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  • "Her stomach was ripped open"

    So, I have been staring at the drawings and photos of Catherine Eddowes probably a good deal more than is healthy, and I thought I noticed something odd.

    It appears as though in the sketches that her abdomen was wide open, almost like a dissected frog. In the photos of her in the mortuary, the wound also appears to be open, exposing viscera. In the photos done post mortem (or post post mortem) Despite the vast amount of stitching used there appears to be a great deal of excess flesh in the abdomen. Some sort of distortion there.

    To the best of my knowledge, when flesh is cut it retains it's tone. Which is to say we aren't stuffed to bursting with organs. A cut down the abdomen should not in fact reveal any of the innards. To achieve that effect in dissections we make Y or I incisions, fold back the skin, and pin it. Clearly not available to the Ripper. So how on earth is her abdomen parting like that? There's no mention of broken ribs or pelvis that might distort the body, creating a gap in unsupported flesh.

    Is it possible he literally ripped her open? Made an incision and then ripped the flesh apart, separating it from any supportive structures? It would mean freeing the skin from the ribcage and the upper pelvis structure. It would mean detaching the skin from the diaphragm and the subcutaneous musculature. Or separating the muscles from their supportive structure. And it would have to happen from about an inch below the breasts to the top of the pubic bone.

    Which sounds daft, but to be blunt, not enough was taken from her to account for the extra skin of her stomach after autopsy. And not only do missing organs not account for the gap in the unstitched wound, but I think you would have to actually add mass into the cavity to cause that gap...

    Or am I missing something obvious?
    The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

  • #2
    What would have happened to her organs after they had been removed from the body and examined at the post mortem? Would they have been replaced or kept for study purposes? Don't know what the practice was in those days.

    Best wishes,
    Steve.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Steven Russell View Post
      What would have happened to her organs after they had been removed from the body and examined at the post mortem? Would they have been replaced or kept for study purposes? Don't know what the practice was in those days.

      Best wishes,
      Steve.
      Well, now that's a good question. And the answer is, I don't know. And I'm not sure there is a way to know. Organs were typically kept if they were perfect specimens, or a perfect representation of some disease or wound. She had the crap cut out of her. I would think most of her organs would be unsuitable as specimens. Maybe her heart would be relatively undamaged.

      The other thing is, I'm not exactly sure what her autopsy consisted of. Today we remove the sternum to access the chest cavity. I don't know if they did that back then, or if they would bother with someone who had such an obvious cause of death.

      All things being equal they should have stuffed everything back in and sewed her up. While this would account for a weird lumpy shape of the abdomen when she was stood upright, it should not have created quite such a sag. Hmm.
      The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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      • #4
        Its possible that Catherine was a larger woman earlier in life and lost weight at some point. My wife dropped quite a few pounds (a little over 100) in the year after her lapband surgery. she had to have a tummy tuck to get rid of all the baggy skin left over.
        'Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - beer in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO, What a Ride!'

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        • #5
          Also lets not forget Catherine had children,which may account for some of the excess skin etc.

          Dixon9
          still learning

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          • #6
            I took into account childbirth. I admit, massive weight loss did not occur to me, simply because I didn't particularly consider that her life would have supported a significant weight gain. Also people with weight loss lose a significant portion of fat all over. While some skin certainly rebounds, (and the stomach typically does after childbirth, at least mostly) the breasts and buttocks are notorious for losing a good amount of fat and losing skin elasticity. This isn't the case here.

            Frankly it looks as though a bowling ball has been removed from her stomach. Even with the stitching, which should have tightened the skin to a measurable degree, there is this weird lack of support to her center left abdomen. Right of the stitches looks normal. The left doesn't.

            And while one theory does not have to apply to both phenomena, neither childbirth nor weight gain would explain the gapping on the wounds, so that you would see organs. In fact loose skin should preclude it...

            I don't know why it bother me so much, except the only explanation I can come up with is sort of... exclusive maybe? Limiting? Would require an ability very few people would have had? My language brain is on vacation.
            The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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            • #7
              Ok, so you got me curious and I have now spent way to long looking at them too.
              We must take into account that the photo of Catherine, after being stitched up, is taken while she is in a standing position. (Look closely and you can see that her Hair is pinned to the wall) Also taking into account that after death, once Rigor has passed muscles are no longer working to give any tone. So I don’t see anything out of the ordinary with this picture. The skin should sag and childbirth / weight lose could explain the excess skin. The sketches and picture of her laying on the mortuary table do in fact look a bit off as you said and I agree that under normal conditions a wound even quit large would have a tendency to close together, it shouldn’t gape like that unless perhaps it where being propped open my the M. E. during his autopsy. That may explain the photo and the mortuary sketch but not the sketch of her body done at the crime scene which also looks off.
              Attached Files
              'Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - beer in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO, What a Ride!'

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Errata View Post
                distortion there.

                Is it possible he literally ripped her open? Made an incision and then ripped the flesh apart, separating it from any supportive structures? It would mean freeing the skin from the ribcage and the upper pelvis structure. It would mean detaching the skin from the diaphragm and the subcutaneous musculature. Or separating the muscles from their supportive structure. And it would have to happen from about an inch below the breasts to the top of the pubic bone.
                Hello Errata,
                As you suggest here, I think that is very probably what accounts for any and all irregularities that might seem apparent in Kate's photos. After making his incisions, the Ripper reached in with his hands- whether gloved or not- and manually ripped the flesh apart. Not only that but he then probed about inside the body with both hands and blade for the trophies he wanted. Of course she was going to look a bit deformed after that. Personally, I have always referred to Kate immediately post-murder as looking as if she'd swallowed a live grenade.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kensei View Post
                  Hello Errata,
                  As you suggest here, I think that is very probably what accounts for any and all irregularities that might seem apparent in Kate's photos. After making his incisions, the Ripper reached in with his hands- whether gloved or not- and manually ripped the flesh apart. Not only that but he then probed about inside the body with both hands and blade for the trophies he wanted. Of course she was going to look a bit deformed after that. Personally, I have always referred to Kate immediately post-murder as looking as if she'd swallowed a live grenade.
                  I mean, that would account for the gapping and the slipping abdominal flesh, but do you have any idea how strong someone would have to be to tear flesh like that? It requires quite a bit more force than it would take to lift the body by that wound. He would have to stand or kneel on the body and pull upward, quite possibly tearing across the grain of the abdominal musculature. I mean it's possible. People have occasionally managed it. But if a man was likely unable to dead lift a woman by her belt, there's no way he could have ripped flesh like that. It's like tearing a phone book in half.
                  The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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                  • #10
                    I assumed he seperated the ectothermic layer from the mesothermic layer, pretty easy to do with a knife, then cut I or Y sections into the mesothermic layer. Good question though. Or maybe we are looking at things too medically.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Garza View Post
                      I assumed he seperated the ectothermic layer from the mesothermic layer, pretty easy to do with a knife, then cut I or Y sections into the mesothermic layer. Good question though. Or maybe we are looking at things too medically.
                      Can that be done in about 10 or 15 minutes, with the organ harvesting and the facial cuts?
                      The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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                      • #12
                        Just wondering why they photographed her standing up like that? Its creepy!!!

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                        • #13
                          Possibly it was difficult to take shots from above pointing down with the cameras of the day. Just guessing though.

                          Best wishes,
                          Steve.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by gidgey View Post
                            Just wondering why they photographed her standing up like that? Its creepy!!!
                            Probably for identification purposes. People look different dead than they do alive, and people look different lying on their backs than when standing upright. Since we encounter most people alive and upright, and clearly they cannot change the fact that she is dead, they put them upright to mimic the conditions under which someone likely saw her.
                            The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by gidgey View Post
                              Just wondering why they photographed her standing up like that? Its creepy!!!
                              Remember that for photography back in 1888 they would probably have been using available light. It's possible that they needed to pin the body against the wall in order to catch the daylight from a skylight.

                              Chris
                              Christopher T. George
                              Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conference
                              just held in Baltimore, April 7-8, 2018.
                              For information about RipperCon, go to http://rippercon.com/
                              RipperCon 2018 talks can now be heard at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/

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