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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Letters and Communications > From Hell (Lusk) Letter

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  #1  
Old 03-25-2008, 06:28 PM
Shelley
 
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Default Lusk Letter sent to George Lusk of the vigilante committee

I'm pretty sure that the ' From Hell ' letter, or ' Lusk letter ' is a hoax, i remember reading that the Kidney didn't match Eddowes missing Kidney, but was never the less from a 45 year old woman who suffered from Bright's disease and an alcoholic, i believe i read that the kidney had been preserved in spirit's or spirit's of wine, i think the hoax may have come from medical students who made a hash of trying to portray the writer of the letter, to be of low class and barely educated. Devilled Kidney's was a victorian favourite, served in a cream, and either a sherry or wine was used in the cooking of the recipe ( although it was lambs kidney's that were used for the dish!).
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  #2  
Old 03-26-2008, 03:59 PM
Doctor X Doctor X is offline
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Cool

When I first looked into Jack, I got excited by this letter: "they even got a piece of the kidney!!111!"

Sugden is less enthusiastic:

Quote:
The 'From hell' letter sent to George Lusk, backed by Openshaw's and Brown's findings on the kidney, has ben accepted as authentic by most students of the Whitechapel murders. It could have been written by the killer. But the case is by no means conclusive (Sugden, 273).
He notes correctly that while a woman's kidney is on average smaller than a man's, the difference is small. Indeed, the ranges for both sexes overlap. Thus, he is correct to caution that it would be difficult to determine sex based on a portion of a kidney. Sugden further contends that Openshaw's examination on October 18th was "obviously misreported,":

Quote:
The first accounts of Openshaw's findings come to us through so many intermediaries that it would, indeed, be surprising if they were reliable. When directly interviewed by representatives of the press on 19 October the doctor repudiated almost every pronouncement that had been attributed to him. He did reiterate his belief that the organ was part of a left human kidney. But that is about the only view we can confidently ascribe to him, (Sugden, 273).
As Sugden notes, Kate loses her kidney on September 30th, and Lusk receives his sixteen days later--after reports are out that her kidney was removed. Sugden notes that it would have been possible for to determine the difference between a human kidney and that of a domestic animal. He further notes that a major objection to the claim that it could have come from medical students is that such were preserved in formalin and not spirits.

Major Smith recorded in his book long after the event that "two inches of renal artery remained in Kate's body and that only about one inch was attached to the postal kidney," and, ". . . according to Smith the right kidney left in Kate's body has been found in an advanced stage of Bright's [Glomerulonephritis--Ed.] disease and the left kidney sent to Lusk was in 'an exactly similar state,'" (Sugden, 274).

However, it appears a press statement by Dr. Brown, ". . . discovered by Stewart Evans, cast real doubt upon his [Smith's--Ed.] account of the kidney," (Sugden, 274). Brown, ". . . would not confirm that the postal kidney was part of a left kidney and contended that it had not been immersed in spirit for more than a week," and that, ". . . no portion of renal artery adhered to the postal kidney because the organ had been 'trimmed up'," (Sugden, 274).

I must agree that that point is curious: why would Jack trim the artery? However, Sugden cautions: "If accurately reported this [Brown's--Ed.] statement effectively refutes Smith. But therein lies the rub. Is it accurately reported? Contemporary newspapers are frequently as misleading as later police memoirs, (Sugden, 275)." Sugden has to admit, "The postal kidney could have been genuine. On the other hand we cannot prove that it had not been extracted from some other person recently autopsied. Experts continue to disagree and the jury is still out," (Sugden, 275).

Now, one thing that bothers me is if Jack were the type to send a taunting letter with a piece of the victim, why was that the last one? That is not evidence, of course, but it raises doubt in my mind.

Sudgen then goes into a detailed analysis of the handwriting: "Yet, although the subject of several amusing exercises in graphology, it has inspired only one detailed study by a serious handwriting expert--that of Thomas Mann, a charter member of the World Association of Document Examiners," (Sugden, 275). Briefly, "Mann's most important conclusion is that the author of the Lusk letter was a semi-literate person," citing the cramped style of writing "characteristic of . . . those who have not the assured command of the pen and easy arm motion of the practised penmen," along with "Numerous ink blots attest to someone little concerned with legibility and clarity. . . . There is no punctuation," (Sugden, 274-75).

Now, is that just a person faking a semi-literate author. Apparently, Mann thinks otherwise. I will spare quoting it; basically according to Mann the letter lacks obvious characteristics of disguised writing.

So . . . bottom line is the evidence is inconclusive one way or the other. I tend towards skepticism, because I do not believe if Jack was willing to call out Lusk, why did he not do more? Why no more letters?

--J.D.

Last edited by Doctor X : 03-26-2008 at 04:02 PM.
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  #3  
Old 03-28-2008, 01:57 AM
paul emmett paul emmett is offline
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[quote=Doctor X;8342]Now, one thing that bothers me is if Jack were the type to send a taunting letter with a piece of the victim, why was that the last one? QUOTE]

We are, of course, not sure it was the last letter. Some feel that the Openshaw letter sent 10/29 was in the same handwriting as the Lusk letter. The O. letter seems important because its cleverness suggests that the "semi-literate" form of both these letters is indeed a facade.

Last edited by paul emmett : 03-28-2008 at 02:13 AM.
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  #4  
Old 03-28-2008, 04:28 PM
perrymason
 
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Hello all,

Been reading the posts here and some interesting perspectives expressed...just wanted to add my two pence If I may...

This is easily the most thought provoking communique from someone claiming to have killed any of the Canonicals, and if a hoax, the best thought out one in my opinion. The inclusion of the kidney section...(which indeed was "trimmed up", perhaps indicating the original kidney was actually cut in portions and prepared for consumption), was smart move, as the sender knows they will have to investigate this communication thoroughly...but that also implies the sender either thought it would stand up to inspections, or that they couldn't tell for sure if it was male or female let alone from Kate, and he knew that....or, he knew it would fail to be authenticated and just did it for a lark.

The section having been trimmed, to me, does suggest the author did send a portion from a kidney that may have been prepared for frying.

Its actually not the fact that this claimed Canon "meat" was sent to Lusk that makes me curious about this episode..its the fact that Lusk doesn't tell anyone about it for 24 hours. And when showing it to Vigilance Committee Board members, he acts as if he cant stand the sight of it, and wants it taken away.

Why would a guy who is appalled by the sight and very idea of his "gift box", keep it in his desk drawer and tell no-one for 24 hours? Possibly the best clue from Jack the Ripper, if the kidney was Kate's...possibly providing real samples of his handwriting to publish.

Best regards all.
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  #5  
Old 03-28-2008, 04:55 PM
Sam Flynn Sam Flynn is offline
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Hi Mike,
Quote:
Originally Posted by perrymason View Post
...but that also implies the sender either thought it would stand up to inspections, or that they couldn't tell for sure if it was male or female let alone from Kate, and he knew that....or, he knew it would fail to be authenticated and just did it for a lark
I don't believe that there would have been any means of truly authenticating the kidney back then, as not even blood typing had been discovered at that time, and the knowledge that males and females differed in terms of sex chromosomes was a long way off. It might not have been easy to tell whether the portion came from a human being at all, for that matter - pig kidneys are quite similar.
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  #6  
Old 03-28-2008, 05:35 PM
Doctor X Doctor X is offline
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Gang:

Point taken on the Openshaw letter. I will be honest, I doubt that Jack sent any letters based on other serial killer who have sent letters tend to maintain a correspondence and use identifiers: Zodiac, BTK, Celine Dion are the most obvious examples.

I took "trimmed up" to mean the renal artery and vein were trimmed "flush' to the organ--not an uncommon thing to do. As for identifying human versus animal kidney there are morphological differences I think that were recognizable at that time.

Oh but if it were preserved subsequently for examination!

--J.D.
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  #7  
Old 03-28-2008, 06:03 PM
Sam Flynn Sam Flynn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor X View Post
As for identifying human versus animal kidney there are morphological differences I think that were recognizable at that time.
I mentioned pig kidney specifically because it is morphologically very similar to the human kidney, albeit with smaller pyramids (source: Racusen, Solez, Burdick, "Kidney Transplant Rejection" (1998) - found on Google books). I daresay that Openshaw may well have been able to tell the difference, but it is no means impossible that even he may have been - ahem! - "gulled".
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  #8  
Old 03-28-2008, 06:11 PM
perrymason
 
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Hi JD,

The section had been immersed in spirits to act as a preservative, but not in glycerin, which would have been used to preserve organs used for teaching or studying.

I think its relevant to discussions that Dr Frederick Gordon Brown used this specific order of words in this line, when asked by Crawford what was taken away....

"The uterus was cut away with the exception of a small portion, and the left kidney was also cut out."

I personally find it revealing that he would phrase it that way...indicating to me anyway, that he may have believed the uterus to be the primary objective, and the kidney, although the only complete organ of the two, an additional target.

Perhaps he just did that because that was the order of extraction, but I do think its odd to list what he takes away intact second, after the partial uterus.

Best regards all.

Last edited by perrymason : 03-28-2008 at 06:15 PM.
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  #9  
Old 03-28-2008, 06:24 PM
Doctor X Doctor X is offline
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Part of the fun of all of this--writing as a "Newbie" to responsible study of the case--is all of the speculation.

I think he screwed up the uterus extraction. However, from Jack's perspective, that may not have been an issue--taking a uterus without damaging anything else.

With the kidney, he would have had to at least made an effort to locate it. Okay . . . he could be sweeping his hand in the cavity after he removed the guts and thought "cool! What's this?!"

--J.D.
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  #10  
Old 04-19-2008, 04:27 AM
Vigilantee Vigilantee is offline
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Default Why the From Hell letter is genuine

The main indication is the kidney of course.

1) The kidney was nephrotic, and probably female (age indeterminate). I doubt a hoaxer looked for the 'right kind of kidney', so its probably from someone similar if not identical to Eddowes. The nephrotic artery account may or may not be true, Brown may have claimed it was trimmed but was not the first to examine it.

2) Eddowes more than likely had a nephrotic kidney, although not alcohol related, many of her background did. The Renal artery tale remains suggestive and not unlikely.

3) The hoaxer would have had to have access to recent post mortems of bodies of the Eddowes type, or be Jack. Possibly a doctor, medical student or porter.

As for the letter

1) Its not written in the obviously phoney style of the Dear Boss letters, but merely contains spelling errors. I dont think the writer is trying to fake a stereotyped character like the other hoaxers do. It reads like an uneducated man trying to sound lower middle class, or a lower middle class person whose English is bad. I don't think its the disguised hand of a doctor or medical student therefore. Possibly a porter?

2) Its not signed Jack! The hoaxer has gone out of their way to get a kidney then makes the stupid mistake of making the letter different to all the others, that were thought genuine at the time. I doubt it!

3) The wording, particularly 'from hell' is unique, and fits the language of a genuine psycho...

Conclusion - Its Jack..
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