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What If Jack Had Been Caught?

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  • What If Jack Had Been Caught?

    http://www.alternatehistory.com/disc...d.php?t=327345

    This one's for Howard.

    Interesting posts on another message board.

  • #2
    Good find, Tim....sites which aren't set up specifically for the murders often have some worthwhile ideas on their boards.

    I'll get back to this later....I hope other folks will chime in with their opinions in the meantime.
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    • #3
      One Possibility

      There's more than one answer to the question.

      If the Ripper had been caught in the act of murder and/or mutilation, its possible his lawyer may have gone for the insanity defense.

      Then...it would depend on the efforts of whoever prosecuted to squash the insanity plea...
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      • #4
        The insanity defense was somewhat new at the time Jack was busy. This is one great value of James Tully's book on James Kelly, he discusses the new law that saved Kelly. After a few years in Broadmoor, Kelly escaped & likely was suspected of being Jack. Even if he wasn't Jack, he must have been a huge embarrassment to the government. So I have reasoned that Jack would have been unlikely to obtain any mercy.

        I also think William Bury got the maximum because someone(s), somewhere, thought he might be Jack. It just feels like there was an effort to make sure he would NEVER murder again.
        The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

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        • #5
          I'm with Anna on this one. Given the public feeling in 1888, I can't imagine that even if Jack had made it as far as a trial, any defence - no matter how convincing - would have diminished his receiving the maximum penalty.

          Cheers,
          Adam.

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          • #6
            Do either of you believe that the decision to execute him would be based more on the condition, "the public must be served" than anything else ?
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            • #7
              I suppose 'fitting up' occurred on occasions, for all kinds of crimes. But this was such a high-profile case, I think the police would have been fools to 'get' someone as the Ripper, because they would have known that if the crimes continued, they would be objects of scorn and hatred to the public. And the line "We've got Jack, this must be a copycat" would not have washed.

              Fitting up would have been more likely to occur a few years later when the crimes had clearly stopped.

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              • #8
                How:

                Well, I think it would have been very difficult for him to have a 'fair' trial, put it that way. Any punishment less than execution would have been met with outrage by the public, and he would never be able to step foot into the public domain again even if he was allowed to do so for the fear of being lynched - we already know about the lynch mobs who pursued people through the East End even though they were perfectly innocent!

                So I think that a trial held in London, in the aftermath of the murders, would have attracted such feeling that it would have been difficult for any loopholes to be found - or acted on - in the verdict.

                Cheers,
                Adam.

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                • #9
                  I do think that if Jack had been caught in the act, so to speak, with victim number six, then the police may have encountered great difficulty in getting him to the nearest police station in one piece. Even when he was safely inside there would have been mobs baying for his blood outside the station.

                  I don't know that lawyers would have really got anywhere with an insanity plea with the McNaughton Rules in place at the time. Of course Jack might have decided to play along and started gibbering and drooling in the dock at the Police Court pre-trial.

                  On the other hand he might have decided to go out in a blaze of glory, deny everything, except that he had been caught by the police assisting a poor bloodied dead woman he'd found in an alley, pleaded not guilty, enjoyed the spotlight on him at the (old) Old Bailey and gone to the scaffold content in the knowledge that he was the most notorious criminal of the 19th century.

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                  • #10
                    If Jack was caught, we would still be trying to solve the other six Whitechapel Murders but with less zeal.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
                      Do either of you believe that the decision to execute him would be based more on the condition, "the public must be served" than anything else ?
                      I think a yes or no on that would be too simplistic. I think it would also have to do with class and political concerns.

                      It's possible Jack was caught, identified and neutralized. Maybe he was a low class Polish Jew who was so "insane" he needed to be confined for life. Trying & executing such a man might have caused riots and unrest in the overcrowded slums.

                      I think there was an effort by police and authorities to make sure men who could have been, might have been Jack, were accounted for and rendered unable to repeat his crimes. In support of this idea, I cite Abberline saying Chapman might well have been Jack. I think the police someway neutralized a list of possible Jacks and Chapman wasn't on the list, but in hindsight Abberline ranked him as a possible Jack.

                      I believe there was pressure to execute William Bury in case he was Jack.

                      What if Jack was Druitt or another of his class? Surely a member of this class or higher would have needed confinement in a mental institution for the rest of his life.

                      If Jack was Bury or like Bury I believe he would have been tried and executed, giving the public its due. In other cases I do not think so, though in those other cases I also believe the outcome would have been handled administratively, not by a public trial.

                      I have a lot of respect for those British policemen during Jack's reign of terror. I really believe that if Jack was an American phenomenon at that time, at least some police departments would have caught and blamed some nasty character they wanted to get rid of, and made the case stick. Framing or fitting up or however we want to call it.
                      The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

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