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Documentary evidence? What documentary evidence?

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  • Documentary evidence? What documentary evidence?

    Going through Abberlines 31st of March 1903 interview in the Pall Mall Gazette, there was something I have not given much thought before. Here are three passages illuminating what it is I´m after:

    "You can state most emphatically," said Mr. Abberline, "that Scotland Yard is really no wiser on the subject than it was fifteen years ago...

    ...I am, and always have been, in the closest touch with Scotland Yard, and it would have been next to impossible for me not to have known all about it...

    ...to convince those who have any doubts on the point, Mr. Abberline produced recent documentary evidence which put the ignorance of Scotland Yard as to the perpetrator beyond the shadow of a doubt."


    So Abberline, having retired from the Met in 1892, did eleven years after that fact have access to documents, arguably from the Met, that put Scotland Yards failure to identify the Ripper "beyond a shadow of a doubt". Meaning, of course, that the documents he displayed to the press were watertight proof that the Met had failed to identify Jack the Ripper.

    If this was true, then away goes Andersons certainty about Kosminski as well as Macnaghtens ditto about Druitt. This was also certified by Abberline in the same interview:

    "I know," continued the well-known detective, "that it has been stated in several quarters that 'Jack the Ripper' was a man who died in a lunatic asylum a few years ago, but there is nothing at all of a tangible nature to support such a theory."

    Adieu Kosminski.

    "Yes,' said Mr. Abberline, "I know all about that story. But what does it amount to? Simply this. Soon after the last murder in Whitechapel the body of a young doctor was found in the Thames, but there is absolutely nothing beyond the fact that he was found at that time to incriminate him. A report was made to the Home Office about the matter, but that it was 'considered final and conclusive' is going altogether beyond the truth."

    Fare thee well, Druitt.

    Question: What was the documentary evidence mentioned in the Gazette? Any idea, anybody? And to what degree did Abberline have access to the Mets intelligence? He described it like this himself in the interview:

    "I am, and always have been, in the closest touch with Scotland Yard, and it would have been next to impossible for me not to have known all about it."







    "In these matters it is the little things that tell the tales" - Coroner Wynne Baxter during the Nichols inquest.

  • #2
    Hi Christer, it could be argued that Abberline wasn't privy to all known information on Kosminski, even though he thought he was.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Scott Nelson View Post
      Hi Christer, it could be argued that Abberline wasn't privy to all known information on Kosminski, even though he thought he was.
      Of course that can be argued. But Abberline effectively denies it himself; there is not a chance that he would not have known is what he states. And if there is a single source within the police that many out here would agree on as reliable, then that is him. Therefore, I feel that his claims on this matters cannot be easily discarded.
      Anyways, do you have any idea what kind of documents it was he used to put the issue to rest? Met material, or correspondence with somebody undoubtedly in the know? Ether way, it sounds like pretty watertight evidence. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, as it were.
      "In these matters it is the little things that tell the tales" - Coroner Wynne Baxter during the Nichols inquest.

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      • #4

        Originally posted by Scott Nelson View Post
        Hi Christer, it could be argued that Abberline wasn't privy to all known information on Kosminski, even though he thought he was.
        Logically and objectively, isn't that more likely to be have been true of Druitt, rather than Kosminski, and without any need to inject any theories of secrecy?

        Abberline was still at the Yard during the Kosminski affair. He didn't retire until February, 1892.

        By contrast, Macnaghten explicitly states that his info about Druitt was 'private' and wasn't known until several years after he (Mac) had joined the Yard (after 1889 but before February 1894), so, if Macnaghten isn't lying, there's little reason to think that Abberline would have been privy to all the facts about the Druitt theory.

        Abberline thinks it was just a theory about a 'young doctor' who committed suicide--which despite the beliefs of the Druittists themselves could have been investigated in early 1889-- but Abberline is not aware of the allegations about the family's own suspicions, etc., which only became known later.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Christer Holmgren View Post
          Anyways, do you have any idea what kind of documents it was he used to put the issue to rest? Met material, or correspondence with somebody undoubtedly in the know?
          Simple. On discovering that the murderer Klosowski had once lived in the East End, the Met 'recently' tried to discover his whereabouts in 1888, just as they had done with Sadler, Grainger, etc.

          The obvious implication of such investigations is that the Met didn't know the murderer's identity. Why else would they have bothered to investigate?

          I don't think it is anything more than that.

          And since Swanson was still around until July,1903 (three months after Klosowski's execution) Abberline would have him over a barrel if Swanson had been 'in on' these investigations of Klosowski's whereabouts.

          It would prove that Swanson didn't know Kosminski had 'done it,' since he would hardly have wasted his time with such an inquiry.

          Of course, I speculate about this last part, but we do know that Sadler and Grainger were investigated.

          That's damaging enough, I reckon.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by R. J. Palmer View Post

            Simple. On discovering that the murderer Klosowski had once lived in the East End, the Met 'recently' tried to discover his whereabouts in 1888, just as they had done with Sadler, Grainger, etc.

            The obvious implication of such investigations is that the Met didn't know the murderer's identity. Why else would they have bothered to investigate?

            I don't think it is anything more than that.

            And since Swanson was still around until July,1903 (three months after Klosowski's execution) Abberline would have him over a barrel if Swanson had been 'in on' these investigations of Klosowski's whereabouts.

            It would prove that Swanson didn't know Kosminski had 'done it,' since he would hardly have wasted his time with such an inquiry.

            Of course, I speculate about this last part, but we do know that Sadler and Grainger were investigated.

            That's damaging enough, I reckon.
            I agree very much about how the various later affairs should not have had the police looking into them as possibly being Ripper-connected if they already knew the identity of the Whitechapel killer. But what I wanted to know was what kind of documents it was that Abberline was able to present. If you are suggesting that it was documents concerning a police investigation into the possibility that Chapman was the perpetrator back in 1888, such a documentation would of course establish that the police were willing to accept the option that he was possibly their man.

            But would such a thing establish beyond the shadow of a doubt that they had failed to identify the Ripper? Because that was what the Pall Mall Gazette claimed was proven by the documentation Abberline presented. If Andersons claims about the Polish Jew rested on the truth, then what Sir Robert had was not physical proof; it was an identification only, and as such, an identification is never any iron-clad proof. It could for example be that the unidentified witness identifying Andersons man had personal reasons for wanting to frame "Kosminski" for the murders. Although such a thing can only be suggested, it nevertheless underlines how resting a case on a single witness will always be fraught with danger.

            What I am after here is that we may have a situation where the police, as represented by Anderson, had chosen to believe in the identification made and so they accepted that the Ripper had been found. But when other candidates surfaced, they had to admit to not having conclusive proof, and so investigations into other potential Rippers had to be undertaken so as not to undermine their own credibility. But as long as none of these added candidates could be proven to have been the killer, Anderson preferred to put his trust in the Polish Jew, and always reverted back to his own favourite theory.

            That would produce the kind of conundrum we are dealing with, I feel, with Anderson defending his own take; "There, you see, it wasn´t this Saddler (or Grainger, or Chapman) fellow, who did it. Believe me, it was always the Polish Jew, just as I keep saying!". The take of a very self-conscious man, coupled with the insight that admitting to have failed to catch the Ripper would forever tarnish the overall impression of his service. Sort of.

            Anyways, what I am saying here is that if the documentaion Abberline presented was indeed evidence of a Scotland Yard investigation into George Chapman as the possible Ripper, then that would not go to prove that the killer had not been caught, would it? It would only go to prove that no such thing had been agreed upon. And that would not prove any ignorance on behalf of the Yard, it would only prove that there was no conclusive proof to convict the Polish Jew.

            Then again, I may be reading too much into the phrasing used by the Gazette - if the material provided a certainty about how there was a lack of conclusive proof, then a newspaper could of course choose to call lacking conclusive proof "ignorance", regardless of the degree of certainty Anderson personally felt was justified.
            "In these matters it is the little things that tell the tales" - Coroner Wynne Baxter during the Nichols inquest.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Christer Holmgren View Post
              Then again, I may be reading too much into the phrasing used by the Gazette - if the material provided a certainty about how there was a lack of conclusive proof, then a newspaper could of course choose to call lacking conclusive proof "ignorance", regardless of the degree of certainty Anderson personally felt was justified.
              I'm not sure what you envision, Christer.

              What possible 'documentation' could there be, other than an admission by someone rather high up the food chain that the police were still looking for the murderer or had multiple suspects, with no conclusive evidence against any of them?

              "many homicidal maniacs were suspected, but no shadow of proof could be thrown on any one"

              That is in the Macnaghten 'document,' and can be taken as an official admission by a Chief Constable that the case had not been solved as of Feb 1894.

              If the Pall Mall article you cite can be believed, there was more 'recent documentary evidence' along the same lines, but one wonders if this is just a reference to the memo having been leaked.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by R. J. Palmer View Post

                I'm not sure what you envision, Christer.

                What possible 'documentation' could there be, other than an admission by someone rather high up the food chain that the police were still looking for the murderer or had multiple suspects, with no conclusive evidence against any of them?

                "many homicidal maniacs were suspected, but no shadow of proof could be thrown on any one"

                That is in the Macnaghten 'document,' and can be taken as an official admission by a Chief Constable that the case had not been solved as of Feb 1894.

                If the Pall Mall article you cite can be believed, there was more 'recent documentary evidence' along the same lines, but one wonders if this is just a reference to the memo having been leaked.
                I am envisioning nothing; what I did was to ask what others envision.

                I am familiar with Macnaghtens 1894 writings, but as you will appreciate, they were gainsaid in 1910. Which is the reason that I take an interest in the matter. And I was interested for the very reason that the Gazette spoke of recent documentary evidence in 1903.

                Maybe it was about Chapman being researched as the possible Ripper, but regardless if it was, I find it troublesome that the paper claimed it to nullify the suggestion that Scotland Yard had found their man. You know me - its not that I think they ever did, its more a question about whether or not the documentation Abberline possessed was of the calibre that was suggested.
                "In these matters it is the little things that tell the tales" - Coroner Wynne Baxter during the Nichols inquest.

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