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Was the death of Emma Smith intentional?

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  • Was the death of Emma Smith intentional?

    This is a question which has long interested me. The assult on Emma Smith was certainly horrific, but the manner of it doesn't strike me as something which would necessarily prove fatal in the minds of those carrying it out. Don't get me wrong, those responsible probably had little compunction about the consequences of their actions and it definitely would still have counted as murder, since intentional grievous bodily harm resulting in death is classified as murder whether it was intended to be fatal or not.
    I would love to hear anyone else's thoughts on this.

  • #2
    There are modern cases where serial killers forcefully shoved branches and other objects into female victims' vaginas, which ruptured internal organs, etc. I do not see any other reason for such an action but to cause severe damage, pain if the victim is alive and likely death.

    Perhaps such an attacker does not think, "I want to kill you," but he certainly has a desire to do terrible damage that will likely result in death, especially in the 1800's.

    Emma said she was attacked by a gang. If so, think of gang attacks, whether kids on a playground, a murderous street gang or wild animals that run in packs. Harm is done with complete disregard for the outcome and sometimes such attacks are deliberate murder.

    If the attacker(s) of Emma Smith had been caught and they claimed they didn't mean to kill her, the term "depraved indifference" for human life would likely enter in.
    The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Anna Morris View Post
      There are modern cases where serial killers forcefully shoved branches and other objects into female victims' vaginas, which ruptured internal organs, etc. I do not see any other reason for such an action but to cause severe damage, pain if the victim is alive and likely death.

      Perhaps such an attacker does not think, "I want to kill you," but he certainly has a desire to do terrible damage that will likely result in death, especially in the 1800's.

      Emma said she was attacked by a gang. If so, think of gang attacks, whether kids on a playground, a murderous street gang or wild animals that run in packs. Harm is done with complete disregard for the outcome and sometimes such attacks are deliberate murder.

      If the attacker(s) of Emma Smith had been caught and they claimed they didn't mean to kill her, the term "depraved indifference" for human life would likely enter in.

      i think a more likely explanation given what was done to her would be to consider the fact that she was working as a prostitute for a local gang and had been found to not be handing over all her money, or doing a trick herself, and so she was punished for it to teach her and others a lesson.


      www.trevormarriott.co.uk

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Trevor Marriott View Post
        i think a more likely explanation given what was done to her would be to consider the fact that she was working as a prostitute for a local gang and had been found to not be handing over all her money, or doing a trick herself, and so she was punished for it to teach her and others a lesson.


        www.trevormarriott.co.uk
        Wasn’t Smith the most bedraggled of all the victims? She seems an unlikely choice for a gang to latch on to.

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        • #5
          Here's a reference to a High Rip gang ( articles pertaining to the Liverpool High Rip gangs are far more available)

          Christchurch Times
          September 8, 1888
          ****************



          Regent's Park is 5 miles from Whitechapel. Would a gang from this vicinity really risk trouble on this turf ?

          From Reynolds's Newspaper on September 2nd.




          From the Newcastle Courant, October 20, 1888



          Despite the statement that gangs swarm in London, it remains to be seen whether there was a gang of extortionist thugs in Whitechapel.

          Anyone ever see an article which specifically names a gang or gang member in Whitechapel during 1888-1889 ?

          There's no guarantee that the 'Ripper letter' sent by someone claiming to be 'George of The High Rips' ( September 1888 ) was sent by a gang member.
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          • #6
            Dan:

            Herd mentality being what it is, for what its worth I believe she came across three punks with too much time on their hands, they hassle her, she resists, they subdue her and one of them commits the outrage. No gang theory, no early Ripper murder, just a spontaneous, brutal murder. IMHO.

            If she had been working for her attackers ( She'd been seen in Lambeth earlier....), in her dreadful condition, she'd have named names.
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            • #7
              How, this is part of an article from The Pall Mall Gazette, Saturday 13 October 1888

              Pall Mall Gazette Saturday 13 October 1888.jpg

              Rob

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              • #8
                Excellent, Rob....we don't have that one in the PMG newspaper section. Much appreciated, buddy.
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                • #9
                  Have to agree with How on this one. I'm not sure the gang members would've really cared either way whether she survived or not, for them it was a bit of a lark to pick on somebody vulnerable like her and once they'd left the scene, that was the end of it as far as they were concerned. Kind of like violence in the streets, the outcome isn't usually what's thought of in that moment - now there's more awareness and consequences for those actions, though. In Emma's time, she didn't stand a chance.

                  Cheers,
                  Adam.

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                  • #10
                    I think poor Emma was just a bit of sport for 2/3 evil thugs who may or may not have been part of a gang in the sense of a identifiable, named group. If they had intended to kill her, they could have made certain of it rather than just causing a painful injury that led to her death a few days later.

                    On the subject of gangs, there was the White’s Row gang, and no doubt factions from Hoxton, the Nichol and elsewhere also operated in Whitechapel at times.

                    This is from The People of 18/11/1888:

                    0D3AEBC4-58BB-48E4-B3DA-C961E22AB209.jpeg

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for that, Gary....
                      Good points, Adam.
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                      • #12
                        When I was researching the Tomkins family, I came across this report of the attack on Emma Smith.

                        2C73737D-1512-4890-9D1A-9BBD61B8F417.jpeg

                        ‘Scuttling’ was the phenomenon of large-scale territorial gang warfare that was prevalent in the industrial towns and cities of north west England at the time. The Tomkins’s had just recently arrived in the East End from Manchester, one of the hotbeds of scuttling activity, when the Smith attack occurred. The two older brothers, Henry and Thomas, and their father, William, were horse slaughterers, so presumably all three worked for HB. They all lived just to the east of Brady Street. The youngest brother, Robert, would have been around 18/19 at the time of the attack.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Adam Went View Post
                          Have to agree with How on this one. I'm not sure the gang members would've really cared either way whether she survived or not, for them it was a bit of a lark to pick on somebody vulnerable like her and once they'd left the scene, that was the end of it as far as they were concerned. Kind of like violence in the streets, the outcome isn't usually what's thought of in that moment - now there's more awareness and consequences for those actions, though. In Emma's time, she didn't stand a chance.

                          Cheers,
                          Adam.

                          There is no evidence to suggest this type of assault happened on any other occasion is similar fashion, so there must have been a motive as to why she was attacked.


                          www.trevormarriott.co.uk

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Trevor Marriott View Post
                            There is no evidence to suggest this type of assault happened on any other occasion is similar fashion, so there must have been a motive as to why she was attacked.


                            www.trevormarriott.co.uk
                            I vaguely remember there being at least one similar injury caused by a blunt instrument, and Mary Ann Austin’s injuries were also similar, but caused by a bladed weapon.

                            In the case of Austin, I have a theory that provides a motive, but I don’t find it implausible that a sadistic individual might cause such injuries to a prostitute without there being any motivation other than a sudden desire to cause pain and humiliation.

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                            • #15
                              Hi Trevor,

                              I'm not sure I see the correlation. Gang related violence was, and is very common in most major cities, and those people of Emma Smith's class in London at the time were easy targets. Just because the method - insertion of an object - wasn't so commonplace, doesn't make the intention any different, which is to seriously injure and cause pain for a bit of a lark, as Gary says. It doesn't mean that there was a particular motive attached to it, I don't think.

                              Cheers,
                              Adam.

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