Reinvestigating Murder: How Did ‘Long Liz’ Die?

Israel Schwartz had apparently been in Britain only a matter of days when he became embroiled in history’s most famous murder mystery. At about a quarter to one on the morning of September 30th, 1888, Schwartz was walking up Berner Street from Commercial Road when;

“he saw a man stop & speak to a woman who was standing in the gateway. The man tried to pull the woman into the street & threw her down on the footway & the woman screamed three times but not very loudly”.

Jack In The Box

Perhaps and maybe are words that Tony Williams and his co-author, Humphrey Price, use frequently in discussing `Uncle Jack`, their candidate for Jack the Ripper. Indeed, these words occur eight times in a single page of their book, suggesting a lack of conviction in their own theorising. Making accusations that erode the good name and reputation of long-dead eminent Victorians has become something of a cult in the vast literature that has grown up around Ripperology. Sir William Gull suffered at the hands of Stephen Knight and others and, now, Sir John Williams receives similar treatment from a family descendant. It is a pity that the reputation of such a distinguished man has been tainted by accusations of criminality based on weak circumstantial evidence.

Death and Rebirth – Durward Street In The 20th Century

The murder of Mary Ann Nichols in the early hours of 31st August 1888 put Buck’s Row on the crime map of London for good, as the Whitechapel Murders did for many other streets during the ‘Autumn of Terror’. This non-descript, narrow and ill-lit thoroughfare was by all accounts the home of respectable, working class types at the time, but less than a century earlier it had been partly rural, going by the name of Ducking Pond Row on account of the said ducking pond being situated at its junction with what is now Brady Street. The industrial age and the development of the London Underground system was largely responsible for the type of building that took place on Buck’s Row during the Victorian era and this was pretty much how it remained for many years after that fateful morning in 1888.

Sergeant William Thick

It could so easily be missed, this little chalkland village, as many miles from Salisbury as it is from Shaftesbury and once an insignificant settlement on the Northern rim of Cranborne Chase. The Ebble Valley road follows a winding westward course from Salisbury between the ancient downland ridges of the Shaston Drove and the Ox Drove, but at Broadchalke a spur sweeps round the church to run even deeper past succulent cressbeds and heron-haunted trout ponds. Here, at Bowerchalke, William Thick was born on November 20th 1845.

Reinvestigating Murder: The Kelly Enigma

Here’s a question. What links Mary Kelly to a famous quotation from Winston Churchill? The answer is his description of Russia: “an enigma within a riddle within a mystery”. Was she: “tall and pretty and fair as a lily” ( Elizabeth Prater and John McCarthy ), or: “short, stout and dark” with protruding false teeth ( Maurice Lewis and Elizabeth Phoenix )? What was her real name and age, where was she from originally and was she in hiding from someone? Was it even her corpse which was found at Miller’s Court?

Where We Are with Bury

Had the Jack the Ripper murders taken place in 1988 and not 1888 then our response to them would have been markedly different. No one in 1988 would have doubted that the perpetrator was a sexual serial killer carrying out his own perverted agenda. Since 1888 we have learnt much about this type of killer, their damaged childhoods, misfit adulthoods and psychopathic alienation from the human race.

Bravo for Maybrick

Two men died of poisoning in the last quarter of the 19th century. Charles Delauney Turner Bravo, April 1876 and James Maybrick, May 1889. Both were professional men, Bravo a London barrister and Maybrick a much travelled cotton broker. Their deaths are shrouded in mystery and intrigue. The wife of one was charged and convicted of murder receiving a death sentence, which was subsequently changed to a life sentence, while the other wife, although suspected of murder, was not charged. Charles Bravo’s death was the subject of much speculation and even went to two inquests. We look at the lifestyle of both couples.

Reinvestigating Murder: The Mystery of the knife

Investigating murder sometimes resembles picking gnat’s droppings out of cow dung;- or to put it a little more salubriously, this will be a journey of exploration and whether you get to the end of it with me will depend on your perception of how logical the deductions are.

We begin on the night following the double murder of Liz Stride and Cathy Eddowes. Thirty minutes after midnight on Monday, October 1st, a warehouse operative named Thomas Coram was walking up Whitechapel road on the right-hand side going towards Aldgate when, near Great Garden street, he spied something white lying on the bottom step of number 252 on the other side of the road. Coram crossed over and found that the object was a long bladed knife with a handkerchief tied round the handle. Both the knife and the hankie were stained with dried blood.

Providence Row Night Refuge

The Night Refuge in Crispin Street will be well known to those with an interest in the Jack the Ripper case, and also in the history of the East End. Mary Kelly is, according to legend, believed to have sought sanctuary at Providence Row at some time. A small collection of original papers that are housed in London Metropolitan Archives (1) provide a fascinating first-hand glimpse into the all too real poverty that existed at that time, and the measures to alleviate it.

Charles Warren In Africa

The second part of my travels through darkest Africa led me to Natal and the sites of various Zulu and Boer War battlefields. After doing my bit for Queen and country and visiting Isandhwana and Rorkes Drift, (not a bloody spear in sight Michael!), I came upon a hill (or ‘Kop’) with a distinct connection to the events in Whitechapel just twelve years before its notoriety. The place is Spion Kop,* a hill some 1,500 ft high and overlooking the Tugela River on the approaches to Ladysmith. This was the route taken by the British Commander of Allied forces, Sir Redvers Buller, on his way to relieve the beleaguered inhabitants of said Ladysmith.