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Old 02-01-2015, 12:39 AM
MacGuffin MacGuffin is offline
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Gulf Coast, USA
Posts: 37

Hi SirJohnFalstaff,

Originally Posted by SirJohnFalstaff View Post
I have questions.

Is it possible to drug a victim with laudanum before killing her and the drug wouldn't show on a post-mortem (back in 1888, of course)?

Was MJK's blood tested for alcohol or other substance?

Not putting forward a theory, just looking for an angle for a fiction piece.

Qualitative analytical testing for opiates was available in the 1880's and considered to be reliable as legal evidence in the criminal courts.
Quantitative analysis was not quite as precise as qualitative at the time, so though it was also used in the courts, the accuracy could be argued by the opposition to achieve reasonable doubt.
Toxicological testing was not routine in that era, and wasn't often performed even in probable overdose cases. These tests were usually only done when there was suspicion of a murder/attempted murder by intentional poisoning, so the only analysis needed to prove intent would be in qualifying (confirming) that the suspected poison was in the sampled body fluids.

Only a few pages of MJK's autopsy report still exist, with no mention either way regarding toxicology; however, laudanum was widely used and abused at that time, and while it's odor could have been recognized by a medical examiner, in the case of a mutilated East End prostitute it would have probably been assumed that the victim had been self-medicating.
The idea that a (hypothetical) murderer might drug his victims before killing them might never have entered the pathologist's or law enforcement's minds.

Best Regards,

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