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  • 5 Questions With : Our European Colleagues

    I've sent 6 Forums members a set of questions to our friends on the Continent for their perusal.
    Central, Eastern, Southern Europe, and Scandinavia are represented.




    1. When did you develop an interest in the Whitechapel Murders and from what source ?

    I began to intrude on Jack the Ripper in middle school when I was studying the British Empire. A copy of Donald McCormick's The Identity of Jack the Ripper had occurred to me. Only with Alan Moore's From Hell my interest has become more active thanks to a visit to London in the same period.

    2. Are you more interested in anything specific in the murders or rather, you prefer the general, overall scope of the crimes ?


    My interest in the case is aimed primarily at the victims, witnesses and journalistic sources are useful for having a chronology of facts. At this point, trying to understand the social context, politics and economy of the British Empire, I try to better understand the victims to hypothesize a possible culprit. If you want to understand a serial killer I think these are necessary steps.


    3. What is your impression of the police performance during the murders ?

    In my opinion, the police did everything possible for the time. There were no forensic sciences as we know them today. The police had procedures and it is possible that clues were lost because they were not considered as such.

    4. Had these murders been committed in your homeland, do you think the press would have catapulted the murders to the extent the London press initially did ?

    I really think so. The most heinous Italian serial killer is probably the Monster of Florence and has had a media coverage both before and after the capture. I think that such facts are considered a boon for journalists and the media in general. These are arguments that raise sales.

    5. Recently, more emphasis has been placed on the Torso Murders and a possible connection to the land-based Whitechapel Murders. What are your views on whether they might be connected ?

    If we consider Thames Torso Murders of 1887-1889 and similar incidents earlier (1873-1874) it is almost spontaneous to make connections and to hypothesize the same hand. But there are too obvious changes with the Whitechapel case ... the victims were found mutilated in the street. I would make connections more likely with the case of John Gill in Bradford than with Jack the Ripper. But I am still interested in the subject and I will go into it as soon as possible.
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  • #2
    First to reply was Italian Ripperologist,Alessandro Mana.




    1. When did you develop an interest in the Whitechapel Murders and from what source ?

    I began to intrude on Jack the Ripper in middle school when I was studying the British Empire. A copy of Donald McCormick's The Identity of Jack the Ripper had occurred to me. Only with Alan Moore's From Hell my interest has become more active thanks to a visit to London in the same period.

    2. Are you more interested in anything specific in the murders or rather, you prefer the general, overall scope of the crimes ?


    My interest in the case is aimed primarily at the victims, witnesses and journalistic sources are useful for having a chronology of facts. At this point, trying to understand the social context, politics and economy of the British Empire, I try to better understand the victims to hypothesize a possible culprit. If you want to understand a serial killer I think these are necessary steps.


    3. What is your impression of the police performance during the murders ?

    In my opinion, the police did everything possible for the time. There were no forensic sciences as we know them today. The police had procedures and it is possible that clues were lost because they were not considered as such.

    4. Had these murders been committed in your homeland, do you think the press would have catapulted the murders to the extent the London press initially did ?

    I really think so. The most heinous Italian serial killer is probably the Monster of Florence and has had a media coverage both before and after the capture. I think that such facts are considered a boon for journalists and the media in general. These are arguments that raise sales.

    5. Recently, more emphasis has been placed on the Torso Murders and a possible connection to the land-based Whitechapel Murders. What are your views on whether they might be connected ?

    If we consider Thames Torso Murders of 1887-1889 and similar incidents earlier (1873-1874) it is almost spontaneous to make connections and to hypothesize the same hand. But there are too obvious changes with the Whitechapel case ... the victims were found mutilated in the street. I would make connections more likely with the case of John Gill in Bradford than with Jack the Ripper. But I am still interested in the subject and I will go into it as soon as possible.
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    • #3
      From Danish Ripperologist Kattrup :



      1. When did you develop an interest in the Whitechapel Murders and from what source ?

      In 1999, I received a copy of Sugden’s book. I read it and liked it a lot, looked online for info out of general curiosity and started following Casebook semiregularly.

      2. Are you more interested in anything specific in the murders or rather, you prefer the general, overall scope of the crimes ?

      I am more interested in the general run of the crimes; the extremely concentrated few months in which everything happened so quickly. From a theoretical perspective I am actually most interested in the source material and how we use it to draw conclusions.

      3. What is your impression of the police performance during the murders ?

      I think the police did as well as could be expected. They were desperate, had no real leads but were willing to experiment and try new things, even if somewhat silly and unproductive.
      The police were still somewhat based on older ideas of police as a peacekeeping force, and they were unable to shake off the territorial claims inherent in the bureaucracy. Still, they did their best.

      4. Had these murders been committed in your homeland, do you think the press would have catapulted the murders to the extent the London press initially did ?

      No, in part because the newspaper market was less developed, so less competition, less need for constant news, fewer real journalists, and in part because state authorities were much more closed and guarded, so fewer details and progress to report, e.g. no open inquests.

      5. Recently, more emphasis has been placed on the Torso Murders and a possible connection to the land-based Whitechapel Murders. What are your views on whether they might be connected ?


      I do not believe they are connected, nor do I believe the Torso “murders” were all by the same hand(s). Debra Arif’s research into Elizabeth Jackson, for instance, makes it possible that she died as a result of a botched attempt at abortion. The only really suggestive link is the overlap in time, i.e. a very brief period in which the dismembered women are found, which also ends at the same time the Ripper crimes do.
      This overlap in time is certainly intriguing and I remain open to the possibility that a connection might eventually be shown. In my opinion, however, no such connection has so far been demonstrated
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      • #4
        From German Ripperologist Thomas Gaschler :


        1. When did you develop an interest in the Whitechapel Murders and from what source ?



        Coming from a film critic background, I became in interested in true crime as a source for fiction movies. First article on the Ripper I read in "Damals", a hostory magazine around 1982



        2. Are you more interested in anything specific in the murders or rather, you prefer the general, overall scope of the crimes ?

        General



        3. What is your impression of the police performance during the murders ?

        Did what they could do, trying to catch him red handed, plain clothes policemen questioning every suspicious looking person at night, house to house inquieries ... The Ripper was extremely lucky



        4. Had these murders been committed in your homeland, do you think the press would have catapulted the murders to the extent the London press initially did ?


        No....


        5. Recently, more emphasis has been placed on the Torso Murders and a possible connection to the land-based Whitechapel Murders. What are your views on whether they might be connected ?

        No. When Manfred Seel's victims have been detected in his garage some years ago, I first thought JtR could also have been the Torso Killer. But than he would have had a private room for torture sex crimes for a long period of time and I do not know how the Whitechapel "intermezzo" would fit into this. Seel went from open air to indoors. Maybe JtR went from indoors to the streets just for the thrill of it and back again when it became too dangerous. Maybe not.

        One thing which is puzzling me regarding the 1873 torso killing is the face mask. He carefully carved it out and pulled it off - and then threw it away (with not assuming that it would be found). So what the hell did he do with it? Wearing it and dancing around in the moonlight like Ed Gein?
        If JtR was the Torso Killer he would have lived further upstream during his killing spree, but he must have been very well acquainted with Whitechapel, so he might have grown up in the East End.
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        • #5
          Some interesting perspectives here. Keep 'em coming!
          Kind regards, Sam Flynn

          "Suche Nullen"
          (F. Nietzsche)

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          • #6
            Thomas Gaschler's replies have been updated ( see below )
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            • #7
              From Italian Ripperologist, Leonardo Salvaggio :





              1. When did you develop an interest in the Whitechapel Murders and from what source ?

              I became interested in the Whitechapel murders when I was 11, after watching the 1988 movie Jack The Ripper with Michael Caine. The idea of the ripper being William Gull fascinated me for many years, but when I started to study the topic deeper I understood how delirious it was.

              2. Are you more interested in anything specific in the murders or rather, you prefer the general, overall scope of the crimes ?

              I'm interested in everything related to the murders. Anyway, I think my main concern is ruling out crazy theories like the royal conspiracy or Walter Sickert being the ripper.

              3. What is your impression of the police performance during the murders ?

              I usually trust the police and authorities in general, so I believe they did a good job overall. Of course they made mistakes (like washing the Goulston Street graffito away), but who doesn't? All investigators make some mistakes at some point in all investigations. For instance, in the RFK investigation the LAPD destroyed part of the evidence saying it wasn't important, the French police report about Lady D's death was apparently lost, right after the discovery of the corpse of Meredith Kercher in Perugia the police let people enter the apartment to collect personal belongings. Police make mistakes all the time and so did the Whitechapel's finest.

              4. Had these murders been committed in your homeland, do you think the press would have catapulted the murders to the extent the London press initially did ?

              I would say not to the same extent. In the 1800s Italy was a much less developed country than the UK, even the press was far behind the British one. And it still is. If you compare an Italian book with an English book about the same or a similar topic you'll find out the British one is probably three times the size. British journalists are still much better than their Italian colleagues. For instance, take the autobiography of an Italian soccer player (say Andrea Pirlo) and compare it with a British one (say Frank Lampard); the book of the British player is much longer and richer, not because British soccer players outsmart the Italians, but because the journalists who coauthor with them are more talented.

              5. Recently, more emphasis has been placed on the Torso Murders and a possible connection to the land-based Whitechapel Murders. What are your views on whether they might be connected

              Well, I don't think they are connected. I don't think it's likely that a serial killer uses two different MO's at the same time. At the end of the day, Jack the Ripper and the Torso Murderer had nothing in common apart from the fact that they killed women. But what puzzles me is that while Jack the Ripper is so famous, the Torso Murderer is completely overlooked. He was far more brutal and made more victims, I don't understand why the Ripper is so much more famous than him.
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              • #8
                Manfred Seel is very interesting. A Hessian Ripper?

                America has it's folklore about the Headless Hessian Horseman, a bogeyman for the Dutch in NY State.

                But all the Germans were called Hessians at the time because most of them were from Hesse. Whether the atrocities were by the majority is another question. I'd be interested to know if Seel was a true Hessian or not.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thread concerning Manfred Seel, containing a 20 plus minute video about him.

                  https://www.jtrforums.com/showthread...730#post357730


                  Thanks to Tom Gaschler for mentioning him.

                  To me,the most impressive thing about Seel is the amount of computer space he used for pornographic images and films. 5T ( terabytes) is about 5 times
                  the space computers for the public sector contained when he was in action.
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                  • #10
                    Many thanks to Gergely Marosi for his responses.

                    1. When did you develop an interest in the Whitechapel Murders and from what source ?

                    2. Are you more interested in anything specific in the murders or rather, you prefer the general, overall scope of the crimes ?

                    3. What is your impression of the police performance during the murders ?

                    4. Had these murders been committed in your homeland, do you think the press would have catapulted the murders to the extent the London press initially did ?

                    5. Recently, more emphasis has been placed on the Torso Murders and a possible connection to the land-based Whitechapel Murders. What are your views on whether they might be connected ?


                    Answers :

                    1. I remember winning a book in high school for the yearly performance or something like that, and it was called "The Biggest Mysteries of the Past". That's where I first read about the Whitechapel Murders, I still remember that The Nemesis of Neglect was the illustration for it. I just checked the book and indeed it was.

                    2. I'm generally interested in the murders and the life and times of the murders. I don't think any crime writer could have ever come up with something like this – I still consider the Whitechapel Murders a real crime that is topping all the crime novels I've ever read. However bloody and tragic it is, it is a story that has an iron grip. It has everything, and being unsolved, it will always occupy people. I think that the fact that we're here, 130 years later, still debating the murders, is a testament to the power of the events.

                    3. I feel they were mightily hindered by the relatively underdeveloped police methods of the time, but I also feel they lacked a bit of imagination and innovation. I mean, if there is a series of murders such as this, you probably need to move out of your usual methods and throw everything at the case in the hope of maybe solving it. There was nothing to lose with new and experimental methods. Crime scene photography might have helped a bit and was available, as shown by the MJK photos. That, at least. Too bad fingerprinting came too late for the WM. I cannot really understand not taking a photo of the Goulston Street Graffito. Even with a possible riot that was a risk that I believe should have been taken. All in all, I think the police had very little chance to catch a murderer of strangers back then. I cannot really put blame on them for not catching a serial murderer, given that even today these types of crimes are difficult to solve with all the resources of a modern police force.

                    4. Yes, but maybe to a bit lesser extent, and that's down to press history. Tabloids, as such, were a bit late in Hungary, but crimes donned the front pages of serious newspapers in the 1880s when they were "interesting enough". Yes, I'm sure if something like this was committed, the press would've blown it up bigtime.

                    5. At first I thought there can be no connection. I'm now not sure any more, given that two serial killers working in the same area at the same time is... well, extremely rare, and I might even be underselling it. So yes, I can imagine that there is a connection, but in general the more I read, the more open I start to be to any ideas, to be honest!
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                    • #11
                      Many thanks to Fredrik Kack for his reply....

                      ***********************************




                      1. When did you develop an interest in the Whitechapel Murders and from what source ?

                      2. Are you more interested in anything specific in the murders or rather, you prefer the general, overall scope of the crimes ?

                      3. What is your impression of the police performance during the murders ?

                      4. Had these murders been committed in your homeland, do you think the press would have catapulted the murders to the extent the London press initially did ?

                      5. Recently, more emphasis has been placed on the Torso Murders and a possible connection to the land-based Whitechapel Murders. What are your views on whether they might be connected ?



                      1. I got, sort of, interested in 1981, at the age of 10, when my parents bought me a book called ďMyter och mysterierĒ (Myths and mysteries) by Tage La Cour, originally published in 1973. The book included stories about everything from the Marie Celeste, Caspar Hauser, Lizzie Borden, The Yeti to Jack the Ripper. The chapter about the ripper frightened me a lot but I was at the same time fascinated because the crimes were still unsolved. I then started to become very interested in the case about 15 years ago and started to read the books I got my hands on.

                      2. I have drifted towards a more general interest in the living conditions in the East end and the divide between different social classes in the late 19th century Europe. But I still read suspect oriented books and take great pleasure in following discussions on the forums regarding different theories and new information. I have also developed a sort of meta interest in how ripperologists communicate their theories and how they/we relate to each other. I am also currently trying to identify the locations of the photos of East End from 1888-1889 that I discovered in a Swedish archive.

                      3. I have no strong opinion of the police work done at the time (except for erasing the GSG, lack of photographs of crime scenes etc). The lack of forensic techniques and almost no experience of serial killers at all made it hard for them to develop the case without catching the killer on site. The police forces today still struggle with serial killers who choses their victims randomly.

                      4. I think that the media coverage would have been almost the same. When I now am working through the articles of the Whitechapel murders in Swedish press, from the period 1888-1891, itís seems to resemble how the press in Britain reported it. But at the same time it is often in the context of the social conditions of the time. This was a period in Sweden when trade unions were formed and socialistic parties were founded.

                      5. I havenít really been looking too much into the Torso Murders so I have no strong opinion. Though my gut feeling is that they arenít connected due to the differences in modus operandi.

                      Best regards[/QUOTE]
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                      • #12
                        Many thanks to Michaela Koristova, who hails from the Czech Republic.


                        1. When did you develop an interest in the Whitechapel Murders and from what source?

                        I was a teenager and my mother had many books on historical crimes which I used to read but do not remember which of them included a chapter or information about the Whitechapel Murders. When I went to the cinema to watch the movie Murder by Decree in 1979 or 1980, I knew about them. My interest has grown throughout the years and with new books on the topic.

                        2. Are you more interested in anything specific in the murders or rather, you prefer the general, overall scope of the crimes?

                        The general scope is a bit less interesting to me. I prefer the details of any kind because they help me to make my own opinion about the crimes.

                        3. What is your impression of the police performance during the murders?


                        It is certainly difficult to to investigate a murder of a prostitute now with all the surveillance now with all the surveillance cameras, technology, databases, DNA testing, etc. The police had no aids like that in the 1880s.
                        I have never been to British archives to read the original documents from 1888 but what I have read in books/articles so far suggests that the London police did what they could. Unfortunately, in addition to some inconsistencies in their work, they were out of luck.

                        4. Had these murders been committed in your homeland, do you think the press would have catapulted the murders to the extent the London press initially did?

                        In 1888, my homeland was a part of Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. What I know from newspapers, documents, etc. from the late 1800s, the press informed on „thrilling“ crimes quite extensively in different languages of the monarchy. In the last decade, some journals and newspapers used drawings to illustrate the texts; booklets were published, broadsides were printed, etc. Had they been committed here, the crimes would be well known throughout the Central Europe but they would have to find their way to the English-speaking readers.
                        Btw. one of the notorious cold cases here is a murder of a prostitute in 1933. She was cut into pieces; they were put into two trunks and sent by different trains to two cities on other side of the country. It happened almost 50 years after the Whitechapel Murders but the press coverage was enormous. The mass media keep on presenting the case to the public again and again. Now, DNA analysis of hair found under the nails of the victim is performed; they want to compare it to DNA of descendants of two suspects.

                        5. Recently, more emphasis has been placed on the Torso Murders and a possible connection to the land-based Whitechapel Murders. What are your views on whether they might be connected?

                        Why someone would cut a victim into pieces, throw them into the river X severe the bodies but let them on the pavement (in the backyard, in the room...) next time? Unlike the perpetrator of the Torso Murders, the perpetrator of the Whitechapel Murders wanted to present his work to the public. The other guy wanted to get rid of the evidence.
                        I would say there were at minimum two perpetrators; one or more for the Whitechapel Murders and one for the Torso Murders.
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