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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Suspects > Levy, Jacob

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Old 12-12-2017, 06:41 PM
Abby Normal Abby Normal is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 7,242

Originally Posted by Xoferbean01 View Post
I'm not here to poo-poo all over these Levy theories because they are solid, valid and deserve investigation but I take such issue with people passing "circumstance" off as evidence. I see it way too much and it drives me mad.

There is NO evidence. NONE to support the Jacob Levy theory. Does that mean it wasn't him? No. Does it mean we should dig deeper? Yes. Is it OBVIOUSLY Levy? Of course not (and anybody that states otherwise isn't truly interested in investigating the identity of JtR). There is very little evidence at all in this case but that shouldn't deter is but it does mean we ought to be far more cautious with some of these statements.

As far as I can tell the "evidence" (people use that term to describe this) is just circumstance that would have applied to many many people.

Butcher - many butchers around Whitechapel, many Jewish. And besides, the butchery part of it is fairly irrelevant. Whether the killer had anatomical knowledge or not is heavily disputed and therefore this information shouldn't be used when fashioning a suspect. If JtR turned out to be a butcher or a fishmonger then that would be fine but I am not convinced that it is an integral part of his profile purely because we heard many differing views from coroners about the knowledge and expertise shown so if experts couldn't decide back then when they were examining the body I think it's dangerous for us to make that decision for them. It's inconclusive.

Joseph Levy (the witness) - again, like the above part I think we just have to treat this as inconclusive. Levy was not a credible witness at the time so for us to decide over a century later that we're going to assume what he really meant is crazy to me. Again, I'm not trying to poo-poo this too much. I'm just trying to bring it back down to earth. There's far too much conjecture and if we're going to start using as "evidence" what Joseph DIDN'T say to the police then I think it's an insanely slippery slope. As with the coroner's testimonies I find the witness statements too lacking in credibility also for them to be used with any conviction. We have to decide that the man seen with Eddowes WAS indeed JtR, again, we don't know this. We have several witnesses who saw "a man" with a victim shortly before they died - all differing descriptions. We don't know if these witnesses all saw the same man or were simply describing clients or acquaintances who weren't the murderer but had been with the victim in their final hours. I admit the description by Joseph being that "the man" was 3 inches taller than Eddowes fits perfectly and is more reliable than some of the other height estimates. However, the main point here with regards to Levy is that we don't KNOW that the man he saw was the killer and furthermore, eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. So to look at the testimony and then some 2nd and 3rd hand comments that he MIGHT have known something more is an extremely sketchy investigative practice that we ought to not be using. We also don't know enough about Joseph Levy, perhaps he was bragging or trying to impress people that he saw or knew more than he'd let on. Or maybe even if he was his cousin he was trying to screw Jacob? You could say: "Joseph Levy recognized Jacob yet didn't tell the police. However, he let on to some people that he had recognized the suspect as his cousin Jacob and wanted to protect his family and his community from coming under too much suspicion so he didn't formally identify him." This is very speculative. You could just as easily say: "Joseph Levy didn't recognize the man he saw with the victim and was honest in his testimony. His butcher's shop was very close by and his cousin was most likely a competitor. He and his cousin didn't get along and Joseph saw an opportunity to undermine his cousin by spreading rumors that he was the Ripper." We're assuming far too many things about Joseph Levy's personality, character and motivations. We don't know either way but we can't use this testimony or "information". Simply, the testimony is not reliable or credible and shouldn't be used in our profile.

Syphillis - again, far too much conjecture. How often have we really heard of a "revenge motive" in serial killers? I don't think I ever have but there is a lot of speculation with JtR on it and I'm not sure why we do that. Serial killers kill for two or three main reasons - for sexual gratification and/or to assert their control and power over their victim. They sometimes give a motive when caught that is secondary and usually more of an excuse - "prostitutes are disgusting, I was doing God's work and cleaning the streets of them" etc. Really? You were just doing society a favor? Please! We rarely give this "motive" credibility and it's really just a killer using an excuse for his sick acts. Serial killers often target prostitutes because they are vulnerable, rarely missed and easily persuaded to go with them. We rarely surmise that prostitution had an impact on their crimes and we don't assign this "revenge motive" logic to any others so to do it here doesn't make sense to me. At the time perhaps but with so much hindsight and what we now know abut serial murders that we didn't know in 1888 it is disappointing to me that the relevance of syphillis or the theory of a specifically anti-prostitute motive still persists. The theory being that Levy got syphillis, it drove him mad and he was driven to kill the part of society that destroyed his life. I personally don't buy this part of the argument as I don't think it's relevant at all. Whether JtR suffered from syphillis and it was driving him mad isn't conclusive at all so I don't know why we use this and cite it as a fact. Also, I find the idea of a man who caught a disease from a dirty prostitute taking his revenge by rummaging his hands inside the diseased cavities of her body not logical at all. To me the mutilations suggest more of a macabre fascination with womanhood than anything. Someone sexually inexperienced perhaps (or impotent) who thinks this is the only way for him to be with a woman and learn about them. That last part is MY speculation though.

Was JtR Jewish? Possibly, probably. Does that mean somebody being Jewish makes them a better suspect? Not exactly.

Jacob Levy was a Jewish butcher who wandered the streets at night. There are three factors here that I've seen people describe as "evidence". Whitechapel was a predominantly Jewish area. Being Jewish in Whitechapel doesn't mean you are more likely to be JtR, it means you are more likely to be a resident of Whitechapel. Butchers would often start work at 4 or 5am so in order to get to work on time he'd have to wander the streets at night! So would many many many working-class tradesman.

I feel like some of the things people describe as "evidence" towards Levy would have been true of hundreds if not thousands of residents. It's not even circumstantial evidence. It's just circumstance.

Anyway, I'm very impressed with a lot of the research that has gone on into this suspect and I personally do think he's viable and he fits certain profiles and descriptions. I just think we ought to be a little more careful describing some of these things as evidence. As far as I can tell this suspect's candidacy is mostly built on circumstance, assumptions and unreliable or not-credible testimony and I have yet to see anything that separates him from the other candidates. I can't rule him out but I can't get on board with anything other than "yes, he seems to fit certain profiles and was in Whitechapel at the time" but I find that same statement is true for thousands of people.

Proponents of Levy state that the fact he's a Jewish butcher with syphillis who was "probably" identified by Joseph Levy is evidence but none of these things mean that he's JtR and I'd love to see how quickly Levy's defense team would get these charges thrown out.

The potential syphilis is irrelevant, the eyewitness testimony is beyond unreliable and the fact he was a butcher neither strengthens or weakens his candidacy.

Sorry for my long post. I'm not good at keeping things short.
Hi x
Actually the only reason jacob levy is a suspect is because Anderson started a 100 + year wild goose chase with his polish jew theory, then via Fido, then taken up by others over the years to find a crazy Jew. Oh and jacob levy MIGHT have been related to one of the witnesses. Lol. As if jacob levy wasn’t a common name to begin with.
"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
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