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Why is throat-cutting out of fashion?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by caz View Post
    And there's more...



    Love,

    Caz
    X
    This is really useful, thanks Caz.

    If there were 90 people tried for murder in 1888 and we know at least 5 of the 15 cut throat murders were committed by Jack, then the statistics actually fall in favour other methods of murder as being more popular. We know then at least 80 of the 90 murderers on trial in 1888 did not kill using the cut throat method. That’s 89%.

    So those on trial that committed murder by throat cutting was 11% at best. That decreases even more when you factor in all other types of murders by type where no-one was caught or tried.

    I’m no professor of maths, but that does not scream to me that murder by knife was the most common form of murder. I feel my money is still safe on poisoning being Top of the Pops for murder method of choice in 1888.
    Author of 'Jack the Ripper: Threads' out now on Amazon > UK | USA | CA | AUS
    JayHartley.com

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    • #17
      I am sure I read somewhere on this site that a copper supposedly remarked that a woman with a cut throat "probably did it herself" which just unlocks a whole can of worms.
      Never mind the sexist connations, did enough murder by throat-cutting occur that police would class them as "suicides" to avoid having to investigate them?
      Pat D. https://forum.casebook.org/core/imag...rt/reading.gif
      ---------------
      Von Konigswald: Jack the Ripper plays shuffleboard. -- Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut, c.1970.
      ---------------

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      • #18
        Originally posted by erobitha View Post
        What would be handy to know is how many unsolved murders were there in 1888 to add to the list of prosecutions? Then what is the breakdown of how they were murdered? All indicators from other sources thus far points to poisoning being the most popular method. Many toxic chemicals were freely available and easy to administer.
        Poisoning? I'm a little surprised. Undetected murders, perhaps--but if they were never detected in the first place it seems impossible to guess how many poisonings there were.

        I grant of course the easier availability of toxic chemicals in Victorian times. Poisoning murders seem to be very rare today, partly because so many toxic substances are controlled, but also because they're more readily detected on autopsy, and especially because premature deaths are far less common today. So they're usually investigated, which makes poisoning harder to get away with. That's a sharp contrast with Victorian times. Mary Ann Cotton got away with poisoning a score of victims over a twenty-year period before she was finally caught. But then mortality, especially child mortality, was so high that most of these deaths passed unsuspected. It should make us wonder how many other poisonings were written off as "natural death" back then.

        However, even by the turn of the century, poisonings seem to have become relatively rare in Britain. Out of 165 people executed for murder in the years 1900-1909, only three of them were convicted of poisoning murders, one of them being our old friend George Chapman,

        I'm not counting a couple of baby farmers who occasionally poisoned infants with chlorodyne instead of smothering them, since baby farming was a different ballgame entirely. And I do say "executed" because it's theoretically possible that a poisoner might have been reprieved. However, I understand the Home Office had an unwritten rule that for poisoners, "the law must take its course." Poisoning, after all, is always a premeditated crime, committed in cold blood; it can be an agonizing, sadistic means of murder; and if it's easier to get away with than some methods, that was all the more reason why those who were caught should pay the penalty. So unless they were indisputably insane, I dare say nearly all convicted poisoners ended up dangling from a rope. Florence Maybrick was a notable exception for well-understood reasons.

        Admittedly George Chapman had multiple victims, so his luck ran out in the end, just as Mary Ann Cotton's did. And the other two hanged in the early 1900s poisoned their victims in circumstances that made it blindingly obvious these were not natural deaths. When the bodies of an entire poisoned family are found in a trunk, or when three people drink from the same bottle of stout and they all keel over on the spot, we can't expect even the dumbest detective to miss the clues.

        Still, if poisoning was so prevalent, I would have expected more perpetrators to get caught, even in those days, rather than constituting a paltry two percent or less of convicted murderers.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Gordon View Post
          I’m reluctant to attribute the decline in cut-throat murders to changing trends in shaving equipment. My guess is something different. If we want a nice piece of steak or a pork pie today, most of us get it from the grocery store. We don’t do what many of our ancestors did back when a majority of us were occupied in agrarian activities: that is, slaughtering hogs and other animals in the farmyard. Most people no longer have the training in throat-cutting activities, any more than most of us know how to hitch a horse to a buggy. As a culture, we’ve “forgotten how to kill,” so to speak--by traditional methods at any rate.

          If anyone has a better idea, I’ll be interested to hear it.
          I would attribute it to modern forensics more than anything. Slitting throats is far too messy when DNA from just a few epithelial cells are often enough to catch a killer. The perp could nick himself/herself and bleed or leave cells behind from a small scratch and it would be game over.
          Last edited by StarlitShoal; 04-12-2022, 02:35 AM.
          "I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer any more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing. I was born with the evil one standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world and he has been with me since." —Dr. Henry Howard "H.H." Holmes (Jack the Ripper?)

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          • #20
            Hi Starlit,

            But DNA didn't become an issue until the 1980s I believe, so I'm not sure the decline in cut-throat murders could be accounted for in that way.

            One could get the blood group from the guilty party before that, if they left their own blood at the scene and it was a different group from the victim's. This could then be compared with suspects or persons of interest for elimination purposes, but other evidence would be needed to prove guilt.

            Of course, in 1888 there was no way even to distinguish between human and animal blood, so throat slitting would have left no identifying clues on killer or victim afterwards.

            Love,

            Caz
            X
            Last edited by caz; 04-14-2022, 04:07 PM.
            "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


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            • #21
              Originally posted by caz View Post
              Hi Starlit,

              But DNA didn't become an issue until the 1980s I believe, so I'm not sure the decline in cut-throat murders could be accounted for in that way.

              One could get the blood group from the guilty party before that, if they left their own blood at the scene and it was a different group from the victim's. This could then be compared with suspects or persons of interest for elimination purposes, but other evidence would be needed to prove guilt.

              Of course, in 1888 there was no way even to distinguish between human and animal blood, so throat slitting would have left no identifying clues on killer or victim afterwards.

              Love,

              Caz
              X
              I understand, but I am aware of cases where DNA evidence was collected decades earlier in the hope that there would someday be a way to test it in the future. They did that on the BTK case and with Bundy as well. That said, my point was about the forensics of today's era. We don't see a lot of slit throats today. Lots of gang shootings, but few slit throats. It's too messy and leaves too much of a chance that epithelial cells will be left behind. A lot of murderers are caught because their victim scratched them as they died and got their killer's DNA under their fingernails.
              "I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer any more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing. I was born with the evil one standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world and he has been with me since." —Dr. Henry Howard "H.H." Holmes (Jack the Ripper?)

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by erobitha View Post

                This is really useful, thanks Caz.

                If there were 90 people tried for murder in 1888 and we know at least 5 of the 15 cut throat murders were committed by Jack, then the statistics actually fall in favour other methods of murder as being more popular. We know then at least 80 of the 90 murderers on trial in 1888 did not kill using the cut throat method. That’s 89%.

                So those on trial that committed murder by throat cutting was 11% at best. That decreases even more when you factor in all other types of murders by type where no-one was caught or tried.

                I’m no professor of maths, but that does not scream to me that murder by knife was the most common form of murder. I feel my money is still safe on poisoning being Top of the Pops for murder method of choice in 1888.
                Poisoning is a method of murder used almost exclusively by women. It's been known to be done by men such as the contract killer known as the Iceman, but for the most part, the statistics are skewed enough towards women that when there's a case of poisoning today, the police assume that they're looking for a woman until the evidence proves otherwise.
                "I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer any more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing. I was born with the evil one standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world and he has been with me since." —Dr. Henry Howard "H.H." Holmes (Jack the Ripper?)

                Comment


                • #23
                  I'm wondering if perhaps throat cutting has gone out of fashion as we have gradually become more squeamish and less used to the sight of blood over time.

                  Cooking for my gran's generation seemed to be an extremely visceral affair and involved hacking at bits of flesh, skinning rabbits, plucking pheasants and errrrm, yanking at gizzards (I made the last one up. I'm a lifelong veggie and have no idea what I'm on about here!!! ).

                  Now everything is much more sanitised and food is processed and prepared to minimise our exposure to anything too unpleasant.

                  I also think that if we saw abattoir workers and the suchlike wandering the streets in blood soaked gear (as the horse slaughterers did in the LVP), we would react with horror and revulsion.

                  Obviously I am not postulating that some knife wielding maniac would necessarily stop and think "Screw it, I'll go strangulation instead, as the sight of blood will deeply offend me!" but I'm wondering if at some sub-conscious level we could have absorbed this into our psyches.

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                  • #24
                    Plucking pheasants you say
                    My name is Dave. You cannot reach me through Debs email account

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by StarlitShoal View Post

                      I understand, but I am aware of cases where DNA evidence was collected decades earlier in the hope that there would someday be a way to test it in the future. They did that on the BTK case and with Bundy as well.
                      If you are still up for a debate...

                      Yes, but a killer would hardly have avoided slitting a victim's throat in anticipation of future advancements in forensic science. Who knew, decades in advance, that preserved crime scene evidence might one day be able to provide a unique DNA profile of the guilty party in certain circumstances?

                      That said, my point was about the forensics of today's era. We don't see a lot of slit throats today. Lots of gang shootings, but few slit throats. It's too messy and leaves too much of a chance that epithelial cells will be left behind. A lot of murderers are caught because their victim scratched them as they died and got their killer's DNA under their fingernails.
                      Yes, you said that before. But it would not account for a decline taking place over a whole century, between 1888 and 1988.

                      Colin Pitchfork was the first man convicted of murder on the basis of DNA evidence, and he was jailed for life in 1988 for strangling two teenagers in 1983 and 1986.

                      He would not have chosen strangulation over throat slitting with any awareness of what DNA evidence was, let alone that it could become a feature for the very first time in his own case. If throat slitting was already in decline well before the 1980s, DNA had nothing to do with it.

                      Love,

                      Caz
                      X
                      "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


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                      • #26
                        Alice Mitchell!!!!!!!!!!!!
                        I still feel bad for Lillie Johnson. Here Lillie thought she was giving a carriage ride to a friend only to end up witnessing a murder and being prosecuted as an Accomplice to the crime. Not really on topic for throat cutting per say but whenever I see the case of Alice Mitchell brought up, I can't help but think of that.

                        Now as for throat cutting. Now I have never done any act of murder, but I think slitting someone's throat is just harder than stabbing so I wonder why throat cutting was in fashion in the first place. But strangulation is hard too. Usually a crime of passion, Strangulation. I guess throat cutting is just messy and that Murderers have gotten neater as time has gone by. I mean even when they cut their victims up that only is because they are trying to dispose of the body or make a sick statement. Usually, dismemberment is to do with concealment though. I don't know, I just feel bad for Lillie Johnson, Alice and Freda too.

                        EXONERATE LILLIE JOHNSON!

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Pcdunn View Post
                          I am sure I read somewhere on this site that a copper supposedly remarked that a woman with a cut throat "probably did it herself" which just unlocks a whole can of worms.
                          Never mind the sexist conations, did enough murder by throat-cutting occur that police would class them as "suicides" to avoid having to investigate them?
                          Yes Suicides did cut their throats but that was more to do with a razor being an common household item that was easy to get a hold of. I strongly suspect that had something to do with why murders used razors too to cut their victims throats. Convenance!

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                          • #28
                            Fair enough, I suppose, Semper.
                            Pat D. https://forum.casebook.org/core/imag...rt/reading.gif
                            ---------------
                            Von Konigswald: Jack the Ripper plays shuffleboard. -- Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut, c.1970.
                            ---------------

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