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What links in a series of murders defines a serial killer?

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  • What links in a series of murders defines a serial killer?

    The most discussed debates ( outside of suspects) have been how many of these murders may have been committed by one individual. Recently I've read several books on serial murders (known and unknown) and have noticed the many discrepancies involved in nearly all of them. Indeed, many who were apprehended were found to have committed more than originally thought to have taken place during the investigations because of the anomalies that existed in some.

    We seem to dissect every detail in the Whitechapel murders in an effort to deduced which ones were committed by a common hand and which ones were not.

    So...what commonalities have to be in place for you to ascribe a link to victims in a series of murders?

    And, have we perhaps, become overly analytical here in light of the anomalies that exists in other series where the perpetrator was eventually apprehended?

    Finally, what role does suspect preference play in determining the victims of a single perpetrator in the Whitechapel Murders?
    Best Wishes,
    Cris Malone
    ______________________________________________
    "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

  • #2
    Hi Cris,

    I've been pondering the same thing recently, and challenging my own previously held conclusions. Here's a good example.

    Most researchers have an opinion on the Tabram murder. Some of us think she was Jack, some of us do not. But ALL of us, no matter which way we lean, have doubts, as we should. However, virtually ALL of us completely discount Emma Smith as a Ripper murder, and with good reason. She wasn't killed with a knife, described multiple attackers, and on the surface, it appears like a particular brutal mugging, but no more.

    However, I recently started looking closer at the Smith murder, and some things hit me. First, her ear was 'cut' or 'torn', suggesting to me the use of a knife. Secondly, she was beaten about the head to start, and seems to have lost consciousness. She was then robbed. The injuries that killed her were superfluos to the purposes of mugging and, in some ways, were more brutal than what we see on the later victims, who did not have to endure their pain for hours before dying. The blunt instrument tore through her insides and such great force was used that it tore through the flesh and tissue that separated her anus from her vagina. Whoever did this wanted to kill and wanted it to be brutal and he was 'hitting' this woman 'where it hurt'.

    If we agree that such a person(s) would be likely to want to kill a woman again, then wouldn't we expect for him/them to learn from their mistake in leaving her alive? When they heard she survived and spoke not only with her friends, but the doctor, and gave a partial description of one of them (his approx age), might we not expect to see a more lethal mode of attack the next time?

    Then we see Tabram. No witnesses, but two weapons used, which could suggest (but doesn't have to) two killers. She's strangled and stabbed once by one knife (the guy who cut Smith's ear?) and stabbed 38 times in a frenzy by the other man (the one who 'stabbed' Smith's insides repeatedly with a blunt instrument?). If you substitute the head beating for strangulation, and the blunt instrument for a knife, you have a very similar, but more efficient and lethal attack.

    And Emma Smith lived at 18 George Street, Martha Tabram at 19 George Street.

    My point is that if the above made you say "Hmmm, Smith and Tabram might very well be related murders," and like most of us, you consider it a possibility that Tabram was killed by the Ripper, then...

    Yours truly,

    Tom Wescott

    Comment


    • #3
      Cris;

      It seems that in the case of at least one of two later murder victims, that the interval of time between the last crime occurring in 1888 up until Mackenzie's murder 9 months later plays a role in excluding her from the previous murder victims. While other circumstances might or do play a role in excluding her from the so-called canon in the minds of some, contemporaneous observer or modern theorist alike, had that crime occurred in January of 1889, I think more would give greater consideration to it being a Whitechapel murder by the Whitechapel Murderer.

      Anther common feature would be, in my view, the type of victim, in this case women who were perceived as or were actually prostituting themselves at the time of the crime...not just women in general.

      Those are two which I can come up with at the moment Cris...its early buddy and I need more java.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Cris Malone View Post
        ...Recently I've read several books on serial murders (known and unknown) and have noticed the many discrepancies involved in nearly all of them. Indeed, many who were apprehended were found to have committed more than originally thought...
        Ok, just to clarify, are you suggesting these discrepancies indicate an evolving M.O. on a par with the suggestions here that maybe Wilson, Smith & Tabram were early victims of the same (Ripper) hand?

        Or, are you suggesting that these discrepancies appear throughout the timeline of the murders. Including the time when we might think there was an established M.O.. Yet the discrepancies actually show that there was no established M.O., it was just the fault of the police who dismissed those murders which contained 'discrepancies' as if committed by another hand?

        Thanks, Jon S.
        Regards, Jon S.
        "
        The theory that the murderer is a lunatic is dispelled by the opinion given to the police by an expert in the treatment of lunacy patients......."If he's insane
        " observed the medical authority, "he's a good deal sharper than those who are not".
        Reynolds Newspaper, 4 Nov. 1888.

        Comment


        • #5
          hi Tom,

          I see where your coming from and thats one facet that I have noticed in some; the pattern evolves... with assaults escalating into the first actual murder, which is often botched or less controlled. The killer then combines fantasy with lessons learned to develop an MO and signature which finally catches the notice of authorities. Even then, one or some murders seem out of place due to factors only known to the killer.

          In your scenario, I believe, you may be suggesting that this miscreant may have spawned from a gang activity that nurtured him to go even further on his own as his fantasy developed. Considering the environment at the time, I think its a real possibility that this is how Jack the Ripper developed; though I would suggest that he was doing some early assaults on his own as well. Someone who kills and mutilates at the magnitude seen in the fall of 1888 just doesn't come out of nowhere and neither is something like this easily duplicated by others.

          How,

          Do you think that McKenzie and Coles are dismissed by many because of the timing or the lack of extensive mutilations or that many suspects suggested weren't around for both of these two murders?

          Jon,

          Yes to both.
          Best Wishes,
          Cris Malone
          ______________________________________________
          "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi Cris,

            The main thing I was thinking is that it seems quite possible, if not likely, that Smith and Tabram were killed by the same men. I'm saying this MORE than I'm saying they were killed by Jack the Ripper. The killings are quite similar, and come on, the women were neighbors. And these two killings did in fact spark off the chain of murders. I don't know that I'm saying a 'gang' killed anyone, if by gang you mean organized crime gang. I'm saying 2-3 people attacked Smith, and two weapons were used on Tabram, suggesting the possibility of two attackers. The only murder where there's no evidence of a second man is Chapman. And I said 'evidence' not 'proof'.

            I'm not figuring the earlier, non-lethal attacks, into this at all. But if someone sees parallels, by all means mention them.

            Yours truly,

            Tom Wescott

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Cris Malone View Post
              ....Someone who kills and mutilates at the magnitude seen in the fall of 1888 just doesn't come out of nowhere and neither is something like this easily duplicated by others.
              And yet, by that same definition we might expect to see a long and easily discernible trail of criminal activity.
              The mutilations evident on Nichols, Chapman & Eddowes do just come from nowhere, thats part of the mystery. There is only one murder between the frenzied stabbing of Tabram & the methodical dissection of Chapman.
              The body of Nichols does not betray the transition from one to the other.
              Or, do you think it does?

              Regards, Jon S.
              Regards, Jon S.
              "
              The theory that the murderer is a lunatic is dispelled by the opinion given to the police by an expert in the treatment of lunacy patients......."If he's insane
              " observed the medical authority, "he's a good deal sharper than those who are not".
              Reynolds Newspaper, 4 Nov. 1888.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by WickerMan
                The body of Nichols does not betray the transition from one to the other.
                Or, do you think it does?
                As you suggest, the Nichols murder is almost the opposite of Tabram. We see a very steady, calm hand. He patiently works his knife under her clothes trying to get the right angle to cut her open(hence the smaller cuts to the abdomen), but can't get it in time before he hears Cross approaching. But it occurs to me this might be a reaction to the frenzy of Tabram's killing. He's now killed a woman twice, founds out he likes the knife, and wants to do more with it, as in see and remove her insides. Certainly, whoever killed Nichols, it was not his first murder, but it was most certainly his first murder where he intended to extract an organ.

                Please note I'm thinking outloud here, not promoting a theory. But I've always thought it obvious that Nichols killer was no first-timer. The first time, the murder is the thing. It's the be all end all. But this guy had been there and done that and wanted to take it to the next level, hence the attempt at organ removal. He succeeds with Chapman, so next he takes TWO organs, and cuts her face up. Next is Kelly, and I wonder sometimes if it wasn't intentional that he got a girl with a place of her own.

                But I'm getting ahead of myself. Any thoughts on my Smith/Tabram post?

                Yours truly,

                Tom Wescott

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Tom_Wescott View Post
                  The only murder where there's no evidence of a second man is Chapman. And I said 'evidence' not 'proof'.
                  Care to elaborate on evidence for a second man for Nichols and Eddowes? If you don't wanna post it, I'll ask you privately.

                  Originally posted by Wicker Man View Post
                  The mutilations evident on Nichols, Chapman & Eddowes do just come from nowhere, thats part of the mystery. There is only one murder between the frenzied stabbing of Tabram & the methodical dissection of Chapman.
                  I firmly believe that nothing comes from nowhere (or “nothing comes from nothing“, as King Lear said :-)) and I'm not too sure about “frenzied“ for Tabram, apart from the fact that Tabram looks like she would have likely put up quite a fight, while Nichols and Chapman most probably wouldn't – and they didn't have the chance anyway, as obvious by the evidence. So perhaps he learned from Tabram to cut their throat first, from behind.
                  Originally posted by Wicker Man View Post
                  The body of Nichols does not betray the transition from one to the other. Or, do you think it does?
                  I think that Nichols could be seen as a transition from Tabram to Chapman. I need to re-read the Vanderlinden article on Tabram and Tom's 2 pieces on Tabram/Nichols.
                  Best regards,
                  Maria

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                  • #10

                    Do you think that McKenzie and Coles are dismissed by many because of the timing or the lack of extensive mutilations or that many suspects suggested weren't around for both of these two murders?

                    I'd like to think that the location of men perceived as suspects ( at the time...1889 and 1891 ) wouldn't be a factor in dismissing either murder, but it probably does play a part in their dismissal in the minds of some people, Cris.
                    The absence of mutilation and that they were committed at least 6 months and longer after the Kelly murder would be the primary reasons I suspect most dismiss them. How about you ?
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                    • #11
                      In JtR's case, the length of time would be a factor, because it seems he was on a more "frenzied" schedule. However, in the case of other serial killers like btk and the grim sleeper, there were much longer stretches between crimes...

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                      • #12
                        Hi Maria,

                        I think by 'frenzy', Wick means that Tabram was stabbed 39 times, which clearly is overkill. I would agree there's som frenzy in that. I also need to go back and read Wolf's Tabram article. At that time, I was totally opposed to the idea that the Ripper as Tabram's killer, and I'm more open to that now. I recall the information Wolf provided about Dr. Killeen was quite new and eye-opening to me.

                        Howard,

                        In the case of Coles, there's much evidence that points to Sadler, so I'm sure that was a contributing factor. Once Sadler was shown not to have been the Ripper, I think the police split into two camps - those who believed in Sadler's guilt, and those suspected the Ripper. A third possibility doesn't appear to have been considered, or else it was dismissed early on.

                        Yours truly,

                        Tom Wescott

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tom_Wescott View Post
                          The injuries that killed her were superfluos to the purposes of mugging and, in some ways, were more brutal than what we see on the later victims, who did not have to endure their pain for hours before dying. The blunt instrument tore through her insides and such great force was used that it tore through the flesh and tissue that separated her anus from her vagina. Whoever did this wanted to kill and wanted it to be brutal and he was 'hitting' this woman 'where it hurt'.
                          The problem I have with this is that Emma Smith's injuries were meant to humiliate, degrade as well as kill in a very painful manner. She also could have I.D.ed her killer.

                          Jack doesn't appear to have been a sadist. He went about his work efficiently and with a minimum of suffering to the victim. (I'm not painting him an Angel of Mercy, just that he did his mutilations on dead women.) If Don Souden and I are correct in how he killed, he cut their throats after they were dead.

                          Emma Smith wasn't a Ripper victim. Jack's crimes escalated but not in a sadistic way. Just my opinion of course.

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                          • #14
                            Well interestingly Walter Drew believed Emma Smith was a Ripper victim and he did investigate the crime...(Did Don say Walter Drew didnt think Stride was or did i imagine that?)

                            If you had of asked me a year ago I also would have said NO.

                            But the work done by Colin Roberts places Emmas supposed attack location at the exact epicentre...a curious coincidence?

                            I dont think Jack gave a damn about his victims his only concern was avoiding the dirty mess getting on himself, a lesson he learned early on probably from Tabram? (If you wish to get his mind set check out sutcliff...)

                            But Emma Smith?

                            I think at present I disagree with Robert

                            Yours Jeff

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jeff Leahy View Post
                              Well interestingly Walter Drew believed Emma Smith was a Ripper victim and he did investigate the crime...(Did Don say Walter Drew didnt think Stride was or did i imagine that?)
                              It's Walter DEW and yes he said that. Or more accurately given the way these discussions have gone, it's what I wrote down Don as saying.lol.

                              Originally posted by Jeff Leahy View Post
                              But the work done by Colin Roberts places Emmas supposed attack location at the exact epicentre...a curious coincidence?
                              Hey, I said something to that effect in your documentary.

                              Originally posted by Jeff Leahy View Post
                              I dont think Jack gave a damn about his victims his only concern was avoiding the dirty mess getting on himself, a lesson he learned early on probably from Tabram? (If you wish to get his mind set check out sutcliff...)
                              You misunderstand. I do not believe Jack cared a twit about his victims. It's all about his needs and his desires....but it appears that unnecessary suffering wasn't one of his needs. The killer of Emma Smith was trying to degrade her as a woman, and make her suffer. Insofar as we can trace an increasing evolution of violence in Jack's murders, it looks odd that the sadism didn't increase.

                              As I said, just an opinion.

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