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Ep. 38- Killers on the Loose: Eliminating the Suspects

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  • Ben
    replied
    Hi Bailey,

    Not to be all argumentative, and with all due respect to Ben, but need Monty have been out prowling around all night?
    For many serial killers, victim selection is often a cautious affair. It wouldn't be uncommon for many knocks and rejections and "near misses" before a suitable victim is located and dispatched, and when one serial killer (I forget which) was asked how often he want on the prowl in search of victims to kill), he responded that he did so all the time, but was not always successful.

    The later time of death, in contrast to the other victims, may also hint at an initial lack of success on the part of the killer. The ripper fear-frenzy occasioned by the Leather Apron factor (which was almost at its peak around this time) may have led to many rejections on the part of the prostitutes, which in turn would have resulted in more "walking around" in search of a more willing victim.

    As for physical exertions, it was observed by Dr. Bond that the killer would have been possessed of great physical strength, a view borne out by the nature of the mutilations to Kelly's corpse. As we learn from the Chapman crime scene, she suffered rather more than hacking and chopping. I doubt very much that any killer interested in self-preservation would allow himself to fall asleep on the train after mutilating a corpse and stashing away freshly extracted human viscera.

    Best regards,
    Ben
    Last edited by Ben; 01-14-2009, 07:53 PM.

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  • Chris
    replied
    Originally posted by Ben View Post
    Indeed, little time to spare in the context of Druitt killing Chapman and playing cricket shortly afterwards being considered a plausible theory; not "tight" in the sense that the timing made it impossibe.
    So you are really claiming that there was "little time to spare", in some sense, not simply that you don't believe, psychologically, Druitt would have played cricket as soon as 6 hours after committing a murder?

    You are claiming that there was "little time to spare" in the sense that it would have been difficult for Druitt to do all that he would have had to do between the time of the murder and the time of the cricket match?

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  • Ben
    replied
    Hi Andy,

    While at age 48 I have difficultly playing any sport competitively I fervently believe that at age 31 (Druitt's age) I could have competently performed in a game of softball after being out all night
    I guess it depends what you were doing the previous night. If you were up late watching a good film and then appeared on the cricket pitch the next day, that's a little less unlikely, but if you'd been physically active for pretty much the entirety of the night, searching for victims, and then dispatching one in the most brutal fashion before mutilating the corpse, and then effecting a successful escape (thence to walk to Cannon Street, on top of all the walking you've already been doing), then you're left with a very strong disincentive to go cricketting the next day.

    Given the number of reserves in an average village or town cricket club match, one man's absence is very unlikely to present an obstacle to the completion of the match, nor would it have been a loyalty issue. I can speak from personal experience as both my brothers play for similar cricket clubs. As for arounsing suspicion, I'm strongly disinclined to think so as few people would infer a paralell between an absent cricketer and a series of murders of prostitutes in Spitalfields.

    For example, Druitt is playing cricket in Dorset on August 11 and then again on Sept 1. Does that make it unlikely that he made the three hour rail journey back to London and returned to Dorset in between those dates?
    It becomes unlikely by virue of its contrast with the more parsimonious and workable explanation; that he can only be placed in the historical record (whenevr he crops up on it, which was 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th August and 1st September) in Dorset because that was where he was staying for that period of time, which neatly dovetails with the summer holiday period of a schoolmaster of an English public school. The "popping back and forth" hypothesis is less likely by contrast, in my view. You highlight the fact that the law courts were in session in August, but he can only be placed in Dorset in August. Also problematic for me is the fact that the "popping back" theory is predicated upon the exclusion of Tabram.

    I think he is a "likely" suspect but I have to define what I mean by "likely" because that is a relative term. However, I believe Druitt is the "most likely" of all the named suspects to be JtR. I say this
    Thanks for clarifying. In which case, I'd have to disagree pretty strongly on both counts.

    Best regards,
    Ben
    Last edited by Ben; 01-14-2009, 07:54 PM.

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  • Bailey
    replied
    Not to be all argumentative, and with all due respect to Ben, but need Monty have been out prowling around all night? Travel time aside, I'm not sure it necessarily would have taken that long to find a victim, and the murder itself would have most likely been over fairly quickly.

    As for great exertion - a brief grapple with a weak, unwell and possibly drunk woman, followed by a few minutes of hacking and chopping? Putting aside the fear factor, from that much exertion, the heart rate would be back to level in no time. Then, if he was really tired from being up browsing, a nap on the train on the way home...

    Not being pro-Druitt here (nor anti for that matter), but it struck me during the podcast and again when reading Ben's comment, that perhaps the up all night and tired thing is possibly not much of a factor at all.

    However, I'm currently in one of my insomnia mornings, running on less than five hours sleep, about to hit the gym, with a full day of work and a staff party after - let's see how well I get on today, and maybe I'll disagree with myself tomorrow...

    Cheers,
    B.

    Edit: It seems that to some degree Ben has inadvertantly addressed my point while I was typing...
    Last edited by Bailey; 01-14-2009, 07:22 PM.

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  • Ben
    replied
    If you say timing is "very tight", it means there is very little time to spare.
    Indeed, little time to spare in the context of Druitt killing Chapman and playing cricket shortly afterwards being considered a plausible theory; not "tight" in the sense that the timing made it impossibe.

    On the current railway timetable, there would be more than 5 hours to spare
    How do we know how much of that was "spare"?

    When we take into account the time required to murder, eviscerate, escape, conceal any trophies, compose onesself (presumably), walk a not inconsiderable distance, wait for train, return home on the train, walk to his home from the station, divest himself of any bloodstained garments, eat, stash his organs, get into his cricket whites, go to cricket and so forth and so on, that's a significant amount of "spare" time being consumed. So no, I wouldn't agree that he have five hours "to spare".

    So no, my views on the implausibility of Druitt killing Chapman do not primarily concern "psychology".

    Regards,
    Ben

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  • Chris
    replied
    Originally posted by Ben View Post
    The timing as it impacts on the plausibility of Druitt murdering Chapman, Chris. For reasons outlined, we wouldn't be having this conversation if the cricket match took place two days after the murder.
    But in English the adjective "tight" has a perfectly simple and straightforward meaning in relation to timing. If you say timing is "very tight", it means there is very little time to spare.

    On the current railway timetable, there would be more than 5 hours to spare. In fact, Druitt could clearly have walked all the way home without using public transport at all, and he would still have had a couple of hours to spare.

    What you seem to be saying (though I admit I find it difficult to make sense of it) is that psychologically speaking you find it difficult to believe Druitt would have played cricket 6 hours after killing Chapman. That may or may not be true, but it is nothing to do with the timing being "tight" or otherwise.

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  • aspallek
    replied
    Well, Ben, we are getting close to some sort of agreement but we have a few dents to "hammer out" yet.

    First of all, I obviously meant Sept 8 in my earlier post, not 9, which just goes to show how easily mis-statements can enter the record.

    As to the cricket performance on Sept 8, let me make a few observations. We agree that there is not a logistical problem. The issue is whether Druitt would be able to compete or would choose to compete after being out all night. Several things here as I try to speak from personal experience. I will admit that I have never played a game of cricket competitively but I have watched it and I have "fooled around" with it. It strikes me as being somewhat less physically demanding than baseball or softball, which I have a great deal of experience playing. While at age 48 I have difficultly playing any sport competitively I fervently believe that at age 31 (Druitt's age) I could have competently performed in a game of softball after being out all night. I might not perform well but I could perform. I direct your attention to the scorecard of the Sept. 8 cricket match and you will see that Druitt in fact did not perform at all well. As to whether or not he would choose to play, I don't think he had much choice. He had an obligation to his club and he would have fulfilled that obligation, not to mention that sitting it out could arouse suspicion.

    Regarding movements that are likely or unlikely I think we just completely disagree. But what I hope to persuade you of it that there is a middle ground where movements are merely possible and plausible but neither likely nor unlikely. For example, Druitt is playing cricket in Dorset on August 11 and then again on Sept 1. Does that make it unlikely that he made the three hour rail journey back to London and returned to Dorset in between those dates? I see nothing "unlikely" about that whatsoever. And when it is remembered that Druitt had a law practice in London and the courts were in session in August, it becomes all the more plausible. Does this make it "likely?" No. But neither is it at all "unlikely."

    You do seem to misunderstand my position on Druitt, however. I hold that he is more that a merely "interesting" suspect. I think he is a "likely" suspect but I have to define what I mean by "likely" because that is a relative term.

    I believe that the chances of Druitt being Jack the Ripper are far less than 50% because I believe the far most likely scenario is that JtR was a completely unknown individual. However, I believe Druitt is the "most likely" of all the named suspects to be JtR. I say this, however, with the caveat that my preoccupation with Druitt in recent years has precluded me from being well-read on the more recent suspects to emerge.
    Last edited by aspallek; 01-14-2009, 06:51 PM.

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  • Ben
    replied
    The timing as it impacts on the plausibility of Druitt murdering Chapman, Chris. For reasons outlined, we wouldn't be having this conversation if the cricket match took place two days after the murder.

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  • Chris
    replied
    Originally posted by Ben View Post
    Greatly appreciated, but long though my list of faults may be, an inability to explain or articulate myself clearly using appropriate terminology has never been one of them, and I wasn't drinking at the time either. I would, perhaps, have specified "tight" in terms of plausibility, but even so, none of my learned fellow podcasters seemed to think my observation was significantly awry.
    What exactly were you describing as "very tight", if it wasn't the timing?

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  • Ben
    replied
    Hi Andy,

    I am certainly inclined to cut him some slack with the understanding that one does not always pick his words carefully in conversation.
    Greatly appreciated, but long though my list of faults may be, an inability to explain or articulate myself clearly using appropriate terminology has never been one of them, and I wasn't drinking at the time either. I would, perhaps, have specified "tight" in terms of plausibility, but even so, none of my learned fellow podcasters seemed to think my observation was significantly awry.

    I can assure you there is nothing at all unusual about a murderer engaging in normal or even frivolous behavior immediately after killing.
    Quite possibly, although my objection has less to do with the psychological implications of a spot of post-evisceral cricketting, but rather the practical and physical considerations. The former I've outlined above, but more significant to my mind is the reality that a hypothetical Druitt the Ripper would have been up all night sauntering the streets in search of prostitutes and engaging in all manner of physical exertions. I doubt very much that the prospect of more activity on the cricket pitch would have appealed very much to any functioning human being. It wouldn't be so much of a problem if he was working in an office the next day - in that situation he could function normally and remain inconspicuous. But when the activity was both optional (i.e. not just a normal sedentry day at work), and involving physical activity, we stray into implausible terriroty.

    And Ben, I think you are setting up a bit of a "straw man" if it is your contention that I believe it likely that Druitt made all the movements that would have been required. Most of them I don't believe are likely or unlikely. They are merely possible
    Well, I'd have to argue that they're unlikely, but I don't doubt your sincerety for a moment when you say you're not plugging Druitt as a "likely" suspect, just a interesting one. Indeed, I believe the same to be true of other police suspects (contemporary or not) who fail to float my boat in terms of plausibility. Their weakness as suspects don't make them any less compelling, in my view.

    All the best!
    Ben
    Last edited by Ben; 01-14-2009, 06:11 PM.

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  • aspallek
    replied
    Ben has explained himself regarding the meaning of his statement and I think had he to say it over again he would have perhaps used a word other than "tight." I am certainly inclined to cut him some slack with the understanding that one does not always pick his words carefully in conversation.

    The irony is that Ben's main objection seems to involve Druitt's behavior on the morning of Sept 9. I can assure you there is nothing at all unusual about a murderer engaging in normal or even frivolous behavior immediately after killing. I recall reading an account in the Times from 1888 about a young boy killing his mother and then being apprehended thereafter playing with his mates in the street. I think any police officer could give a dozen similar examples.

    Regarding the plausibility of Druitt playing cricket in the late morning after carousing and prowling all night I also see no difficulty. I've never gone on a killing spree obviously but there have been many times in my life where I have gone the night with very little or no sleep and functioned normally the next day. In fact, I suspect the early morning train from London to Blackheath (which indeed departed well before 7 am) was on any given Saturday probably full of bedraggled, hung over young men returning to their suburban abodes from the wild streets of London. I suspect the spectre of Montague arriving in that condition would not have aroused undue suspicion.

    I appreciate Ben's comments because the spark further research. Had it not been for what I believe is a misstatement in an otherwise fine book, I would not have searched so diligently last summer for a cricketing alibi for Druitt. As it was, I searched 3 Dorset newspapers that all reported on cricket and found no such alibi for Montague. I've searched newspapers that reported on cricket for some mention of Blackheath playing during the weeks in question and have found no mention. Clearly, my research may have been lacking complete coverage and someone may yet find what I did not. However, I would appreciate some acknowledgment that I am not merely taking things for granted but that I am researching diligently the other side of the argument as well. In fact, I would be thrilled to be the person who finally clears Druitt's name by finding an alibi for him.

    It when I read or hear statements like "Druitt was away from London playing cricket when most of the murders took place" that my ire it peeked a bit. Such statements are simply not in accord with the facts as diligent research has been able to reconstruct them thus far.

    And Ben, I think you are setting up a bit of a "straw man" if it is your contention that I believe it likely that Druitt made all the movements that would have been required. Most of them I don't believe are likely or unlikely. They are merely possible. Frankly, in many ways Druitt is an unlikely suspect -- and yet he was a contemporary police suspect. That's what makes him so compelling.

    BTW -- good idea about searching the Blackheath Cricket Club archives for August 1888 fixtures. I have an "in" there and I think I can accomplish that!
    Last edited by aspallek; 01-14-2009, 05:35 PM.

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  • Ben
    replied
    Understood, Chris.

    I used the expression to convey my belief that the timing of events directly impacted upon the issue of suspect plausibility. I appreciate that this was open to misinterpretation, and hope that my position is better elaborated and clarified here.

    All the best,
    Ben

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  • Chris
    replied
    Ben

    The point I'm making is simply that if the journey could have been made with several hours to spare there is no sense in which the timing can be described as "very tight", and indeed it would be misleading to do so.

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  • Ben
    replied
    Hi Chris,

    I'd argue that the timing was tight enough to markedly reduce the plausibility of him committing the murders. If I might dredge up an earlier post for a second:

    "The.. premise becomes implausible when we consider that the killer would have spent virtually the entirety of the night and most of the early hours in pursuit of victims, and that he had then to make good his escape, dispose of any incriminating evidence, find a convenient means of conveying freshly extracted viscera on a train back home, get changed, have breakfast etc. Again, I stress that there's no known factor that militates against such an occurance being possible, but that's not the same as arguing that it is plausible or likely, and as far as I'm concerned, it isn't."

    I forgot to mention the inevitable long walk to the nearest station (Canon Street) where, presumably, he had to wait for a train. I've heard it stated that trains left from the station before 7.00am, but when exactly before I don't know.

    Again, nothing is impossible and there is no suggestion of any physical impediment to his committing the crime and playing cricket a short time thereafter, but the timing of events cannot help but weigh into the issue of plausibility.

    Best regards,
    Ben

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  • Chris
    replied
    Ben

    Well, if you were suggesting the timing for Druitt to get to Blackheath after the Chapman murder was "very tight", you were simply wrong. There would have been hours to spare.

    The plausibility of a man playing cricket the morning after committing a murder is a separate issue. It has absolutely nothing to do with "tight" timing.

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