Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Whitechapel Murders: Casefile Four

by Sian Latham


Casefile Four
Victim: Catherine Eddowes
Date of Death: 30th September, 1888
Age: 46


Suspect: Aaron Kosminski
Catherine Eddowes was found in Mitre Square at 1:45 am. The body contained grievous wounds, more severe and elaborate than those on the previous victims. There was an incision across the throat, eyelids, lip and ear. The incision on the throat was deep enough that the blow would have prevented any sound from being produced. Part of the nose had been removed. The abdomen had been cut open and the intestines partially removed and placed on right shoulder. Other organs were missing. The damage to the face would have taken approximately five minutes alone and she was last seen at around 1:30 talking with a man in Mitre Square.

The man had a pale complexion, dark moustache and appeared to the witness to be a sailor. Eddowes had been released from police cells 45 minutes prior to her death after being picked up for drunken behaviour in the street. She wasn’t known to be an alcoholic. After leaving the police station she appeared to head towards the street she had been picked up from, definitely not in the direction of home. The walk from the station to Mitre Square would have taken about 10 minutes, so there is a whole half hour unaccounted for in terms of her movements.

Eddowes was never married but had three children with the same man. She moved around a lot and didn’t have a stable income. Her daughter married and moved away to try and avoid Eddowes. Her son went to live with his father, and the second son may have died young (it is unclear).
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Suspect: Aaron Kosminski
Suspected by: Melville Macnaghten,Sir Robert Anderson,Donald Swanson
Age at time of murders: 24
Occupation: N/A

At the time Kosminski was outlined as a suspect due to his identification as the suspect by a witness. However, the witness was a Jew and refused to give evidence against a fellow Jew, thus Kosminski was never arrested or convicted. Macnaghten wrote that “he had a great hatred of women, especially of the prostitute class, & had strong homicidal tendencies.” He also lived in Whitechapel.


 In reality, we now know that Kosminski suffered from mental health issues. He was schizophrenic, delusional and paranoid. He spent many years in asylums, eventually dying in one in 1919, and was never classed as homicidal and was specifically stated that he was not a danger to anyone in his notes.
    
Kosminski is still highly favoured as a possible ‘Jack’; partly due to his status of suspect at the time but also due to recent DNA testing done on police evidence. A test performed on a piece of evidence may have shown evidence of Kosminski's DNA, and if that’s the case, framing him as murderer. However, for many people, this evidence seems highly improbable and uncertain. How can we know that the DNA is Kosminski’s to begin with considering the lack of DNA testing and storage at the time?
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The Evidence:
A piece of Eddowes' apron. The only piece of evidence, at least that the public is aware of, is that piece of cloth. The piece was found in Goulston Street which led the police to believe that the Ripper lived in the Whitechapel area. It is important to convey the labyrinth style street and alley layout that shaped Whitechapel at the time. The area was full of small, narrow, interlocking pathways that were navigated easily by the locals and thus finding the cloth in such an area suggests an intimate knowledge with Whitechapel.

The piece of cloth was covered in blood and had traces of faecal matter, but significantly appeared to have been cut from the apron Eddowes was wearing when she died. Some think that ‘Jack’ cut it from the body in order to clean his knives of blood but others argue that it would be unnecessary to do that, why not just wipe the blood on the apron at the scene.

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