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

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  • Ben
    replied
    I don't think Andy was being unreasonable in interpreting that as a reference to the timing
    Nor do I, but then it was a reference to timing, since the timing of events of the morning of the 8th September in relation to Druitt directly impact, in my view, upon the plausbility of his candidacy; negatively so, I'd say, and I'm certainly not alone in that belief.

    Since I made clear later in the podcast that it was also my fervent hope that future research could lead to the uncovering of an alibi for Druitt, it is obvious that I don't believe that "Druitt had a cricket alibi". As far as I'm concerned, he's an implausible suspect who nonetheless cannot be ruled out on current evidence.

    Regards,
    Ben
    Last edited by Ben; 01-14-2009, 04:20 PM.

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  • Chris
    replied
    What Ben said on the podcast was:
    "it's argued that he [Druitt] could have made it back from cricket matches, but they reinforce the fact that it would have been very tight ..."

    I don't think Andy was being unreasonable in interpreting that as a reference to the timing.

    The reason people get a bit irritated with this kind of statement is that "Druitt had a cricket alibi" is one of those old chestnuts that regularly crops up, but no evidence that comes anywhere near giving him an alibi has ever been presented.

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  • aspallek
    replied
    OK, Ben we are once again getting nowhere so lets bring it to a close since neither of us is going to change the mind of the other. Let's just suffice it to say that we agree that Druitt remains a plausible suspect but we disagree significantly on how plausible.

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  • Ben
    replied
    1) by road: Salisbury to Bournemouth 27 miles
    Exactly, Andy, and if I was spending a relaxing summer holiday in Bournemouth, I'd cheerfully consider a visit to nearby Salisbury in the directly neighbouring county of Wiltshire.

    I only know that I have looked high and low for evidence of the Blackheath club playing during the time in question and I have found none.
    I'd urge caution when chalking that up to a "hiatus", thouigh. I cannot for the life of me envisage what possible set of circumstances would present any huge obstacle to a group of men congregating for a game of cricket outdoors on grass. Assuming there still is a Blackheath Cricket Club, it may be worth consulting their archives, unless you or someone has done so already. Events such as these would not always make the newspapers.

    I see no compelling reason on the basis of Druitt's known movements to diminish his status as a viable suspect, assuming Tabram was not a Ripper victim.
    Which takes us back to the central bone of contention. I certainly wouldn't assume that Tabram was not a ripper victim (the opposite assumption would be safer, at least, given what we know of other serial killers), and I would certainly argue that Druitt's recorded movememts tend to paint a more pursuative picture of someone who spent almost the entirety of August and the first part of September in Dorset, not to-ing and fro-ing to London to kill prostitutes.

    Cheers,
    Ben

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  • aspallek
    replied
    1) by road: Salisbury to Bournemouth 27 miles, Salisbury to Central London 95 miles. A significant difference but hardly negligible. Salisbury could have been easily reached by rail from London. But again, there is no reason to think this was Montague, especially when cousin Charles lived close by.

    2) I don't know the nature of the hiatus. I only know that I have looked high and low for evidence of the Blackheath club playing during the time in question and I have found none. If someone else finds that I am wrong I will stand corrected. I have also searched three Dorset newspapers for any other evidence that Druitt played cricket there in between the dates in question and I have found none.

    I see no compelling reason on the basis of Druitt's known movements to diminish his status as a viable suspect, assuming Tabram was not a Ripper victim.

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  • Ben
    replied
    Hi Andy,

    I don't know if the chap on 22nd August was Montague or not, but if it was, the distance between Salisbury and Bournemouth (and Salisbury to Winbourne for that matter) was truly negligile when you examine the distance between any of those places and London. If it wasn't, the observation about Druitt being pinpointed to Dorset for that time period remains valid.

    On point #2, I'd be very interested to know the nature of the Blackheath Club hiatus.

    Best wishes,
    Ben

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  • aspallek
    replied
    I'm sorry to belabor this here as it should be in the Druitt threads but I must respond to two points:

    1(a) The August 22 match was played in Salisbury, not Dorset, so if this is Montague it is actually "proof" that he was away from Dorset on August 22.

    1(b) There is no reason to assume that this "Druitt" who played in Salisbury on August 22 was Montague, as even Sugden concedes. There were a number of Druitts who played for various teams at the time. Montague's cousin Charles Druitt actually lived right outside of Salisbury at the time so this "Druitt" could easily have been Charles.

    2 The Blackheath club appears to have been on hiatus during August 1888, so Montague would have had no opportunity at that time to play for them.
    Last edited by aspallek; 01-13-2009, 08:24 PM.

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  • Ben
    replied
    Hey Andy,

    He could have stayed in Dorset the entire time or he could have spent the intervening three weeks in London attending to his legal work, as court was most certainly in session at the time, and then returned for a day of cricket on Sept. 1. I think either scenario is quite plausible as it was only a three hour rail journey.
    Here my money would be on the more parsimonious asumption that he is only ever recorded as being is Dorset over that time period (where he can be pinpointed on the 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th August and the 1st September, and possibly the 22nd August too unless that was a different Druitt (?)) because he was only there for that time period and nowhere else. That would tie in rather nicely with a normal period of time allotted for a summer holiday in the public school system.

    Spending a few weeks in Dorset, then coming home, then returning there for one day just for one cricket match despite it being a three-hour train journey there and back, and despite the fact that he had a team to play for in London, doesn't quite do it for me. The fact that he played at Blackheath tells us that he wasn't deprived of a cricket team if ever he wanted to play. In fact, the evidence suggests very strong that he had a team to play for whichever location he was staying at.

    I'm not saying the to-ing and fro-ing between locations theory is wildly implausible, just the less likely explanation.

    We are not trying to convict Druitt of a crime. We are stating that he was a "contemporary" (more or less) suspect for a reason and that he as of yet has no alibi or reason to be eliminated
    Agreed, Andy. The question is whether that reason(s) was a particularly good one.

    Best regards,
    Ben
    Last edited by Ben; 01-13-2009, 08:17 PM.

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  • Mike Covell
    replied
    Originally posted by aspallek View Post
    He could have stayed in Dorset the entire time or he could have spent the intervening three weeks in London attending to his legal work, as court was most certainly in session at the time, and then returned for a day of cricket on Sept. 1.
    The tea breaks in the game do last a long time!

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  • aspallek
    replied
    Folks, I'll be glad to continue this discussion on the Druitt threads if you like. It sounds like Ben and I have reached somewhat of an understanding even if we don't agree entirely on the issue of plausibility. The case against Druitt is not comparable, however, to that against Sickert. Druitt spent a week playing cricket in Dorset in early August. He appears in Dorset again for a day on Sept 1. He could have stayed in Dorset the entire time or he could have spent the intervening three weeks in London attending to his legal work, as court was most certainly in session at the time, and then returned for a day of cricket on Sept. 1. I think either scenario is quite plausible as it was only a three hour rail journey.

    Where I think we now agree is that we need to watch what sort of standard of proof we are setting for ourselves. We are not trying to convict Druitt of a crime. We are stating that he was a "contemporary" (more or less) suspect for a reason and that he as of yet has no alibi or reason to be eliminated.

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  • c.d.
    replied
    Hi Andy,

    I know that this has been discussed before but I think a lot of things hinge on the response of Macnaghten's superiors to his memo. Basically, he is pretty much saying I know who the Ripper is but I can't tell you because it is private information. How did that fly with those above him? Did they say, "damn I wish you could tell us but you gave your word, Victorian gentleman and all that" or did they say "we don't give a rat's behind about what you promised, who is the Ripper?" If it was the latter, then I think Macnaghten's information would have been checked out.

    c.d.

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  • Ben
    replied
    Suffice it to say for now that there is nothing implausible at all about a murderer playing cricket hours after killing nor does being in one general location on two instances three weeks apart (Druitt actually played cricket in Dorset until Aug. 11, I believe) imply that he spent the intervening time there.
    Hi Andy,

    The former 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.

    Same thing with his movements, several of them, being pinpointed only to Dorset over the time period mentioned. Yes, he could have kept popping back, just as Sickert could have kept popping back from Dieppe, but that doesn't mean either of them did or were likely to have done.

    Do we know for certain that the family were "convinced" he was the ripper? The fact that he was a contemporary police suspect obliges us to take him seriously by not ruling him out and continue, as you have done, to conduct research into his background. That's entirely commendable, but that doesn't mean that any of the extant evidence increases the likilihood of his complicity in the crimes.

    Cheers,
    Ben
    Last edited by Ben; 01-13-2009, 07:01 PM.

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  • aspallek
    replied
    Very good, Ben. I'm not going to engage in a Druitt debate here either because there are more appropriate places to do so. Suffice it to say for now that there is nothing implausible at all about a murderer playing cricket hours after killing nor does being in one general location on two instances three weeks apart (Druitt actually played cricket in Dorset until Aug. 11, I believe) imply that he spent the intervening time there. Perhaps it was not you who used the word "tight" regarding Druitt's movements but someone on the podcast did.

    Sugden's work is excellent but he may have made some errors, or perhaps rather mis-assumptions, regarding Druitt's movements. Since Sugden much more has been learned about Druitt.

    This being said, yes Druitt is a rather implausible chap to be Jack the Ripper. Yet he is a contemporary police suspect, the preferred suspect of Melville Macnaghten. His own MP as well as his family were convinced he was the Ripper. Clearly, these people knew of his "implausible" character and yet he was a prime suspect within approximately two years of the murders (Feb. 1891 is the report of Farquharson's story). This is what makes Druitt such a compelling suspect. Whether he is guilty or not I confess I haven't the foggiest.

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  • Ben
    replied
    Regarding plausibility, I see nothing implausible regarding Druitt's known schedule and the Nichols or Chapman murders.
    Well, not to become entrenched in protracted Druitt debate, but I don't consider the prospect of Druitt dispatching an East End prostitute at 5:30 or 6 and then playing cricket at Blackheath a short few hours later to be particularly plausible, especially considering that Druitt the hypothetical ripper would have been sauntering the streets for victims for most of that night and early morning. "Distinctly unlikely" was the phrase Philip Sugden used, and I'm inclined to agree. Similarly, the fact that he can only be placed in Dorset between 3rd August and the 1st September would suggest, as perhaps the most parsimonious explanation, that he was there for the duration of that time-period which would, after all, have coincided with the school holidays.

    I can't remember the context in which I used the word "tight", but I have a pretty good vocubulary, and don't think I would have used it unless I believed there were reasonably adequate grounds for thinking so. As far as East End connections go, I'd argue that it only becomes unnecessary to show strong and clear evidence of one if the suspect is good enough in isolation, and Druitt doesn't quite qualify on that score, in my view.

    Regards,
    Ben
    Last edited by Ben; 01-13-2009, 06:15 PM.

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  • aspallek
    replied
    Originally posted by Ben View Post
    I meant "tight" in terms of its plausibility, Andy (if it was me!).

    I wanted to reinforce that important distinction between "evidence that he could" and "evidence that he did". And I would have been including Tabram.

    Glad you enjoyed the show,

    Ben
    OK, fair enough. However, I think "tight" in this context most naturally implies a lack of time so perhaps a different word, such as "implausible," would have been better. However, I know that in conversation one is not as able to pick one's words as carefully as in print.

    Regarding plausibility, I see nothing implausible regarding Druitt's known schedule and the Nichols or Chapman murders. If you include Tabram, then yes, I concede there is a plausibility issue there.

    I understand the point you are making. However, since we are not in a courtroom here we are not held to the standard of proving that a suspect was actually in the East End at the time or proving that a suspect did indeed make certain prescribed movements. The passage of 120 years renders this nearly impossible. Yes, we must be the judges of plausibility and clearly some of the claims regarding some of the more fanciful suspects are implausible. That is true.

    On the whole, I think we are best leaving the more ridiculous claims to collapse under their own ridiculousness rather than trying to be the "thought police" regarding such claims. However, in cases such as Cornwell, were the appearance of scholarship is given and people are misled, there may be a responsibility on the part of those "in the know" to set the record straight.

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