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  • Post Mortem Clarification

    As Divisional Surgeon of H Division Dr Phillips would have been responsible for the official post mortem on the body of Mary Jane Kelly but the document he would have produced is missing, as we know. Bond's notes (written by Dr Hebbert as Bond was assisting Dr Phillips (as noted by SG Ryan)) on the post mortem, returned with notes about the other murders was also missing but returned to Scotland Yard in 1887.
    The Saturday Evening and Sunday morning papers of November 10/11 say that on Sat morning (10 Nov) Drs Phillips, Bond and Gordon Brown did a further examination on MJK's remains at Shoreditch mortuary. The Saturday morning papers say that an exhaustive post mortem was done at Miller's Court that took two hours and present were Drs Phillips, Bond and Duke and the assistants of Drs Phillips and Bond, obviously they don't mention a Saturday morning examination as it hadn't happened when those papers went to print.

    I have a few questions here to get things straight in my addled brain, if anyone feels like clarifying things for me-

    First of all-is the above correct? I gleaned much of this from the newspapers as Book sources I have access to are surprisingly vague on this.
    Secondly, if it is correct-Which would have been the official post mortem? Which event would Bond's notes have been written at? We know they were dated the 10th, would Bond have combined what he saw of the organ placement at Miller's Court with a later examination? Which event would Phillips have written his official post mortem at? At which event were the organs replaced and the body sewn up?

    Thanks for any help.

  • #2
    Hi Debs.

    There are two examinations involved here. The first is the examination by the doctor(s) of the body in situ. In 1888 this would have been a relatively brief examination in which notes on such things as the position of the body, signs of any wounds, a possible cause of death and an estimation of the time of death (by apparent heat loss and/or signs of rigor which was estimated by touch). In the case of Mary Kelly the nature of the mutilations guaranteed that this examination would take much longer than that of Catherine Eddowes, let's say.

    The body would then be transported to a morgue or hospital where the actual post mortem examination would take place as soon as was possible. This is a much more thorough and intensive medical examination in which detailed notes are taken. All wounds are examined in detail. All the major organs, whether damaged by the attack or not, are also removed and examined and commented on to provide a general picture of the health of the victim at the time of death. Cause of death is attributed and a general time of death is usually offered. At the conclusion of this, or, possibly as they went along, again, given the nature of the mutilations to Kelly, the doctors would have replaced the organs in the body and then sutured it closed. After this the two sets of notes - in situ and post mortem examinations - would be written up.

    Hope this helps.

    Wolf.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Wolf Vanderlinden View Post
      Hi Debs.

      There are two examinations involved here. The first is the examination by the doctor(s) of the body in situ. In 1888 this would have been a relatively brief examination in which notes on such things as the position of the body, signs of any wounds, a possible cause of death and an estimation of the time of death (by apparent heat loss and/or signs of rigor which was estimated by touch). In the case of Mary Kelly the nature of the mutilations guaranteed that this examination would take much longer than that of Catherine Eddowes, let's say.

      The body would then be transported to a morgue or hospital where the actual post mortem examination would take place as soon as was possible. This is a much more thorough and intensive medical examination in which detailed notes are taken. All wounds are examined in detail. All the major organs, whether damaged by the attack or not, are also removed and examined and commented on to provide a general picture of the health of the victim at the time of death. Cause of death is attributed and a general time of death is usually offered. At the conclusion of this, or, possibly as they went along, again, given the nature of the mutilations to Kelly, the doctors would have replaced the organs in the body and then sutured it closed. After this the two sets of notes - in situ and post mortem examinations - would be written up.

      Hope this helps.

      Wolf.
      This helps enormously, Wolf. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
        This helps enormously, Wolf. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.
        Hi Debs.
        I found it helped me a great deal if you/we can discipline yourself/ourselves into treating the legal examination of the body as the "Autopsy".

        A Post-mortem is any examination, however small, and with no specific requirements. The notes credited to Dr. Bond where he described the posture of the body on the bed, etc., were the result of this post-mortem, not the official autopsy.
        There is nothing within the contents of the notes that suggests he was at the mortuary when those notes were written. Neither, I expect, would it be professional etiquette for him or his assistant to make notes while Dr. Phillips was conducting the official record of the autopsy on Saturday.

        An autopsy has very specific legal requirements, some of which were addressed by Wolf in his second paragraph.
        The legally bound autopsy concerning the death of Mary Kelly was the one conducted on Saturday morning from 7:30 to 10:00am.

        However, there were two previous examinations, if we can trust the press.
        The first initial exam. took place shortly after the room was broken open, after which, we are told, photographs of the body were taken.

        The second examination (Wolf's first paragraph), began at 2:00pm on Friday afternoon in Millers Court, and was a basic post-mortem (re: Dr. Bond's notes).

        Finally, the official autopsy was conducted at 7:30 am, at Shoreditch Mortuary Saturday morning.
        Regards, Jon S.
        "
        The theory that the murderer is a lunatic is dispelled by the opinion given to the police by an expert in the treatment of lunacy patients......."If he's insane
        " observed the medical authority, "he's a good deal sharper than those who are not".
        Reynolds Newspaper, 4 Nov. 1888.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Wicker Man View Post
          I found it helped me a great deal if you/we can discipline yourself/ourselves into treating the legal examination of the body as the "Autopsy".
          I always thought that autopsy was the usual American term for what was commonly called a post-mortem examination in England.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Wicker Man View Post
            Hi Debs.
            I found it helped me a great deal if you/we can discipline yourself/ourselves into treating the legal examination of the body as the "Autopsy".

            A Post-mortem is any examination, however small, and with no specific requirements. The notes credited to Dr. Bond where he described the posture of the body on the bed, etc., were the result of this post-mortem, not the official autopsy.
            There is nothing within the contents of the notes that suggests he was at the mortuary when those notes were written. Neither, I expect, would it be professional etiquette for him or his assistant to make notes while Dr. Phillips was conducting the official record of the autopsy on Saturday.

            An autopsy has very specific legal requirements, some of which were addressed by Wolf in his second paragraph.
            The legally bound autopsy concerning the death of Mary Kelly was the one conducted on Saturday morning from 7:30 to 10:00am.

            However, there were two previous examinations, if we can trust the press.
            The first initial exam. took place shortly after the room was broken open, after which, we are told, photographs of the body were taken.

            The second examination (Wolf's first paragraph), began at 2:00pm on Friday afternoon in Millers Court, and was a basic post-mortem (re: Dr. Bond's notes).

            Finally, the official autopsy was conducted at 7:30 am, at Shoreditch Mortuary Saturday morning.
            Thank you very much, Jon. This is a similar timeline to what I understood from the newspapers but I had never made the distinction between a post mortem and an autposy.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by CGP View Post
              I always thought that autopsy was the usual American term for what was commonly called a post-mortem examination in England.
              That has always been my impression, Chris but I have never studied the legal use of either word-I hadn't really thought about a legal difference until Jon mentioned one.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
                That has always been my impression, Chris but I have never studied the legal use of either word-I hadn't really thought about a legal difference until Jon mentioned one.
                'Post-mortem examination' is the term that is used in U.K. legislation.


                http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2009/25/section/14

                Comment


                • #9
                  Gary, I've emailed you.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    High Debs. Maybe I can help. It's possible you may have missed one of Bond's reports.


                    Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
                    First of all-is the above correct? I gleaned much of this from the newspapers as Book sources I have access to are surprisingly vague on this.
                    Since technically, a post-mortem is any examination conducted after death, the press reports are correct.

                    Secondly, if it is correct-Which would have been the official post mortem?
                    The physician, or his assistant if present, would have made notes during the initial examination in situ as Wolf explains. Recall that Phillips mentions this in his McKenzie report and states that after the body was transported and placed upon the "post- mortem table" he discussed his notes with the officials present. Later, usually upon authorization of the coroner (so he would get his five Guineas,) the more detailed examination involving incision and examination of organs would be carried out at the mortuary. I guess you could call this one the official post- mortem, but both were noted and presented in the medical evidence.

                    Which event would Bond's notes have been written at? We know they were dated the 10th, would Bond have combined what he saw of the organ placement at Miller's Court with a later examination?
                    Here's where I think you may have missed a report. Bond's report dated, Nov. 10, was the one requested by Anderson back on Oct. 25th on the medical evidence of the four throat cut murders committed up to that point. For whatever reason, Bond had yet to do so when Kelly was murdered. That event certainly spurred some urgency on Bond's part and he got this report off to Anderson (which now carried a brief addition of Kelly too) the day of the post-mortem at Shorditch Mortuary.

                    There was, however, a more detailed report specifically relating to Kelly apparently sent later (cover sheet dated Nov. 16) most certainly requested after that murder by Anderson. It can be found in the "Ultimate" in the Murder of Mary Jane Kelly chapter. He details his examination in situ and then the "Post-mortem Examination" made the following day.

                    In other words, there are two separate reports sent at different times.

                    Which event would Phillips have written his official post mortem at?
                    Phillips would have written his official report some time after the last examination at the mortuary (remember, there could be several - as was the case with Stride and McKenzie.) This would be from his notes taken at the time of each compiled into one with added opinion. Note that his report on McKenzie was dated July 22, 1889 and the murder had taken place on the 17th.

                    At which event were the organs replaced and the body sewn up?
                    The post-mortem at the mortuary on Saturday, Nov. 10.

                    Hope this added a little clarification.
                    Best Wishes,
                    Cris Malone
                    ______________________________________________
                    "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cris Malone View Post
                      Here's where I think you may have missed a report. Bond's report dated, Nov. 10, was the one requested by Anderson back on Oct. 25th on the medical evidence of the four throat cut murders committed up to that point. For whatever reason, Bond had yet to do so when Kelly was murdered. That event certainly spurred some urgency on Bond's part and he got this report off to Anderson (which now carried a brief addition of Kelly too) the day of the post-mortem at Shorditch Mortuary.

                      There was, however, a more detailed report specifically relating to Kelly apparently sent later (cover sheet dated Nov. 16) most certainly requested after that murder by Anderson. It can be found in the "Ultimate" in the Murder of Mary Jane Kelly chapter. He details his examination in situ and then the "Post-mortem Examination" made the following day.

                      In other words, there are two separate reports sent at different times.
                      There's something a bit odd here, though. The report dated 10 November covering all the victims says "In the Dorset Street case the body was lying on the bed at the time of my visit, 2 o'clock, quite naked and mutilated as in the annexed report" [Ultimate Sourcebook, p. 401].

                      It seems Bond submitted a detailed report of the mutilations at the same time as his "profile" report. So were there actually three separate reports? Or is there something wrong with that date of 16 November on the file cover?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You may be right, Chris. He does mention the annexed part. May have simply been filed later. Apparently the report itself is not dated or has not survived, which could mean it was sent with the other and later got separated. Some things were forwarded to the HO and some were not.
                        Best Wishes,
                        Cris Malone
                        ______________________________________________
                        "Objectivity comes from how the evidence is treated, not the nature of the evidence itself. Historians can be just as objective as any scientist."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CGP View Post
                          I always thought that autopsy was the usual American term for what was commonly called a post-mortem examination in England.
                          Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
                          Thank you very much, Jon. This is a similar timeline to what I understood from the newspapers but I had never made the distinction between a post mortem and an autposy.
                          Well, the term "autopsy" is thoroughly adopted in the US, but originated in Europe.

                          The problem we have here as layperson's is with adopting Post-mortem as the universal nomenclature is that the term itself is not specific enough.
                          Both Dr. Bond and Dr. Phillips conducted a Post-mortem, but there was a considerable difference between the two examinations which the term alone does not indicate.

                          The "discipline" that I referred to was an attempt to indicate the difference. One being an official examination required by law with very specific procedures, which Bond did not do, as opposed to the other being any after death examination ranging from a minor cursory investigation to the full blown legal examination.
                          The other point was, Dr. Bond was not alone when he was making his evaluation, so he conducted his own post-mortem while others were doing the same, but neither being the official procedure.

                          The suggestion was made to me by a practicing surgeon who adopted this measure himself, due to much confusion he became aware of in his practice. I was just passing on what seemed to be good advice to help us lay-person's understand there was indeed a difference.
                          Regards, Jon S.
                          "
                          The theory that the murderer is a lunatic is dispelled by the opinion given to the police by an expert in the treatment of lunacy patients......."If he's insane
                          " observed the medical authority, "he's a good deal sharper than those who are not".
                          Reynolds Newspaper, 4 Nov. 1888.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Wicker Man View Post
                            Both Dr. Bond and Dr. Phillips conducted a Post-mortem, but there was a considerable difference between the two examinations which the term alone does not.
                            Hello Jon,

                            I have often wondered why..of all things missing...The Phillips report is.

                            because I would call it an essential part of the case..yet not a snifter of it exists. If that turned up..An awful lot of questions could possibly be answered.


                            Phil
                            from 1905...to 19.05..it was written in the stars

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CGP View Post
                              Or is there something wrong with that date of 16 November on the file cover?
                              I took that date as a cover sheet for filing purposes, not part of Bond's report.
                              There was no need for Bond to write such a complete source for his report to Anderson, this would be done at the point of filing for future reference.
                              Dr. Bond's report dated Nov. 10th was eventually filed on Nov. 16th, that's how I read it.

                              Edit to add:
                              Dr. Bond's summary of the series of murders (pgs 360-2, Ultimate), is dated Nov. 10th.
                              Reference is made within this summary to an "annexed report", ie; Dr. Bond's Post-mortem (pgs 345-7, Ultimate), therefore they are both of the same date, I assume?
                              Regards, Jon S.
                              "
                              The theory that the murderer is a lunatic is dispelled by the opinion given to the police by an expert in the treatment of lunacy patients......."If he's insane
                              " observed the medical authority, "he's a good deal sharper than those who are not".
                              Reynolds Newspaper, 4 Nov. 1888.

                              Comment

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