Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


Was a Jew Identified as the Ripper?

In 1888, the most infamous murders of all time took place in London’s East End. Five prostitutes, destitute women who knew of no other way to survive, were killed and slaughtered by a supposedly unknown killer who bears the nickname Jack the Ripper.

The victims are listed below:

Mary Ann Nichols, Friday 31st August
Annie Chapman, Saturday 8th September
Elizabeth Stride, Sunday 30 September
Catherine Eddowes, Sunday 30 September
Mary Jane Kelly, Friday 9th November

This is the accepted list and we will go with it for this article.

Nobody at the time said the murders were solved. But they said after the event that they were indeed solved by Swanson, Anderson and Abberline who were in a position to have solved them at the time. In fact the murders could have been solved and it is clear from the records that it was not simply a matter of getting an identification and putting the killer away. The investigators would have found their work to be very frustrating. Disagreement about how to proceed was high. There is no evidence of lying so the word of those who knew comes first.

Sources from the time claim that a Jew of the lower class was shown to be the Ripper. Other names put forward by the police were Druitt and Ostrog. The only definite thing we get from the records that it was the Polish Jew called Kosminski. There is no first name or initial. Through surveying the records an Aaron Kosminski comes up who is a definite match.

Swanson says the Ripper was identified

Chief Inspector (London Metropolitan Police Superintendent) Donald Swanson, head of the Ripper investigation, wrote a personal note in 1910 that the Ripper was identified at the Seaside Home and was returned to Whitechapel and later he went to Stepney Workhouse and then to Colney Hatch, Lunatic Asylum. He wrote that Kosminski was this man and he died soon after. Swanson was only writing in a margin and not for the public so he should be believed.

"After the suspect had been identified at the Seaside Home where he had been sent by us with difficulty in order to subject him to identification, and he knew he was identified. On suspect’s return to his brother’s house in Whitechapel he was watched by police (City CID) by day & night. In a very short time the suspect with his hands tied behind his back, he was sent to Stepney Workhouse and then to Colney Hatch and died shortly afterwards – Kosminski was the suspect – DSS".

The killer if committed to an asylum could not be identified. So it is certain that the identification happened before he was committed or maybe during a discharge. Whatever he was doing at the Seaside Home he cannot be considered to be committed there or it was not an asylum.

He wrote that the suspect had been identified by a witness at the Seaside Home. And that the killer had been identified by a witness who wouldn’t testify against him because both suspect and witness were Jewish. He said the witness did this "because the suspect was also a Jew and also because his evidence would convict the suspect and witness would be the means of murderer being hanged which he did not wish to be left on his mind. And after this identification which suspect knew no other murder of this kind took place in London."

The killings stopped. That does not necessarily mean the killer was put off but was just put in a position where he could not kill any more.

The murder of this kind would refer to strangling, throat cutting and mutilation. But these still happened though they lacked any indication that the Ripper was involved. Swanson made a mistake. Or did he? Kosminksi was free when some of the other murders happened ...

Nobody knows for sure where the Seaside Home is. The failure to say exactly where the Ripper was identified is a smokescreen designed to avoid media attention.

Swanson's declarations however were kept private and that lends sincerity to his claims that a Polish Jew was as good as identified by a witness who would not testify so the man returned to London to live with his brother where “he was watched by police by day & night.”

Swanson said he was definite in 1895 that the killer was then dead. For him, then the slayings, “were the work of a man who is now dead.” This could be tactical police misdirection as Kosminski was alive. And if it was assumed that the killer had syphilis and everybody seems to have believed he did then they naturally did take it for granted he would not live long. There was no need for misdirection in a scribble from 1910 so Swanson really thought the killer had died.

Back to the witness. Did he not realise the man was a Jew? Did the man not have an obvious Jewish appearance? Did he pretend not to know? Why did he let himself get involved at all? He probably only wanted to identify the killer to make sure he was locked away but did not want to get the killer put to death by testifying.

We know Aaron Kosminski did at times stay with his brother. No other Ripper suspect is on record as having done that.

Anderson says the Ripper was identified

Sir Robert Anderson as Assistant Commissioner CID was described as having a perfectly plausible theory that the Ripper was a madman whose crimes ended when he went to the asylum. The problem is with it being called a theory. He is firmer than that. He declared that it was a definite fact that the Ripper was a lower class Polish Jew. "In saying that he was a Polish Jew I am merely stating a definitely ascertained fact." (The Lighter Side of My Official Life, 1910).

Major Arthur Griffiths stated that Anderson was sure that the murderer was a maniac who had to be put in an asylum which ended the murders.

Anderson wrote, "When the individual whom we suspected was caged in an asylum, the only person who had ever had a good view of the murderer at once identified him, but when he learned that the suspect was a fellow-Jew he declined to swear to him."

Anderson tells us nothing but that the man was a Jew.

Anderson makes the error of forgetting that an asylum inmate cannot be identified. But an informal identification could be what he means. It would be of no use to the police.

He had also written, "One did not need to be a Sherlock Holmes to discover that the criminal was a sexual maniac of a virulent type; that he was living in the immediate vicinity of the scenes of the murders; and that, if he was not living absolutely alone, his people knew of his guilt, and refused to give him up to justice". He gives a hint here that he knew the man was not a recluse. He knows the killer was living with "people" and not just a mother or wife or something. That was why he didn't write, "and that he was either living alone and if he was not then somebody at least knew of his guilt".

Bridgend Journal

The Bridgend Journal of 12 March 1910 says that only one witness strangely enough was able to point the finger and say, "That's the murderer; I recognise him as the man". The man upon learning he was accusing a fellow Jew said he would go no further and would not stand by it. Anderson explained that the man was quiet and harmless but something came over him that made his ferocity know no bounds.

It has been remarked that nothing Anderson said can be disproven or shown unlikely with strong evidence.

The eyewitness

Daily Telegraph 18 February 1891 -

'Further it is certain that the police are not neglecting the facts which came to light in connection with the previous murders. Probably the only trustworthy description of the assassin was that given by a gentleman who, on the night of the Mitre-square murder, noticed in Duke-street, Aldgate, a couple standing under the lamp at the corner of the passage leading to Mitre-square. The woman was identified as one victim of that night, Sept. 30, the other having been killed half an hour previously in Berner-street. The man was described as "aged from thirty to thirty-five; height 5ft 7in, with brown hair and big moustache; dressed respectably. Wore a pea jacket, muffler, and a cloth cap with a peak of the same material." The witness has confronted Sadler and has failed to identify him.'

Sadler was the man accused of killing Frances Coles and it is not surprising that the witness failed to identify him as Sadler may not have killed Coles and definitely was not the Ripper. Her killing was very different.

Sagar

According to London Police Inspector Robert Sagar: “We had good reason to suspect a man who worked in Butcher’s Row, Aldgate. We watched him carefully. There was no doubt that this man was insane, and after a time his friends thought it advisable to have him removed to a private asylum. After he was removed, there were no more Ripper atrocities.” (Reynolds News, 15 September 1946.)

In 1905, Sagar claimed "suspicion fell upon a man, who, without a doubt, was the murderer. Identification being impossible, he could not be charged. He was, however, placed in a lunatic asylum and the series of atrocities came to an end.” (The City Press, 7 January 1905).

This account reads like the truth but what about how it says there was no identification? It is very certain the killer was known. He may have assumed that as nobody would testify that there was no identification. That is an easy mistake to make writing years after the event. The best interpretation is that he means an identification intended to get a conviction. That was the kind of identification that was impossible and does not rule out a Jewish witness picking out the Ripper.

A policeman saw the Ripper?

Griffiths who must have consulted Macnaghten and others wrote in 1898 that there was some evidence that the killer was a Polish Jew who was known as a lunatic who was roaming around Whitechapel at the times of the murders and who was put into an asylum afterwards for his urge to kill. It says the police constable at Mitre Court meaning Mitre square where Eddowes was found murdered got a glimpse of him and agreed that the person was the murderer.

It has been suggested that the man who asked James Blenkinsop at 1.30 am to ask if he had seen a man and woman going to Mitre square was a policeman in plain clothes. Eddowes was already dead then.

Anderson wrote in 1910 that the only person who got a good look at the killer identified the suspect without hesitation but wouldn’t give evidence against him. It is thought that this was the policeman. But we read the policeman got a glimpse while somebody else got a good look. And a policeman would have to give evidence. Take it as a good look rather than a glimpse. The episode would not count enough to be even remembered if all happened was a quick look.  The glimpse thing is a smokescreen to offset questions about the witness.

Policemen in civilian clothing and getting people to go out and keep watch in case there was another murder was one of the ways London's East End tried to handle the threat. Assuming Joseph Levy was doing some vigilance work a mistake might have happened. Did he slip into the records as a policeman?

Mitre Square was called Mitre Court by both Joseph Levy and by Griffiths, a friend of both Anderson and Macnaghten, who wrote a book called Mysteries of Police and Crime, in 1898. Is it because of Joseph that Griffiths and those he consulted ended up calling a murder site the wrong name, Mitre Court rather than the correct Mitre Square? If so then it certainly looks like that what Levy told the police made a huge impression on them!

Joseph Lawende was not the witness for Griffiths could not have made the mistake of thinking such a well-known and prominent witness had been a policeman for he wasn’t. But he could have made the mistake that Joseph Levy was a policeman for Joseph was less known and indeed tried to keep a low profile.

The Witness at the Identification

No source names the Jew who got a look at the Ripper and who was able to identify him and send him to the gallows.

We need to ask that question of who he was for that can lead us to the perpetrator.

The Jew Israel Schwartz was not the identifier. He was present just before Stride was murdered and saw two dangerous men there. Her murder unlike the others was dealt with by the Metropolitan police who would have arranged the identification. However that is not clear but it is clear that he is not the witness for he never actually saw anybody enter the yard where she died with her. He was driven away from the scene by a threatening man.

When Eddowes died, she had been seen going to the place of her death with a man. The man was noticed by Jews Joseph Lawende, Joseph Hyam Levy and Harry Harris.

The witness is usually thought to refer to Joseph Lawende but it is more likely to be Joseph Levy. The third man, Harry Harris, paid so little attention that he definitely was not of use as a witness.

Lawende did say he could not identify the man. Some say he had no choice but to say for detection reasons that he would not know the man he seen with Eddowes for sure. If so is that because he himself would be in danger from the Ripper or his family? It would indicate he knew the killer.

However he made a detailed statement about the appearance of the killer. He saw the woman facing the man chatting. She had put her hand on his chest. The man was medium build and looked like a sailor. He wore a pepper and salt coloured jacket which was loose and a grey cap and wore a red neckerchief. He was about 5 foot 7 about 30 with a fair complexion and a moustache. He said he wouldn’t be able to identify the man again. Thus it seems best to supposed that he was not the man who identified the Ripper.

William Marshall saw a man looking like a sailor talking to Elizabeth Stride not long before her murder. But this was a different man – not the killer.

The man was described by Lawende as fair complexion which does not fit Mrs Long saying he looked like a foreigner. In the inquest, Lawende was careful to drop all the detail and give nothing away. He really did act as if he wanted to avoid giving away the Jewishness of the killer.

The Assistant City Police Commissioner in 1888 was a Major Henry Smith. He wrote that he interviewed one of the Mitre Square witnesses who he described as a sort of hybrid German. Lawende was a Polish Jew so he was not the interviewee. It had to have been Joseph Levy who was a Dutch Jew. The three witnesses spoke German. But that doesn’t make them hybrid Germans. Joseph Levy was the best candidate for being the hybrid German or mistaken as one.

The Ripper could have been brought to the Seaside Home. Swanson wrote that there was difficulty with getting the suspect there. Evidently the difficulties were not in restraining him if insane or transporting him there. If he had been that awkward he would have been committed in which case there would have been no point in trying to get him identified. It must have had to do with different police jurisdictions and the red tape.

It has been pointed out that a suspect Jewish butcher lived at a point near Middlesex Street probably on the boundary between the City Police and the Metropolitan jurisdictions. Jurisdiction problems could have come up if he was taken for identification.

However Swanson says the difficulties were to do with the suspect. But that could mean anything and we cannot assume it was about jurisdiction.

Joseph Levy was indeed the witness for he behaved so strangely from the start that he would have been the type of man to identify the killer and then refuse to testify in court against the man. The witness told a strange lie in saying he didn’t want the man put to death over his testimony. If so then why didn’t he just say that the man was not the Ripper? The witness then acted like Joseph Levy – true to form! And even more so when he lied that he wouldn’t testify in court against the killer for it would lead to the killer being hanged. But surely he knew that a man suffering from mental illness couldn’t be hanged – even if he wasn’t committed yet! True to form again!

The fear

Joseph Levy and two friends, Joseph Lawende and Harry Harris, saw a man and woman standing talking to one another near Mitre Square. Minutes later Catherine Eddowes was found dead and mutilated in the a corner of the Square. Joseph Levy said to Harris: “I don't like going home by myself when I see these sort of characters about. I'm off!”. He stated that somebody should keep a close eye on Mitre Square.

What a strange reaction! He should have been used to seeing characters like that all the time. Why would he feel he would have been in danger from them? Why would he feel the need to get away so fast? There could have been nothing upsetting about seeing Eddowes and the Ripper talking because neither of them looked out of the ordinary. Why would he say that Mitre Square especially would have to be watched? Prostitutes had their haunts everywhere.

Joseph Levy admitted to being afraid yet he didn’t take with his friends the quickest way back to his house in Hutchinson Street that night which was through the smaller streets. This street juts off Middlesex Street. He took the longest way back because it was better lit. He must have been afraid. Of what?

Was he afraid he might see the murderer ripping up a woman in one of the darker streets? Probably he was afraid of seeing an undiscovered victim slain earlier that night lying somewhere. Or was he afraid because he and the Ripper knew each other at least by sight. Did he guess that the Ripper would take the back streets to return to his lair?

Perhaps the Ripper knew he had been seen. He went to the trouble of putting Catherine Eddowes on her side as if he would not mutilate her and then acted like he changed his mind and put her on her back to butcher her. Like with Stride, he wasn’t going to go any further and the desire to mutilate Eddowes took over and he gave in to his frenzy.

Joseph Levy was fearful not just because of what he seen but because the man he saw was the man he already suspected of being the killer. That was why he wanted to get away. He knew the man who was with Eddowes. He was the one who in the later reports written by police was the Jew who was able to identify the suspect without hesitation as being with Eddowes and being her murderer. Instead of wanting to help the woman, he wanted to get away. He didn’t want to be involved. He worried that he might have to identify the killer. He wanted to be off the scene to avoid that. However he did identify the killer later. He had to.

They knew the killer?

The witnesses certainly acted like the killer was from nearby and somebody they knew.

Joseph Levy lived close by the Eddowes murder scene in Hutchison Street. The police went door to door in that street after the murder. Harris and Levy may as well have lived in Goulston Street where the Ripper dumped a rag taken from Eddowes. It is possible that Harris lived in the Wentworth buildings. Get that? The Ripper a short time after killing Eddowes threw a rag taken from Eddowes in the door as if he knew Harris had seen him and wanted to incriminate him.

It is felt that there was not much blood on the rag which is inconsistent with it being used to wrap bloody organs like the uterus and a kidney in. If so then the Ripper took it to plant somewhere to put the police off the scent.

Lawende tried to use misdirection by painting the killer as a non-Jew. Joseph Levy failed to be discreet though he tried to be and told too much.

Family?

Was the real reason Joseph Levy didn’t want to testify in court concerning who the murderer was because he didn’t want to bring shame on his own family? He was a cousin of suspect Jacob Levy but Jacob was not the Ripper for there is no evidence that he hated women and he did not go to Colney Hatch. He is only accused for he died soon after the murders.

Joseph Levy then might have identified the killer even if it meant telling on a fellow Jew but surely not if the killer were a relative! And why not just say, "This man is a cousin so I cannot have him put to death?" Why say, "I am a fellow Jew and cannot have him put to death."

Jacob Levy unlike Aaron Kosminksi could not be identified or convicted as he was disturbed all the time.

Levy is Tight-lipped

In the aftermath of the Eddowes murder, Lawende and Joseph Levy would have discussed what to say to the police and would have talked to each other about the man they had seen. Joseph knew the man so here Lawende must have been pretending to have known nothing about the man. Lawende said more than Joseph Levy would have had agreed with him saying. But out of respect for Levy he didn’t say too much. Lawende’s behaviour was also suspicious.

Lawende was loquacious and prominent at Eddowes Inquest unlike Joseph Levy. The latter's name was not even given. Joseph Levy didn’t want the attention at all. He didn't want to help. When Joseph Levy was interviewed he must really have known a lot more than he wanted people to think. He must have known the killer.

The Evening News issue 9th October 1888 printed the following, "Mr Levy is absolutely obstinate and refuses to give the slightest information and he leaves one to infer that he knows something but that he is afraid to be called on the inquest. At the inquest Levy admitted observing a man and a woman at the entrance to Church Passage though he did not take any particular notice of them although he described the man as having been three inches taller than the woman and when pressed under cross examination he denied thinking her appearance as `terrible' and went on to add that he was not exactly afraid for himself".

Joseph Levy had forgotten what he said about the pair being a sinister looking pair which was why later he denied saying the woman looked terrible in appearance. Evidently, when he said the pair looked sinister what he really thought and meant was that it was the man he didn’t want to have to look at. The reason was not the man’s appearance but who he was. He knew him. From Lawende, we know that there was nothing sinister looking about the man. But if you know something bad about somebody you will think of their appearance as terrible. This explains why Joseph Levy thought the man looked sinister too and why he started to tell lies later on denying that he was shocked by the pair.

Joseph Levy lied about not paying much notice. He didn’t want to have to say too much about the man he saw for he had taken a lot of notice. He took so much notice because he recognised the man with Eddowes. That was why his memory was so clear that he was able to identify the suspect without any doubt with the police later.

His saying that the man was three inches taller than the woman gives us the height of Jacob Levy. Jacob Levy was five foot three making him three inches taller than Eddowes.

When you see a couple together especially at night you don’t think of what height they are. He was sure the man was three inches taller which may indicate that he already knew what height the man was. But not too much can be read into this for witnesses did often give varying heights.

What does Joseph’s behaviour throughout the affair tell us?

He knew the Ripper was at work. He knew the Ripper was a Jew which was why though he had two men with him he didn’t try to disturb him or scare him off. He didn’t want the Ripper to be caught and hanged. Jacob Levy was Joseph Levy’s neighbour or possible relative – they almost lived on the same street. Joseph Levy may have heard a confession from the man himself or seen proof before then that he was the killer. But, whatever, Joseph knew!

You don’t pay too much attention to unmarried men even ones you know who are going with prostitutes. But you do pay attention to married men you know doing it for they are hurting their wives and children. Joseph Levy’s behaviour suggests that the Ripper was a married man. Our suspect was married.

It was dark at the time. It was hard to recognise people in the poor street lighting unless they were family or neighbours. As stated, Jacob Levy was a neighbour of Joseph Levy’s. If the man with Eddowes showed a reaction to Joseph Levy observing him that would prove to Joseph that the man was indeed the man he knew.

He insisted to the police that he wasn’t exactly afraid of the man for himself. He talks like he knew the Ripper was only a danger to fallen women. He knew the Ripper.

The killer was seen by Joseph Levy on 30th September. No murders took place until Friday 9th November the slaughter of Mary Kelly in her room. The entire month of October and over a week of November saw no Ripper murders. This was a long gap for the Ripper. Some think it was because the Ripper may have cut himself while slashing Eddowes and had to recover. It is unlikely that he would have cut himself that badly. And when he took bigger risks every time it shows that he wasn’t thinking of what could happen. He just wanted to kill and mutilate. If he had been seen at Mitre Square that would have shook him up. At that point he made up his mind to kill no more women until he got them indoors. He didn’t want Kelly found too quickly while the other victims were laid out in a gruesome display. Had he not been seen at Mitre Square he would have left Kelly’s door open or perhaps dragged her out of the room into the passage.

The killer believed he had been seen. Was that why soon after the Eddowes murder he left the message at Goulston Street: “The Juwes are the men that Will not be Blamed for nothing” blaming the Jews for the murders? Was his game then to take the Jews down with him if he went down? What supports this contention is that if he was seen by a Jew he could trust not to go to the law about him then what could be more true than that the Jews are to blame? Why write the Juwes and the men: plurals? Why not write, “The Juwes are not to blame for nothing”? It was easier to write. It was quicker. And there was little room on the area where he wrote. He wrote in the words “are the men who are not to be blamed for nothing” to emphasis the plural and that it was men.

Another possibility is that the Jews tried to handle the Ripper their own way and managed to stop him killing for several weeks. One night he got away and cut up Mary Kelly. When they didn’t do a good job it looks like it was the Ripper’s family that tried to control the problem.


Either way, the killer had been seen and he knew it.

The errors

Stewart Evans best scenario regarding the identification. It appears that it is that the identification took place when Kosminksi was in the workhouse which was from 12 to 15 July 1890. Evans says he was not identified in the asylum for that was against the law. He thinks that the suspect was taken to Clarendon Villas in Brighton and sent back to his brother in Whitechapel. Then he went to Stepney Workhouse and then to Colney Hatch Asylum where he died.

Evans thinks the errors made by the police are as follows:

Macnaghten got it wrong about the suspect being locked up permanently in March 1889.

Swanson got the name of the workhouse wrong and thinking the suspect died.

Anderson's only proven error was in saying the suspect was put in an asylum and identified after. But unless the suspect was found to be sane and released this would have been impossible. And we must remember that Kosminksi was thought to have recovered for he had been in an asylum and released.

The suspect was sent to the Seaside Home for identification with difficulty. Evans thinks the problem was getting the Workhouse staff to take him there. But this does not fit the text "where he had been sent by us with difficulty in order to subject him to identification." This implies some legal problem not a man power problem and the police had procedures for getting suspects taken from workhouses. We know the police feared a backlash against the Jews should a Jew be accused of the murders - was confidentiality the difficulty?

If "after this identification which suspect knew no other murder of this kind took place in London" implies that the suspect did not kill just because he was identified and he knew it then what? Was he released from the asylum after? Why does he not say the reason for no more murdering was that the killer was locked away?

Late 1889 Anderson says Ripper not found

Pall Mall Gazette 4 November 1889

Mr. Davis had taken a letter of introduction to Dr. Robert Anderson, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department, who remarked to him, "I only spoke of it because they say, as a rule, your people come over here expecting to see dukes wearing their coronets and the thieves of Whitechapel in prison-cut clothes, and they are disappointed. But I don't think you will be disappointed in the district. After a stranger has gone over it he takes a much more lenient view of our failure to find Jack the Ripper, as they call him, than he did before."

They did fail to find the Ripper.  Knowing who it was when it is too late is not finding.  And it was only a year after the killing of Kelly so information turning up was a possibility.

George Sims 1907

This writer knew a thing or two.  He wrote, "One man only, a policeman, saw [the Ripper] leaving the place in which he had just accomplished a fiendish deed, but failed owing to the darkness, to get a good view of him.  A little later the policeman stumbled over the lifeless body of the victim-the policeman who got a glimpse of Jack in Mitre Court said, when some time afterwards he saw the Pole, that he was the height and build he had seen on the night of the murder."

Finally

We know a Jew identified a fellow Jew as the Ripper but refused to testify against him in court.

Who was this witness? It was not Israel Schwartz who virtually seen the Ripper along with Elizabeth Stride but he didn't see him dispatching her. He saw a man with a knife who scared him away. When Schwartz said so much about this man he would have identified him and had him hanged. He even talked to the papers.

It was not Joseph Lawende the Jew who saw the man with Catherine Eddowes that same night minutes before her murder. He said he couldn’t identify the man. The witness had to have been the Jew, Joseph Levy, who was in his company. This man acted so strangely that undoubtedly he knew more than he let on.

We need a positive identification to prove who the Ripper was. And the men investigating the murders said there had been one. There is much confusion about who the witness who made the identification was. But it can be cleared up. Joseph Levy saw the killer with Catherine Eddowes and it was somebody he knew. Joseph Levy didn’t want to say anything about the killer but he may have changed his mind later when he identified him.

Major Griffiths said that many suspects were considered by the police "all of them known to be homicidal lunatics, and against three of these held very plausible and reasonable grounds of suspicion."  The accused then were certainly known to have at least tried to kill other people.

A Jew was identified as the Ripper. We know that much.