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The Ripper Is With Us

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  • The Ripper Is With Us

    Inter Ocean
    April 25, 1891

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  • #2
    Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
    Inter Ocean
    April 25, 1891

    Carl Feigenbaum is the killer


    • #3
      Carl Ferdinand Feigenbaum

      Murderer Carl Ferdinand Feigenbaum spent his last night on earth in prayer with Father Creeden, Sing Sing Penitentiary’s resident Priest, and Father Bruder, of the Poughkeepsie Catholic church where he was to be buried. He received the last rites just before breakfast, then made out his will in which he directed that his property in Cincinnati, reportedly a house and a lot, be sold and that the proceeds, along with money in a German bank in New York, be given to his sister Magdalena Strohband, a widow, living in “Ganbickelheim, Alzel, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany,”1 with the exception of $90 to be used for his funeral expenses. Warden Omar Van Leuven Sage was made the executor.

      At 11:10 on the morning of Monday the 27th of April, 1896, Feigenbaum was told that his time had come. Walking with the two Reverend Fathers he was taken from his cell and led to the death chamber. Before sitting on the uncomfortable wooden chair he kissed the crucifix he carried and handed it to Father Bruder. He sat without any urging and took off his glasses and handed them to Bruder, asking that they be buried with him. While the straps were being fastened he kissed Warden Sage’s hand and shook the hands of Fathers Creeden and Bruder as well as the hand of the man who was there to kill him, State Electrician Davis.

      The prisoner was quickly belted into the chair, the electrodes attached to the base of his brain and the calf of his right leg, and, after Dr. R.T. Irvine, the prison physician, gave the okay, the Warden signalled to Davis to turn on the current.

      The first shock of 1,820 volts was given at 11:16 and lasted for thirty seconds before being gradually reduced to 300 volts, a level which was held for 40 seconds. The current was then turned off for a few seconds before a second shock of 1,820 volts was administered at 11:17:45 and held till 11:18.
      Drs. Irvine and John Wilson Gibbs, who had held the watch timing the length at which the voltage was applied, examined the body and pronounced Feigenbaum dead at 11:18:30.

      It was reported in at least one newspaper 2 that the two then invited the other physicians, who were there to observe the execution, to come forward and examine the body in order to obtain a consensual medical opinion that the prisoner was indeed dead, this after what was considered some horrifically botched executions using the still fairly new method of electrocution. After several minutes of examination, the paper stated, one or two of the doctors expressed the thought that although the man was not alive perhaps he wasn’t quite dead. To satisfy this punctilious minority the current was supposed to have been turned on again at 21:25 for a space of three seconds at full voltage. After this, Carl Feigenbaum was pronounced well and truly dead.

      This might have been an end to the matter and the name Carl Feigenbaum lost to history except that as Feigenbaum’s body was being wheeled into the Sing Sing Death House’s autopsy room, his lawyer, William Sanford Lawton, gave an interview with a reporter from the New York Advertiser in which he stated that it was his belief that his ex-client was actually the notorious London murderer Jack the Ripper.

      The Advertiser knew that it was on to a good thing and sent a press release out on the wire hyping the coming interview. This announcement caused a brief sensation which was reported in newspapers all over North America. However, as the world moved on to other concerns, the story quickly died and was largely forgotten.

      Now, however, with the release of the paperback issue of Trevor Marriott’s book Jack the Ripper The 21st Century Investigation 3, William Sanford Lawton has a supporter in his belief that Carl Feigenbaum was actually the nameless killer who stalked the streets of Whitechapel in the Autumn of 1888.

      Who was Carl Feigenbaum? Why did his own lawyer believe his client to be a vicious serial killer? What evidence has convinced Marriott that he has found the truth behind the greatest murder mystery of all time? Was Carl Ferdinand Feigenbaum actually Jack the Ripper?

      Let’s take a closer look and see if we can answer some of these questions.


      • #4
        Carl Ferdinand Feigenbaum

        “I always considered him a cunning fellow, surrounded by a great deal of mystery, and his life history was never found out.” 4

        This revealing admission by Vernon M. Davis, the Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted Feigenbaum, goes right to the heart of the matter: not much is known about Feigenbaum’s life and antecedents and there are discrepancies with what little we do know.

        To begin with his name wasn’t Carl Feigenbaum but, apparently, Anton (or Carl or Karl) Zahn (possibly Zahm or, according to Marriott, possibly Strohband). Why he changed it to Feigenbaum is unclear although he appears to have had numerous aliases and seems to have changed his name frequently 5.

        His 1894 admission form to Sing Sing Prison describes him as 54 years of age, 5 feet 4 inches in height, 126 pounds in weight with a medium complexion, dark brown hair (thin on top), small grey deep set eyes, a high and heavily arched forehead and a large red nose with pimples. Although it isn’t mentioned in the form Feigenbaum had a mustache in drawings of him made during his trial and one report stated that he had at times sported a beard. Beyond the official prison “check list” of characteristics, he was described by one newspaper as “a little, wrinkled old fellow, shabbily dressed.” 6

        He was born around the year 1840, possibly in Karlsruhe, Southern Germany, near the French border 7. This was, at least, one of his claims. Marriott points out that a witness at Feigenbaum’s trial stated that Feigenbaum had said that he had been born instead in Capitolheim, Germany, although Marriott can find no mention of any town with this name.

        Feigenbaum also said that he had two sisters, one a widow – Magdalena Strohband, and a brother living in Germany. He would later state that he had a brother named John, who may or may not have been the brother in Germany, who was living in Brooklyn, New York. This, at least, appears to be true and Feigenbaum’s brother visited him in prison on the night before his execution before speaking briefly to the press.

        He may or may not have been married, telling different people different things at different times, and he may or may not have had children.

        He was a sailor for some unknown part of his life, perhaps all of it. His lawyer, Lawton, stated “he had been working for many years as fireman on the Atlantic liners, sometimes on the Bremen, sometimes on the White Star, and at others on the French and Inman lines.” 8 Feigenbaum’s brother also told the press that in May, 1891, his brother shipped on a “Bremen boat” and remained as part of the crew until early 1892 at which time he gave up the sea. Whether this was the date when Feigenbaum started his new life in America or not is unclear.

        Lawton stated “He ceased to follow the sea about six years ago.” 9 i.e. around 1890. Officially, however, it seems that Feigenbaum was thought to have come to the U.S. in 1891; at least this is what the judge in the appellate court stated, based on information presumably gathered by the police and prosecution. Assuming, however, that Feigenbaum’s brother wasn’t lying in order to protect him, the rough date of “early 1892” would have to be given some credence. In addition, as there seems to be no record of Feigenbaum, or Zahn, having landed legally in the United States, it is likely that he simply walked off his ship in the U.S., possibly in the Port of New York, and stayed.

        What Carl Feigenbaum was actually doing in the US between his arrival in the early 1890’s and the murder of Mrs. Juliana Hoffman on the 1st of September, 1894, is unclear. While under arrest he said that he was a gardener, and claimed that this had been his job back in Germany, although this does not appear to be true. Also, his admission sheet for Sing Sing Prison lists his occupation as “Florist.” Moreover, he told Mrs. Hoffman that he had just lost his job as a gardener on Long Island but had found a job as a florist in New York, although this was a lie. He appears, however, to have worked in this field on an itinerant basis as he traveled around the United States. His brother seems to confirm this stating “I saw and knew so little of him, that I do not know where he went in the last few years. I know he was in Illinois and Wisconsin, but I don’t know – in fact, after he took to gardening, he was all over the West, and traveled a great deal.” 10 Feigenbaum’s movements only become clearer around the time he murdered Mrs. Hoffman in the early morning of Saturday, 1 September, 1894.


        • #5
          The Murder of Mrs. Juliana Hoffman.

          Mrs. Hoffman, a 56 year old widow, lived with her son Michael, aged 16, in two “miserable” rooms – a front room which overlooked the street and a back room which overlooked a yard – above a store at 544 East Sixth Street. The two came to the United States from Budapest, Hungary, about the year 1892 and were living precariously off what little money Michael’s wages provided. Desperately poor, mother and son decided to earn a little extra money by renting out their back room, furnished, to a boarder and so a small sign which advertised this fact was placed in one of their two front windows. Mrs. Hoffman’s first lodger, unfortunately, turned out to be Carl Feigenbaum. He would also be her last lodger.

          Feigenbaum, who was supposed to have lost his gardening job on Long Island in late July or early August of 1894, said that he had tramped through the country side doing odd jobs and, upon arriving in New York City, was sleeping rough on the benches in Tompkins Square Park, only a block from the Hoffman’s apartment. On Wednesday, 29th of August, he answered the Hoffman’s sign advertising a room for rent. Although he had no money he told the Hoffmans that he had been promised a new job at a florist’s shop and that he would be able to pay them his rent – a dollar a week plus 8 cents for breakfast each day – as soon as he was paid on Saturday, the 1st of September. Mrs. Hoffman trusted the out of work German gardener and allowed him to stay.

          On the evening of Friday, 31st of August, the Hoffmans and Feigenbaum were in the front room of the tiny apartment when Mrs. Hoffman left to go and buy some bread for supper. Before leaving she went to a closet to get a small change purse which she kept there and when she returned she replaced the purse in the unlocked closet. At around 10 o’clock Feigenbaum went into his room for the night and soon after the Hoffman also retired, Mrs. Hoffman sleeping on a lounge near one of the two front windows and her son on a couch at the foot of, and at right angles to, her bed.

          Sometime soon after midnight Michael Hoffman was awakened by a scream. Looking over he saw his mother partly raised out of her bed while Feigenbaum stood over her with a long carving knife in his hand. The young boy first kicked at the intruder and then sprang from his bed and attacked Feigenbaum from behind. Feigenbaum, however, merely turned his attention towards the boy and came at him with the knife. Seeing that he was powerless against the armed lodger Hoffman was only able to escape probable death by climbing out a window and onto the cornice over the shop front. From this dangerous perch he started screaming for help.

          With the boy out of the way, Feigenbaum returned to Mrs. Hoffman and stabbed her in the left side of her neck, then drew the knife forward to the right some six inches, severing her jugular vein.11 Her son, looking in through the window, saw Feigenbaum strike his mother with the knife then saw his mother slowly rise and attempt to struggle towards him but fell to the floor before she had gone a half dozen steps.

          The murderer, meanwhile, fled back to his room. Opening the window he was able to climb onto the roof of a shed or outhouse and climb down to the yard where an alleyway led to the street. There was a pump inside the yard and Feigenbaum was able to stop and quickly wash his hands. Meanwhile Michael Hoffman’s shouts of “murder, police” had alerted the local beat cop as well as several neighbours who all arrived just as Feigenbaum, with no jacket, hat or shoes, emerged from the alley. Faced with the excited crowd he attempted to run but was quickly captured. After a search, a bloody knife was found in the alleyway.

          Feigenbaum was returned to the Hoffman’s apartment, perhaps so that his victim could identify him, but Juliana Hoffman was, if not dead, then unconscious with death shortly following. Michael Hoffman, however, was very much alive and was able to positively identify the lodger as the man who killed his mother right in front of his eyes. He also pointed out to the police that both the door to the closet where his mother kept her purse and the purse itself were open but that they were both closed when they had gone to bed. Robbery thus seemed to be the obvious motive. The tramp gardener was arrested and taken to the First Avenue Station House and locked in a cell.

          Feigenbaum was taken from First Avenue to appear before Justice Simms in the Essex Market Police Court later that same day. Also present was Michael Hoffman who attempted to grab the prisoner by the throat but was prevented from doing so by the quick actions of the court officers. When asked to plead Feigenbaum, in a firm tone of voice, declared that he was not guilty of the murder. His defence was childishly simple: he did not commit the murder, he said, because his friend, one Jacob Weibel, had.

          He claimed that he had met Weibel when he was tramping through the countryside and the two of them had quickly become friends and travelled together. He knew that Mrs. Hoffman wouldn’t approve of two men sharing her room without either one paying so he had said nothing about Weibel to the Hoffmans. He claimed that Weibel would slip into the room to sleep at night and would be gone by morning. Weibel must have been the murderer and had attacked the Hoffmans while he, Feigenbaum had slept. What had happened to this man? He had disappeared “like a flash” when Michael Hoffman started yelling for help. What were you doing in the alley after the murder? I was just going to look for Weibel. “My God!” Feigenbaum exclaimed, “had I known that the man was such a scoundrel I would not have permitted him to be near me for a moment.” 12

          No one was convinced by this convenient argument and Feigenbaum was remanded without bail for examination on Monday 3rd of September.

          Carl Feigenbaum eventually went to trial on the 26th of October, 1894, in front of Recorder Frederick Smyth, the same judge in charge of the Ameer Ben Ali trial in 1891. He was defended by two lawyers: Lawton and Hugh O. Pentecost while the prosecution consisted of Assistant District Attorneys Vernon M. Davis and Stephen J. O'Hare.

          He stubbornly, even insanely, stuck to the story that he was innocent and that Jacob Weibel had murdered Mrs. Hoffman. Against this futile defence was the evidence that the murder weapon appeared to have belonged to him and that blood was seen on one of his hands when he was being booked at First Avenue. He was also shown to be a thief and con artist with many aliases but whose real name appeared to be Zahn. All of this evidence was secondary, however, to the testimony of Michael Hoffman who identified Feigenbaum as the man who murdered his mother. In what was almost the definition of an open and shut case Feigenbaum was found guilty and sentenced to death. Lawton and Pentecost, however, kept up a desperate fight for the life of their client.

          The lawyers first motioned for a new trial during their clients sentencing hearing but it was denied by Recorder Smyth. Next they applied at the Appellate Court for a retrial but the appellate court judge felt that there were no grounds for an appeal. They then tried to have his death sentence commuted by reason of insanity.13 This tactic, at least, stayed the execution while the matter was taken under advisement.

          Eventually the lawyers efforts were rewarded when on the 5th of March, 1896, the Governor appointed the noted alienist, Dr. Carlos F. Macdonald, to examine and report on the question of Feigenbaum’s sanity 14. On the 19th of March Macdonald finished his report and declared Carl Feigenbaum to be sane.

          With all legal options exhausted Feigenbaum was executed on the 27th of April, 1896, the 19th man to sit in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison.


          • #6
            illiam S. Lawton’s Theory.

            No sooner was Feigenbaum declared dead then William Sanford Lawton stated that “I Believe that Carl Feigenbaum, whom you have just seen put to death in the electric chair, can easily be connected with the Jack-the-Ripper murders in Whitechapel, London.” 15 He added “I will stake my professional reputation that if the police will trace this man's movements carefully for the last few years their investigations will lead them to London and to Whitechapel.” 16

            Lawton described himself as the only man Feigenbaum would trust and he based his theory, he said, on a confession that his client made to him one night. Feigenbaum told him “I have for years suffered from a singular disease, which induces an all absorbing passion. This passion manifests itself in a desire to kill and mutilate every woman who falls in my way. At such times I am unable to control myself.” 17

            Lawton was so startled, he said, that he at first didn’t know what to do. Mulling over the confession, however, led him to wonder about the Jack the Ripper murders in London and any possible connection with his client. He stated that he looked up the dates of the London murders and then selected two before asking Feigenbaum confidentially: “Carl, were you in London from this date to that one,” naming the selected dates.
            “Yes,” he answered, before, as Lawton stated “he relapsed into silence.” 18

            The lawyer decided to dig deeper and by checking Feigenbaum’s “record” he was able to ascertain that Feigenbaum had travelled all over the US and Europe at a time when several Ripper-like murders were reported in those same locations and that he had been in Wisconsin during a series of mutilation murders of women there. He then claimed that he communicated with London and was able to verify that Feigenbaum was there during the Whitechapel murders. Eventually Lawton put the question to the tramp gardener whether he was actually responsible for London’s East End murders. Feigenbaum’s reply, according to the lawyer, was that “the Lord was responsible for his acts and that to Him only could he confess.” 19

            Lawton also offered additional proof of his theory, stating that Feigenbaum put on an act which made him seem simple-minded and even imbecilic. As he stood in front of the judge during his arraignment, for example, he punched himself in the head and breast while exclaiming over and over “How foolish of me to trust a stranger. How foolish of me to trust a stranger.” In reality, Lawton said, his client was “crafty” and very intelligent. Lawton also pointed out that although Feigenbaum acted as if he were a penniless tramp he actually left money and property in his will and he paid $90 for his own funeral arrangements.

            He was also, so the lawyer claimed, able to converse knowledgably on such topics as surgery and dissection. Feigenbaum would lapse into silence, however, if he was asked directly whether he had any practical understanding of these subjects.

            Lawton also believed that the murder of Mrs. Hoffman was a botched Ripper attack rather than an attempted robbery and that his client had been unable to begin mutilating the body because of Michael Hoffman’s screams for help. He also pointed out that one expert had told him that there were traces of old blood on Feigenbaum’s knife, evidence, he believed, which connected his client to some earlier murder. The fact that Feigenbaum seemed to fit at least part of the description of the murderer of Carrie Brown, known as “Shakespeare,” in the East River Hotel in the Lower East Side of New York in 1891, and had also murdered Mrs. Hoffman under similar circumstances, also pointed, in Lawton’s mind, to the conclusion that his client was the notorious Jack the Ripper.

            Lawton even had some support in his theory from Assistant District Attorney Vernon M. Davis, who had prosecuted Feigenbaum, who stated “If it were proved that Feigenbaum was ‘Jack the Ripper’ it would not greatly surprise me” 20

            In the end Lawton summed up his ex-client with theses words:

            “The man was a devil. The motive for the crime was his frightful desire for mutilation.” 21


            • #7
              You've been busy, J.A....thanks very much for the material !
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