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Suspect battle: The Wife-Knifers

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  • Suspect battle: The Wife-Knifers

    Part two of my series.

    Which of these two men - William Bury and James Kelly - are more plausible as a suspect in the Ripper killings? You don't have to believe either man actually was "Jack The Ripper", but which is more likely to have been, given the preponderance of evidence?
    12
    William Bury
    50.00%
    6
    James Kelly
    50.00%
    6

  • #2
    If I could place him in England in '88 Kelly.
    G U T

    There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn't true, the other is to refuse to believe that which is true.

    Comment


    • #3
      Bury although I still think Kelly is a strong suspect.

      Comment


      • #4
        Definitely William Bury. There is not only the similarity of the crime that he committed with the JTR murders but also incriminating graffiti found on a door and wall of his basement flat in Dundee. Of course, it could be argued that he was a copycat but my personal view is that copycat killers mainly exist in crime fiction.

        However, a major problem with Bury as a suspect is that whilst the murders were taking place in Whitechapel, he was living in Bow. Now Euan Macpherson, in his excellent book on Bury, tries to get round this by arguing that he could have had a bolt hole to flea to after each murder or, alternatively, he could have been a commuter killer: unlike most of the other suspects Bury had access to transport as he owned a pony and cart.

        Nonetheless, for me this still presents a major problem. I mean, if he was a commuter killer why just focus exclusively on Whitechapel, a place that he didn't seem to have any particular connection to? Why not, for example, target victims throughout East London, particularly after extra police resources were drafted into Whitechapel? Surely, that would make much more sense.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by John G View Post
          Definitely William Bury. There is not only the similarity of the crime that he committed with the JTR murders but also incriminating graffiti found on a door and wall of his basement flat in Dundee. Of course, it could be argued that he was a copycat but my personal view is that copycat killers mainly exist in crime fiction.

          However, a major problem with Bury as a suspect is that whilst the murders were taking place in Whitechapel, he was living in Bow. Now Euan Macpherson, in his excellent book on Bury, tries to get round this by arguing that he could have had a bolt hole to flea to after each murder or, alternatively, he could have been a commuter killer: unlike most of the other suspects Bury had access to transport as he owned a pony and cart.

          Nonetheless, for me this still presents a major problem. I mean, if he was a commuter killer why just focus exclusively on Whitechapel, a place that he didn't seem to have any particular connection to? Why not, for example, target victims throughout East London, particularly after extra police resources were drafted into Whitechapel? Surely, that would make much more sense.
          Didnt Abberline go and interview in Scotland about the Whitechapel murders ?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Trevor Marriott View Post
            Didnt Abberline go and interview in Scotland about the Whitechapel murders ?
            Hi Trevor,

            I'm not sure if that has been validated. This site, in their assessment of Bury, states that Abberline was sent to Scotland but doesn't cite a reference to support the assertion. Euan Macpherson doesn't seem to mention it in his book, whilst Evans and Rumbelow (2006) mention that James Berry, Bury's hangman, claimed that his execution was attended by two Scotland Yard detectives who believed him to be the Whitechapel murderer.

            However, I think in relation to statements said to have been made by Berry a degree of caution is required: Berry is said to have questioned Bury about his involvement in the Whitechapel murders, which he didn't deny. However, this is unconfirmed and there is no mention of Bury or JTR in Berry's autobiography.

            Best wishes,

            John

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by John G View Post
              Hi Trevor,

              I'm not sure if that has been validated. This site, in their assessment of Bury, states that Abberline was sent to Scotland but doesn't cite a reference to support the assertion. Euan Macpherson doesn't seem to mention it in his book, whilst Evans and Rumbelow (2006) mention that James Berry, Bury's hangman, claimed that his execution was attended by two Scotland Yard detectives who believed him to be the Whitechapel murderer.

              However, I think in relation to statements said to have been made by Berry a degree of caution is required: Berry is said to have questioned Bury about his involvement in the Whitechapel murders, which he didn't deny. However, this is unconfirmed and there is no mention of Bury or JTR in Berry's autobiography.

              Best wishes,

              John
              Given the similarity of the murder of his wife I would have been surprised if he didn't go. If he did then he clearly ruled him out in later favour of Chapman, who can also be ruled out,simply because if there had have been any suspicion of him at the time he committed his murders, then again the police would have gone and spoken to him at some point before his execution. After all if he had have been the Ripper he may well have un burdened his conscience, after all what did he have to lose?

              No record, or or no mention by anyone that there was any "suspicion" against Chapman, yet some seek to make him a prime suspect- unbelievable

              Comment


              • #8
                Tough choice - Kelly on balance

                Kelly and Bury are two of the best named persons of interest, yet ultimately neither really convinces me...but that's a very much subjective personal view...

                All the best

                Dave

                Comment


                • #9
                  I would add that I see a huge difference between a domestic killing and the killing of [apparent] strangers, which really makes me doubt either of them.
                  G U T

                  There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn't true, the other is to refuse to believe that which is true.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Reading up on Bury, he sounds to me like one of those guys who get arrested and claim to have been on the grassy knoll in Dallas in 1963, It sounds like he was trying to hint at it as a bargaining position for his life. His location outside of the killing zone is a big strike against him, IMO.

                    I think Kelly is a pretty good candidate.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by John G View Post
                      However, a major problem with Bury as a suspect is that whilst the murders were taking place in Whitechapel, he was living in Bow.
                      Originally posted by Ghost View Post
                      His location outside of the killing zone is a big strike against him, IMO.
                      No, this is not a worthwhile objection to Bury. As I pointed out in another thread, some serial killers prefer to kill at a significant distance from where they live. That’s just the way it is, guys.

                      Perhaps Whitechapel was as far as Bury wanted to go or felt comfortable in going. There could have been a certain shrewdness in targeting Whitechapel. The police would naturally have been looking into the possibility that the killer lived in the area. They were not doing door-to-door searches in Bow. According to James Berry, who unfortunately must be approached with a good deal of caution, Bury had spent some time living in the Whitechapel area, so perhaps he targeted that area because of his familiarity with it. Perhaps he picked up his case of vd in the area, and that was why he chose that area to express his fury. Perhaps he had some specific connection to the area, such as a friend who was wittingly or unwittingly helping him. There are a lot of possibilities.

                      As I explain in my article in the Rip, William Bury can be identified as the Ripper via signature analysis. We have a legal opinion that the evidence is there to convict William Bury of the Ripper murders. Uncertainty about why Bury targeted Whitechapel is not an adequate basis for resisting what we have against Bury.

                      Originally posted by Trevor Marriott View Post
                      Didnt Abberline go and interview in Scotland about the Whitechapel murders ?
                      Trevor, at this point in time we unfortunately only appear to have newspaper sources for the police investigation of Bury for the Ripper murders. These do not suggest that Bury was positively ruled out. This is from the Dundee Courier, as quoted in Beadle’s 2009 book: “The London authorities are not inclined to believe that prisoner was connected with any of the recent atrocities in Whitechapel, as he was well known in the locality, and had never been seen out at any untimely hours” (p.284). I think that anyone who has read Abberline’s rationale for fingering Chapman should doubt his ability to form a correct assessment of Bury. By the way, I very much enjoyed your book, The Evil Within. Good stuff.
                      “When a major serial killer case is finally solved and all the paperwork completed, police are sometimes amazed at how obvious the killer was and how they were unable to see what was right before their noses.” —Robert D. Keppel and William J. Birnes, The Psychology of Serial Killer Investigations

                      William Bury, Victorian Murderer
                      http://www.williambury.org

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Trevor Marriott View Post
                        Given the similarity of the murder of his wife I would have been surprised if he didn't go. If he did then he clearly ruled him out in later favour of Chapman, who can also be ruled out,simply because if there had have been any suspicion of him at the time he committed his murders, then again the police would have gone and spoken to him at some point before his execution. After all if he had have been the Ripper he may well have un burdened his conscience, after all what did he have to lose?

                        No record, or or no mention by anyone that there was any "suspicion" against Chapman, yet some seek to make him a prime suspect- unbelievable
                        Yes, I would agree that Chapman is frankly a hopeless suspect. The fact that Abberline seems to have favored him doesn't say very much: he'd retired from the force in 1892, well before Chapman was arrested in 1903. And, of course, it's worth noting that a much more modern West Yorkshire police force seemed convinced that the Yorkshire Ripper was a geordie, referred to as Wearside Jack!

                        I think George R Sims summed things up nicely: "It is an absolute absurdity to argue that a cool, calculating poisoner like Klosowski could have lived with half a dozen women and put them quietly out of the way by a slow and calculated process after being in 1888 a man so maniacal in his homicidal fury that he committed the foul and fiendish horror of Miller's-Court. A furious madman does not suddenly become a slow poisoner."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hello Wyatt,

                          I must admit that for a long time Bury was my favored suspect. The fact that he subjected his wife's body to abdominal mutilations is clearly significant- I wonder if there is evidence that her body was posed as there is modern research that suggests that a combination of posing and mutilations occur in only one in every 2,000 murder cases: Kepplel et al. (2005). The victim's throat wasn't targeted, but serial killers sometimes have seriously distorted perspectives which influence behavior: Sutcliffe stopped using a knife for a period because he was offended at being called the Yorkshire Ripper! And, of course, there is the incriminating graffiti. It could be argued that this was a copycat killing but as I've suggested earlier that type of crime seems to exist mainly in the realms of crime fiction.

                          However, Bury's lack of a proven connection to Whitechapel is still a problem for me, particularly when you consider what a maze the place was and the fact that JTR seemed familiar with the area. And I still feel that, as a commuter killer with his pony and cart, he would have been likely to commit murders over a far wider area. In fact, is there evidence of a serial killer living in one district and committing murders exclusively in another nearby district or town?
                          Last edited by John G; 10-14-2014, 10:09 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Slight edge to Bury, but both are viable candidates in my second tier of suspects.
                            "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


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by John G View Post
                              I wonder if there is evidence that her body was posed as there is modern research that suggests that a combination of posing and mutilations occur in only one in every 2,000 murder cases: Kepplel et al. (2005).
                              Yes, I talk about the posing of Ellen Bury’s body in both the signature analysis thread in the Bury section here and in my Bury article in Ripperologist 139—do you subscribe to Ripperologist?

                              Originally posted by John G View Post
                              However, Bury's lack of a proven connection to Whitechapel is still a problem for me, particularly when you consider what a maze the place was and the fact that JTR seemed familiar with the area.
                              I just cited a newspaper account of the police investigation into Bury which describes him as being “well known” in Whitechapel (i.e., he was a serial killer who was “hiding in plain sight”). At this point in time, I’m afraid that newspaper accounts are the only evidence we have.

                              Originally posted by John G View Post
                              And I still feel that, as a commuter killer with his pony and cart, he would have been likely to commit murders over a far wider area.
                              Not if he wanted the police to believe that the killer lived in Whitechapel—or if he had some specific tie to the Whitechapel area.

                              Originally posted by John G View Post
                              In fact, is there evidence of a serial killer living in one district and committing murders exclusively in another nearby district or town?
                              Colin Ireland comes to mind. I’d have to look into it, but I believe Joel Rifkin lived somewhere on Long Island but drove all the way into Manhattan to find prostitutes. Of course, the Ripper didn’t solely murder women in the Whitechapel area—he also murdered a woman in Dundee, Scotland.
                              “When a major serial killer case is finally solved and all the paperwork completed, police are sometimes amazed at how obvious the killer was and how they were unable to see what was right before their noses.” —Robert D. Keppel and William J. Birnes, The Psychology of Serial Killer Investigations

                              William Bury, Victorian Murderer
                              http://www.williambury.org

                              Comment

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