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The Pick-up Schtick

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  • The Pick-up Schtick

    As previously published in Ripper Notes:

    In the previous articles of this series, we hypothesized as to the possible type and location of the Ripper’s presumed regular employment and how he might have outfitted himself in preparation for committing the Whitechapel Murders. We now turn an eye toward how the Ripper might have procured his victims and selected the murder sites.

    Two of the foremost reasons that the Whitechapel Murders were as sensationalistic and horrifying as they were to the general public in 1888 are 1) the peculiar attitude of those in Victorian England toward sex and prostitutes, and 2) the burgeoning press media that had begun to generate explicit scandal stories for popular consumption on a scale that had not been possible before8. These crimes occurred in a puritanical age in Britain when many a woman was shocked to first learn the facts of life from her husband on her own wedding night3. Sex was simply not something to be publicly discussed under any conditions, and parodies of this quaintly prudish Victorian attitude may be found even today in plays such as ‘No Sex, Please; We’re British’. Although Victorians were forbidden by the customs of that age to discuss sex, the scandal story, which publicly broadcasts information ordinarily kept secret, was a different matter altogether. Formerly, journalists had seen the misfortunes of the poor only as suitable entertainment for the more privileged readership8. However, in part as a result of the repeal of the stamp tax in 1855 and the paper duty in 1860, the number of newspapers in Great Britain had multiplied tremendously, and as they became cheaper, more widely available, and more national in scope, they naturally became more competitive and hence encouraged the creation of scandal-mongering journalists8. And so the stage was set for the unparalleled media coverage of a sensational sex scandal, the likes of which had never before been seen – a merciless killer, who preyed upon prostitutes that sold sex to anyone on the street, murdering them in public locations, mutilating or removing their sexual and other organs, and then leaving the remains in plain sight in an unprecedented in-your-face style that was a horrific affront to Victorian society itself.

    At the same time, however, exclusive brothels thrived in the relatively affluent West End, where prostitutes of a much higher class than those being murdered and mutilated in the East End catered to an enthusiastic and discriminating clientele. Those patrons in the middle and upper classes largely thought of these prostitutes as “daughters of joy”, women who were so overwhelmed by the pleasure of sexual feelings that pursuit of same had become an avocation. Being relatively well-to-do themselves, it was difficult or impossible for many in their position to understand or accept the fact that women could become so desperate that they would sell their own bodies several times daily just to survive. To quote Rumbelow3, “The crude economic necessity that drove women to ‘sail along on their bottoms’ was generally glossed over with a wishy-washy sentiment that they had fallen because they had been betrayed by a wealthy seducer.” The following poem by Thomas Hardy serves as a satirical and sly tongue-in-cheek commentary on these comically misguided standards, idealistic attitudes, and denial-philosophy of upper Victorian British society. O tempora, o mores!

    The Ruined Maid6
    by Thomas Hardy

    "O 'Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!
    Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?
    And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?"
    "O didn't you know I'd been ruined?" said she.
    "You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,
    Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;
    And now you've gay bracelets and bright feathers three!"
    "Yes: that's how we dress when we're ruined," said she.
    "At home in the barton you said 'thee' and 'thou',
    And 'thik oon' and 'theäs oon' and 't'other'; but now
    Your talking quite fits 'ee for high compan-ny!"
    "Some polish is gained with one's ruin," said she.
    "Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak
    But now I'm bewitched by your delicate cheek,
    And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!"
    "We never do work when we're ruined," said she.
    "You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,
    And you'd sigh, and you'd sock; but at present you seem
    To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!"
    "True. One's pretty lively when ruined," said she.
    "I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,
    And a delicate face, and could strut about Town."
    "My dear - a raw country girl, such as you be,
    Cannot quite expect that. You ain't ruined," said she.

    Whereas these upper classes, blinkered as they were in these sexual matters, were generally sympathetic toward the plight of those trapped within the Ripper’s killing ground, the working poor of the East End showed sympathy and empathy for the victims far beyond anything that had ever been observed previously. Turning out en masse for the pauper’s funerals of the Ripper’s victims, thousands of East Enders paid their last respects to their own, shedding tears and doffing caps in genuine displays of grief and emotion5. These emotions ran high, and they no doubt complicated the Ripper’s actions in his subsequent crimes. With public sensibilities aflame, dozens of ‘penny-dreadful’ newspapers fanning those flames on a daily basis, police everywhere, and the blood-lust of the multitudes aroused, the Ripper no doubt realized that his was going to be no easy task if he were to continue his bloody work. Against such an array in opposition, not even a series of disguises might prevail. What the Ripper needed was a game plan.

    Other than the general preparations necessary, one might ask if the Ripper really did formulate any detailed plans for securing a victim or murder site. Were some of the murders, such as that of Annie Chapman, merely crimes of opportunity, especially likely if the Ripper were always “on”? If so, then were those victims merely streetwalkers who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time? After all, as Sugden5 suggests, there were only 4 – 8 probable Ripper victims, and that many consecutive 7’s have been rolled against the odds numerous times at craps tables in many casinos. It might conceivably have all just been nothing more than dumb luck, carried through by extraordinary audacity, although the much greater probability is that these crimes were all very well-planned in their entirety. Several modern serial killers have killed for years without detection, much less capture, and there had then elapsed only a little over 2 months for the murders of the Canonical Five. Disregarding the presumably inactive month of October 1888, we find that the Ripper actively killed over a period of only six weeks! With so few murders to analyze statistically over such a relatively short period of time, it may be impossible to interpret what little we do know with any significant level of confidence. The murders themselves might have actually been well-planned down to the smallest possible detail, or the Ripper might have employed, at least some of the times, a combination of general planning and opportunistic endeavor in a “fuzzy logic” mode of operation wherein critical decisions were made as the situation progressed.

    Debate has ensued for decades as to exactly how the Ripper and his victims met and what thought processes determined the location of the murder sites. When it comes to these subjects, virtually anything is possible. There are almost no impossibilities, only varying degrees of probabilities. Exactly what was said or done by whom to whom beforehand must forever remain a mystery, but here we will address all reasonable scenarios of encounter in an effort to explain what all we know did happen.

    Selection of a victim, by whatever method, probably posed more of a problem for the Ripper than one might first think from reading the many Ripper reference books. Even though, as Rumbelow3 states, there were so many prostitutes in London’s East End that a man could hardly walk the streets without being propositioned, molested, or harassed by one or more of them, not just any streetwalker would do. The Ripper had to find the ‘perfect’ victim, one who possessed the requisite qualifications as the object of his attentions and who would either accompany him to his choice of location or who would take him to a location that was known to him and acceptable for his purposes. If the Ripper truly had a fixation just on prostitutes alone, and not on women in general, then surely he must have taken some precautions against accidentally engaging a bonafide working woman who might otherwise have been identical in appearance to those he sought as victims, but who had just “been looking for love in all the wrong places” and at the worst possible time. Such an attitude might indicate that the Ripper preferred to let the woman be the aggressor, in order to be sure of her intentions, but if not, then he could easily have “tested the waters” to ensure himself of a potential victim’s status before proceeding too far or committing himself.

    In most of the Canonical murders, the Ripper’s engagement of prostitutes that were definitely on the downhill side of their careers and lives might be explained by the concept of the modern-day ‘honey trap’, still used today with good results by Israeli Intelligence. The Ripper might have considered an attractive woman too dangerous to engage openly, for not only would she naturally draw more attention than a drab woman in her middle 40’s, she might also be leading her clients to an ambush, where, in the seclusion of an alleged trysting place, confederates might beat and rob – or worse – anyone who appeared the least bit prosperous. If there were no actual danger of the Ripper being accosted while in the intended victim’s company, then there would still be the danger of being observed in the act by voyeurs who were willing to pay prostitutes to arrange for the privilege. There is certainly historical precedent for such a thing, and the Ripper probably selected those women for whom he felt such risks were minimal. Certainly, most of those whom he did engage would scarcely have received a second look as they departed the pickup location, and this would be just what the Ripper would want of a victim.

    Misogynist or not, psychopath/sociopath or not, the Ripper must have known how to manipulate the female psyche and have been an expert at doing so. He would likely have engaged his victims in ordinary conversation, e.g., “Evening, miss; care for a pint?” He would certainly have been well-versed in the local vernaculars and pick-up lines. He would probably have utilized banter such as the phrase well known to Ripperologists, “you would say anything but your prayers” and palaver, to further put his selected victim at ease. Some excellent examples of this sort of ‘palaver’ have recently been composed by Mr. Warwick Parminter and posted on the Message Boards of Stephen Ryder’s Casebook4, and are reproduced below. If indeed the Ripper had been acquainted with his victims beforehand, the actual conversations he might have had with them just prior to their murders could well have been of this sort:

    “What-O there Poll! My, but you’re a way from your bed and at this hour too. Had a drop as well, ain't ya gel; here let me give you a hand back to your doss - Flowery Dean init? We'll go Bucks Row way; it'll be quicker than going down the High Street.”

    “Mornin’, Annie; how are you, Duchess? What, been out all night! Hadn't got the shekels for your bed, eh? Well, look, come with me down Hanbury Street; I have to pick up some vegetable trays from Richardson's. Give me a hand to the market with ‘em, and I'll give you a tanner. That’s right Annie, down the entry, you won't have to walk the streets tonight!”

    “Katy, my gel, wot you doin’ out this way, at this time? If you ain't careful Jack'll get you. Wot, you just got aht the slammer for drunk and disorderly? Well Katy, if you play the game, you must take the blame! Got a touch of the dog have yer? Never mind, come with me, I'm just going round to the old Orange Market for a bit of work, I'll get yer a couple of oranges - better than nothing. Come on, we'll go down through the Square.”

    The Ripper would almost surely have made use of kind words and flattery during his negotiations with the intended victim – all women love them and are quite susceptible to them, and, of course, from the victim’s point of view there was always the theoretical possibility of a romance and a way out of the endless drudgery and hopelessness of an East End indigent. Such an event may have been highly unlikely but was certainly possible – after all, many a modern high-dollar hooker has left the business engaged to a former client2. Most importantly though, the Ripper in public would not look or act like the monster that everyone felt must have been committing these murders. The general public, as well as many a police official, was expecting to find and was searching for a recognizable fiend, not a next-door neighbor.

    Outwardly, many women of the East End either had a surprisingly morbid attitude toward the Whitechapel Murderer – “I’d be a victim of his just to be talked about so nice afterwards”5 – or a fatalistic one, which was more to be expected of those who lived such dreary and hopeless lives. We should note in particular the emphatically fatalistic attitude of some of these women – “I’m the next for Jack” and “It’s either the Ripper or the bridge for me”5. Is it possible that at least a few of the victims might just not have cared about the risks, or the inevitable outcome of engaging the Ripper as a client, and gone with a suspicious pick-up anyway as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy? Were their lives that riddled with despair, that they should be virtually willing to cast them away to the Ripper? When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose, and such philosophy might perfectly represent that possessed by the helpless street women then being preyed upon in the East End.

    Each of the Ripper’s later victims must have known about those unfortunates preceding her, and surely each must have known that she was a woman in identical circumstances, yet they willingly went with him anyway. Barring a fatalistic sense of inescapable doom or death wish in the victims, could it instead have been that the victims were at ease and never suspected a thing until it was too late? Surely the modern-day victims of the Boston Strangler and Ted Bundy knew that other women were being murdered then, women most probably in the exact same circumstances as they now found themselves, yet they must have felt safe with their killer, just as all of the others had before them.

    To understand exactly how the Ripper may have been so successful with the prostitutes, nervous and paranoid as they must have become as the autumn of 1888 progressed, we look to the methods used by the infamous American serial killer of the late 20th century, Ted Bundy. Bundy was known to have utilized numerous methods to acquire a victim, the most successful among them being to feign injury or helplessness to gain a potential victim’s pity and trust. Bundy, who also had the advantage of being reasonably handsome, was often seen by his victims as an object of pity, and few of his victims had evidently been the least suspicious of him or his alleged plights. Considering this, imagine how the Ripper might have appeared to his victims - a man of some attractions who could obviously do better, but who possibly seemed awkward and handicapped enough with women such that he was reduced to seeking out the intimate company of well-used women long past their prime. Had he cultivated a false stutter or other handicap and feigned shyness for the occasion, any remaining suspicions or fears on the victim’s part would have been quickly allayed. As probably was also the case with the victims of the Boston Strangler and Ted Bundy, the last thoughts of the unsuspecting prey of the Ripper may have been something on the order of “how could this nice man be doing this to me?”

    Did the Ripper aggressively seek to engage his victims, intending to take them to predetermined locations, or did he instead allow them to solicit him and guide him to one of their regular and preferred locations for concluding these sexual transactions? The World’s Oldest Profession has changed little over the centuries in these respects, so we can look to the present to help us understand the past.

    Having visited a number of the world’s fleshpots, the author has seen some interesting variations of these ersatz mating rituals. In the state of Nevada, for example, prostitution is legal in most counties, but it is illegal within the more heavily-populated counties and therefore within many municipalities such as Las Vegas, as many conventioneers discover to their cost each year2. Illegality of course does not hinder prostitution in Las Vegas – it only raises the price. In Las Vegas, the prostitutes either passively wait on street corners or around public sites such as parks, waiting to be picked up, or they aggressively seek clients, sometimes venturing into the casinos themselves.

    In the passive state, the prostitute will stand discreetly in some accessible public location while a potential client makes a pass around or by her. If he comes back for a second look, she will typically give some sign that, yes, she is available. This is usually done subtly and with great discretion because of the danger of undercover police and ongoing sting operations. They may then engage in conversation, during which the woman or the man inevitably hints that she/he has a room and wouldn’t mind his/her company. Terms and conditions may then be negotiated, or they may be deferred until during the journey to the designated destination.

    In the aggressive state, the prostitute will travel a regular route, actively seeking out a client. Solitary men are of course a favorite target, but during one memorable trip to Las Vegas, the author witnessed a prostitute aggressively pick up a client inside of a downtown casino. This incident was noteworthy because the prostitute had evidently been patiently waiting inside of the casino, milling around with the crowd, until she had a chance to solicit her mark, a middle-aged man whose rather portly wife had (finally) just left the gaming area, probably to use the restroom. Whatever she said to him must have been quick and to the point, for the couple left immediately. One can only imagine the wife’s perplexity when she returned shortly thereafter, and her husband’s later explanation of his sudden disappearance.

    In other major cities where prostitution is also illegal, it is still usually conducted openly by streetwalkers. Invariably, these provocatively dressed women either stand in a fixed spot, undoubtedly a location on a regular route, or circulate through the same route while waiting to be picked up. Numerous times in Houston, the author has seen these women strike an agreement with a client and enter his vehicle, there being no suitable venue within walking distance. The parallels between these modern-day activities and those known to be centered around St. Botolph’s Church in 1888 Whitechapel should be obvious.

    Could the Ripper have offered his victims liquor as well as money, as many a casual pick-up today begins over a drink? All of the Canonical Five were known to imbibe, some heavily, and one suspect described by eyewitnesses was observed to be holding a quart can of beer as he was talking to Mary Kelly.5 Although the Ripper’s use of an anesthetic such as chloroform on his victims may probably be safely discounted, use of another drug such as chloral was quite possible. Once ingested, chloral in the form of the common hydrate takes effect in a relatively short time, about 30 minutes, and will induce a deep sleep within an hour. However, in Victorian England, a solution of chloral and alcohol (in the form of liquor) constituted the infamous "knockout drops" or "Mickey Finn" of legend.7

    Spiked into liquor that might have then been proffered to the victim, and which would almost surely have been accepted by women of those intemperate habits and station in life, chloral hydrate would immediately form a potent chloral/alcohol mixture and would produce near-immediate – and quiet – unconsciousness, a state which would go far in explaining exactly how the various murders did proceed so quietly and without any apparent struggle. Naturally, detection of such a substance in the victim’s digestive tract or blood would have been beyond the capabilities of the physicians in attendance at the post-mortems, in that era before forensic pathology and biochemical analysis had been developed as sciences.

    In the Victorian Era, chloral hydrate was most often used by alcoholics whose sleep patterns had become chronically disturbed by excessive drinking. The danger of such a potent mixture and the highly addictive properties of chloral resulted in "two cravings for a single craving," as was detailed in 1880 in the Quarterly Journal of Inebriety. It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that the medical community finally became aware of the problems associated with the indiscriminate use of hypnotic drugs such as chloral, especially when taken in combination with alcohol to bolster their effects. A further detail that should pique the interest of Ripperologists is that it has also been observed that a mixture of alcohol and drugs such as morphine, which, like cocaine, opium, and heroin, were readily available to the general public in Victorian England, is likely to bring about an episode of temporary psychosis in the user.7

    Much has been made of the fact that little if any money was found on the Ripper’s victims. He could certainly have paid the victims, as a client normally would, prior to accompanying them to the chosen site, but that leaves the problem of there being little or no money found on any of the victims afterwards. Surely, in the haste that must have necessarily followed these murderous frenzies, the Ripper would not have risked detection or capture by wasting precious time fumbling on the victim’s person in an effort to recover the trivial amount that would have been paid her – if indeed any money had changed hands between them. It was certainly possible for the Ripper to have offered to pay the victim ½ some time beforehand and ½ afterwards, knowing that the intended victim, destitute as she was, would surely not decline to meet a paying and presumably well-mannered client who had promised additional money. If such were the case, then there would naturally be no money to be found on the victim at the murder site, the victim undoubtedly having spent it all beforehand, expecting to receive an additional sum soon after for services rendered. As an example in support of this postulation, a well-dressed Elizabeth Stride is known to have apparently refused a potential client (“not to-night, but some other night”1) shortly before her murder, while loitering at Dutfield’s Yard on Berner Street. Stride was seen to be waiting alone at the entrance to Dutfield’s yard only a few yards from where she was found murdered. Did this uncharacteristic development occur because she was there waiting for the Ripper, who had already put her on retainer for a ‘date’ that night? Prior to Elizabeth Stride’s murder, the police had been given orders to stop and question any man seen in the company of a woman after the hour of midnight. If the Ripper had arranged to meet Stride at the chosen murder site, then this subterfuge would have been an effective countermeasure against the precautions then being taken by the police. In this manner, the Ripper would never be seen walking in the company of his victim, and so he could not legally be stopped by a constable and questioned as a Suspicious Character.

    It has been pointed out by numerous Ripperologists that Catherine Eddowes may have arranged to meet with the Ripper at Mitre Square. It certainly would have been a clever move on the part of the Ripper if he had begun to arrange to meet his victims on site instead of accompanying them there, given the precautions then being taken by the police. As such, the Ripper may have been far more likely to succeed, particularly once the murders had become so well-publicized, if he selected a victim with whom he had already become familiar. Is it feasible that he had arranged a rendezvous with one or more of these women on the nights they were murdered, to ensure that his presumed careful planning around location and the police constable’s beat times wouldn't depend on encountering a suitable victim by chance at exactly the right time and place? Very likely, a cautious Ripper had made it his business to become familiar with the police constable beat times at all of his selected murder sites, and attempted to commit the crimes around midway between these established beat times. If not, then the victims themselves would almost surely have had a good working knowledge of the police beat times at their favored locations and would have been able to inform the Ripper of approximately how much time he had to consummate the transaction.

    If the Ripper had been a reputable client of any of his victims before, then they would have felt safe in his company, assuming that they remembered him, and would have gone to any reasonable location to do practically anything with him for payment. In the absence of a death wish, they must have felt secure with him or they would not have accompanied him anywhere alone under those conditions during that time. One ingenious manner in which the Ripper could have instilled a sense of security in his intended victims would be by feigning nervousness or impotence during the first encounter and then arranging to rendezvous later for another attempt. Such a charade would certainly accomplish this objective, especially if he had initially paid them well for their time and trouble afterwards and his initial conduct had been above reproach.

    Eyewitnesses reported seeing a man come up to Mary Kelly on the street and tap her on the shoulder5, probably to ascertain her availability. Such an act of familiarity, with laughter following, was undoubtedly conducted by a regular customer, someone well-known by her, and not a hitherto unknown client. The man that butchered Mary Kelly must have known Miller's Court well, and he must have known that he wouldn't be disturbed there by anyone for hours. Could this be an indication that the Ripper had visited Kelly's room beforehand as an acquaintance or client some time prior to her murder, and that he may have known her personally as well?

    With a congenial face concealing a heart of marble, the Ripper undoubtedly relished engaging his victims thus, deriving no small measure of satisfaction out of leading an unsuspecting woman to a grisly fate amidst all of those surrounding and in pursuit. As anticipation is often more pleasurable than the actual experience, the Ripper may have had personal incentive to give his victims every consideration possible to reassure them of their safety and to prolong the charade.

    Having secured a victim, by whatever means, how did the Ripper decide upon a murder site? He might or might not have had an intimate familiarity with the maze of side streets and labyrinthine alleys of the East End, but surely, for reasons of security, he could not normally allow the woman herself to select the precise location at which they were to conduct their business. A much better solution would be for the Ripper to suggest a location, one with which the victim was herself familiar, and would therefore feel was secure, but one which he had previously scouted and selected as ‘safe’. Certainly, a familiarity with the site proposed would have helped serve to quell any fears the woman might have had during that terrible autumn and to have precluded any suspicions that might otherwise have arisen.

    Some Ripperologists believe that the Ripper must have investigated potential murder sites beforehand for suitability, possibly via practice runs during the intervening weeks between murders. With such a transient population in the East End, the Ripper could not afford to check the sites out too early in advance, for the attendant risks would be too great. If the Ripper surveyed a site and it was not suitable for his needs, then it would be disregarded at least for the while. It is possible, though unlikely, that the Ripper had taken a prostitute to each of the sites for a practice run, but there may have also been numerous ‘dry runs’, during which he was unable to secure a suitable victim on his terms and conditions. It was, of course, possible that the Ripper instead selected a murder site and then waited nearby for a suitable victim to pass by, knowing that time and probability would be on his side in that area of the East End. Or the Ripper might have merely gone to view the prostitutes’ ‘parade’ around St. Botolph’s Church and engaged a victim from among the available candidates, knowing that his favored site or sites would be but a short walk away in any direction from the main thoroughfares surrounding that location. If so, then the Ripper probably picked up his victims as close to the murder sites as possible, as a long walk would pose all manner of risks at that time of night and undoubtedly cause the victim to become uneasy and suspicious. In case there were no suitable candidates to be found at or near the location he desired, he might simply have ‘trolled’ for a victim in the area, knowing that he would surely encounter a goodly number from which to choose.

    Of course, it is difficult to imagine a location less desirable for public serial killing and mutilation than the backyard of that rooming house on Hanbury Street, especially during the early daylight hour during which the Chapman murder was committed. Who would have selected that particular location, especially at that time of day, when some folk in the rooming house were already awake and preparing for work? Did a desperate Ripper choose it after a fruitless search the preceding night for the ‘perfect’ victim to take to his original intended murder site, thus throwing caution to the wind? Was this location one of Annie Chapman’s regular ‘business stops’? Most likely, the rooming and doss houses in that area of the East End were very much alike in appearance, construction, and arrangement, so that both the Ripper and Chapman would probably have known in general what to expect there without the necessity of ever having actually been there before.

    One novel theory presented recently on the Message Boards of Stephen Ryder’s Casebook4 is that the Ripper took Chapman to that backyard not for purchase of sex, but ostensibly to retrieve some goods from the outhouse there. As was stated earlier, virtually anything is possible, and this postulation cannot be discounted. After all, some of the victims such as Chapman were known to have engaged in some minor craft or trade to earn money however and whenever they could, and an unsuspecting Chapman would likely have followed the Ripper willingly at that early morning hour if there were an apparent chance to earn money by some crafts work or other honest work such as that described in the earlier example of ‘palaver’. Such a pretext could go far in explaining the selection of that particular location at that time of day, the combination of which must have been highly unusual for a commonplace ‘immoral act’.

    Debate continues as to the exact manner in which the Ripper assaulted his victims once they did reach their destination, and there are fervent partisans for several opposing theories. The most common of these theories involve whether the Ripper approached his victims from the front or the back, whether he stunned them with a punch to the face or strangled them into unconsciousness, and whether he cut their throats while they were still conscious in a vertical position or while stunned or unconscious in a horizontal position. Each of these theories has its pros and cons, but there is simply not enough data or forensic evidence to be able to make more than an educated guess as to what might have actually transpired. Recently, discussion on the message boards of Stephen Ryder’s Casebook has turned to the possibility whether or not the Ripper may have bargained for oral sex in lieu of the rear penetration typical of those circumstances. Any proposition for oral sex was probably well received by these women, as it would then, as today, have likely commanded a premium price over the usual ‘knee-trembler’. If so, then the vulnerability of the victim as she prepared to perform fellatio would be such that she could be quickly overwhelmed by the Ripper’s frontal attack. Already kneeling or squatting in the position customary for this act, an unsuspecting prostitute would likely also be accustomed to having a client’s hands on her person, either the shoulders or the head itself. In such an arrangement, the Ripper would have had a tremendous advantage, being able to use his weight, strength, and leverage to the fullest extent necessary to quickly and quietly throttle and subdue his vulnerable victim.

    Of course, conventional theories on selection of the Ripper’s victims and murder sites are predicated on the habits and motives of conventional psychopaths and sociopaths. If instead the Ripper were, as one current theory postulates, a ‘black magician’, then an entirely different thought process would be dictating his actions. Under these circumstances, the issue of ‘sacred geometry’ might well prevail above all other considerations and the questions of who the victim was and why she was selected would then become secondary to when she was selected and precisely where the murder site was located.

    The much-discussed lack of activity in October 1888 may probably be attributed to the repercussions of the Double Event, after which vigilance, paranoia, and police presence in the East End would have been at an all-time high. As the Whitechapel Murders progressed, there elapsed longer periods of time between successive events. While the Ripper may have laid low for a while after each successive killing for a variety of reasons, he may very well have spent this ‘down time’ profitably by planning the next murder or locating and cultivating the next victim and scouting for murder sites. If indeed the Ripper did such things, this could certainly explain why and how the murders themselves were executed so flawlessly despite the oft-adverse conditions. And naturally, as the murders progressed, the time required for the Ripper to do his preparatory work would increase in direct proportion to the police and vigilante activity in the area.

    Why would the Ripper want these murder sites to be in such public locales, where he would have little choice other than to leave the corpses of his victims fully exposed, instead of disposing of them in some manner in order to conceal the crimes, as do modern serial killers? There are really only two likely reasons, the first being that there were no rural or secluded locations in that heavily populated urban area. The second, and most probable, reason as to the Ripper’s motives in committing these atrocities in such a public manner will be examined in the next article of this series, ‘Murder Most Foul’.


    1. Evans, Stewart: The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Companion
    2. Puzo, Mario: Inside Las Vegas
    3. Rumbelow, Donald: The Complete Jack the Ripper
    4. Ryder, Stephen:
    5. Sugden, Philip: The Complete History of Jack the Ripper
    6. Wilfong, Blake:

  • #2
    Tim..once again,another terrific piece. I gave my self a big head smack when I read the part about Liz Stride and how she, along with Ms. Eddowes, could have been paid in advance to meet their killer ! It does make sense that after Nicholls,the police and public would have never expected a repeat performance,as with the Chapman crime. Therefore,the alert would be out to nail the killer before what they considered the third in a series. Thanks so much, Tim. Very interesting and important post--------HB


    • #3
      Thanks, Howard, for your compliments. As usual, they are most appreciated.

      But this again begs the question of why you do not subscribe to Ripper Notes - for you otherwise would have read this article April of 2002.

      As you see, Ripper Notes publishes for the upper crust of Ripperology, so don't be cheap - leap!


      • #4
        Tim....will do ! You have my word.