View Full Version : Torso Murders
04-20-2008, 04:52 PM
Forum for discussing the Thames Torso Murders.
On the April 20th, 2008 Rippercast program, Debra Arif disclosed some interesting information on legal abortion and how it may have played a part in the Elizabeth Jackson torso murder.
With no further ado, I will bow out and let Debra expand on her finds as she did on Rippercast.
04-21-2008, 01:08 PM
To clarify Howard's post above, and correct me if I'm wrong, but Debs stated that her source for the use of abortifacient herbs was a source on legal abortion methods. She did not venture to guess whether Elizabeth Jackson's possible abortion was provided legally. Which brings me to ask whether someone in their 5th or 6th month of pregnancy could have a legal abortion in the UK at the time.
Anyone with more knowledge than myself on the legal history of abortion in the UK is welcome to chime in.
According to the Offenses Against a Person Act of 1861:
§ 58 Administering drugs or using instruments to procure abortion
Every woman, being with child, who, with intent to procure her own miscarriage, shall unlawfully administer to herself any poison or other noxious thing, or shall unlawfully use any instrument or other means whatsoever with the like intent, and whosoever, with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman, whether she be or be not with child, shall unlawfully administer to her or cause to be taken by her any poison or other noxious thing, or shall unlawfully use any instrument or other means whatsoever with the like intent, shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable. . . to be kept in penal servitude for life. . .
§ 59 Procuring drugs, etc, to cause abortion
Whosoever shall unlawfully supply or procure any poison or other noxious thing, or any instrument or thing whatsoever, knowing that the same is intended to be unlawfully used or employed with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman, whether she be or be not with child, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable. . . to be kept in penal servitude.
It appears to may have been quasi-legal to provide an abortion to someone before the 'quickening' of the fetus ie before the mother can feel the fetus move. The case of Elizabeth Jackson's was clearly past the point of quickening, and so I wonder, how would she, in her 5th or 6th month of pregnancy, procure a legal abortion?
My guess is that she hadn't the money to pay for a legal abortion, she was far enough along in her pregnancy so that a legal abortion would not exist for her, and so that if she indeed died as a result of a botched abortion, it was one procured illegally from a "doctor" whose methods of using an abortifacient 'plug' were similar to those practiced by legitimate abortion providers.
04-21-2008, 01:20 PM
And I'll add that if someone like Emma Smith had been aware of the punishment meted out to a woman who attempts to cause the miscarriage of their child, it might cause said woman to invent a story of an attack similar to what we know of Smith's account.
04-21-2008, 01:28 PM
Hi Jonathon and How,
I'm going to post a long post post underneath this one that I wrote up last night but didn't get chance to post and contains a few things I have thought about since. It explains what I termed legal abortion, and the reason I brought this up, which is what Jonathon has said, because it was merely a source for the particlar method of abortion that I mentioned .......a better choice of words would have been acceptable abortion.
These acceptable abortions were carried out at very late stages of pregnancy when there was a risk to the mother's health.
04-21-2008, 01:30 PM
Elizabeth Jackson-Thames Torso Mystery June 1889
One portion of Elizabeth's body that was recovered from the Thames was the buttocks and the bony pelvis, with all the organs missing,picked up near Battersea steam boat pier. These parts were all found to correspond with other parts found among the first discoveries at Horselydown a few days earlier. (uterus, placenta and abdominal skin flaps parcelled up together)
According to the Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper of Sunday 9th June, a strange discovery was made on examining the buttocks closer. A fine piece of linen, approximately 9.5in. by 8in., possibly a handkerchief, was found rolled up and pushed into the back passage.
Apart from this one report, this information, along with the fact that Elizabeth's uterus had been removed from her body, an incision made into it and the foetus removed (but the cord and placenta left) was withheld from the public. Even in the inquest reporting in the papers, the finding in the buttocks was only reffered to as a piece of cloth in the pelvis and no mention of what Lloyd's weekly reported about it was made. It wasn't until after the inquest that this finding was being referred to in the press as a 'curious plugging' that showed marine (some papers reported medical) knowledge.
After the inquest, The Central News Agency declared that a nameless indignity inflicted upon the corpse, which it was then considered advisable to suppress in the published reports. That indignity was of a character instinctively to suggest the handiwork of the most brutal of murderers. It seems like information on two circumstances of the case had been withheld from publication.
Drs Bond, Hebbert, Kempster and McCoy were all involved in examining Elizabeth Jacksons remains and Bond and Hebbert gave evidence at inquest. Hebbert (with Bond's permission) supplied his notes from the autopsy on Elizabeth's body (along with autopsy notes from three other torso murders) for publication in an American medical jurisprudence book 'A System of Legal Medicine.' At inquest, Bond stated that after examining Elizabeth's body he could find no signs of instrument use that would suggest an 'illegal operation' had been performed on Elizabeth, and that she had not delivered the child before death, the foetus had been taken from her uterus, by an incision into it, after death. The autopsy notes also back this up, there had been no damage to uterus, vagina, cervix etc. to suggest instrument use to effect a miscarriage or to show that delivery had taken place. It could not be assertained if poisons were in Elizabeth's system as her windpipe, intestines and a greater portion of her stomach were missing.
After finding this report in Lloyd's Weekly I've spent many weeks trying to discover what exactly this ' plugging' could have been and what was it's intended purpose. Yesterday I found in a medical jurisprudence book from 1882, 'Legal Medicine' by Charles Tidy a reference to inducing labour and forcing miscarriages in certain cases that was accepted by medical men, courts and lawyers, although technically not recognised as a being legal. Descriptions of how this type of 'abortion' may be brought on are given, including guidelines on what would be an acceptable case to use these practices.
One of the methods of bringing on a miscarriage, listed in the book and commonly used by doctors was the use of large enemata, or the introduction of plugs into the rectum or vagina.The book also goes on to state that all the means mentioned as being properly employed to induce premature labour when the case neccessitates it, have been imitated by abortion-mongers.
All the Doctors involved in examining Elizabeth's remains were highly qualified, experienced men so it comes as quite a bit of a surprise to me that not one of them had come across this method of inducing a miscarriage before or seen or heard of its use in cases of abortion or had been trained in these types of things. When Dr Bond stated at inquest that there was no evidence of instruments being used that would suggest an illegal operation he was being truthful, and the plugging alone would probably have not been sufficient evidence, but personally, I cannot believe that none of these doctors had come across the practice before and even if they could not prove definitely that was what it's use had been. It must have been something that they were highly suspicious about and did show a connection to abortion practices (as Mcnaghten hints at in his book.) Why then did Hebbert and Bond go on to say that the cutting up of Elizabeth's body showed a skill in the system of division of the parts, the joints being exactly opened and neatly disarticulated, a very sharp knife and a fine toothed saw having being used, but that the skill shown was not that of a doctor or surgeon but that of a butcher, horse knackerer or hunter, someone accustomed to cutting up animals. This was made note of in all the torso cases in Hebbert's notes and they found a distinct similarity in this method and the tools used in all four torso cases from 1887, 1888 and the two in 1889.
Was the evidence that might point to an abortion covered up and purposefully withheld so as not to implicate a medical man, instead putting the blame on to a butcher or slaughterer? And if so, can we trust any of the doctors opinions when it comes to their opinions on the skills shown in the Whitechapel murders?
04-21-2008, 01:51 PM
Well, Debs, I think the basic answer to your last question is 'no'.
As you know in the past I have uncovered some very dubious material concerning Bond's opinions on such, and if you look again at the Schumacher case - which I'm about to start posting elsewhere - you'll quickly see that these doctors stuck together like marmoset dung when it came fellow doctors with blunt instruments and blundering abortions.
I raised JM's point over on the other thread, that Emma Smith was hardly likely to admit to having committed a criminal offence for which she could be sentenced to life. So much easier to have a gang of men attack you, poor girl probably thought she was going to survive.
This would easily explain the apparent confusion of the police in regard to the alleged attack on Smith, for if I remember correctly they were befuddled that their constables were completly unaware of the incident; and I must say that in similar attacks during the LVP the villians were usually quickly arrested.
04-21-2008, 02:07 PM
Emma Smith would have been an accessory to murder and faced penal servitude for up to ten years if an abortionist had been involved.
Also, if she had confessed or given details of such an occurence on her deathbed in the London Hospital, the evidence would not have been admissible in court.
As a cause of death was obvious, evidence of abortion may not have been looked for in an autopsy.
There was a home office report in the 1890's on death certification and inquiring into whether women presentng in hospital with things such as peritonitis and injury should be routinely checked for signs of abortion after death.
02-14-2009, 11:11 AM
02-14-2009, 05:02 PM
The point about Emma Smith is that she had been working as a prostitute-at least part time, to pay for her booze and bed for the night, for over ten years.She would almost certainly have had some tubal scarring from sexually transmitted diseases and would therefore have been most unlikely to have conceived at 45 years of age-an age when a naturally diminished egg count along with her likely tubal erosion would have vastly reduced such a likelihood .But its possible she had "thought" she was pregnant and had sought the help of an abortionist that night.
02-15-2009, 04:41 AM
The posts on here about Emma Smith are a little out of context to the actual podcast discussion, there is another thread somewhere where I did post that I definitely did not think Emma was the victim of an abortionist, anyone pushing this theory would have to account for her other injuries around the face and head etc.
I used Emma as an example of the kind of injuries and type of death that would have occured from an illegal abortion being performed on a woman in this period. I've talked to countless people about the death of Elizabeth Jackson and many automatically assumed that because she was heavily pregnant and her abdomen had been 'operated on' that this pointed to an abortion. I was just trying to clear up some of the ideas about abdominal surgery being anything to do with abortion, and to get across the point that most 'abortion gone wrong victims' died at home or in hospital many days after the event and in agony from their injuries.
It turns out that Elizabeth Jackson did seem to be in the process of getting rid of her unborn child, and that something along the way went wrong, although no instruments had been used on her at the time of her death. Her unborn child was removed from her uterus after her death, at the moment she dies she was still a pregnant woman who had not delivered and not been 'interfered' with as regards bringing on a delivery. Maybe poison was the cause of her death like so many others who underwent this type of procedure? Maybe this is why her windpipe, stomach and intestines were removed and never found.
I just wanted to add something else to this about the other 3 torso finds of 87, 88 and 89.
Some people believe the torso's could be a series and that something may link them, motive etc. If the reason for Elizabeth's dismemberment was to conceal death whilst undergoing an abortion we have to take into account the fact that medical evidence showed that the victim in one of the other cases was a virgin and the other had just recently menstruated as noted in autopsy notes.
The Whitehall torso is probably the only other victim in these 4 murders who may fit into this category as her lower pelvis and organs of her pelvis including uterus were never found.
02-15-2009, 02:16 PM
Debs, a cracking post I must say, but allow me to add that there does seem to be an alarming trend amongst police doctors of the time to easily misdiagnose the biological condition of the female bodies they were examining.
This could leave us in some kind of biblical wasteland where virgins in fact have given birth.
I do not question the Madonna, but rather Dr Bond and his crew.
05-09-2012, 11:21 AM
Regarding the Ripper quasquicentennial, I think it was 125 years ago on May 11 that the unidentified woman's torso was pulled from the Thames in what is called the Rainham Mystery.
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