Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Whitechapel Murders: Casefile Three

by Sian Latham

Casefile Three


Victim: Elizabeth Stride
Date of Death: 30th September, 1888
Age: 45


Suspect: Michael Ostrog
Elizabeth Stride was found at the entrance to Dutfield’s yard at 1:00 am. The Doctor arrived on scene at 1:15 am. There was a six inch incision along the neck, straight and clean with a slight downwards deviation. There were no other obvious injuries sustained from an attack. It is believed that the salesman who discovered the body disturbed ‘Jack’ and prevented him from causing any further bodily harm to Stride. The pony, leading the salesman’s cart, remained agitated for a prolonged period. It is theorized that ‘Jack’ may have still been in the vicinity, thus causing the horse's unrest.

Stride and a man were seen at 12:45 in the place the murder was committed; where Stride called out against the man’s rough handling of her. The man who pushed her down called out to another on the other side of the street “Lipski” and this man began following the witness, causing him to run from the scene. The witness, Schwartz, describes the rough man to have a pale complexion, dark hair, small moustache and about 5’5” in height.

Stride was born in Sweden and married John Stride, with whom she had children and ran a shop. At some point, the marriage fell apart and she claimed her family had died on the sinking of a ship, probably in an attempt to gain financial help and pity. We know that John Stride died in 1884, her stories of his death originating from 1874. She then earned a  living by sewing, prostitution and lived with another man called Michael Kidney.
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Suspect: Michael Ostrog
Suspected by: Melville Macnaghten
Age at time of murders: 55
Occupation: Petty Thief and Con artist (Jewish Surgeon)


Ostrog spent most of his adult life in jail, serving sentences for crimes, though the only convicted act of violence was when he pulled a revolver at a police station in 1873. At a trial in 1887, he began to show signs of lunacy. Several police and doctors believed it was an act, but Ostrog was certified insane and sent to Surrey Pauper Lunatic Asylum where his occupation was recorded as a Jewish surgeon. He was released in the 10th of March, 1888.

During the Ripper murders, the police began looking at asylum releases, as they looked for a lunatic with medical knowledge. An appeal for his arrest was put out as were his details in the police Gazette on the 26th of October, after which he was eventually apprehended (1891) and sent to Banstead Lunatic Asylum. He disappears from records after 1904.

Despite all this, the medical knowledge and lunacy, his whereabouts during the murders has never been ascertained and he had no history of abuse towards women. There is also evidence to suggest that he didn’t come forward after the police appeal because he had been locked up in a French mental asylum until 1890. This would thus rule him out as a suspect.
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Police Assumptions:


At the time, the police held many assumptions over the Ripper case; assumptions that are now seen as the cause for the poor investigation. Initially, the police believed the murders to be the handiwork of gangs in Whitechapel and thus waited for one of the members to sell the others out in order to gain rewards offered by private funds. However, it was only after a prolonged period that the police began to realise that it may have been the work of a lone assassin after nobody came forward.

The police also assumed that the traditional ways of catching criminals would be the way forward with this case. They called in Inspector Abberline who knew the area well and would thus be able to talk to the criminal ‘underground’ and find out information in that way. However, ‘Jack’ kept to himself and the criminal circles in Whitechapel could offer the police no help or information. 

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