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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Police Officials and Procedures > Littlechild, Chief Inspector John George

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  #1  
Old 11-28-2011, 03:59 PM
mklhawley mklhawley is offline
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Default Littlechild Ltr Survey Complete - Absent Bias?

Greetings all,

As many of you know, the Littlechild letter was acquired by Stewart Evans in 1993 when he purchased some Ripper items from Eric Barton. To his surprise it revealed another contemporary Ripper suspect –Francis Tumblety. To many Ripper enthusiasts, the wording of the letter shows that Francis Tumblety was considered by Littlechild, a chief inspector at Scotland Yard during the murders, to be a suspect Scotland Yard took very seriously. To others, it shows Tumblety was just another one of hundreds of ‘suspects’ that Littlechild decided to talk about, thus, should not be taken seriously. Others even suggest Tumblety was never a serious suspect and at best merely a person of interest due solely to happenstance.

To me, the divergence of opinions by ripperologists reveals bias. If one has rejected the idea of Tumblety being considered by Scotland Yard an important suspect, it may be because he does not fit into ones idea of who the killer was based upon their assessment of the available evidence, especially if they have had years of research and study behind their belt. True; the experience of a seasoned researcher/investigator should carry weight in Ripper discussions, but because ripperology does not have a scholarly peer review process with rigorous publishing rules, confirmation bias and assimilation (an entrenchment of denial) amongst the best of us may set in ultimately affecting the search for truth.

It is my opinion that the Littlechild letter clearly shows an ex-chief inspector telling a famous reporter that Tumblety was considered by Scotland Yard as one of the chief suspects and a likely suspect in Littlechild’s mind, but I may be even more biased than those who disagree with me. Because of this, I decided to survey a number of well-educated people who have little knowledge of Ripper research in order to see how they interpret the Littlechild letter. Ideally, their interpretations will not have been influenced by pre-conceived notions, thus, be unaffected by bias. I purposely selected individuals on equal educational footing as both Littlechild and Simms, so 95% of the participants have at least a master’s degree in one field or another. One of the exceptions is a retired police detective and another is a retired police officer, but both have much more experience evaluating suspects. Additionally, I attempted not to lead the reader with creative questioning (you can be the judge of this). Below is the survey request I emailed to each individual, which included a reprint of the entire Littlechild letter.

Below this are the results, which are self-explanatory. All I did was cut-n-paste their answers.

Survey letter and questions:
Greetings,

I am hoping that you will participate in a quick survey for me. Below is a 1913 letter from John G. Littlechild to a famous British journalist named G. R. Simms (discovered in the 1990's). Littlechild was a chief inspector at Scotland Yard headquarters during the 1888 unsolved Jack the Ripper murder case 25 years earlier. Two questions:

1) Within the context of the letter, what was Chief Inspector Littlechild trying to tell Simms about ‘Dr. T’ (Tumblety) specific to him being a Jack the Ripper suspect?


2) Using a scale from 1 to 10, what level of suspect did Littlechild consider Tumblety as a Ripper suspect; 1 being ‘Littlechild did not consider Tumblety a significant Ripper suspect that Scotland Yard investigated’, 5 being ‘He considered Tumblety a suspect no more significant than the average suspect Scotland Yard investigated’, and 10 being ‘Littlechild considered Tumblety the one of the most significant suspects Scotland Yard investigated’.

Thank you very much for your participation.

Sincerely,
Michael Hawley

[Copy of the entire Littlechild letter]

Results:
Participant –
1- He was a sexual deviant likely to have sadistic tendencies (even though not specifically no record). However, definitely on record was his animosity toward women; even extreme animosity.
2- 10 (Especially since the murders stopped when he left the country.)

Participant-
1- He is telling him that Dr. T was a likely suspect and that the murders stopped when he was dead.
2- 7 to 8 (Littlechild believed Dr. T to be a legit suspect.)

Participant –
1- I think he was trying to say that Tumblety, despite not being known for being sexually violent - could have been so even though the police had not seen this in him when they charged him with other sexually deviant behavior. He then goes on to give some examples of people tying their deviant sexual desires to a tendency toward violence (the story of the boy at the end). Not exactly sure about the middle part with the press man - other than to say that the author seems to think that the media attention the case spawned may have influenced the way Scotland Yard handled the case (sounds quite similar to how things happen today).
2- 8 (At least)

Participant –
1- It would seem that Chief was naming Tumblety as a “person of [great] interest” in the case.
2- 8.5

Participant –
1- That although many suspect Dr. D, Dr. T was his prime suspect. Dr. T had a propensity for violence against women and had been arrested several times for his offense. When he escaped and supposedly committed suicide the murders did stop.
2- 8.5

Participant –
1- I believe that he was telling that Dr. T should be seriously considered as a person of interest regarding the killings and there was reason to suspect him as being Jack the Ripper. It also seems as the newspaper writer, as many do, elaborate with regard to the name so as to get people more interested and sell papers.
2- 8

Participant –
1- They realized he was JTR but he got out on bail and thought to have committed suicide before they could bring him up on trial.
2- 9

Participant –
1- I almost thought this was a trick question because after having read the attachment, I think it is blatantly obvious that Littlechild was pointing to Tumblety as a suspect in the cases.
2- 10 (Scotland Yard considered him to be one of the more viable suspects in the case. Why else would he have sent this letter explaining his thoughts and suspicions?)

Participant –
1- I think Littlechild very likely suspected "T" because he made reference to the arrest and unnatural offenses and connected the fact that after "T" fled there were never anymore murders.
2- 7

Participant –
1- I think he was comparing the M.O.'s of Dr. T and Jack the Ripper. There were some similarities but also stark differences according to him.
2- 8 to 10

Participant –
1- He seems to imply that the two had some similarities in regards to their feelings and actions towards women except for the fact that Tumblety was not labeled a sadist and the Ripper most certainly was. He also mentions that the Ripper murders seemed to have ceased following Tumblety's suspected suicide.
2- 8

Participant –
1- I initially felt that this was a trick question, since it’s obvious that Chief Inspector Littlechild, in hindsight, considered Dr. T the most important suspect.
2- 9

Participant –
1- He was accused of irregular sexual activities (although that may just have been through a very conservative view of the times) that occurred at about the same time period. Had pretty negative views and possibly actions ("bitter") towards women. His disappearance coincided with the end of the Ripper attacks.
2- 7

Participant –
1- It is clear by the letter that Littlechild suspected Tumblety. I don't understand the references in the last two paragraphs. I'm not sure why Littlechild was writing about the sadistic behavior of Harry Thaw, and I don't get who Griffiths and Anderson are - are they important to what he is writing, or is it just a reference to something in the letter he's responding to? And who is Wilde?
2- 10

Participant –
1- He was definitely a suspect, but probably not the one because he had no record of being a sadist.
2- 5

Participant –
1- Tumblety was not only a suspect, but a likely one to have committed the murders.
2- 9



Average rating in question # 2: 8.3
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  #2  
Old 11-28-2011, 04:28 PM
lynn cates lynn cates is offline
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Default results

Hello Mike. Those are interesting results. Do you think that additional research into the case by the participants would significantly alter these findings?

Cheers.
LC
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  #3  
Old 11-28-2011, 04:41 PM
mklhawley mklhawley is offline
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Default

Hi Lynn,

That could very well happen, because a number of them have expressed interest into knowing more. Besides the two police officers another one teaches a CSI course. The danger is that I could biased them by spinning it to my personal confirmation bias (ignoring certain facts and emphasizing others). ...but, if someone else generates information for them.

Mike
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  #4  
Old 11-28-2011, 04:47 PM
lynn cates lynn cates is offline
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Default involvement

Hello Mike. Perhaps you could steer them towards 3 or 4 good, relatively unbiased, ripper books?

I DO wish we could get some medicos and forensics people involved. Perhaps many misconceptions would be cleared up?

Cheers.
LC
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  #5  
Old 11-28-2011, 06:41 PM
Tom_Wescott Tom_Wescott is offline
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Hi Mike,

Well, if they didn't know much about the Ripper, and you show them a letter about one suspect, doesn't that create bias? They may feel differently if they were aware of other suspects and those who favored them. Still, it's an interesting exercise. Still, I think the idea that Tumblety was a chief suspect comes from sources other than the Littlechild letter (because, regardless of bias, it simply doesn't say he was a chief suspect in the letter, only that he was 'among the suspects'), namely the American press.

Yours truly,

Tom Wescott
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  #6  
Old 11-28-2011, 07:01 PM
mklhawley mklhawley is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom_Wescott View Post
Hi Mike,

Well, if they didn't know much about the Ripper, and you show them a letter about one suspect, doesn't that create bias? They may feel differently if they were aware of other suspects and those who favored them. Still, it's an interesting exercise. Still, I think the idea that Tumblety was a chief suspect comes from sources other than the Littlechild letter (because, regardless of bias, it simply doesn't say he was a chief suspect in the letter, only that he was 'among the suspects'), namely the American press.

Yours truly,

Tom Wescott
That's what I'm saying Tom. The phrase 'amongst the suspects' is merely creating the backdrop for his next phrase 'a very likely one'. It's not supposed to be taken by itself. This is the reason why I decided to have unbiased educated people look at it. Unbiased eyes agree with the former not the latter. You are as biased with your suspect as I am with mine, of course for good reason. The problem is confirmation bias is inevitable.

Sincerely,
Mike
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  #7  
Old 11-29-2011, 04:07 AM
Tom_Wescott Tom_Wescott is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mklhawley
The phrase 'amongst the suspects' is merely creating the backdrop for his next phrase 'a very likely one'.
Actually, isn't 'a very likely one' preceeded by 'to my mind'? As Littlechild did not speak for the police (though arguably he could have done a better job than some of those who did), the letter reflects his personal opinion, which is fine, but without supporting evidence it can't be said he was the or even A primary suspect. Maybe he was the big suspect in Dec 1888, as you and Jonathan say, but the quickest way to relieve the rest of us of our 'bias' against that argument is to prove it to us.

By the way, I very much enjoyed the interview with you that you posted a link to. You're pretty radical in your thinking (non-Ripper wise).

Yours truly,

Tom Wescott
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  #8  
Old 11-29-2011, 05:11 AM
Jonathan H Jonathan H is offline
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To Mike

The 'proof' which Tom wants is right in front of us, and has been since 'The Lodger' was published in 1995, and confirmed by subsequent research by the likes of Joe Chechuti and R J Palmer, who have added to the obvious: that Tumblety was a major Ripper suspect, if not the police suspect of 1888 (that is not the same as saying he was the murderer).

Historical methodology says that if a source goes against its expected bias then it is potentially more relibale than one that does.

Littlechild would be expected to be ignorant of Druitt -- which he is -- and could have left it at that.

Instead he goes against the expected bias of always defending Scotland Yard by admitting an embarrassment. Of course this is not his personal-professional humiliation but a parallel dept. eg. CID, and involves the failure of a conceited chief, that is Anderson. And yet Littlechild knew he was writing to a writer who might publish the truth and set the record straight about the suicided chief suspect -- whose status the retired cop does not challenge.

The above is one of the most misunderstood elements of the letter.

Another is that when Littlechild, in his own hand, adds that bit about Griffiths and Anderson he is not alluding to 'Kosminski' but to Tumblety.

He means that Anderson 'only thought he knew' about 'Dr D'; who is either made up, completely minor, or a garbled version of 'Dr T' -- as the initals do rhyme.

Francis Tumblety could not be named in the British press, or identified without attendant risk of a libel suit down the track. When the affluent, under-employed, dodgy doctor spectaulcarly resurfaced for the public in 1898 he was libel-proofed against any such trouble -- he was even implied to be English.
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  #9  
Old 11-29-2011, 06:39 AM
Hunter Hunter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan H View Post
...Another is that when Littlechild, in his own hand, adds that bit about Griffiths and Anderson he is not alluding to 'Kosminski' but to Tumblety.

He means that Anderson 'only thought he knew' about 'Dr D'; who is either made up, completely minor, or a garbled version of 'Dr T' -- as the initals do rhyme.
I believe that Sims had probably mentioned all three suspects Griffiths' had already referred to and Littlechild was briefly responding to all as an amalgamation of a sort. He was a bit perplexed in the beginning about 'Dr. D' and launches into a theory about a doctor he was familiar with. At the end, he is responding to what was, by then, known to be Anderson's 'Polish Jew' suspect... adding his personal belief than Griffiths got this from Anderson and Anderson 'only thought he knew, because Anderson's book had been added to the mix by then and Littlechild was undoubtedly very familiar with it.
__________________
Best Wishes,
Hunter
____________________________________________

When evidence is not to be had, theories abound. Even the most plausible of them do not carry conviction- London Times Nov. 10.1888
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  #10  
Old 11-29-2011, 06:57 AM
Tom_Wescott Tom_Wescott is offline
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Default Sims

Hi all. Clearly, Sims had read Griffiths book and Sims was asking about the various theories mentioned. Littlechild (wrong) suggests Anderson as Griffith's source, when in fact it was Macnaghten. Littlechild seems strangely separated from everyone else regarding the Ripper. Perhaps that's because he wasn't that involved in the case nor had much curiosity in the years following.

Yours truly,

Tom Wescott
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