I've been trying to explore why Hutch the Ripper would have invented those extra details for the press, knowing that the police could - and almost certainly would - check for themselves and discover he had lied about alerting a copper on the Sunday, after allegedly seeing Flash Harry again in the Jews' Market [as Petticoat Lane/Middlesex St was also once called].
Your timely reminder about Petticoat Lane’s strong Jewish associations goes some way to answering that question, in my view. I suspect Hutchinson became so carried away with “tidying up” and improving on his previous police statement that he slipped up when referencing the made-up Sunday policeman episode. If his intent was to incriminate the Jewish community, following on from earlier efforts at the “double event” and in the form of his description of Astrakhan already provided to police, a logical progression was to place his Jewish villain in one of the biggest Jewish hotspots of all - Petticoat Lane on market day.
The press interviewer might have asked why a possible second sighting didn’t send him searching for the nearest constable, promoting a cornered Hutchinson to claim that he did so, not immediately considering (at that potentially compromising moment) the implications of such a lie; that it would leave unexplained the policeman’s failure to take action.
I take your point regarding Mizen, but we might assume that if PC Neil had not independently encountered the body, the former constable would have sounded the alarm eventually, as opposed to taking no action at all like Hutchinson’s man.
If the policeman truly existed, he might well have balked at such an implausible tale, but as I mentioned to Jon yesterday, it wasn’t the responsibility of the bobby on beat to exercise those sorts of judgements. Unless the “report” was so outlandish that it warranted instant dismissal - such as a flying pig - the policeman was duty bound to investigate or at least make a basic note of it. That he didn’t is tantamount to a dereliction of that duty. At the very least he should have recorded Hutchinson’s name and address, along with a brief note explaining that the informant had shared a ridiculous-sounding story involving the victim and an Astrakhan-adorned man.
I’m not sure I agree that other victims were “ten a penny” on the 9th November if the prospect of waiting outside Kelly’s room seemed less than enticing. It was just as likely, if not more so, that a combination of unwilling prostitutes and an increased police presence acted as a deterrent to continued killings on the street.
It makes no sense to me to argue that loitering outside the victim’s home an hour before the murder entailed a high degree of “risk” and “idiocy”, whereas allowing himself to be seen with the victim ten minutes prior to the discovery of her body (Eddowes, Lawende etc) was somehow more sensible and cautious. How does that work?
Bear in mind that Hutchinson would not have anticipated Lewis entering the court itself as she made her way east along Dorset Street. At the time of her sighting, he would probably have bargained on her “passing along” like the drunk woman and her young male companion, probably destined for one of the grotty lodging houses further down the street.
As I’ve said before, being seen at some point during the crime’s planning, commission and escape was utterly inevitable in the crowded, bustling east end. It was an occupational hazard that the killer just had to work around, and evidently did. Some even think Astrakhan was the murderer, but what “idiocy” propelled him to go through with his grisly plans despite a stranger having “stooped down” to look him in the face?
If Hutchinson was the killer and kept Kelly’s home under surveillance prior to entering it some time later, he would have behaved in a very similar fashion to his serial successors in terms of his pre-crime approach, and as for being being seen by witnesses, he fared a good better than he did at the double event, where he was probably witnessed in the act of attacking his first victim.
I don’t know if Hutchinson had an “urgent” need to target Kelly specifically, but if he was at least an acquaintance of hers, he may have been aware that Joseph Barnett’s recent self-extrication from the premises presented a new opportunity, away from the coppers and vigilantes patrolling every court and alley.
I appreciate that Kelly was officially in arrears, but her behaviour on the night of her murder was anything but consistent with an image of a woman desperate for rent money, electing instead to spend several boozy hours in her room, singing about plucking violets, apparently without a care in the world.
Once out in the open, of his own volition, he was no longer truly at large to continue his favourite game as if nothing had happened. He was a known entity who could not afford to be seen ever again at or near the scene of a murder.
I’m not sure what you mean by a “known entity”. His face would have been a familiar one to the few police officers with whom he had direct contact, granted, but surely that would only have been a problem if they saw him loitering outside a victim’s home or in the company of a soon-to-be-dispatched prostitute? Since Hutchinson’s photo wasn’t splashed all over the news (like it would be today), I don’t see how he was in any real danger of being recognised as George Hutchinson the discredited witness by anyone other than Abberline, Badham, and a handful of policemen and journalists.
The problem with assigning Hutchinson the same status as Robert Paul - that of “just a reluctant witness” - is that this “reluctance” immediately and mysteriously dissipated the moment the inquest closed in the former’s case. It defies credibility, in my humble opinion, to dismiss this as mere coincidence, especially in light of Sarah Lewis’s evidence - provided at that very same inquest - of a man standing in the same location as Hutchinson would later place himself, and behaving in precisely the same manner, “waiting for someone to come out” of Miller’s Court at 2.30 on the morning of the murder.
Unless the forgoing was mere coincidence - and it clearly could not have been - his tall tale involving a mysteriously negligent Sunday policeman may be viewed in context. It was an obvious attempt to explain his failure to come forward earlier, which he would not have done at all had it not been for Lewis’ evidence. It also provided him with an opportunity to throw in a second sighting of his Jewish suspect in the most Jewish location around.
The bogus PC encounter clearly backfired, however, because of all the lies he told, this one at least could be investigated and exposed as false, which it clearly was. Since coppers patrolled delineated and recorded beats, Hutchinson had only to cite the time and location of the encounter, and the policeman in question would have tracked down and stripped of his duties. Fortunately for Hutchinson, however, he only mentioned this detail to the press, who had no such beat-checking abilities.
I don’t think PC Mizen quite compares to the Sunday policeman in terms of sheer, baffling negligence. Firstly, Mizen would certainly have got round to visiting Bucks Row shortly after encountering the carmen, as opposed to taking no action of any description at any point, like Hutchinson’s copper. Secondly, the Buck’s Row murder happened before it was even remotely established that a serial killer nicknamed “Jack the Ripper” was habitually slaughtering prostitutes, as opposed to the 11th November, when the matter was quite beyond question and the ongoing manhunt at its zenith.
I won’t yet again enumerate and expound the numerous possible and likely motives for Hutchinson coming forward if he was the killer, but I don’t see how those arguing in favour of his truthfulness and innocence can then insist that he can’t have been the killer or else he’d have told a less ridiculously implausible story. I thought the whole point of Hutchinson’s defence was that the story wasn’t ridiculous or implausible, or else the police would not have believed him?
Unless we go down the road of “he can’t have been a liar, otherwise he would have lied better!”, which for obvious reasons, I’m very reluctant to do .
Surely the obvious compromise here is that the story was sufficiently plausible to pass muster initially, but suffered a “very reduced importance” upon closer inspection and following a little more investigation; a reality born out by the evidence, and not remotely incompatible with him either lying or being responsible for the murders.
Anyway, sorry for the long posts. There was such a mountain to catch up on since last I peaked, most of it addressed to me personally, that I wanted to cover as much as possible.
Ah, yes, of course....the detectives will tell the witness everything they are doing.
Not everything by any means, but a killer may garner important clues as a result of communicating with the police under a false guise, such as Kenneth Bianchi did during the Hillside Strangler murders, when he would often accompany officers in their cars.
There's a whole list of serial killers who pretend to be witnesses in order to divert investigations?
Approaching the police under false pretences is a strategy so widely recognised that law enforcement has often successfully predicted its occurrence.
You're not allowing for the evolution of the serial killer. We can't apply the modern methods of some serial killers to the first known case, any more than we should credit early stone-age man using the wheel.
A weirder, less applicable analogy you never will encounter. People living in 4000BC didn’t have the wheel, whereas people living in late Victorian London did have a basic human capacity for subterfuge, deception and self preservation.
I’m not sure what it is you’re trying to convince me of here; that without an earlier precedent for serial killers coming forward as witnesses, it would never have occurred to Hutchinson to do likewise? So how did the first person ever to resort to this strategy, if not Hutchinson, manage to alight upon it without an earlier precedent?
Surely somebody has to be the originator of a practice or idea in order to set the ensuing precedent for it, or else how would anything ever get achieved? You’re basically suggesting that nobody ever comes up with their own original ideas.
people living in late Victorian London did have a basic human capacity for subterfuge, deception and self preservation.
But they didn't have CCTV, good lighting, distinctive clothing/hairstyles, low population density, personal (identifiable) transport, fixed addresses or a close sense of community - the sorts of things that would be conducive to identifying and tracking down a modern-day criminal.