Michael Eddowes

Michael Eddowes

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Michael Eddowes, the son of a lawyer, was born in Derby in 1903. After completing his education he worked for his father before eventually establishing his own law firm in London. In 1956, he sold his law firm and invested Bistro Vino, a chain of restaurants.

In 1955 he publishedThe Man on Your Conscience, an investigation into the murder trial and execution of Timothy Evans. The book caused renewed interest in the case and eventually Evans received a posthumous pardon by the Queen. This case played an important role in the subsequent abolition of capital punishment in Britain.

In the late 1950s Eddowes became a close friend of Stephen Ward, an osteopath working in London. On 28th October, 1962, Ward introduced Eddowes to Christine Keeler. As Keeler later revealed: "I kept my date with Michael Eddowes but he was far too old for me. He was nearly sixty but her certainly was interested and wanted to set me up in a flat in Regent's Park."

During this period Christine Keeler became involved with two black men, Lucky Gordon and John Edgecombe. The two men became jealous of each other and this resulted in Edgecombe slashing Gordon's face with a knife. On 14th December 1962, Edgecombe, fired a gun at Stephen Ward's Wimpole Mews flat, where Keeler had been visiting with Mandy Rice-Davies.

Two days after the shooting Keeler contacted Eddowes for legal advice about the Edgecombe case. During this meeting she told Eddowes: "Stephen (Ward) asked me to ask Jack Profumo what date the Germans were to get the bomb." However, she later claimed that she knew Ward was joking when he said this. Eddowes then asked Ward about this matter. Keeler later recalled: "Stephen fed him the line he had prepared with Roger Hollis for such an eventuality: it was Eugene (Ivanov) who had asked me to find out about the bomb."

Eddowes then went to see Stephen Ward about what Christine Keeler had told him. Ward insisted it was Eugene Ivanov who had asked Keeler to find out information about the delivery of nuclear warheads to Germany from John Profumo. On 29th March, 1963, Michael Eddowes called Scotland Yard with this information.

On 21st March, George Wigg asked the Home Secretary in a debate on the John Vassall affair in the House of Commons, to deny rumours relating to Christine Keeler and the John Edgecombe case. Richard Crossman then commented that Paris Match magazine intended to publish a full account of Keeler's relationship with John Profumo, the Minister of War, in the government. Barbara Castle also asked questions if Keeler's disappearance had anything to do with Profumo.

The following day Profumo made a statement attacking the Labour Party MPs for making allegations about him under the protection of Parliamentary privilege, and after admitting that he knew Keeler he stated: "I have no connection with her disappearance. I have no idea where she is." He added that there was "no impropriety in their relationship" and that he would not hesitate to issue writs if anything to the contrary was written in the newspapers.

As a result of this statement the newspapers decided not to print anything about John Profumo and Christine Keeler for fear of being sued for libel. However, George Wigg refused to let the matter drop and on 25th May, 1963, once again raised the issue of Keeler, saying this was not an attack on Profumo's private life but a matter of national security.

On 5th June, John Profumo resigned as War Minister. His statement said that he had lied to the House of Commons about his relationship with Christine Keeler. The next day the Daily Mirror said: "What the hell is going on in this country? All power corrupts and the Tories have been in power for nearly twelve years."

Eddowes continued to run the Bistro Vino chain of restaurants. He also took an interest in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In his book, Khrushchev Killed Kennedy(1975), Eddowes argued that Kennedy was killed by a Soviet agent impersonating Lee Harvey Oswald. Eddowes also claimed that Lyndon B. Johnson was aware of this and had covered-up the role of the KGB in the killing of Kennedy in order to prevent a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. It was later revealed that the book had been financed by the Texas oil billionaire, Haroldson L. Hunt.

The following year Eddowes published November 22: How They Killed Kennedy (published in the United States as The Oswald File. In the book Eddowes claimed the assassination was an act of political sabotage and that this information had been withheld from the authors of the Warren Commission.

To test his theory, Eddowes brought a suit in Texas to exhume Oswald's body. This was originally refused but after gaining the support of Lee Harvey Oswald's family, the exhumation took place on 4th October, 1981.

The body was taken to the Baylor Medical Center. Identification was made primarily using dental records. At a news conference held later the following statement was issued: “The findings of the team are as follows: We independently and as a team have concluded beyond any doubt, and I mean beyond any doubt, that the individual buried under the name of Lee Harvey Oswald in Rose Hill Cemetery is in fact Lee Harvey Oswald.”

Eddowes also issued a statement: “Though surprised, I am in no way disappointed in the apparent disproving of my evidence of imposture. Rather, I have accomplished my objective in obtaining the exhumation and I am glad for those who have steadfastly maintained the contrary for whatever reason.”

Michael Eddowes died of a burst aneurysm, in Oakland Court, a retirement home, in Felpham, in 1992.

After they got back to the flat Christine Keeler telephoned Mr. Michael Eddowes. (He was a retired solicitor who was a friend and patient of Stephen Ward and had seen a good deal of him at this time. He had befriended Christine Keeler and had taken her to see her mother once or twice.) Mr. Eddowes went round to see her. She told him of the shooting. He already knew from Stephen Ward something of her relations with Captain Ivanov and Mr. Profumo, and he asked her about them. He was most interested and subsequently noted it down in writing, and in March he reported it to the police. He followed it up by employing an ex-member of the Metropolitan Police to act as detective on his behalf to gather information.

Christine knew nothing of "cheque book journalism", but she had friends who did: Paul Mann, the racing driver/journalist and Nina Gadd, a freelance writer. Together they convinced her that, if she listened to them, she could make a small fortune. They reminded her that she was constantly broke and that Lucky Gordon was still making her life miserable. They told her they had been in touch with certain newspapers in Fleet Street which were prepared to offer her a great deal of money. This was true. Several newspapers were interested in Christine Keeler, especially when her appearance at the committal hearings of the Edgecombe shooting case at Marlborough Street Court reminded editors of the rumour floating around Fleet Street about her: that she was having an affair with Profumo.

There were problems, of course. The first was the English contempt law. No newspapers could publish anything about Christine's relationship with Edgecombe until his trial was over because the details of it were central to the charge. Next, there were the libel laws. If Christine's memoirs named other lovers, unless there was solid proof that what she said was true, they might sue for defamation. On the other hand most of the news at that time was bad, and a light sexy story of an English suburban girl who could arouse such passions - "I love the girl," Edgecombe had said, "I was sick in the stomach over her" - would certainly appeal to the readers of the Sunday sensational press.

Nina Gadd knew a reporter on the Sunday Pictorial, so on 22 January, with Mandy along to steady her resolve, Christine walked into the newspaper office carrying Profumo's farewell letter in her handbag. The newspaper's executives heard her out, looked at the letter, photographed it and offered her £1,000 for the right to publish it. Christine said she would think it over. She left the offices of the Sunday Pictorial and went straight to those of the News of the World, off Fleet Street. There she saw the paper's crime reporter, Peter Earle. Earle was desperate to have the story - for reasons that will emerge - but Christine made the mistake of telling him that his offer would have to be better than £1,000 because she had been offered that by another newspaper. Earle, who had had long experience of cheque book journalism, told Christine bluntly that she could go to the devil; he was not joining any auction.

So Christine went back to the Sunday Pictorial, accepted its offer and was paid £200 in advance. Over the next two days she told her entire life story to two Sunday Pictorial reporters. They soon saw that the nub of any newspaper article was her relationship with Profumo and Ivanov. It is easy to imagine how the story emerged. Christine was being paid £1,000 for her memoirs. The second slice, £800, was due only on publication. If the story did not reach the newspaper's expectations, Christine would not get it. She was anxious therefore to please the Sunday Pictorial reporters and dredged her memory for items that interested them. The trend of their questions would soon have indicated what items these were.

What started out then as an article about Christine's double life - with Ward's rich friends in high places and her own West Indian friends in low - soon changed tack. Christine knew a Russian diplomat; had she slept with him? Had she been sleeping with him at the same time as she was sleeping with Profumo? Was the hint given in the Queen article true - that one left the flat as the other arrived? Gradually the story built up. But it was still only a young girl of loose morals sharing her favours with a British Cabinet Minister and a Soviet diplomat, and one of the leading characters, the diplomat, had already gone back to Moscow. It was not much use naming him as the guilty man. And there remained great legal doubt whether it would be safe to name Profumo, either. The paper could make out a case that the triangle posed a security threat, that Profumo had left himself open to blackmail. But readers are not gripped by stories full of "ifs".

Then Christine gave the story that extra lift that it needed. Remembering the interest shown by the solicitor Michael Eddowes and by John Lewis when she had said that she had been asked to find out from Profumo when West Germany would get atomic warheads, Christine now told the Sunday Pictorial this ludicrous tale. Christine's first version - the one told to Eddowes - was that Ivanov had asked her to get this information. Her second version was that it had been Ward, but that he was joking. Now, perhaps realising that since Ivanov was gone he was of lesser interest to the paper, Christine insisted that it was Ward who had put the idea to her - and that he had been serious. In the paper's most unChristine-like words: "I did find it worrying when someone asked me to try to get from Profumo the answer to a certain question. That question was: "When, if ever, are the Americans going to give nuclear weapons to Germany?" I am not prepared to say in public who asked me to find out the answer to that question. I am prepared to give it to the security officials. In fact I believe now that I have a duty to do so." Christine clearly tailored this story to suit her audience. (For what it is worth, twenty years later she had reverted to its being a Ward joke and claimed that when she had first told it to the Sunday Pictorial reporters, they had also understood it to be his idea of a joke.)

I found myself desperate for a shoulder to lean on. I needed advice, guidance. I needed someone to turn to. Stephen did not want to know. The press were pestering Mandy and me all the time but she knew nothing and thought it was all a giggle, a bit of fun. Her ignorance did not help my feelings.

The fears to me were immediate ones and surrounded the trial of Johnnie Edgecombe which was set to be heard a couple of weeks into the New Year. The prospect of the trial at the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, dominated all my thinking. Everyone else seemed to be preparing for Christmas and the lights were on in the West End. I had a stack of invites to parties and to drinks get-togethers but I was thinking about being asked in court if I had had sex with a black man, which in the early 1960s was a great stigma. It was like being an unmarried mother, a dreadful thing. But as the sixties got older and celebrities began having babies out of marriage that became more and more acceptable. Just as inter-racial relationships have become commonplace. Then, you didn't stir the melting pot for fear of the prejudice disguised behind net curtains.

I thought Michael Eddowes might help me. He clearly found me attractive and had been keen to get me into bed. All I wanted was his advice for he had a distinguished legal background. Money was short and forty-eight hours after the shooting on 14 December 1962, I picked up the phone to Eddowes hoping for free advice down the line. Instead, he wanted to visit me in Great Cumberland Place. He was terribly self-important, a florid-faced man who talked loudly and did not expect interruptions. He was used to speaking in court. He did not paint a positive picture. Johnnie would say anything to escape a long sentence. He would say he was protecting me when he knifed Lucky Gordon and the gun he used in the shooting was mine. Why had I got a gun? Was it all my fault? Eddowes made it very clear that the story could be made to suit whoever was telling it. I told him Stephen was terrified of being mixed up in it. I did not tell him it was because Stephen was a Soviet spy.

One important element of the story that was relentlessly spun in the years that followed was that I blurted out to Eddowes all about my affair with Jack. I didn't. I simply said, "Stephen asked me to ask Jack Profumo what date the Germans were to get the bomb."

Eddowes, who was a conspiracy freak and later investigated the shooting of President Kennedy, was bright-eyed when I told him this. He clearly saw all sorts of implications. He had seen a lot of Stephen and must have had an idea about Jack and even Eugene. But not from me. What information he had came from Stephen and was part of the scheme orchestrated by him with Roger Hollis.

Eddowes had the scent: he asked me about Lucky and about the All Nighters and then kept coming back to espionage, matters of state. He had an evangelical look about him, a singled-minded determination. He seemed to lose track of what concerned me most - the Johnnie Edgecombe trial. I was terrified of mentioning anything about Hollis or Blunt. The way Eddowes looked and talked I could see myself spending the rest of my life in the Tower of London. I had visions of Traitors' Gate. Eddowes seemed to take over the small living-room with his bulk and questions.

I was happy to tell him what seemed to keep him happy and that was being asked by Stephen to ask Jack about the bomb. I said nothing about my own activities, of dropping off papers. He kept threatening me with fire and brimstone but I never confessed to any involvement with Jack or Eugene. Eddowes was like so many of the men at the time: he was putting down others for what he talked of moral misdeeds but wanted to have me himself. He didn't like Stephen because he thought Stephen stood between him and my bed.

All those with whom I have discussed the facts of the assassination, although agreeing with my conclusions, have asked me what the Russians had stood to gain, and it has been necessary, therefore, to endeavour to identify not only the decisions and the words of the Kennedy brothers, but to try to identify the ultimate purpose of the foiled Cuban and Indian adventures in order to indicate a possible motive for the subsequent assassination of the President. If, as the evidence indicates, the KGB organised the assassination, it would seem that it had appeared imperative to remove Kennedy from the area of international relations, for he had captured the ear of the world and had obtained the support of the United Nations over the Cuba Crisis.

Digging Up the Dead: History’s Most Famous Exhumations

1. Jesse James
The infamous Wild West outlaw may have died in 1882, but his legend lived on𠅊s did persistent rumors that James faked his own death. Although it was widely accepted that fellow gang member Bob Ford shot and killed James to collect the bounty on his head, some speculated that Ford had actually murdered another man to assist James in his ruse, a claim boosted when a 100-year-old man named J. Frank Dalton came forward in 1948 saying he was the real Jesse James. In 1995, the James family requested the exhumation of their ancestor’s corpse from a Kearney, Missouri, cemetery, and DNA tests confirmed the remains were indeed those of the outlaw.

2. Eva Peron
After the death of Argentina’s beloved first lady in 1952, Peron’s embalmed body was put on display inside a Buenos Aires trade union headquarters until an enormous mausoleum could be constructed. The Argentine military leaders who seized power from Juan Peron in 1955 feared the symbolic power of his wife’s corpse, so they hid it in locations around the city that included a movie theater and water works. In 1957, Peron was secretly buried in Milan, Italy under the assumed name “Maria Maggi.” Fourteen years later, Evita’s body was exhumed and moved to Madrid, where her husband lived in exile. Finally in 1974, her remains were returned to Buenos Aires and buried in a fortified crypt in La Recoleta Cemetery.

3. Abraham Lincoln
In 1876 a gang of Chicago counterfeiters hatched a scheme to snatch the slain president’s body from his tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, and hold the corpse for a ransom of $200,000 and the release of their best engraver from prison. After law enforcement officials thwarted the grave robbers in the middle of the crime, Lincoln’s body was quickly moved to various unmarked graves until it was eventually encased in a steel cage and entombed under 10 feet of concrete in the same Springfield cemetery in 1901.

4. John Wilkes Booth
The man who murdered Lincoln also had his final resting place disturbed. After the Union Army killed Booth during the manhunt for the presidential assassin, his body was buried inside the Washington Arsenal in the national capital. In 1869, the Booth family disinterred the assassin and buried him in a family plot in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery. (To answer persistent rumors that Booth actually escaped the manhunt, family members are split on whether to exhume the body of his brother Edwin to obtain DNA samples to compare with vertebrae purported to be the assassin’s stored at the National Museum of Health and Medicine.)

5. Zachary Taylor
While America was engaged in a fierce debate about extending slavery to Western territories, the robust twelfth president died suddenly on July 9, 1850. His passing was attributed to natural causes such as cholera or even a fatal case of gastroenteritis brought on by overindulging in cherries and milk. Some historians, however, believed the true cause to be arsenic poisoning perpetrated by his political enemies. In 1991, Taylor became the first president to have his remains exhumed, and tests conclusively showed that he was not assassinated by poison.

6. Christopher Columbus
Death did little to slow the explorer’s global travels. Following his passing in 1506, Columbus was buried in Valladolid, Spain, and then moved to Seville. At his daughter-in-law’s request, Columbus was shipped across the Atlantic to Hispaniola in 1542 and interred in a Santo Domingo cathedral. When the French captured the island in 1795, the Spanish dug up remains thought to be those of the explorer and moved them to Cuba before returning them to Seville after the Spanish-American War in 1898. However, a box with human remains and the explorer’s name was discovered inside the Santo Domingo cathedral in 1877, and the mystery of whether remains of Columbus are in the New World, Old World or both continues.

7. Oliver Cromwell
When the English revolutionary who helped to overthrow the monarchy and sign the death warrant for King Charles I died in 1658, he was embalmed and buried with honor inside Westminster Abbey. Three years later, however, the monarchy returned and Cromwell was treated much differently. King Charles II exhumed Cromwell’s body on the twelfth anniversary of his father’s execution and in retribution for the regicide staged an execution of his own𠅊lbeit with Cromwell’s dead body. The Lord Protector’s corpse was strung up on display, beheaded and dumped into a vast London pit. Cromwell’s head was mounted on a pike on the roof of Westminster Hall, where it remained for decades as a warning to would-be revolutionaries. The head eventually became a collector piece and in 1960 was interred at Cromwell’s alma mater, Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge.

8. Lee Harvey Oswald
Among the conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was the assertion by author Michael Eddowes that the man arrested for the killing was actually a Soviet spy who had switched places with suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald during his visit to the Soviet Union months earlier. With the permission of Oswald’s widow, Eddowes had the body exhumed in 1981, and dental records confirmed the man was not a Russian body double, but Oswald himself.

9. Simon Bolivar
The 19th-century South American revolutionary hero died near Santa Marta, Colombia in 1830 from what was believed to be tuberculosis. Twelve years after his death, Bolivar’s remains were exhumed from Santa Marta’s cathedral and transferred to Caracas, Venezuela. The late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who was among the conspiracy theorists who believed Bolivar had been murdered by arsenic poisoning, had the man known as 𠇎l Libertador” exhumed in 2010 in an elaborate nationally televised broadcast, but the testing by forensic specialists proved inconclusive as to the cause of Bolivar’s death.

10. Daniel Boone
After the frontiersman’s 1820 death, Daniel Boone was buried in an unmarked grave near present-day Marthasville, Missouri. Twenty-five years later, the remains of Boone and his wife were disinterred and reburied in Frankfort, Kentucky. Some assert, however, that the wrong bodies were removed, and both Missouri and Kentucky still claim to be Boone’s final resting spot.

This was the first major book on the 10 Rillington Place murders, one of the most complex, difficult and emotive of all legal cases. For those unfamiliar with the circumstances, here&aposs a summary.

At the end of 1949 Timothy Evans, his wife Beryl and baby daughter Geraldine were living in the second floor flat at 10 Rillington Place in London. In the ground floor flat lived John Reginald Christie and his wife Ethel. On 30th November Evans went to the police at Merthyr Tydfil, where he was staying w This was the first major book on the 10 Rillington Place murders, one of the most complex, difficult and emotive of all legal cases. For those unfamiliar with the circumstances, here's a summary.

At the end of 1949 Timothy Evans, his wife Beryl and baby daughter Geraldine were living in the second floor flat at 10 Rillington Place in London. In the ground floor flat lived John Reginald Christie and his wife Ethel. On 30th November Evans went to the police at Merthyr Tydfil, where he was staying with an aunt and uncle, to say that he had disposed of his wife's body at 10 Rillington Place. After the police discovered the bodies of both his wife and daughter at the address Evans confessed to murdering both of them. He later retracted his confession, saying that Christie had killed them. Nevertheless, he was tried and convicted for the murder of his daughter (a charge for murdering his wife wasn't pursued for legal reasons) and hanged. Three years later, Christie, minus his wife who he said had gone to stay with relatives, moved out of Rillington Place. The new tenants decided to do some renovations and, during the work, uncovered the bodies of three women hidden behind a false wall in the kitchen. Again, the police were called in. They found the body of Christie's wife under the floorboards in the living room and the skeletons of two more women buried in the garden. Christie was arrested and confessed to the murders of all the women but denied killing baby Geraldine. He was charged and convicted for the murder of his wife and hanged. Following the Christie conviction doubts arose about the safety of the conviction and hanging of Evans and, after lengthy debate within the legal profession, government and in the press, he was given a posthumous pardon in 1966. The case is considered to be a landmark in British legal history and is partly responsible for the abolition of the death penalty in the U.K.

I have been intrigued by this case ever since I first saw the excellent film "10 Rillington Place" starring Richard Attenborough and John Hurt several years ago. This book is an excellent introduction to the case, providing a sound and seemingly objective overview. It was written within a couple of years of the Christie trial and so benefits from being written so soon after the actual events. Unfortunately, its proximity to the events means that some of the material available to subsequent writers, especially the transcript of the Evans trial, was still being kept secret at the time it was written so couldn't be taken into account by the author. It does, however, have a very full appendix (about half the book) of primary source material, including statements, post mortems, evidence given at trial that was already in the public domain and reports of enquiries.

We're unlikely to ever know what really happened at 10 Rillington Place but this is a good book to read to start trying to understand why this is such a difficult and important case. . more

James Norton plays Stephen Ward

Who was Stephen Ward? An osteopath with a roster of high-profile clients, including Lord Astor. He was also a talented artist with a profitable sideline in sketching portraits, and at his London flat he entertained an eclectic mix of friends and contacts including showgirls Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, Russian military attaché Yevgeny (Eugene) Ivanov, and politician John Profumo. As the Profumo Affair came to light in 1963, he was investigated by police, charged with immorality offences, and convicted (despite a lack of evidence) of living off immoral earnings – i.e. pimping. He died by suicide on 3rd August 1963, at the age of 50, after taking an overdose of sleeping pills.

What else has James Norton been in? The actor starred as ex-convict Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley, and is also known for playing Sidney Chambers in Grantchester. He appeared as Alex Godman in the TV series McMafia and Andrei Bolkonsky in War & Peace, and has also opped up in Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Death Comes to Pemberley, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Who Was Jack the Ripper?

The slayings never faded from public consciousness, however. Legions of “Ripperologists” have developed their own theories over the decades, and the lineup of possible suspects has included the father of Winston Churchill, 𠇊lice’s Adventures in Wonderland” author Lewis Carroll, and Prince Albert Victor, grandson of Queen Victoria and second in line to the British throne.

Some have even speculated that Jack the Ripper was in actuality Jill the Ripper, and female suspects include Mary Pearcey, who was executed in 1890 after butchering her lover’s wife and child with a carving knife in a similar manner to the notorious serial killer.

The Victorian-era shawl reportedly taken by Simpson passed from generation to generation of the policeman’s descendants until it was put up for auction in 2007 and purchased by Russell Edwards, an English businessman and self-confessed 𠇊rmchair detective” who was fascinated by the coldest of cold cases. Although the silk fabric was frayed and aging, it still contained valuable DNA evidence since it was never washed.

6 The Clue on Goulston Street

Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were killed by Jack the Ripper on September 30, 1888. A piece of Catherine Eddowes&rsquos apron was found on the ground soon after the murder. There was also a message written in chalk on a wall near Goulston Street, which read, &ldquoThe Jews are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.&rdquo The word &ldquoJews&rdquo was spelled &ldquoJuwes.&rdquo The misspelling, together with the double negative, suggests that English was not their first language.

Many people have puzzled over this clue left after the killing spree. Some believe that this was left to blame Jewish people for the crime, while others believe it means the complete opposite. It has been a topic of much debate and speculation over the years.

The Second Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, Sir Robert Anderson, was completely convinced that Jack the Ripper was Jewish. He wrote a memoir titled The Lighter Side of My Official Life. In it, he goes into details as to why he spent the rest of his life convinced that Aaron Kosminski truly was Jack the Ripper and that he was &ldquosafely caged in an asylum.&rdquo He also wrote, &ldquoIn saying that he was a Polish Jew I am merely stating a definitely ascertained fact.&rdquo [5]

American Ripper in London

American Ripper in London presents a bold new theory on the possible identity of the figure who stalked Whitechapel in 1888. But, before exploring this new possibility, it’s important to understand the facts about the case. Here’s what we know about history’s most notorious and mysterious serial killer.

The Whitechapel Murders

The killings we attribute to “Jack the Ripper” were actually part of a larger context of casual slaughter within London’s East End in 1888. Together, these crimes are known as the Whitechapel Murders, and they horrified a public who already regarded this part of the city as a hellish cesspool of violence and vice.

These cramped streets were filled with decrepit doss houses and murky alleyways where desperate women, thieves and thugs lurked in bleak squalor. One street, where two of the Ripper’s victims lived, was known as the “foulest and most dangerous street in the whole metropolis”.

The first Whitechapel Murder was a gang assault on a prostitute called Emma Smith.

Some months later, a sex worker called Martha Tabram was found dead from multiple stab wounds, but was she the first victim of Jack the Ripper?

Those in the “No” camp point out that she was stabbed rather than slashed – an important difference in MO, implying a frenzied crime of fury, and a far cry from Jack’s more methodical approach. However, serial killers have been known to change their method of execution, and it’s possible Martha was an early “experiment” for Jack, before he honed his style for the “Canonical Five” – the women most people agree were victims of the same figure.

Was Jack the Ripper H.H. Holmes, America's first serial killer? #AmericanRipper in London coming soon. pic.twitter.com/EtZ3mxumNY

— HISTORY (@HISTORYUK) July 24, 2017

Victim 1: Mary Ann Nichols

The first of the Canonical Five was Mary Ann Nichols, who led a typically bleak existence in the communal lodging houses of the East End. In the early hours of 31 August 1888, she was kicked out of one of those houses because she couldn’t afford a bed. “Never mind,” she said as she left. “I’ll soon get my doss money. See what a jolly bonnet I’ve got now!”

A little while later, a friend bumped into Nichols on the street. Nichols was apparently tipsy and walking with difficulty, and it was the last time anyone except her murderer would see her alive. She was later found by a cart driver, her throat slashed so deeply that she’d almost been decapitated. Her abdomen had also been slashed open.

“I have seen many terrible cases,” said the doctor who examined her corpse, “but never such a brutal affair as this.”

“I have seen many terrible cases,” said the doctor who examined her corpse, “but never such a brutal affair as this.”

Victim 2: Annie Chapman

Just over a week after the Nichols killing, another down-at-heel Whitechapel woman named Annie Chapman was also forced to hit the night streets to earn money for her lodgings.

Just before dawn, mere moments before Chapman was murdered, a woman named Elizabeth Long saw her talking to a man by the back yard of a house in Spitalfields. Long described the man as looking swarthy, wearing a Sherlock Holmes-style deerstalker hat, and having a “shabby genteel” appearance. Long overheard the man say “Will you?” and Annie answer “Yes”.

This man was almost certainly Jack the Ripper. A little while later, a local resident found Chapman’s eviscerated body in that same yard. As with Nichols, her throat had been deeply cut. But the violence to her abdomen was even more extreme, with Chapman’s innards cut out and thrown over her shoulders. Examinations later revealed part of her uterus had also been taken.

Taking place in the dawn twilight, in full view of the houses that surrounded the yard, this was a shockingly bold and brazen killing. As with all the Ripper murders, there was a mysterious lack of commotion – he struck like a phantom and melted into thin air. Chapman’s evisceration, and the stealing of her uterus, also inspired the still-popular notion that Jack may have been a lunatic doctor, or butcher, though experts still disagree on whether he displayed any real skill in dissection.

Victim 3: Elizabeth Stride

Elizabeth Stride is the most controversial of the Canonical Five, with many believing she wasn’t a Ripper victim at all. Her body was discovered in a dark yard on 30 September by a man named Louis Diemschutz, who could barely make her out in the gloom. On examination, it was discovered that her throat had been cut – a hallmark of the Ripper. And yet, she lacked injuries to the rest of her body. There was no slashing, no gruesome evisceration.

For this reason, and because a witness claimed to have seen Stride being violently manhandled on a street shortly before her death, some believe she was killed by an angry lover, or a common street hoodlum, rather than the Ripper.

Yet, it’s perhaps more likely that it WAS Jack, and he was interrupted before he was able to commence his customary evisceration. Indeed, Jack may well have been lurking in the shadows, just metres away from Diemshutz when he first discovered Stride’s body. Had he been able to see more clearly in the darkness, the Ripper might have been apprehended there and then.

Victim 4: Catherine Eddowes

On the very same night Stride was killed, a woman named Catherine Eddowes was also set upon by the Ripper. This is known as the “double event”, though the murders themselves were very different. As if making up for the conspicuous lack of desecration with Stride, Jack truly indulged himself with Eddowes, leaving behind a ghoulish, quintessentially Ripper-ish crime scene.

Just hours before, Eddowes had been in police custody, having been found drunk on the street. After sobering up in a cell, she was let out in the early hours – only to be later found with her throat cut, her face mutilated, her internal organs splayed out and her kidney and part of her uterus removed.

Later that night, police discovered a piece of Eddowes’ apron in a doorway on Goulston Street, Whitechapel. Above it, scrawled in chalk, was a mysterious message: “The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing”. Different variations of the message were recorded, and we can’t be certain of the exact wording because the message was swiftly washed away before it could be photographed, apparently to avoid any anti-Semitic backlash from an already terrified public.

The question is, was the so-called “Goulston Street Graffito” actually written by the Ripper, or was it just a random scrawl that was already there when Jack left the apron close by? And why the strange spelling, “Juwes”? The debates rage on.

"It was several hours later that Kelly was discovered utterly torn apart: a mangled, flayed and barely recognisable mess."

Victim 5: Mary Jane Kelly

And so we come to the last of the Canonical Five. Thanks to countless books and dramatisations, Mary Jane Kelly has come to be seen as the “star” Ripper victim. That’s partly because of her youthful good looks, and partly because of the way in which she died – in her own home rather than on a dark street corner, and in the most flamboyantly grotesque way imaginable.

A number of witnesses gave accounts of Mary Kelly’s final movements in Miller’s Court, where she lived. Over the course of the night she was seen in the company of men, and – in the early hours of 9 November – she was heard singing. Some hours later, before daybreak, a neighbour was awoken and apparently heard the exclamation “Murder!” It wasn’t an uncommon cry in the East End, so she thought nothing of it.

It was several hours later that Kelly was discovered utterly torn apart: a mangled, flayed and barely recognisable mess. This was an immense escalation in MO, probably because the Ripper enjoyed a degree of unprecedented privacy, and was free to satisfy his bloodlust without fear of being interrupted.

While there were to be more Whitechapel Murders, the general consensus is that Mary Kelly was the final victim of the man we call Jack the Ripper. Whether it was because he was imprisoned for other crimes, died, or left the country, the Ripper was never to strike again in London.

“His expression is sinister… his eyes are small and glittering… his lips are usually parted in a grin which is not only not reassuring, but excessively repellent.”

The Leather Apron Scare

Before the name “Jack the Ripper” was forever attached to the shadowy phantom of Whitechapel, another ominous nickname was thrown around by the media: Leather Apron.

In the wake of the Nichols murder, East End prostitutes told detectives of a thuggish figure who terrorised working girls, extorting money and assaulting anyone who refused him. This person was apparently known only as “Leather Apron”, and when the press got wind of these stories, they wasted no time in turning him into a demonic figure, silently stalking the streets at night.

“He carries a razor-like knife,” according to one breathless report. “His expression is sinister… his eyes are small and glittering… his lips are usually parted in a grin which is not only not reassuring, but excessively repellent.”

In fact, Leather Apron turned out to be pretty much an urban myth, albeit inspired by a real East End local called John Pizer. A blameless bootmaker, Pizer was forced by all the media attention to go into hiding. He was eventually exonerated thanks to his alibis for the Nichols and Chapman murders, but that eerie name “Leather Apron” continues to be a mainstay of Ripper lore.

“You will soon hear of me with my funny little games,” the writer vowed, before signing off with the name that would grant him eternal notoriety: Jack the Ripper.

The Ripper letters

So where did the name “Jack the Ripper” come from? A single communication, apparently from the murderer himself, which was received by the Central News Agency on 27 September, after the first two deaths. Written in blood-red ink, and beginning with the words “Dear Boss”, the taunting letter made light of “that joke about Leather Apron”, and promised more killings to come. “You will soon hear of me with my funny little games,” the writer vowed, before signing off with the name that would grant him eternal notoriety: Jack the Ripper.

The authenticity of the “Dear Boss” letter has been hotly debated by generations of experts. Some dismiss it as a prank, or an attempt by a journalist to drum up a media frenzy. The publication of the letter inspired a flood of malicious copycat communications, and only two others have been taken seriously. One was the so-called “Saucy Jacky” postcard, which seemed to be written by the same person behind “Dear Boss”, and significantly mentioned the “double event”, perhaps before the news of the two same-night killings was widespread knowledge.

And finally, there was the infamous letter marked “From Hell”, sent in a package together with part of a preserved kidney. It’s unclear whether this genuinely was Catherine Eddowes’ missing kidney, or simply an organ salvaged by a sick medical student, or even a pig’s kidney. The letter itself was much less literate and eloquent than “Dear Boss” and “Saucy Jacky”, and for that reason seems more raw, passionate and authentic. It was also NOT signed Jack the Ripper, which some see as a good sign it was written by the real killer, who wanted to distance himself from the media-made moniker.

As with everything else about the Whitechapel killer, the controversy continues.


It is probable that he made his escape via the adjacent St James’s Place where there was a Metropolitan Fire Escape Station. Yet the firemen on duty had seen or heard a nothing.

Neither had City Police Constable Richard Pearse who lived at number 3 Mitre Square, where his bedroom window looked across at the murder site.

George Morris, the night watchman, whose whistle had first alerted the police at large to the atrocity, expressed himself totally baffled as to how such a brutal crime could have been committed close by, without him hearing a sound.

As the Illustrated Police News reported:-

. He could hear the footsteps of the policeman as he passed on his beat every quarter of an hour, so that it appeared impossible that the woman could have uttered any sound without his detecting it. It was only on the night that he remarked to some policeman that he wished the "butcher" would come round Mitre Square and he would give him a doing yet the "butcher" had come and he was perfectly ignorant of it.&rdquo

Seeing Oswald Double

So if we find witnesses who saw "Lee Oswald" where Lee Oswald could not have been, if we find discrepancies in Oswald's height in different records, and if he looks different in different photos, that might seem normal -- unless you are a conspiracy theorist. In that case, you might see evidence of two Oswalds. And if there were two Oswald's, at least one of them must have been up to something sinister. An intelligence agent, perhaps, or an Oswald impersonator working to "set up" the real Lee Oswald as a patsy.

These theories have been around for a long time, dating back to 1966 when philosopher Richard Popkin published The Second Oswald . In 1975 Michael H. B. Eddowes published Khrushchev Killed Kennedy . Eddowes gained sufficient influence over Marina Oswald to induce her to approve the exhumation of Lee Oswald in an attempt to prove that a "second Oswald" was buried in his grave. Then in the 1980s W.R. Morris and Robert Cutler added Alias Oswald to this literature.

Currently, the most active of the "two Oswalds" theorists is one John Armstrong, whose theories are supported on a website run by Jim Hargrove. According to Hargrove:

What sort of evidence of "two Oswalds" do these theorists present?

Differences in Photos

Conspiracy researcher Jack White has assembled 77 photos of Oswald in poster form. He, like Armstrong, believes these photos show two Oswalds, although some of the photos are (he thinks) composites with elements of both men!

However, there are experts who have the skill to go beyond just eyeballing two figures in a photo, and deciding they "look different." They are called "forensic anthropologists," and they specialize in analyzing enduring features of the human anatomy. The House Select Committee on Assassinations employed a panel of forensic anthropologists, and they concluded that all extant photos show the same person -- Lee Harvey Oswald.

As W. Tracy Parnell points out, "The major problem with Armstrong's ideas is his heavy reliance on eyewitness reports placing Oswald in various unlikely locations." Yet witness testimony is inherently unreliable.

Oswald "Sightings"

  • Most of these witnesses have "Oswald" driving a car, in spite of the fact that the real Lee Oswald could not drive. One might suppose that an impersonator would be able to drive, but it would be a pretty poor impersonation to have the "Oswald double" doing something that the real Lee Oswald could not do.
  • All of these accounts report that "Oswald" was dirty and slovenly. Yet the real Lee Oswald was neat, clean, and well-groomed. It seems the "Oswald" in Alice, Texas fit the popular stereotype of the left-winger as unkempt Beatnik, but not the real Lee Oswald.
  • Some of the accounts have an "Oswald family" consisting of "Lee," "Marina," and a babe in arms. This corresponds to the Oswald family as seen on television after the assassination, but not to the real Oswald family of early October, which consisted of Lee, a very pregnant Marina, and a toddler (June).
  • There simply would be no point in having an Oswald impersonator driving around Alice, Texas, and doing what these witnesses say he was doing. Had he been brandishing a weapon, or threatening to kill the President, or loudly proclaiming left-wing political views, that might make sense. But this "Oswald" was merely looking for a job.

Supposed Forged Earnings Records

However, when researcher Douglas Horne of the Review Board looked into this he found a much more mundane explanation for the "creation date" of the Employer Identification Number. Further, Oswald's 1956 tax return shows him working at Pfisterer, J. R. Michels, and Tujague's. All of this is consistent with the Warren Commission version of Lee Oswald's whereabouts, and inconsistent with a "second Oswald" being in New Orleans when the first one (or was it the second?) was in the Marines.

Oswald in North Dakota?

On the day following the assassination, an article appeared in numerous newspapers written by Aline Mosby, a UPI reporter who interviewed Oswald in Moscow when he first defected. The article says:

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