor. My grandfather was the son of a well-to- do master linen draper, Tom Thornton. He owned several shops, but when he discovered his son did not intend to follow him into the business, planning to study medicine instead, he told him he must earn the money to pay for his tuition.
    Accordingly, Len, at 18, went to work for a Bethnal Green blacksmith, transporting lame, sick and elderly horses to the slaughterhouse in Whitechapel, where he learned the grim task of dismembering the carcasses.
    In time, he earned enough money to train at the London Hospital in Whitechapel Road, the merest stone's throw from the scene of the Ripper gruesome murders.
    There, he studied anatomy, performed amputations and other surgical procedures, and found himself deeply affected by the poverty and disease in the area.
    In his diary, now in my possession, he wrote of 'the terrible bacilli of consumption. There, under the specialist's eyes was the minute life more vicious than a hungry beast, more deadly than a sword'.
    Late at night, invariably short of money, he would walk home alone through the darkened streets, sometimes bloodstained from his work, ignoring the blandishments of the prostitutes, and carrying his surgical tools in a little black Gladstone bag, an accessory that has become an indispensable part of Ripper folklore.
    By the age of 25, he had qualified as a chemist and druggist, and on July 26, 1885, he married Hannah O'Sullivan, an Irish Catholic and a member of the famous O'Sullivan clan of County Cork.
    Her family felt she was marrying beneath her, and they were aghast when she abandoned her Catholicism to marry in a Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Lambeth.
    Their first child, Mabel, was born the following year, but was to be sickly all her life, dying unmarried at the age of 23.
    It was during Hannah's second pregnancy, which began in December 1887, that the Ripper murders commenced. By that time, there was already trouble in the marriage on both religious and sexual grounds. Len, an atheist, wrote in his diary: 'Religion is the opium of the poor,' and added: 'I consider religion to be a mania when it interferes with the legitimate development of human nature.' According to Hannah's later revelations to her granddaughter, Len, deprived by the pregnancy of sexual relations, became moody and began coming home in the middle of the night.
    'I could not help noticing that his clothes were often bloodstained,' she said, 'but he told me that this was from his hospital work'.
    Two Whitechapel prostitutes, Mary Ann Nichols - 'Polly', and 'Dark' Annie Chapman, had been killed and mutilated, the latter on September 8, 1888, only two days before the birth of Len and Hannah's son, my father, Reginald Leonard Thornton.
    There was a respite of almost three weeks before two more prostitutes, Elizabeth ('Long Liz') Stride and Catherine Eddowes, were butchered on the same night.
    The last and most terrible of the Ripper murders, that of Mary Jane Kelly, followed on November 9. She had been horribly mutilated, with her sexual organs and other body parts distributed around her room.
    Dennis Halsted, a doctor at the London Hospital, observed that these mutilations had been performed with 'great surgical skill'.
    It was shortly after the Kelly murder that the police descended on my grandfather. He owned two houses, with servants, and two chemist's shops in Lambeth, but his outward respectability did not prevent him from becoming a suspect.
    The eyewitness accounts of the Ripper all described a man aged between 25 and 30. My grandfather was 29. The killer was said to stand between 5ft 5in and 5ft 7in. My grandfather was 5ft 7in. The murderer was said to have a brown moustache, 'carroty in colour'. My sister, Jean, who sat on his knee aged six, remembers my grandfather's moustache as 'gingery'.
    DOREEN, was told by our grandmother that Len was not arrested by the police - but they were clearly very suspicious of him, even though they had no evidence. He was asked some searching questions, and for a time was followed by plain clothes officers.
    Len's diary entries of the time, scrawled in black ink, often seemed to reveal a man deeply troubled.
    On one page he wrote: 'The devil will lead you down into hell.' On another: 'The mainspring of human actions is human passions. For good or evil, passions rule this poor humanity of ours.' My grandfather's name does not appear in any surviving records of the Ripper investigation, nor in the list of more than 200 potential suspects.
    Many of the names proposed, like that of Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, Queen Victoria's grandson, have long been discredited by serious Ripperologists on the grounds that they have alibis for the dates of the murders.
    Other preposterous non-starters are the Queen's physician, Sir William Gull, author Lewis Carroll, painter Walter Sickert and poet Francis Thompson.
    One ingenious theory presents the murders as part of an organised conspiracy by Freemasons, but there is no proof to support it.
    Virtually every other Ripper suspect has been discredited over the years.
    Christabel, Lady Aberconway told me in 1972 that her father, Sir Melville MacNaghten, formerly an assistant chief constable with the CID, was 'convinced' the Ripper was Montague John Druitt, a 31-year- old barrister who drowned himself in the Thames soon after the murder of Mary Jane Kelly.
    'He was sexually insane,' wrote MacNaghten. But Inspector Frederick Abberline, who led the Ripper investigation, disagreed, believing there was no real evidence against Druitt.
    In the years following the Ripper killings, my grandfather became a respected analytical pharmacist who frequently gave evidence in murder cases, especially those involving poison.
    In 1910, he assisted pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury to analyse human tissue found in the cellar of 39 Hilldrop Crescent, Holloway, which led to Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen being hanged for the murder of his wife.
    My father, who was 22 at the time, commented that Crippen had 'got what he deserved'. My grandfather replied: 'You should feel pity for him. Men can be driven by provocation into all manner of extremism.' My grandfather became increasingly distant from my father, who, when the Irish 'troubles' began in 1916, took to calling himself 'Pat', and went around London with a gun in his belt, announcing himself as 'a founder member of the IRA'.
    When my father's first wife, Mary, died in 1926 at the age of 41, leaving three young children, my grandfather was deeply sympathetic, but his Victorian sense of propriety was scandalised when my father married again, only 16 months later, his new wife my mother, Anne Roberts, a young Welsh nurse.
    After the death of his wife on March 21, 1932, at the age of 72, my grandfather appeared a haunted and broken man. He was distressed by the activities of his convent-educated elder granddaughter, Irene, who went on the stage as the blonde assistant of a magician.
    She married a chorus boy from Ivor Novello's musicals, and outraged my grandfather by appearing on stage at the Windmill Theatre, wearing no clothes. Later, her glamorous looks won her a small role in the film The Mill On The Floss, but she was to die at only 32 from pulmonary tuberculosis.
    In old age, Len became increasingly preoccupied by the plight of fallen women. 'Poverty of pay is a crime,' he wrote in his diary, ' particularly in the case of a girl, because it can make a girl desperate, and all the teashop girls suffer from poverty of pay'.
    When Len developed cancer, and was nursed by my half-sister, he said to her: 'Thank you for looking after me, but if you knew what I have done in my life, you would not even come near me.' He died on September 23, 1935, at the age of 75.
    Just the other day, I stood by his grave, which I am planning to restore.
    The memorial stone has blackened with age, so that the name Thornton is almost indistinguishable. It looks as if time is trying to shroud our family mystery in secrecy.
    Was my grandfather Jack the Ripper? The truthful answer is I don't know. But while I cannot prove my half-sister's belief that he was, I equally cannot prove that he wasn't.
    There are too many coincidences to dismiss.
    And just how many of us are fully acquainted with all the skeletons in our family cupboards, or get to know the innermost secrets of the generations that went before us?
    Behavioural psychologist Laura Richards believes the killer was 'socially skilled' and 'probably came across on a superficial level as charming'. She says: The police thought they were looking for an obvious lunatic, someone more animal than man. But I don't buy into that.The offender is someone who's been totally overlooked because he's so ordinary and so mundane.' What last week's television documentary made clear is we shall never know the identity of the man who brought horror and carnage to the dark streets of London's East End during that long-ago autumn of terror.

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    harry15th June 2007, 11:05 AM
    Funny how all of these suspected persons have a dark side to them.Perhaps the Ripper was a coal miner.Now my grandfather was old enough to have been the Ripper,and he had a dark side,he was a coal merchant.Was he ever in London in 1888.I don't know.I know he wasn't in Manchester or in Liverpool,and if he wasn't in those two places,he must have been somewhere else,and if he was somewhere else,he couldn't have been where he was,so logic dictates he might have been in London.Well that's close enough,so he must have been the Ripper.
    Now do not all shout at once.I know if he was somewhere else he couldn't have been in London either.
    Say hello: http://www.myspace.com/alansharpauthor
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