View Full Version : Thames Torso Murders 1887-1889

Howard Brown
September 8th, 2007, 05:44 PM
Appropriated from Casebook...


Doubtless,most of us have heard of the series of bizarre murders which began before the Whitechapel Murders and continued afterwards. They are known as the Torso Murders.

Check out the statistics for bodies found in the Thames ( almost 1 1/2 per day in 1882 alone...) as well as the other stats.

My question is....Was there ever much of an outcry about these murders and dismemberments at any time during the period of the Ripper's preeminence in London?

The reason I ask is that I'm not sure if any of these women were ever considered prostitutes. Obviously,its sort of difficult to identify a body sans a head.

I wonder why these murders didn't get as much ink as I suspect ( which is why I am asking if it did ) they didn't.

Could it be due to the apparent frequency ( remembering the figures for 1882 ) of headless bodies and body parts found in the river ?


Thank you.

Howard Brown
September 8th, 2007, 07:33 PM
Just in case the reader missed this part...allow me to post this excerpt from the bulk of the material found on Casebook...

"A verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown" was reached by the jury. The government offered a reward of 200 pounds, and a free pardon to any accomplice who could lead them to the actually murderer. No one came forward, no arrests were made, and the case remained unsolved."

Its funny,but it didn't take Montagu and Lusk and others to get some sort of reward offer ( 200 pounds too ! ) stirring like these torso murders did.


Debra Arif
September 9th, 2007, 11:30 AM
Hi How
I have no idea why these murders didn't (and still don't)recieve the same sort of attention as the Whitechapel murders.I find them just as fascinating.
Although they did receive a lot of press coverage individually at the time, it wasn't as sensationalist as the coverage of the Whitechapel murders.Medics of the time vaguely hinted at the later murders being a series, the methods of dismemberment were striking similar in 4 cases. Macnaghten also felt the later ones were possibly linked (Macnaghten's first week at the yard was the same week the dismembered body of Elizabeth Jackson was found in various spots along the Thames and was his first murder mystery case.)
Maybe if the press had made more of them or tried to link them, either together, or to the Whitechapel murders there would have been more of a frenzy whipped up about them.
Re the 1882 body count. I don't think many (or any?) of these 277 open verdict cases would have been on dismembered bodies, just dead bodies found floating in the Thames that weren't obvious suicides. So there wasn't much of an 'everday occurence' about torso findings.
I've read some accounts that in a couple of cases when parts of a dismembered body were washed ashore on the Thames , the general public turned up in droves to search or await for other parts to turn up, so there was a morbid interest from them, but no real outcries to find the killer/s from anyone!
The only one to be positively identified , Elizabeth jackson, was known by her family and friends to have been a working prostitute, the others we will never know about sadly.


Robert Linford
September 9th, 2007, 11:34 AM
Debs, I think that's partly it - the absence of identification. No name, no grieving relatives or friends. Plus, the fact that these women had been left comparatively out of the way, in the Thames as opposed to a street.


AP Wolf
September 9th, 2007, 01:49 PM
I think I've said this before, but I do believe the Thames watermen - and others - were paid a fiver for every body they found floating in the river, and perhaps more importantly for every part of a body they found.
You can imagine the scene, George and Fred are rowing their dingy up the Thames and bump into a body.
'Blimey!' exclaims George. 'We made ourselves a fiver, son!'
'Na we 'aven't!' shrieks Fred, drawing a huge Bowie knife out of the sheath hidden in his trews. 'We've made fifty quid!'

Donald Souden
September 9th, 2007, 03:26 PM

The 200 government reward and pardon offer you cite was in regard to an 1873 case. It wasn't until 1884 that then Home Secretary Sir William Harcourt discontinued government rewards and it was to that precedent that Matthews adhered throughout the Whitechapel murders of fall 1888. Indeed, it is unlikely that a government reward would have made any difference because after the "double event" there was at least 1400 offered by private sources and the City of London and that sizeable piece of change elicited nothing of value from the public at large or any "accomplices."


Howard Brown
September 9th, 2007, 05:06 PM
Thanks for the responses...and thanks to Supe for correcting the dates for me. I misread the reward date.