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Carrie Brown/Ameer Ben Ali Discussion Thread Including The Trial & Aftermath

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  • Wasn’t there voiced the possibility that Byrne was set up after he claimed NY could wrap up the Ripper case in hours? There almost has to be some link to that pompous claim?

    Better than that, there's this PDF :

    Byrnes is reported to have said the Ripper wouldn't have escaped detention.
    He also is on record as having said he wouldn't wish to cast aspersions on the Met Police as they were doing the best they could.

    I personally, after reading these articles very steadily for a long time now, believe reporters embellished what public figures, in this case the police, said or didn't say about each other's forces.

    What Nina and I have noticed is that it took a bit of time for the London press to begin criticizing the police and Charles Warren.
    In the Brown Murder, Byrnes was almost immediately 'put to the test'...and frankly, unfairly....not by all the papers, but his comments made three years earlier weren't forgotten. Byrnes should have told anyone asking his opinion on the WM to go pound sand, in retrospect.

    There's also the noticeable absence of reports in the 6 days prior to the April 30th announcement that Ali was being held as Brown's murder....questioning, "Will The Killer Strike Again ?' or similar headlines expressing the natural interest & questions that people in the south end of the Lower East Side, especially the prostitutes, had. Off the top of mein kopf, I can't think of one which stands out without going back and looking.

    The PDF is entitled, New York's Advice
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    • Another PDF...an old issue of Ripperologist Magazine featuring American police chiefs discussing the WM....Byrnes being one of them....just the article.

      Also an article from Ripperologist Magazine ( again, just the article ) touching on the Big Apple's Whitechapel.
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      • I thought I remembered something about some enemies or elements who might want to take Byrne up in his challenge or try to make him eat crow by committing a copycat crime in New York. Or at least wishing it upon him.

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        • I thought I'd read something about Thomas Byrnes "asking for it" or at least people wishing it on him or happy he got a Ripper type killing in his neighborhood.

          Chief Inspector Thomas Byrnes was no stranger to controversy. The New York press had made (and would continue to make) some unsavoury allegations about his associations with criminal gangs, graft-taking and police brutality. Now he had left himself open to more criticism and the papers; weren't missing their chance. Characteristic of a spate of journalistic jibes, The Chicago Tribune taunted that: 'The Scotland Yard officials are exultant over the fact that Inspector Byrnes, whose sometime criticism of the London police still rankles in the bosom of those functionaries, has now the opportunity to exercise his powers in a direction which has baffled Londoners.'

          Byrnes found himself in a pressure-cooker of scrutiny and derision and, with much of the world watching, began what the press called the biggest manhunt in New York's history, continuously reminded by the papers that '...he had been known to sneer at the failure of the London police to catch the 'Ripper'.'
          https://www.casebook.org/dissertations/dst-arbie.html

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          • Thanks for your comments, Howard. About Damon's behaviour, it's certainly despicable. However, I do not personally think that it requires some more explanation than what he gives in his affidavit, i.e. he wanted to check for himself if the key was, in fact, the key - and once he'd done that, he let the matter go, not wanting to be further involved in the case.

            As you mention, it was a highly publicised case and trial, and Damon would not have wanted to bring all that attention to his family or quiet home town. So in a way, the same circumstances that made it inevitable that he would be aware of the murder also made it less likely that he'd intercede. How did he justify that to himself - well, the same way non-participants always justify their passiveness: it's not my problem, it does not concern me, other people are handling it, the police will contact me if it's necessary, I'll get in trouble if I interfere, it's best to leave it the authorities, what I have to say is not that important anyway etc.
            Compare his behaviour with other witnesses, who stay away from trials or do not speak up until years later.

            It was only upon learning - by chance, apparently, through his buddy Lee, I believe? - that a pardon effort was under way that he decided to take part. It is interesting, in view of an analysis of events, how it is only when others of Damon's own class are committed to the cause that he apparently feels safe in coming forward. And by going to the gov. first to seek advice, he is in a way seeking allies or situating himself with others of equal status. Only then does he feel it is his responsibility to divulge what he knows. Clearly, he - subconsciously or not - needed a social acceptance of committing himself to the pardon. He insures himself also be securing an affidavit from Brennan, although his inferior he was someone who corroborated his account. You question that a man of his age was so dependant on advice from others on what to do - but I think seeking that advice was a way for him to make his coming forward acceptable to himself in his social circles.

            It would be interesting to see the precise chronology of how and when he made contact with the other parties and how his affidavit ended up with the others.

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            • Mark:

              Just my opinion, but I think the Chicago Tribune report is bullshit. The short piece in the April 25th edition which I've attached suggests the Met cops got together and high fived each other over the murder of Brown. In my opinion an example of how the press operates. Regardless of the failure of the London police to apprehend &
              convict someone for the murders in the East End, I somehow can't see any of the Met officials being happy that there might be a maniac in another city ready to start a campaign of murder.


              It is also worthwhile to keep in mind that at that time, Chicago and New York had a friendly 'rivalry' of sorts....a who had the bigger dick sort of contest in terms of which city outranked the other in national importance. You can detect that if you read enough papers from that period. The same sort of thing occurs in articles comparing Philadelphia to New York or New York with London.
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              • It was only upon learning - by chance, apparently, through his buddy Lee, I believe? - that a pardon effort was under way that he decided to take part. It is interesting, in view of an analysis of events, how it is only when others of Damon's own class are committed to the cause that he apparently feels safe in coming forward. And by going to the gov. first to seek advice, he is in a way seeking allies or situating himself with others of equal status. Only then does he feel it is his responsibility to divulge what he knows. Clearly, he - subconsciously or not - needed a social acceptance of committing himself to the pardon. He insures himself also be securing an affidavit from Brennan, although his inferior he was someone who corroborated his account. You question that a man of his age was so dependant on advice from others on what to do - but I think seeking that advice was a way for him to make his coming forward acceptable to himself in his social circles.

                It would be interesting to see the precise chronology of how and when he made contact with the other parties and how his affidavit ended up with the others.
                -Kattrup-



                Thanks for this, Kattrup.

                It was only upon learning - by chance, apparently, through his buddy Lee, I believe? - that a pardon effort was under way that he decided to take part.

                While not being able to provide a 100 percent accurate timeline to the story, what we know is this :
                1. Damon is in possession of the key
                2. Damon showed John R. Lee the key...either to show it off as a trophy of sorts, early on.....or after some period of time, he asked Lee what he should do with it.
                3. Lee mentions it to one of the prosecution team at a party in the late 1890's or in 1900. I don't think it was Wellman because he would have included it in his two books which had chapters on the trial.
                4. AFTER this party, Lee gets into contact with Damon. He tells Damon that he should take the key to the authorities since it's material evidence ( it always was).
                This probably transpired in late 1900 or early 1901 as the affidavit was concocted in May of 1901.
                At this point, I don't know whether Lee's conscience got to him...or that he had one too many drinks and started talking shit....or that he may have been asked by Damon to ask them ( if Damon knew Lee was going to a function where the attorneys would also be present) what to do,.

                So to answer your question....Damon wouldn't have needed to ask Lee or anyone whether a pardon attempt was underway. At that time, the third attempt was still on the back burner and. as always, required tangible evidence. If Riis and the other reporters couldn't persuade Roosevelt to issue a pardon....and Riis and Roosevelt were beyond being friends...they were like twin brothers...then it would take something of the nature of the key or anything tangible besides criticism of the conviction to free Ali.

                Pete...this is what I think went down to get the ball rolling :

                Damon was content with keeping the key. Damon showed Lee the key. Years later, Lee is at a party with the attorneys. Lee spouts off that his friend over in Union County has the key from the room. Contrary to criticisms made about 'shyster' lawyers, one or both of the attorneys urge Lee to tell his friend that he should take the key to the DA in NYC. The perpetual pardon effort ( two had been attempted, the second one went ass up when Ali nearly killed a kid in prison) was always ready and willing to take something to the authorities. Damon is now in the hot seat. It wouldn't have been hard for the 'authorities' to find this man in Union County with the key....in fact, Lee may have even told them his name.
                Damon whips out his 'get outta trouble card'...his friendship with the Governor. He puts together an affidavit ; the Governor mails it to Gov. Odell. The rest is history.

                You have to remember that when Damon asked Lee for advice, that it appears to indicate that Lee told him to clam up. In other words, Damon had taken Lee's advice well before the 1901 affidavit and that that advice was a reason he had not come forward prior to 1901. This is why, I think, that Damon mentions Lee by name in a June 1901 article within the list of excuses....he does NOT do that within the affidavit. Since Lee had put Damon in a tough spot, it was only right that Damon out Lee as having been part of his decision to never come forward....and IMHO, Damon would have never come forward without Lee.
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                • Kattrup, Mark:

                  A major reason for the thinly veiled contempt I have for Damon is this :

                  There were two pardon campaigns...major coordinated campaigns ...in 1894 and 1897. Damon still had the key at that time and had already shown Lee the key.
                  Why didn't Damon come forward during one of these campaigns and contact his friend Voorhees ( who was a State Senator and then Governor later on) and provide the key which would, without a doubt, resulted in the same release...possibly even an exoneration and concomitant pardon for Ali ?
                  Unless Damon was on the Moon during the Gap...the 10 year period between 1891 and 1901....or didn't read the front pages of newspapers in those years....he had to know the key was the key to Ali's release.

                  This is why his affidavit is, to me at least, a crock of shit. After a decade of keeping it like a souvenir, he is forced to come up with the key because Lee's actions
                  mandated action.

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                  • As you mention, it was a highly publicised case and trial, and Damon would not have wanted to bring all that attention to his family or quiet home town. So in a way, the same circumstances that made it inevitable that he would be aware of the murder also made it less likely that he'd intercede. How did he justify that to himself - well, the same way non-participants always justify their passiveness: it's not my problem, it does not concern me, other people are handling it, the police will contact me if it's necessary, I'll get in trouble if I interfere, it's best to leave it the authorities, what I have to say is not that important anyway etc.
                    Compare his behaviour with other witnesses, who stay away from trials or do not speak up until years later.


                    Kattrup....which is why I cannot understand for the life of me why Damon kept the key all those years unless it was as a souvenir.
                    We shake our heads and wonder why the Farmhand went to the trouble ( or possibly forgot he had it ) of taking the key with him and having it in Cranford....only to leave it where it would be easily found.

                    In Damon's case....if he felt the way he said he did....fear of the Farmhand, fear for his rep ( which was made sport of at that August 1901 trial where he took a local guy to court over 10 bucks)....and which are good, viable, reasonable, understandable reasons....then why the hell didn't he just get rid of it ?
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                    • I'm satisfied with your souvenir theory. Didn't you say the key or the key tag relate to his job as a printer, or he understood the method used to affix the number on it? The appeal wouldn't just be the macabre.

                      Even if the number was cast in metal, Damon and his partner Peets, invented new ways to make stereotypes which is something like a lithograph for type.

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                      • I think some people have a take it or leave it attitude toward Damon's story. One wants to believe all of it or discard it all. But the truth is somewhere in the middle.

                        He obviously picked up a sailor in New York and tried to make it look like he picked him up at the local immigration employment center which wasn't just closed but completely deserted. His story was just vague enough that you'd have a hard time verifying his story in the immigration records or proving him a liar.

                        It's one thing to not come forward at all. But once he did, if he was covering up for someone other than Frank or himself, then why alter the story of how and where they met, if that's what happened? It's hard to get around that problem

                        Was being a skinflint his only problem? Did you know he died of Bright's Disease?

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                        • I'm satisfied with your souvenir theory. Didn't you say the key or the key tag relate to his job as a printer, or he understood the method used to affix the number on it?

                          Was being a skinflint his only problem? Did you know he died of Bright's Disease?


                          Mark...yes, he was aware of making keys and yes, I know he died ( 1906 ) of Bright's Disease.
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                          • Here's a few things for possible discussion.

                            We know Ameer Ben Ali attempted to sneak out of the hotel around 5 AM on the 24th. Eddie Fitzgerald noticed him and wouldn't have said he was 'sneaking' out....actually describing it on the witness stand at the Trial...if he wasn't sneaking out.
                            Did he take the room key with him ? I simply cannot locate any reference to the key to Room 33 mentioned anywhere.

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

                            This is a brief piece from the Chicago Tribune on May 5th, 1891
                            You'll see the reason for this in a minute.

                            Chicago Tribune
                            May 5, 1891
                            **************


                            This is an article from the NY Evening World on the same day

                            New York Evening World
                            May 5, 1891
                            **************









                            After reading the remarks...it's necessary that the reader know that :

                            No reporter came forward and appeared on behalf of the defense at the Coroner's Inquest on May 13-14...
                            No reporter came forward at the time of the trial beginning in late June
                            Fred House and the other two attorneys did not approach any of those who had intimated that they hadn't seen a blood trail with a
                            subpoena.

                            WHY ?

                            And by the way.....what would the reporters be doing in Room 33 in the first place ? The murder occurred in Room 31.

                            House is shown here whining about Byrnes' delaying tactic.
                            Remember this : It was House himself that requested that the trial be postponed for TWO MONTHS because he was feeling poorly ( diagnosis : neurasthenia),
                            which would have meant all the people already in the Tombs would have been required to stay there until sometime in August....at least several more weeks to add to the 8 weeks they would spend ( late April to late June ) in the Tombs.


                            The Evening World claims that the hotel register contained the name of C. Kniclo ( admittedly written down by Tommy Thompson on the 24th, at the coroner inquest when he was on the stand) and Frenchy. This is false.
                            The name 'J. Buckley' is mentioned in at least two papers as representing Ali. However, there were newspaper articles that had NO name entered for Room 33.
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                            • Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
                              Mark...yes, he was aware of making keys and yes, I know he died ( 1906 ) of Bright's Disease.
                              Damon was a printer and a bookseller, so probably someone who liked a good story. The key was a story in itself as well as being an artifact related to his field of work. Unfortunately he seemed to like a good story too much when it came to his evidence.

                              He could have just said he hired Frank in the city and didn't remember the details and no one would have thought twice. But he had to be the Conan Doyle of affidavit writers and go into detail which might some day lead to more scrutiny.

                              A clearer picture is emerging of the business man and his dealings and activities which he thought egregious enough in this context of an association with a murder suspect to warrant a "white lie" or two and the odd attempt to throw a good light on himself. Getting cigars while there were investigating at the East River Hotel and then getting up and ordering beers when someone checking out of the hotel brought a key down and left it on the bar so they could compare keys without being noticed....

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                              • Why indeed How? We questioned why Kelly wasn’t called to give evidence at the trial and it was suggested that he might not have been considered a convincing witness which is possible of course (even though I struggle to see how ‘unconvincing’ this guy could have been for the Defence to have left him out?) But the absence of these Reporters is even more baffling imo. It’s hard to see how they could have been poor performers in the witness box? Could the Defence have been reluctant to go down the ‘corrupt police planted evidence’ route? I’m clutching at straws on this one How.

                                Im no expert on the law but I think that, over here at least, you can’t use evidence at an appeal that was available for use at the original trial. This couldn’t have been the case over there though (at least at that time?) At the trial it must have been a decision by the Defence not to call them. The Defence appeared confident that Ali would be acquitted (which seems more than a little naive to say the least if it was partially based on them believing that any information they got from Ali would turn out to be true and useful) so I was going to speculate - was it a combination of, the Press not being too keen on rocking the boat with the Police and the Defence believing that they wouldn’t need there evidence anyway leading to them not being called? But of course that doesn’t wash because the information about the Reporters ‘evidence’ was already known to the Police. A more conspiracy minded person might ask - could the Reporters have been threatened by the Police and so they told the Defence that they wouldn’t stand up in court? Could the situation have changed by the time of the appeal? I’m not keen on the idea at all but it’s difficult to come up with a workable reason for them not appearing. If I was on the Defence team Kelly and the Reporter's would have been in the box and Ali would have been nowhere near it.
                                Regards

                                Michael🔎


                                " When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how improbable......is probably a little bit boring "

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