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  • Describing The Killer?

    What did the ripper look like and which of the suspects fit his description best? And is the question really as difficult as it might first appear? I’d certainly agree that we couldn’t name the killer based on witness descriptions but we could perhaps find out if any fit the description better than others. The first question of course is which of the witnesses was likeliest to have seen the killer? Personally I would have to say that the likeliest was Joseph Lawende. Not 100% certain of course but he and the other two said that they had seen the man and woman talking around 10 minutes before Eddowes body was found in Mitre Square. This is his description of the man that they saw:

    ‘A MAN, age 30, height 5 ft. 7 or 8 in., complexion fair, moustache fair, medium build; dress, pepper-and-salt colour loose jacket, grey cloth cap with peak of same material, reddish neckerchief tied in knot; appearance of a sailor.’


    Looking at the ‘Our World In Date’ website and the BBC website it looks like the average height for a UK male around 1888 was just under 170 centimetres. So around 5’6” to 5’7”. So Lawende’s man was around average height for the time, maybe a little above but height can be difficult to judge so we should quibble too much on this point. He wasn’t Goliath but he wasn’t Gimli either.

    Ok, I’ll risk an onslaught by beginning with Montague John Druitt.

    Age 30 - Druitt was 31 at the time so no issues there.

    5’7”/5’8” tall - We have no record of Druitt’s height so can we make any kind of judgment call? There’s photograph of Druitt in Jon Hainsworth’s book that was taken in 1879 when he was 22 years old. All that we can say is that the man standing to our right of him is on a step lower than him and the man standing to our left of him is standing on a smaller step but above and behind him. Taking into consideration the depths of the two step it appears to me that if these three were all on the same step they would be around the same height. There is also another man further along the same step as Druitt who looks around the same height or is around an inch or so taller. So four people all around the same height would suggest to me at least that they were more likely to have been of average height and as I said early, we shouldn’t quibble over an inch or two - so I see no issue at all with Lawende’s height description.

    Complexion fair - In all of the photographs that we have Druitt looks of fair complexion to me.

    Moustache fair - In the very few photos that we have when Druitt has a moustache it looks quite a fair one to me. It’s certainly difficult to judge exactly its colouring because it’s a slight/thin moustache.

    Medium build - Druitt seemed to me to be of medium build. He certainly wasn’t bulky. Personally I’d describe him as medium to slim. He played cricket and was a pace bowler. They tend not to be skinny. - Either way I see no issue with describing Druitt as of medium build.

    Clothing is far more difficult to get any valuable information from but one thing that I can mention is that Lawende has his man wearing a ‘pepper-and-salt coloured loose jacket’. In the photograph that I described earlier Druitt is also wearing a pepper and salt coloured jacket. Maybe he wore an old, worn jacket of his in Whitechapel? Less risky than a posh suit of course. So how might a man wearing a good quality jacket that had seen better days be described by a witness? Shabby genteel maybe?


    Now, I’d like to make something 100%, inarguably, crystal clear - I am not saying in any shape, way or form, that this somehow proves that Druitt was the ripper. All that I’m saying is that - in my opinion - the man most likely to have seen Jack the Ripper gives a description that closely matches Montague John Druitt. That said, again, this is NOT a thread for proving any suspect guilty. We can’t do that from witness descriptions.

    Now - all constructive comments, questions, suggestions are welcome. And we have to accept of course that eyewitnesses are far from perfect and that the descriptions given aren’t particularly detailed (no eyepatches or long beards for example)


    How does Lawende’s description fare against other suspects?

    Does it favour anyone else?

    Does it make anyone unlikely or less likely?

    Are there other witnesses you feel are better or more reliable as far as a description goes? (Clearly if you feel that BS man was the ripper then we couldn’t say that his description described Druitt of course - unless he was wearing 4 sweaters a jacket and a coat)
    Regards

    Sir Herlock Sholmes.

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

  • #2
    Hi Herlock,

    When William Grant Grainger was arrested for his attack on Alice Graham in early 1895 it was suspected that he could have been JtR. On 7th May 1895 The Pall Mall Gazette stated that:-

    “There is one person whom the police believe to have actually seen the Whitechapel Murderer with a woman a few minutes before that woman’s dissected body was found in the street. That person is stated to have identified Grainger as the man he then saw.”
    “But obviously identification after so cursory a glance, and after the lapse of so long an interval, could not be reliable…”


    According to the Pall Mall Gazette Grainger was:-

    ” ..a man of about 37, 5 ft. 10 in. in height, slim-built, with grey eyes, pale complexion, no beard, and a black moustache. He has scars on cheek and throat, and dancing women, crowns, anchors, and so on, tattooed on his arms and hands…”

    I have read that there exists a photograph of Grainger, in the possession of someone who is unwilling to share, and that the subject of that photo bears a striking resemblance to Druitt.

    Cheers, George

    It's sad that governments are chiefed by the double tongues. There is iron in your words of death for all Comanche to see, and so there is iron in your words of life. It shall be life. - Ten Bears

    All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. - Bladerunner

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

    Comment


    • #3
      The only thing that I would disagree with on Druitt is that in the pictures, he appears to me to have a dark moustache. It's hard to precisely judge complexion, but he looks to me that he very well could have had a fair complexion, I can't exclude him on account of height, build, or clothing, and the age is no problem at all.

      I do think that Lawende is the witness most likely to have gotten a decent look at JtR. Maybe the man Elizabeth Long saw is just as likely to have been him, but Long didn't get a very good look at him. There are about 4 different men seen shortly before the Stride murder that could have been JtR, so I think the odds are against any one of them being him. With Kelly too, there's more than one man that could have been him.

      For many of the suspects, we don't know very well how well Lawende's description fits them. It does seem though that with him estimating the age at 30, it's unlikely that the man he saw was over 50.

      Comment


      • #4
        Personally I doubt Druitt for many reasons, but if you apply the description to the two other named and identified contemporary suspects (Chapman and Tumblety) they fall down on many points. The bigger issue is fair (I read white as opposed to tanned or non-caucasian), average height (Bury looking dodgy), moustache (when most men wore one), shabby genteel appearance pretty much describes most of the male population of 1880s Whitechapel. In no description I’m aware of (accepting possibly Hutchinson) is the killer described as of upper class appearance (there goes the paralysed Gull?), skinny/slight build (Thompson?)or unkempt (eating from the gutter Kosmimksi?). We often question the competence of contemporary police, but without CCTV, forensics, DNA etc would the modern police do any better? I wouldn’t be surprised if the killer was identified and even questioned, but with missing records and lack of evidence question if we’ll know who beyond all reasonable doubt.

        I’d be happy to be proved wrong

        Paul

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by GBinOz View Post
          Hi Herlock,

          When William Grant Grainger was arrested for his attack on Alice Graham in early 1895 it was suspected that he could have been JtR. On 7th May 1895 The Pall Mall Gazette stated that:-

          “There is one person whom the police believe to have actually seen the Whitechapel Murderer with a woman a few minutes before that woman’s dissected body was found in the street. That person is stated to have identified Grainger as the man he then saw.”
          “But obviously identification after so cursory a glance, and after the lapse of so long an interval, could not be reliable…”


          According to the Pall Mall Gazette Grainger was:-

          ” ..a man of about 37, 5 ft. 10 in. in height, slim-built, with grey eyes, pale complexion, no beard, and a black moustache. He has scars on cheek and throat, and dancing women, crowns, anchors, and so on, tattooed on his arms and hands…”

          I have read that there exists a photograph of Grainger, in the possession of someone who is unwilling to share, and that the subject of that photo bears a striking resemblance to Druitt.

          Cheers, George

          Hello George,

          Thanks for that. The scars and tattoos would be an issue of course. Wouldn’t it be ironic if one suspect had been mistaken for another. There was the case of a man seen at a coffee stall who a witness said looked like a particular photograph of George Sims and at the time Sims bore some resemblance to Druitt.

          Regards

          Sir Herlock Sholmes.

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

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Lewis C View Post
            The only thing that I would disagree with on Druitt is that in the pictures, he appears to me to have a dark moustache. It's hard to precisely judge complexion, but he looks to me that he very well could have had a fair complexion, I can't exclude him on account of height, build, or clothing, and the age is no problem at all.

            I do think that Lawende is the witness most likely to have gotten a decent look at JtR. Maybe the man Elizabeth Long saw is just as likely to have been him, but Long didn't get a very good look at him. There are about 4 different men seen shortly before the Stride murder that could have been JtR, so I think the odds are against any one of them being him. With Kelly too, there's more than one man that could have been him.

            For many of the suspects, we don't know very well how well Lawende's description fits them. It does seem though that with him estimating the age at 30, it's unlikely that the man he saw was over 50.
            Yes, the one murder that there is most doubt about whether it was the ripper or not and we have Smith, Brown, Marshall, Schwartz and Best. None of the descriptions from any of the witnesses, whichever murder, are detailed enough to raise any deafening alarm bells.
            Regards

            Sir Herlock Sholmes.

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

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by kjab3112 View Post
              Personally I doubt Druitt for many reasons, but if you apply the description to the two other named and identified contemporary suspects (Chapman and Tumblety) they fall down on many points. The bigger issue is fair (I read white as opposed to tanned or non-caucasian), average height (Bury looking dodgy), moustache (when most men wore one), shabby genteel appearance pretty much describes most of the male population of 1880s Whitechapel. In no description I’m aware of (accepting possibly Hutchinson) is the killer described as of upper class appearance (there goes the paralysed Gull?), skinny/slight build (Thompson?)or unkempt (eating from the gutter Kosmimksi?). We often question the competence of contemporary police, but without CCTV, forensics, DNA etc would the modern police do any better? I wouldn’t be surprised if the killer was identified and even questioned, but with missing records and lack of evidence question if we’ll know who beyond all reasonable doubt.

              I’d be happy to be proved wrong

              Paul
              I totally agree Paul. There’s nothing specific enough to pin on a particular suspect.

              Regards

              Sir Herlock Sholmes.

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

              Comment


              • #8
                There are many problems with relying on the witness descriptions. We don't know which witnesses actually saw Jack. There is a possibility that none of the witnesses actually saw Jack. Witness statements are also notoriously unreliable. For these reasons I don't think we should rely much on the witness statements and I don't believe we should rule out any suspects purely on witness statements.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by John Wheat View Post
                  There are many problems with relying on the witness descriptions. We don't know which witnesses actually saw Jack. There is a possibility that none of the witnesses actually saw Jack. Witness statements are also notoriously unreliable. For these reasons I don't think we should rely much on the witness statements and I don't believe we should rule out any suspects purely on witness statements.
                  Agreed John!

                  Although not reliable, I've always felt that the witness statements are a slight mark against Tumblety's candidacy though.

                  A tall 6ft character would, I think have been quite conspicuous in that area at that time, although IIRC pipe man was described as being quite tall (5ft 11?).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ms Diddles View Post

                    Agreed John!

                    Although not reliable, I've always felt that the witness statements are a slight mark against Tumblety's candidacy though.

                    A tall 6ft character would, I think have been quite conspicuous in that area at that time, although IIRC pipe man was described as being quite tall (5ft 11?).
                    I agree Ms Diddles. Especially when you factor in Tumblety reportedly dressed flamboyantly.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by John Wheat View Post
                      There are many problems with relying on the witness descriptions. We don't know which witnesses actually saw Jack. There is a possibility that none of the witnesses actually saw Jack. Witness statements are also notoriously unreliable. For these reasons I don't think we should rely much on the witness statements and I don't believe we should rule out any suspects purely on witness statements.
                      I agree John. I just thought it might be interesting to see if any of the descriptions matched any of the suspects particularly closely. It’s why I’ve always thought that Lawende’s is a pretty good one for Druitt but it proves absolutely nothing as you rightly say. It might be more worthwhile to suggest unlikeliness perhaps? An example might be Tumblety with that large moustache?

                      edit - I’ve just seen that I should have read Ms D’s post before I replied to you.
                      Regards

                      Sir Herlock Sholmes.

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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by John Wheat View Post

                        I agree Ms Diddles. Especially when you factor in Tumblety reportedly dressed flamboyantly.
                        Hi John,

                        Also, Tumblety was 55 years old. Elizabeth Long described her suspect (whose face she didn't see) as being over 40, but I think all other witness descriptions estimate that the suspect was younger than that.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

                          Hello George,

                          Thanks for that. The scars and tattoos would be an issue of course. Wouldn’t it be ironic if one suspect had been mistaken for another. There was the case of a man seen at a coffee stall who a witness said looked like a particular photograph of George Sims and at the time Sims bore some resemblance to Druitt.
                          Several commentators have remarked on a perceived resemblance of Druitt to Prince Eddie. Personally, I don't see more than a possible general similarity of basic built. I think it's the moustache in the photos that makes people think of it.
                          Last edited by C. F. Leon; 06-06-2024, 06:32 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by C. F. Leon View Post

                            Several commentators have remarked on a perceived resemblance of Druitt to Prince Eddie. Personally, I don't see more than a possible general similarity of basic built. I think it's the moustache in the photos that makes people think of it.
                            I think it’s the kind of similarity where they could have been mistaken for each other at a bit of a distance maybe? As you said, the ‘similarities’ are fairly general.
                            Regards

                            Sir Herlock Sholmes.

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

                            Comment

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