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Was John Gill a Copy-Cat Murder?

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  • Was John Gill a Copy-Cat Murder?

    Not like, the murder itself, but the treatment of the body.

    Were there any similar child murders anywhere within coo-ee of London, in that era? It just sort of sticks out rather on its own, and it'd be unusual for such a child killer to come out nowhere and then go back to nowhere like that, they're usually highly compulsive.

    What I've been wondering lately is, due to this murder sharing a few elements of Ripper crimes.. the cut-off ear and heart removal, sexual mutilation, evisceration and intestines placed around the upper body... whether the mutilation was not a prime element of the murder itself, but an attempt to lay blame on the Ripper.

    But then, how to account for the obvious differences (putting aside for a moment the issue of gender and age, because if this was a sort of copycat, I don't the killer was sophisticated enough to take into account the issue of MO, which wasn't at all common knowledge anyway).
    Last edited by Ausgirl; 04-21-2016, 06:17 PM.

  • #2
    I can see where it could have been a case of the killer trying to "top" the Ripper.
    This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

    Stan Reid

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Ausgirl View Post
      Not like, the murder itself, but the treatment of the body.

      Were there any similar child murders anywhere within coo-ee of London, in that era? It just sort of sticks out rather on its own, and it'd be unusual for such a child killer to come out nowhere and then go back to nowhere like that, they're usually highly compulsive.

      What I've been wondering lately is, due to this murder sharing a few elements of Ripper crimes.. the cut-off ear and heart removal, sexual mutilation, evisceration and intestines placed around the upper body... whether the mutilation was not a prime element of the murder itself, but an attempt to lay blame on the Ripper.

      But then, how to account for the obvious differences (putting aside for a moment the issue of gender and age, because if this was a sort of copycat, I don't the killer was sophisticated enough to take into account the issue of MO, which wasn't at all common knowledge anyway).
      Hi Ausgirl
      This case has always intrigued me. I think theres a chance it was the ripper, or just a coincidence. If it was a "copycat" I think the murderer may have been influenced by the ripper crimes, but doubt he intentionally tried to make it look like the ripper to divert suspicion.

      Wasn't there some dismemberment involved also?
      "Is all that we see or seem
      but a dream within a dream?"

      -Edgar Allan Poe


      "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
      quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

      -Frederick G. Abberline

      Comment


      • #4
        From the newspaper reports, police suspected it was a gang of youths 'high' on the frenzy caused by the Ripper.

        Originally posted by Ausgirl View Post
        Were there any similar child murders anywhere within coo-ee of London, in that era?
        There was the unsolved murder of schoolboy Percy Searle in my hometown of Havant, Hampshire on November 26, 1888. He had been stabbed to death while running an errand for his mother.

        Comment


        • #5
          I also remember reading an account in a book on Victorian crimes of two small boys who had apparently been "disposed of" by their father or caretaker, killed and thrown into the river. I don't remember now if dismemberment was also involved, but I think it predated 1888.
          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.
          ---------------

          Comment


          • #6
            The following may help a little bit. It is by Guy B.H. Logan, from his book, "Guilty or Not Guilty? Stories of Celebrated Crimes?" (London: Duffield & Co., 1929), p. 147 - 148, in the chapter VII, "The Case of Willie Starchfield". Willie Starchfield was murdered in 1914 and his father John Starchfield was tried but acquitted for the murder - which was never solved as a result.

            Logan is opening the chapter by comments about past child murders:

            "We do not know, for instance, who was responsible for the murder of little Mary Jane Voller, of Barking, on the last day of December 1898, who slew Amelia Jeffs early in February 1890, and placed her body in the cupboard of an empty house in West Ham, or who killed the little boy, William J. Barrett at another London suburb, Upton Park, in September 1897. The inhuman murderer of little Johnny Gill at Bradford in 1891 was never brought to justice, unless indeed, the horrible W.L. Turner, above referred to [previous mentioned in a paragraph] was, as suspected guilty of that crime as well as of the child murder of Barbara Waterhouse at Leeds. The brute who violated and strangled Vera Hoad at Chichester only a very few years back is still at large unless death and a higher justice have overtaken him and the murderer of Maggie Nally, aged seven years, in London on April 5th 1915, was never caught and hanged."

            Each case ought to be reviewed by itself. On the old website here I did an article on my research into the murder of Amelia Jeffs. Nobody was arrested and charged in that case, but the public was aware that one of three members of the same family in West Ham (a grandfather, father, and son), was the most likely killer (the body was found in the cupboard of a house that the father, a locally prominent builder/businessman/mason was building - his son was dating or seeing Jeffs, and the grandfather was the "night watchman" at the site) did the crime, and the other two were stonewalling to protect the third. No amount of the evidence really showed which was most likely to be guilty. So they "walked", but the family's reputation was crushed beyond repair. Sometimes family should become less important than one thinks.

            Jeff

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Abby Normal View Post
              Hi Ausgirl
              This case has always intrigued me. I think theres a chance it was the ripper, or just a coincidence. If it was a "copycat" I think the murderer may have been influenced by the ripper crimes, but doubt he intentionally tried to make it look like the ripper to divert suspicion.

              Wasn't there some dismemberment involved also?
              Yep. Here's a description I wrote recently for a Reddit article:

              John’s body was left face-down. It was completely drained of blood, and horribly mutilated. One ear was cut off, and seemed to be missing. Both the boy’s legs had been hacked off at the thighs (later reports would say this seemed expertly done, but it probably wasn’t), and were placed beside the upper part of his torso. Two stab wounds to the chest from a large knife were deemed sufficient to have “killed an elephant” and thought to be the immediate cause of death. There was no injury at all to his face, and his throat had not been cut across, but a deep vertical slash began at the top of the throat, continuing down to the lower abdomen. John’s heart had been cut out and then tucked neatly under his chin. Sections of intestine were also removed, and these had been draped about his head and shoulders. The abdominal cavity was so clean that it appeared to have been washed out. Inside it, among other things (Including John’s boots), were the missing ear and a severed lung. There was also severe genital mutilation; the entire scrotum had been cut away and like several other organs was nowhere to be found.

              There seems to be no clear estimated time of death, but it was thought he’d died less than 24 hours before the body was discovered.
              This is from the police report:

              There were two stabs in the chest, which included the area filled by the heart, but the stabs did not touch it. All the blood-vessels were cut through, but the vessel which had been stabbed in two was the aorta. There were certain parts of the body missing – a part of the iliac bone, part of the pubic bone on the left hand side, and the fleshy attachments. The knife shown to him by the police would glide into the wound on the chest, and any other knife of the same size would do the same. In his opinion the boy was not murdered where the remains were found. Death would practically be instantaneous, because of the division of the larger blood vessels of the chest. He was of the opinion that the mutilations took place after death. The body was bloodless; it had the appearance of having been washed externally and internally, and then allowed to dry or drain. The mutations could not have been effected with one instrument; there must have been used a sharp strong knife, well tempered, and perhaps with a point; force would be required to sever some of the parts, such as could be applied by a mallet or hammer being struck at the back of the knife blade. There was no blood on the boy’s clothing, except that his collar was saturated with blood. A peculiarity about the collar was the blood seemed to be much more moist than the body. On the lining of the cap was coagulated blood.

              ---

              There's conflicting reports about whether one or both ears were severed, and where his boots were found. Best as I can tell from focussing on the earliest reports I could find, it was one ear and his boots were partly shoved into his abdominal cavity.

              I don't think this was the Ripper, at all. The Ripper never washed a body... or wrapped it up or moved it.

              I think this was pedophile, covering his tracks.

              I don't think it was the same killer as the West Ham crimes, or those in Walthamstow because all of those victims are female, no sign at all that the killer/s in those cases attacked boys (that I can see).
              Last edited by Ausgirl; 04-22-2016, 03:45 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mayerling View Post
                The following may help a little bit. It is by Guy B.H. Logan, from his book, "Guilty or Not Guilty? Stories of Celebrated Crimes?" (London: Duffield & Co., 1929), p. 147 - 148, in the chapter VII, "The Case of Willie Starchfield". Willie Starchfield was murdered in 1914 and his father John Starchfield was tried but acquitted for the murder - which was never solved as a result.

                Logan is opening the chapter by comments about past child murders:

                "We do not know, for instance, who was responsible for the murder of little Mary Jane Voller, of Barking, on the last day of December 1898, who slew Amelia Jeffs early in February 1890, and placed her body in the cupboard of an empty house in West Ham, or who killed the little boy, William J. Barrett at another London suburb, Upton Park, in September 1897. The inhuman murderer of little Johnny Gill at Bradford in 1891 was never brought to justice, unless indeed, the horrible W.L. Turner, above referred to [previous mentioned in a paragraph] was, as suspected guilty of that crime as well as of the child murder of Barbara Waterhouse at Leeds. The brute who violated and strangled Vera Hoad at Chichester only a very few years back is still at large unless death and a higher justice have overtaken him and the murderer of Maggie Nally, aged seven years, in London on April 5th 1915, was never caught and hanged."

                Each case ought to be reviewed by itself. On the old website here I did an article on my research into the murder of Amelia Jeffs. Nobody was arrested and charged in that case, but the public was aware that one of three members of the same family in West Ham (a grandfather, father, and son), was the most likely killer (the body was found in the cupboard of a house that the father, a locally prominent builder/businessman/mason was building - his son was dating or seeing Jeffs, and the grandfather was the "night watchman" at the site) did the crime, and the other two were stonewalling to protect the third. No amount of the evidence really showed which was most likely to be guilty. So they "walked", but the family's reputation was crushed beyond repair. Sometimes family should become less important than one thinks.

                Jeff
                Thanks Jeff, and I very much agree with your last comment.

                I actually read your posts on the West Ham crimes recently while working on another Reddit article, those were very useful and I was going to thank you for them at some point - so, thank you!

                I found those crimes while looking for potential other victims of the John Gill murderer, but I don't think they're the same.. I also am currently thinking Gill's murderer probably had used a knife before, but this extent of mutilation was all about mimicking the Ripper. The ear, plus intestines, and the heart removal, pretty much have me convinced on that.

                Though Stan's comment above, re him trying to "top" the Ripper, is interesting.

                If this was not influenced by the Ripper at all, I'd expect a lot of little boy mutilations happening *somewhere* and these are what I'm looking for.

                The killer of John Gill had no qualms about killing a child (those two chest stabs..) plus handling and cutting up a dead human body, so I suspect he'd abducted children before, and probably killed before, maybe even dismembered for ease of disposal. But this crime was ... something else.
                Last edited by Ausgirl; 04-22-2016, 04:01 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  There's a book about this murder by Kathryn McMaster that I really want to get my hands on:

                  http://www.amazon.com/Who-Killed-Lit.../dp/B01BMXMZHE

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Harry D View Post
                    From the newspaper reports, police suspected it was a gang of youths 'high' on the frenzy caused by the Ripper.


                    There was the unsolved murder of schoolboy Percy Searle in my hometown of Havant, Hampshire on November 26, 1888. He had been stabbed to death while running an errand for his mother.
                    Yeah, I'm not sure about the gang thing, I'd like to know if there was any evidence for that.. an odd thing to think, when the obvious thing would be "pedophile", so maybe there's something to it?

                    Thanks for the info on Percy Searle.. and just a month before! How far is that from the location of the Gill murder? Not that distance is an issue, really, there's a lot of killers who move about. I'll look into that crime, pronto.

                    Interestingly, the police in the Gill case were criticised in the papers for ignoring a set of muddy footprints leading back and forth between the stable where John was found and an abandoned house closeby. The prints were apparently still visible in March the next year. I found this detail interesting, because the dump site was not the murder site, the body had been dismembered, washed and wrapped elsewhere. Maybe the killer was staying in that house..

                    Another fascinating detail:

                    Part of the body had been wrapped in a Liverpool newspaper with the name and address 'W. Mason, Derby Road' written on it. Efforts were made to trace W. Mason but he was never found.

                    Liverpool's like, 75 miles from there? So how'd this paper end up wrapped around a murdered child?
                    Last edited by Ausgirl; 04-22-2016, 04:23 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi Ausgirl

                      It's about 250 miles I think. Bradford (it was Bradford wasn't it?) Is way up north and Havant is down south, just outside Portsmouth (where I am from.


                      Regards
                      Caroline

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ruby Slipper View Post
                        Hi Ausgirl

                        It's about 250 miles I think. Bradford (it was Bradford wasn't it?) Is way up north and Havant is down south, just outside Portsmouth (where I am from.


                        Regards
                        Caroline
                        Thank you, Caroline. I had actually looked it up for my article but was having a brain fart about it last post.. and wow, that's a long way away, isn't it.

                        I'm just dying to know how old that newspaper was... can't find any mention of it as yet, if it was recorded at all, but it seems an obvious thing for police to take note of since it was found wrapped around the body.

                        I'd also love to know whether anyone by the name "W. Mason" might have moved to the area at some time - perhaps the paper was used for packing material. Maybe even left behind in a vacant house..

                        So these things are on my list of things to look for, heh.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yes, it would be handy to know the date of the newspaper. I can't find anyone in the 1881 or 1891 census by the name of W Mason in Liverpool. There was one in Bradford, but he was only 3 at the time....
                          I'm sure I've missed some, though.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hmm. ...

                            Very odd about the newspaper. It's something you'd think the police would jump on.

                            I may be totally wrong and having my very own brain fact here, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that M J Druitt worked in or around Portsmouth too, as I said before its very close to Havant!

                            I think I'm just letting my imagination run away with itself now....time for bed methinks!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              An older thread on John Gill, here at Casebook, very useful:

                              http://forum.casebook.org/showthread.php?t=2796

                              And some great info on two other cases, from 1891 - one a mutilation case with a girl "ripped" along her abdomen, and the other in Liverpool! - via Rob Clack:

                              http://www.jtrforums.com/showthread.php?t=7216
                              Last edited by Ausgirl; 04-22-2016, 09:11 PM.

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