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In Pursuit of JtR, by Robert A. Snow

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  • In Pursuit of JtR, by Robert A. Snow

    Robert A. Snow, In Pursuit of Jack the Ripper: An Introduction to the Whitechapel Murders. Denver: Outskirts Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4327-6434-0

    One of the difficulties I have with introducing friends or family members to the study of JtR is the length of the best books. When someone asks me about a good source on the subject, I show them Sugden or Begg and their jaws usually drop. "That looks like a bit more than I wanted to know" is their usual reaction.

    It's hard to find a recent, short, accurate account of the WMs, but we might have one here. This one is set in a largish font, with lots of white space, and could be read by most people in a couple of sittings during a wet weekend. Another good thing is that it has no postmortem pictures (which often scare off the newbies) but it does have a helpful diagram of the wounds inflicted upon 8 victims.

    Snow is a former Deputy Chief with the Suffolk County (New York) Police Department who served in a variety of posts, and he approaches the WMs as a cold case. His is a Joe Friday kind of book ("Just the facts, ma'am). No speculation, no theories, just the data culled from the inquests, newspapers, and some of the standard texts.

    He concludes that the C5 fell victim to JtR, as well as Tabram, McKenzie, and Coles. He's quite adamant about including Tabram, as well as the fact that MJK's heart was actually found somewhere at the murder site. (This point is currently being discussed on the MJK "Heartless?" thread.)

    There are a few errors, but not many: Joseph "Love" was living temporarily at the IWEC (typo, I assume); Polly Nichols was murdered on August 13 (simple transposition, I assume). And he must have consulted an older edition of the A-Z because he spells Eddowes' first name as Catharine. The rest of the errors are minor and should have been caught by a competent editor.

    There is a fair amount of repetition of the facts, but I suspect that would be helpful to newbies. There is a good, clear statement of the difference between M.O. and signature, and a concise overview of geographic profiling. (Snow reckons that JtR lived in George Yard Buildings).

    In short, what we have here is a brief, well-written tome with easily correctable errors. Just the sort of thing I've been looking for.

  • #2
    Originally posted by The Grave Maurice View Post
    There are a few errors, but not many: Joseph "Love" was living temporarily at the IWEC (typo, I assume); Polly Nichols was murdered on August 13 (simple transposition, I assume).
    Charles "Andrew" Cross

    Charles Allen Lechmere identified himself, during the course of the investigation, into the death of Mary Ann Nichols, as Charles "Allen" Cross.

    I also believe that failure to mention the fact that his name was actually 'Lechmere', is a mistake, in itself.

    Originally posted by The Grave Maurice View Post
    There is a good, clear statement of the difference between M.O. and signature, and a concise overview of geographic profiling. (Snow reckons that JtR lived in George Yard Buildings).
    "A technique which may have led the police to George Yard is Geographic Profiling. ..."

    "A review of the locations of the ten Whitechapel murders addressed in this book shows an elongated circle with George Yard near its center. If the Tabram murder was in fact the first of the Ripper series, it would seem that George Yard would indeed be a candidate for special attention."

    The "ten Whitechapel murders addressed in this book" are exclusive of the Pinchin Street Torso, as the author quickly dismisses its discovery, as being more-or-less irrelevant to the study of 'Jack the Ripper'.

    "Snow reckons that JtR lived in George Yard Buildings"

    I don't believe that he 'extends his neck', quite that far, Ken; as he would effectively be laying his head on the chopping block, were he to do so.

    I wish that I could impress upon the field of 'Ripperology', the fact that no geographic profile would ever attempt to pinpoint a particular location, as being the 'probable' base of the offender that is being sought.

    ---

    If I were in possession of two tickets, from a total lottery of one hundred, from which a single raffle was to be drawn; and each of the remaining ninety eight tickets was individually held; then I would be the single most likely winner. However, I would not be a 'probable' winner, as the actual probability that one of my two tickets would be drawn, would be just two percent.

    Mr. Snow is suggesting that a particular point, within the immediate vicinity of the thoroughfare, George Yard, should be perceived as having been the single most likely location of the operational base and/or residence, of 'Jack the Ripper'. But, he is not suggesting that this particular point - or, for that matter, any other point - should be perceived as having been the 'probable' location of this most elusive 'landmark'.

    In fact, no meaningful geographic profile would afford any more than two-to-three percentage points, of its probability distribution, to the immediate vicinity of the thoroughfare, George Yard: - or, for that matter, any other thoroughfare of similar length - Thus, rendering its 'prospects' as being similar to mine, in the aforementioned lottery ticket scenario.

    ---

    I believe the concept of a so-called 'probability distribution' is confusing many of those that have had difficulty, following my lines of reason.

    After all, what, exactly, is a 'probability distribution'?

    I am considering the presentation of one-or-two analogous concepts that may 'shed some light', so to speak. I shall address these concepts, albeit in a new thread, both here, and in JTRForums.com, over the course of the next four-to-five days.

    I shall also return to this thread, in order to briefly address the remarkable degree of 'magnetism' that the Tabram murder-site exerts, on the central tendencies of various combinations of those murder-sites, which we take into account, when studying the mystery of 'Jack the Ripper'.

    Case in Point:

    The Center of Minimum Distance - i.e. the point, from which the aggregate distance, to each member of a set of observations, is minimized - of the set of ten murder-sites that are taken into account, by Mr. Snow, is the Tabram murder-site.

    In other words; the Tabram murder-site is the point, on the whole of the earth's surface, from which the total distance, to the Smith, Tabram, Nichols, Chapman, Stride, Eddowes, Kelly, Mylett, McKenzie, and Coles murder-sites, is minimized.

    The point!

    The Center of Minimum Distance, by definition, bears one of the two main attributes, that would be seen in a 'Two-Dimensional Median', were one to actually exist.

    The Tabram murder-site, therefore, can reasonably be thought of as being, the median of the ten murder-sites that are under consideration, in this particular instance.

    Incidentally, the Tabram murder-site is also the Center of Minimum Distance, of the six murder-sites that are normally included in my geographic spatial analysis endeavors: Tabram, Nichols, Chapman, Stride, Eddowes, and Kelly.

    It might interest Rob House, et al, to know that the Mean-Center, - i.e. the 'Two-Dimensional Mean', which unlike the 'Two-Dimensional Median', does actually exist - of the ten murder-sites that are taken into account, by Mr. Snow, is a point on the west side, of the southern half of Greenfield Street.

    --- More to Follow ---

    ---

    One being a circular distribution of precipitation, i.e. 'rainfall', that is being detected, by way of a type of Doppler radar, and in turn, depicted, by way of a set of colorful isopleths, which show diminishing levels of precipitation density, from the center, to the periphery, of the area, on which the rainfall is landing.

    A simple concept, which I am sure, we all understand.

    My challenge will be to successfully correlate this concept, with that of a geographic profile probability distribution, and its inherent implications.


    Cumulative Probability Distributions (Murder-Site Population & Geographic Profile Model) (Circular) (Click Image, to Enlarge in flickr)
    Underlying Aerial Imagery: Copyright Google Earth, 2007
    Overlying Plots, Labels and Color-Shadings: Copyright Colin C. Roberts, 2010

    --- More to Follow ---

    ... on a new thread.
    Last edited by Colin Roberts; 06-09-2011, 10:34 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Interesting observations, as usual, Colin---and I always enjoy your maps. You're quite right about George Yard Buildings: I meant to type simply George Yard, but my fingers seem, occasionally, to operate independent of my brain.

      I lumped in the mistake about Cross's middle name with the other minor errors since I don't think a newcomer, reading an introductory account, would care what his middle name was. And I can't raise much enthusiasm about his using the name Cross instead of Lechmere. Snow may think, like me, that whatever Cross's reason was for using that name, he seemed to act like a model citizen. In any event, the Cross/Lechmere thing is the sort of minutiae that can wait until a newbie is much deeper into this subject.

      Other than your beef about profiling, which really takes up only a few pages in the book, what was your overall impression of it?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by The Grave Maurice View Post
        Other than your beef about profiling, which really takes up only a few pages in the book, what was your overall impression of it?
        Hey Ken,

        No 'beef', to be honest! I think that his focus on George Yard is actually quite reasonable.

        And, as I stated earlier, I intend to expound on the tremendous degree of 'influence' that is exerted by the placement of the Tabram murder-site, on the central tendency of all of the applicable murder-sites.

        ---

        I rather like the layout.

        No exponentially recycled introduction, in which London's 'East End', of 1888, is described as having been a vast and continuous hovel, of the worst imaginable magnitude.

        ---

        The Murders
        Chapter 1: Smith
        Chapter 2: Tabram
        Chapter 3: Nichols

        ...

        Chapter 10: Coles

        The Pursuit
        Chapter 11: a comparative analysis of the victims
        Chapter 12: a comparative analysis of the crime scenes
        Chapter 13: a comparative analysis of the victims' wounds

        ...

        Chapter xx: etc.

        All in all, what I would imagine is a typical 'investigative' format.

        Comment


        • #5
          Sorry, but surely in JtR AUTHORS cannot bother to utilise the latest sound research, that reflects on the whole subject.

          We now KNOW that Cross actually appears to have been called Lechmore most of the time (except in connection with the murder indeed.

          DiemscUtz reliably appears to have been DiemscItz.

          No matter how long the mistakes have been made (and look at the history of Lechmere/Cross's forenames) IMHO they should be routinely corrected now. At the very least those publishing material should GET IT RIGHT.

          There is no much myth about the case, so many long-standing errors, that to suggest such casualness should continue seems to me both unprofessional and unwise.

          A non-author

          Phil

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Phil H View Post
            We now KNOW that Cross actually appears to have been called Lechmore most of the time (except in connection with the murder indeed.

            DiemscUtz reliably appears to have been DiemscItz.

            No matter how long the mistakes have been made (and look at the history of Lechmere/Cross's forenames) IMHO they should be routinely corrected now. At the very least those publishing material should GET IT RIGHT.

            There is no much myth about the case, so many long-standing errors, that to suggest such casualness should continue seems to me both unprofessional and unwise.
            We have known that his name was 'Lechmere', since the onset of 2008.

            In the mean time, there have been several releases of new titles, in which no mention is made of his true identity.

            It is mentioned in the most recent edition of the A to Z, but only under 'Cross'. There is no cross-reference, under 'Lechmere'.

            I believe that Ken was simply suggesting that it would have been difficult, for Mr. Snow, to have made mention of this whole issue, without going into a level of detail that would have been excessive, for an introductory title.

            I would differ, by acknowledging - and applauding - the manner, in which it is addressed, in the revised edition of Rob Clack's and Philip Hutchinson's book: ... Charles Lechmere, who identified himself to the authorities as 'Charles Cross', ... or, words to that effect. Rob and Philip made the necessary 'qualification', and proceeded, without turning back.

            Comment


            • #7
              Colin

              When you write:

              ...would differ, by acknowledging - and applauding - the manner, in which it is addressed, in the revised edition of Rob Clack's and Philip Hutchinson's book: ... Charles Lechmere, who identified himself to the authorities as 'Charles Cross', ... or, words to that effect. Rob and Philip made the necessary 'qualification', and proceeded, without turning back.

              I would absolutely agree - that is precisely the way to do it. Full marks to them.

              I would add that I think it is an "introductory title" (to use your words) that MOST needs to get it right. Old codgers like me struggle to keep up and get confused over what was "true" 30 years ago and now!! But it is only fair for books aimed at newcomers to the subject to be as clear and up-to-date as possible. When you study a subject you can sometimes trace where an author got material because they repeat errors from their sources (often secondary) and also where a misunderstanding leads to confusion and then greater confusion as it cascades through subsequent titles.

              Just as an aside, I have been trying to take notes from Mei Trow's new book on the Torso killings. It is an enjoyable read and I assume the facts are correct, but hi style makes it incredibly difficult to be precise on the dates he is referring to or what was found - "two days previously" or an event referred to more than once without it being made clear. I feel it is the duty of an author to be as clear and precise as possible in regard to facts.

              Just me letting off steam,

              Phil

              Phil

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Phil H View Post
                I would add that I think it is an "introductory title" (to use your words) that MOST needs to get it right. Old codgers like me struggle to keep up and get confused over what was "true" 30 years ago and now!! But it is only fair for books aimed at newcomers to the subject to be as clear and up-to-date as possible.
                Are you suggesting that in the event the identity of 'Jack the Ripper' were discovered and universally accepted; the subsequent release of any introductory titles should make mention, accordingly, and acknowledge that the mystery has been solved?

                Hmmm!

                I'll have to ponder that, for awhile!





                Originally posted by Phil H View Post
                Just as an aside, I have been trying to take notes from Mei Trow's new book on the Torso killings. It is an enjoyable read and I assume the facts are correct, ...
                Don't!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Colin

                  Regarding acceptance of the facts in Mei Trow's Torso book, you wrote: Don't!

                  What are your grounds for this? Has there been a discussion of the book here?

                  Any specifics?

                  Phil

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi Phil,

                    I'm probably no more versed in the torso murders than yourself, but I've heard from a top authority on the crimes that there are many factual errors in Trow's book.

                    Yours truly,

                    Tom Wescott

                    P.S. I completely share your peeve about getting the names right, and I appreciate that you at least recognize 'Diemshitz' as being Louis' proper surname. I also agree that Clack/Hutchinson handled the Lechmere/Cross identity crisis perfectly.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thank you for your P.S., Tom

                      It would be useful to know what, at least, the key inaccuracies are in Trow's new book. I have seen no discussion here on the point and I have searched both posts and threads thoroughly.

                      There is not much around on the Torso killings, I have bits and pieces and I've always been wary of the Gordon books given his over-arching thesis.

                      Where Mei Trow is concerned, I drew my own conclusions about his choice of culprit for JtR (something of a no-brainer) but there was also a useful discussion of the documentary on these boards. Being JtR-related, on which I am - I think - pretty well-versed, it was the revelations from those who know/have worke with the author that provided insights.

                      With a somewhat more arcane subject like the Torso killings, I am more reliant on trust.

                      [Was there not an erratum thread, either here or on the JtR Forums, for the new A-Z? I know I printed off parts of that which are now inserted in my copy of the book. Something similar might be helpful here.]

                      I have today been trying to take notes from the book as I found the chapter order very off. It starts in 1887, moves to 1888 then skips back to the 1870s. Material is very imprecisely stated (you get something from newspapers about discoveries of body parts, then inquest details which may - or may not duplicate the first statements). Hence my note-taking, which simply points up the confusions.

                      But without re-doing all the newspaper and NA research for myself - the facts are something else. What precisely is inaccurate factually?

                      Phil

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Phil H View Post
                        Regarding acceptance of the facts in Mei Trow's Torso book, you wrote: Don't!

                        What are your grounds for this? Has there been a discussion of the book here?

                        Any specifics?
                        My exclamation was based on Mr. Trow's presentation of his case, for Robert Mann having been 'Jack the Ripper'.

                        ~~~

                        A Very Specific Case in Point:

                        "For me, this is absolutely fascinating, because the mortuary attendant, Robert Mann, was born just here. In Hope Street! It's, it's just there! It's very much within that central area that you have profiled as being his killing zone."

                        M. J. Trow discussing the Geographic Profile that was conducted for the Discovery Channel documentary "Jack the Ripper: Killer Revealed".

                        As he points to the general area, in which 'Hope Street' was situated; the television perspective changes from a profile depiction, based on a modern underlying map, to one that is based on the 1894 Ordnance Survey. At this point, Hope Street, Parish of St. Mary Whitechapel*, is clearly visible within the vicinity, to which Mr. Trow has drawn the attention of the Geographic Profiler, with whom he is speaking.

                        * Why bother with the parochial distinction 'Parish of St. Mary Whitechapel', when referring to Hope Street, in this particular instance?

                        After all, such things are really of no relevance; are they?


                        Geographic Profile: "Jack the Ripper: Quest for a Killer", by M. J. Trow; Page 191 (Click Image, to Enlarge in flickr)

                        (My Color-Shadings)

                        Red (Top-to-Bottom / Left-to-Right):
                        - Hope Street, Parish of Christ Church Spitalfields
                        - Hope Street, Parish of St. Mary Whitechapel

                        Now, which of the two do we think might have been the early childhood home of Robert Mann?

                        "The census of 1841 shows the Mann family living in Hope Street, Whitechapel, on the edge of the focus of Jack's activities, as outlined by geo-profiler Spencer Chainey."

                        "Jack the Ripper: Quest for a Killer", by M. J. Trow; Page 187

                        Clearly, Mr. Trow thinks he has the answer!

                        Let's see for ourselves; shall we?

                        Census of England & Wales, 1841
                        County: Middlesex
                        Registration District: Whitechapel
                        Civil Parish: Christ Church Spitalfields
                        Registration Sub-District: Spitalfields
                        Enumeration District: 2
                        Enumeration Schedules: 36 42
                        Pages: 17 29
                        Hope Street: House Numbers not Delineated; 296 Total Residents


                        Census of England & Wales, 1841: Hope Street, Parish of Christ Church Spitalfields, County of Middlesex (Click Image, to Enlarge in flickr)



                        Enumeration Schedule: 40
                        Pages: 25, 26
                        - Robert Mann; 50; Silk Weaver
                        - Elizabeth Mann; 46
                        - Amelia Mann; 7
                        - Robert Mann; 5



                        Census of England & Wales, 1841
                        County: Middlesex
                        Registration District: Whitechapel
                        Civil Parish: St. Mary Whitechapel
                        Registration Sub-District: Mile End New Town
                        Enumeration District: 1
                        Enumeration Schedules: 18, 19
                        Pages: 27 29
                        Hope Street: House Numbers not Delineated; 46 Total Residents



                        None by the name of 'Mann'




                        Hope Street, Parish of Christ Church Spitalfields; and Hope Street, Parish of St. Mary Whitechapel (Click Image, to Enlarge in flickr)
                        Underlying Aerial Imagery: Copyright Google Earth, 2007
                        Overlying Plots, Labels and Color-Shadings: Copyright Colin C. Roberts, 2010

                        Red w/ Gold Outline (Top-to-Bottom / Left-to-Right):
                        - Hope Street, Parish of Christ Church Spitalfields
                        - Hope Street, Parish of St. Mary Whitechapel

                        Red w/ Green/White Outline (Bottom-to-Top / Left-to-Right):
                        - Whitechapel Union Infirmary Mortuary, Eagle Place, Old Montague Street, Hamlet of Mile End New Town
                        - Whitechapel Union Infirmary, Baker's Row, Hamlet of Mile End New Town


                        No less than an entire book and television documentary devoted to this non-starter, Robert Mann; and the folks who put it all together cannot even track down his early childhood home and possible place of birth.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks for that Colin.

                          I am well aware of the deficiencies of Trow's earlier book - it's the factual element of the new one that I'm interested in.

                          Your points are precisely why I am cautious - but I am assuming that his quotes from newspaper and official sources, dates etc at least are correct (maybe I shouldn't!!).

                          Your help is appreciated, and your point well-taken.

                          Phil

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            We seem to be drifting, gentlemen. This thread is solely for discussion about Bob Snow's excellent introductory book.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Phil H
                              It would be useful to know what, at least, the key inaccuracies are in Trow's new book. I have seen no discussion here on the point and I have searched both posts and threads thoroughly.
                              I completely agree, and would like to know myself. But authors are often loath to publicly point out the inaccuracies of other authors unless they're compelled to do so. Apparently no one feels compelled. Plus I'm sure there's politics involved.

                              Yours truly,

                              Tom Wescott

                              Comment

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