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Jane Maria Clousen, murdered in 1871

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  • Jane Maria Clousen, murdered in 1871

    While I was tooling about on the net for another case, I came across this one, which I'd seen anything much about aside from it being an unsolved of the general era. Being that Jane was murdered some 10 miles (?) away and across the river, plus it being so many years previously, and was a hammer murder, I never gave it a second look.

    But then I found the information below, which states that this case was "originally" thought to be an early Ripper murder.. Of course, they must mean "originally" as in 1888 or later, but I've never seen mention of this being thought of as potentially connected, by anyone.

    Also interesting is Pook's apparent connection to the Times.

    Not formulating a theory here! But the dead, "decomposing" fetus is another horribly interesting fact. Also, that the suspect wore a "billycock hat"!

    The murder weapon appears to have been a "lath hammer" - less like a hammer, more like a hatchet:

    Anyway, aside from the sheer interest of looking at the case itself, I'm curious as to who, exactly, thought this might have been an "early Ripper murder" --- which would kind of implicate Edmund Pook as the Ripper!

    I can see why, with his "fits" and probable guilt, he might be seen as suspicious by some. But who made this connection -- and when?

    Written by a member of Jane's family:

    At the age of 14, Jane began working as a servant/maid for Ebenezer Pook, who owned a printing business with connections to The Times of London. Pook had a number of children, one being only 3 years older than Jane. His name was Edmund Walter Pook. He said that he suffered from ‘fits’ and could not be left alone. He also claimed to be a music hall entertainer.

    At some point Edmund began having a secret affair with Jane.

    Early in 1871, probably early April, Jane was dismissed from the service of the Pook family, for reasons of being lazy and generally unpleasant. This would have been a shock to anyone who knew Jane because she had a reputation for being quite the opposite.

    Jane was dismissed from service because Edmunds parents had found out about the affair, and, as one of Ebenezer’s other children had already ‘married below his station’ it would not have been fitting for another child to be seen in the same position.

    Jane had gone to live with her Aunt Elizabeth Trott (formerly Hancock) and her daughter Charlotte.

    Letters were sent back and forth between Jane and Edmund. In one of these letters Jane told Edmund she was pregnant with his child. Unfortunately, neither Jane nor Edmund kept the letters.

    Edmund arranged to meet Jane near Blackheath. Jane had conversations with her Aunt and Cousin in which she said that Edmund was going to whisk her away and make an honest woman of her.

    On April 25th 1871 Jane was discovered by a policeman, on Kidbrooke Lane, near-death; having been severely beaten. She managed to say the words “Oh let me die” before passing out. She was rushed to Guy’s Hospital but never regained consciousness.

    Jane died on April 30th, two days after her 17th birthday.

    A hammer was found, covered in blood about 1 mile from where Jane was found, and the shop that sold the hammer was quickly discovered with the shop owner identifying Pook as the man who had purchased it.

    A man matching Pook’s description was seen fleeing Kidbrooke Lane. Police interviewed Edmund, who simply stated he was somewhere else and offered the Police the name of a person but the Police declined his offer. He then stated he wasn’t with anyone else, but he was running home, alone, because he felt a fit coming on. When asked about the clothing he wore on the night, it matched the description. The blood on the clothes was ruled out as being from biting his tongue during the fit. It did seem like a lot of blood for a tongue bite.

    The case went to coroner’s trial first, and Edmund was found guilty of the wilful murder of Jane. This was then rushed through to the Central Criminal Court at The Old Bailey.

    What followed was a farce. First, the judge ordered that Jane’s last words to her cousin Charlotte Trott, in which she identified Pook as the person she was going to meet, were inadmissible as they were hearsay. Secondly, the judge chastised the police, saying that they were after a quick arrest and hounded Pook with no real evidence.

    Pook was found not guilty.

    Public unrest followed. It was obvious to most people at the time that social class was what helped Pook get off.

    A pamphlet was written which identified Pook as the killer. Edmund hired one Henry Pook, apparently no relation to him, to prosecute for slander.

    This was a bad move on Edmund’s part because during the civil trial he had no choice but to answer questions that in the criminal trial were not allowed. Everything pointed to him being the murderer. Nevertheless Pook was awarded £50 in damages.

    A committee was formed; part of their role was to raise the money to pay Edmund Pook the £50.


    And here's a description of her injuries, from the trial records, Old Bailey Online:

    MICHAEL HARRIS . In April last, I was house-surgeon at Guy's Hospital—about 7 o'clock on the morning of the 26th, the deceased was brought there—she came at once under my examination—I have my notes of it—she was quite unconscious, and very cold—the injuries were very severe which she had received, and were chiefly confined to the anterior half of the head; they were all of an incised character, clean cuts—there was one slight abrasion on the left cheek; with that exception they were incised—there were altogether about a dozen wounds on the face and head—there was one over the left ear—there was a wound down to the left temporal bone, and it was smashed in; the bone itself was fractured and depressed—on the bone being raised, the brain was discovered to be lacerated—the injury was external and internal—there were two other wounds which were more severe than the others on the face—one above the right eye, about 3 inches in length; the bone was completely smashed up, so much so that several fragments were lying quite loose, and the brain was protruding; that was a cut—the other was a transverse wound on the upper lip, which extended down to the upper jaw bone, which was broken, and a piece was removed; that was also a cut—those were the most severe of the injuries—there were altogether twelve or fourteen, the others were less serious, but they were quite separate, distinct wounds—there were several cuts on the arms and hands, at the back of the hands; they also appeared to have been produced by a sharp, cutting instrument—they were such wounds as might have been produced in a struggle, if she had been defending herself against violence—there were two cuts on her arms, just as they would be if she had put up her arms in front to defend herself; those were clean cuts, they were quite superficial, not deep—there was one very slight bruise on the right thigh—I think those were all the injuries I observed—the bruise on the thigh was recent, I should say a few hours—she remained under my care at Guy's till she died, on the 30th, about 9 o'clock in the evening—she died from the direct effect of the wounds—such an instrument as this hammer (produced) would produce the wounds I saw—it must have been a sharp and heavy instrument, and this is so—I think it might produce the wounds I saw—I think if that instrument had been used with violence, the wounds I saw would be the natural and probable result—I examined her after death, she was pregnant—I think she had been so about two months—the embryo was dead, and decomposed—it would be impossible to say how long it had been dead, I should say a week or two

  • #2
    There's a whole wiki entry on Edmund Pook:

    Another on Jane (and her ghost..):

    Mention of her ghost is also made in this book:

    Heaps of information in Jan Bondeson's "Rivals of the Ripper":

    When discussing unsolved murders of women in late Victorian London, most people think of the depredations of Jack the Ripper, the Whitechapel Murderer, whose sanguineous exploits have spawned the creation of a small library of books. But Jack the Ripper was just one of a string of phantom murderers whose unsolved slayings outraged late Victorian Britain. The mysterious Great Coram Street, Burton Crescent and Euston Square murders were talked about with bated breath, and the northern part of Bloomsbury got the unflattering nickname of the 'murder neighbourhood' for its profusion of unsolved mysteries. Marvel at the convoluted Kingswood Mystery, littered with fake names and mistaken identities; be puzzled by the blackmail and secret marriage in the Cannon Street Murder; and shudder at the vicious yet silent killing in St Giles that took place in a crowded house in the dead of night. This book is the first to resurrect these unsolved Victorian murder mysteries, and to highlight the ghoulish handiwork of the Rivals of the Ripper: the spectral killers of gas-lit London.

    But no mention of by whom or when this case was thought connected to the Ripper crimes.

    Incidentally, Bondeson makes it clear that the Wiki info regarding the Pooks changing their names and scarpering is clearly false.


    • #3
      A few years back I read a book that had listed her as a probable formative Ripper victim and it also claimed that "originally" she had been considered connected. It didn't have any sources for that surprise tidbit. Searched around, came up completely empty. Closest I ever found a single paper from the period, The Star in 1888 I think, where her name was mentioned in an article as part of a list of murders that had gone without being solved or with an acquittal.
      I’m often irrelevant. It confuses people.


      • #4
        Thanks, Shaggy! So mentioned, but not as a potential Ripper crime? I hope that's not the source for this "original" proposed connection.

        I'm hoping those with a thorough knowledge of police documents might be able to say whether it was ever mentioned in any official way.


        • #5
          Try to find the book "Unfair Comment on Some Notable Victorian Murder Trials" by Jack Smith-Hughes. He has a double essay on the legal trail of the Pook case, and how it hinged on a problem that most people would dismiss concerning the issue of "hearsay evidence" that saved Pook at the criminal trial, but which eventually was uncovered in the final trial, and showed Pook far more guilty than the original verdict suggested.



          • #6
            Originally posted by Mayerling View Post
            Try to find the book "Unfair Comment on Some Notable Victorian Murder Trials" by Jack Smith-Hughes. He has a double essay on the legal trail of the Pook case, and how it hinged on a problem that most people would dismiss concerning the issue of "hearsay evidence" that saved Pook at the criminal trial, but which eventually was uncovered in the final trial, and showed Pook far more guilty than the original verdict suggested.

            Thank you, Jeff, I'll look for it - hopefully there's an online version somewhere. I have read some articles that must have been based on this information but it would be good to read the source material.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mayerling View Post
              Try to find the book "Unfair Comment on Some Notable Victorian Murder Trials" by Jack Smith-Hughes. He has a double essay on the legal trail of the Pook case, and how it hinged on a problem that most people would dismiss concerning the issue of "hearsay evidence" that saved Pook at the criminal trial, but which eventually was uncovered in the final trial, and showed Pook far more guilty than the original verdict suggested.

              Most jurisdictions have allowed dying declarations for a long time now as exceptions to the hearsay rule.
              G U T

              There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn't true, the other is to refuse to believe that which is true.


              • #8
                The Pook case appears in Neil Storey's 'A Grim Almanac of Jack the Ripper's London 1870-1900', so that's possibly where it may have been linked.

                Jane's relative, many times removed, poses by her grave site. Extraordinary that young women is service in their maids' uniforms were her pall bearers.

                FOBLC promote the conservation and appreciation of the Brockley & Ladywell cemeteries as a place of remembrance, historic importance & natural beauty


                • #9
                  I am curious as to Edmund Pook's life after the murder. If the familt did not flee London. What happened to him?


                  • #10
                    Just found a report in the Southern Press dated 3d May 1888.

                    'Edmund Walter Pook still resides in Greenwich and manages a stationary and printing business on behalf of his mother. Seventeen years have passed but this poor man has never freed himself from the strong suspicion that attached itself to him at the time.He has always declared he would 'live it down' and in spite of everthing has remained at Greenwich where even after this lapse of time he can hardly walk in the neighboughhood without seeing chalked on the walls 'Pook did it' He has led an extrenely quiet and dejected life but the confessions of the Sydney man if confirmed will no doubt turn the tide and the poor victim of long suspicion will no doubt be feted and testimonialised. There is little doubt the news will be confirmed. Pook's solicitor, always declared a soldier was the murderer from some slight clues that came to hand.'

                    I will report later on 'the man from Sydney' going out now.

                    Miss Marple


                    • #11
                      Report in Lloyd's Weekly News 6th May 1888

                      The Eltham Murder Confession
                      'A man named Michael Carroll employed in a gas works near Sydney voluntarily went to the police a few weeks ago and confessed to the being the murderer of Jane Maria Clousen and that hie conscience would not allow him to withhold himself from justice.'
                      ' The statement of the doctor does not at all tally with Carroll's confession that only alludes to one blow. Little reliance can be placed on Carrolls self accusation especially as it is said he was suffering from a heavy drinking bout at the time.'
                      Doncha love it. Why do people confess to murders they did'nt do.
                      Pook is still number one suspect.

                      Miss Marple
                      Last edited by miss marple; 04-25-2016, 07:02 AM.


                      • #12
                        Pook was married by that time. He wed Alice Maria Swabey in 1881 according to Jan Bondeson in Rivals of the Ripper. They had one son who died in infancy.


                        • #13
                          That marriage was registered in Hackney . He may have married there to avoid attention in Greenwich where he was known.

                          Miss Marple


                          • #14
                            Michael Carroll's confession was in May 1888, so the full throttle effect of the Whitechapel Murders had not come forward. As for Pook's continued denials, they are acceptable or not depending on what the hearer believes. Henry Pook, the solicitor who supposedly was unrelated to Edmund's family, had some evidence suggesting a soldier. Why didn't he build up on it? Instead he constantly fought 1) to get Edmund acquitted without mentioning this theory, and 2) defending Edmund's "good name" from defamation by people still sure he was the killer. The latter habit finally backfired in the last of the trials connected to the tragedy, when Edmund was forced to go on the witness stand and cross-examined (and exposed a bit) to the public of knowing more about Jane's last hours than he had ever revealed before. Smith-Hughes, in his account, said that he all but revealed he was the killer (the reason this occurred was that the standard of proof in the libel suits was not the same as in a capital offense such as murder).



                            • #15
                              Why was Clousen's deathbed naming of the killer Pook, inadmissable. I thought deathbed confessions were not hearsay. Who was present at her deathbed and heard her admission? If it was a policeman surly he would have written it down and it would have been evidence. If it was a doctor would they not have provided a written statement? A Doctor would have been a credible witness at the time.

                              Miss Marple