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Martha Tabram


Guest Stephen Turner
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Guest Stephen Turner

I should probably save this for the seminar threads, but as we have two such emminent "Ripperologists" as Forum members I would be interested to know your thoughts on this thorny old perenial. Do you belive that Martha was a ripper victim and if so why? I will lay my own thoughts out about this once people have had a chance to post. Steve.

here.

Edited by Stephen Turner
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Hi Steve

Good question, Steve, and Tabram does make for an interesting case occurring earlier in the month of August 1888 than the first "canonical" murder of Mary (Polly) Ann Nichols. Researchers are divided on whether she was one of Jack's victims.

I think there is a good case to be made that Martha Tabram aka Martha Turner was a Ripper victim, although the nature of her wounds, 39 stabs rather than the "ripping" and throat cut seen in the other canonical Whitechapel murders make it seem materially different. The attending doctor, Dr. T. R. Killeen also thought that the wounds were caused by "some kind of dagger" rather than the long surgical knife apparently used in the other murders. See "Inquest: Martha Tabram" on Stephen Ryder's excellent Casebook: Jack the Ripper site. There is also the thought that she could have been stabbed with a bayonet, and she was last seen alive with a soldier. It could be though that the Tabram murder was a tryout for the murderer who later went on to murder Nichols, Chapman, Stride, Eddowes, and Kelly.

Interestingly, at Ripperologist we are publishing a two-part speculative essay by American researcher Joe Chetcuti on "Tumblety in London: Trailing an Infiltrator" which might imply Dr. Francis Tumblety was involved in the Tabram murder. A member of Parliament, Col. Sir Francis Charles Hughes-Hallett, is quoted in the Reno Evening Gazette of 8 October 1888, in a story filed from New York City, as saying he trailed a man who could have been the American quack doctor Tumblety soon after the 7 August murder:

"New York, October 6th. Colonel Hughes-Hallett of London, formerly of the Royal Artillery and a Member of Parliament, is in this city. He investigated the Whitechapel case just after the Martha Turner [ie, Martha Tabram] murder. He said today: ‘I have made up my mind, and I have seen no reason to change it, that the perpetrator of the atrocities is a West End man, a gentleman, a person of wealth and culture perhaps, but certainly of intellectual qualities, finesse, and keen discrimination. I was convinced that my man left his club as I was then doing, and disguised himself for his nocturnal revel. My theory is that the Whitechapel murderer is an Army Doctor, or a medical student, or a gentleman, and a man of leisure. Or perhaps a retired Army Surgeon.’ "

We do know that Tumblety, though not qualified as an army doctor, posed as a Union Army surgeon at the time of the Civil War, and researcher Chetcuti believes the quack may have finagled his way into membership in a London military club on the basis of his phony qualifications and have been the very man whom Hughes-Hallett was trailing.

All the best

Chris

Edited by Christopher T. George
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Guest Stephen Turner

Chris, thank you for the informed reply.

Interesting information on Mr Tumblety,was'nt he also suspected of helping to fund the fledgeling IRA? I may as well state where I stand on this subject, I belive (yes that word again) that Jack had five victims, namely Tabram, Nichols, Chapman,Eddowes, & Kelly. I am presenting a piece on the seminar threads called who killed Long Liz, so I will get into that particular puzzle there. (Yes I think its Kidney..) I think poor Martha was the victim of an immature Jack attack, the wounds to the victims show his M/O maturing each time, and his confidence and ego growing. I have to admit im a bit at a loss to explain the Dagger like wound, perhaps two Jacks, an offshoot from the men who attack Emma Smith? Just thinking out loud. All serial killers begin somewhere, I belive the frenzied murder of Martha was the begining of "The Autumn of terror"This murder would have been fantasised about many times before its commission, and was in all likelyhood fueled by alcohol. Also George Yard is central to the other killings.

Cheers, Steve.

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This is an old chestnut with Ripper researchers and writers. I have always regarded the term 'canonical', as applied to the East End murders, as rather misplaced and misleading. It is not known exactly how many murders may be credited to the same hand and it is impossible to say with absolute certainty that the five so credited were actually victims of the so-called 'Jack the Ripper'.

In the case of Tabram, the second 'Whitechapel murders' victim, there is nothing in the way of evidence to persuade us that she was a Ripper victim. In fact, what evidence there is indicates the opposite. She was, it would seem, a prostitute who favoured soldiers as her clients. And pointers to the fact that her killer was most probably a soldier client are as follows.

1. Earlier in the evening, with her friend Mary Ann Connelly, she was picking up soldiers.

2. She was last seen at 11.45 pm , by Connelly, 'going up George Yard' with a soldier.

3. At 2.00 am the beat policeman, PC 226H Barrett saw a soldier, a private in the Guards, in Wentworth Street at the junction with George Yard (within 50 yards of the murder scene). On speaking with the soldier PC Barrett was told that he was 'waiting for a chum who had gone with a girl.'

4. Tabram's time of death was estimated at 2.30 am. This means that the soldier seen by PC Barrett who stated that his 'chum had gone with a girl' was a mere 30 minutes before the estimated time of death.

5. The method of killing bore no resemblance whatever to the subsequent Ripper murders, i.e. the throat was not cut, there were 38 stab wounds apparently inflicted with an ordinary pocket knife and one (fatal) stab wound through the sternum possibly inflicted by a dagger or 1888 pattern sword bayonet.

It is easy to imagine an enraged client, probably fuelled by drink, attacking Tabram when she either tried to steal from him or refused his advances.

These are my thoughts on this murder and, in my opinion, the most likely scenario.

Edited by Stewart Evans
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Guest Stephen Turner

[1. Earlier in the evening, with her friend Mary Ann Connelly, she was picking up soldiers.

2. She was last seen at 11.45 pm , by Connelly, 'going up George Yard' with a soldier.

3. At 2.00 am the beat policeman, PC 226H Barrett saw a soldier, a private in the Guards, in Wentworth Street at the junction with George Yard (within 50 yards of the murder scene). On speaking with the soldier PC Barrett was told that he was 'waiting for a chum who had gone with a girl.'

4. Tabram's time of death was estimated at 2.30 am. This means that the soldier seen by PC Barrett who stated that his 'chum had gone with a girl' was a mere 30 minutes before the estimated time of death.

5. The method of killing bore no resemblance whatever to the subsequent Ripper murders, i.e. the throat was not cut, there were 38 stab wounds apparently inflicted with an ordinary pocket knife and one (fatal) stab wound through the sternum possibly inflicted by a dagger or 1888 pattern sword bayonet.

It is easy to imagine an enraged client, probably fuelled by drink, attacking Tabram when she either tried to steal from him or refused his advances.

Thanks for your thoughts Stewart, just a few points.

1,Yes, Much earlier. of course despite there being two identification parades, no soldier was ever identified. the two that were picked out had water tight alibis.

2Again, yes, but this is nearly four hours before Alfred Crow discovers the body,and nearly three hours before the ESTIMATED time of death. If your claiming that this soldier was the killer, what did they do for three hours?

3,This is telling for your version of events, although it must be said that PC,Barrett failed to pick this soldier out of an identification parade.

4, As above.

5,Some similarities in M/O include, The murder was silent,no one in the tenement block heard a sound. Tabram was probably strangled before the mutilations,From the Illistrated Police news,"She was throttled whilst being held down,the face was swollen and distorted" According to Dr Killeen there was no evidence of a struggle, she was "Raptored" like the other victims, Sex does not appear to have been the motive, like the other victims,The body was left as though possed, legs apart, dress raised, Like the other victims. Her sex organs and breasts were a particular focus, although her throat was not slashed it had been stabbed several times.

Two other things, I can understand the theory about a arguement over money or sex, but to stab her thirty nine times for such mundane reasons? This looks much more like our boy Jack, but as I said in an Immature attack.( He would have learned much from this first kill.) DR Killeen only says that a Bayonet might have been used, if not we have 38 wounds inflicted by a pocket knife, then the killer stops, produces a bayonet, and stabs Martha once with it, I find this unlikely.

I look foward to your reply. regards Steve.

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Stephen, You have ably presented the case for those who argue for the inclusion of Tabram in the Ripper's tally. One of the early advocates for her inclusion was Jon Ogan who wrote 'Martha Tabram - The Forgotten Ripper Victim?' in the Journal of the Police History Society, Number 5, 1990. Jon's detailed article covered all the points you raise and the odd fact that two different weapons had apparently been used which would seem to argue for premeditation, unless the killer had a weapon in each hand. However, so much in this case is down to opinion and interpretation that a good case can be made for both points of view.

To take your points in order.

1.. The point that they were picking up soldiers that evening, and were still with soldiers near midnight illustrates that they seemed to prefer soldier clients. There was no identification of a soldier but does that mean that both Connelly AND PC Barrett lied about seeing soldiers? Of course it doesn't. Certainly PC Barrett would have no reason to lie about that. In Connelly's case she probably thought better of it when it came to identifying a soldier who had been paying for sex with a prostitute and she showed great reluctance in assisting the police. And Macnaghten actually suggested that she may have refused to identify the soldier. For Barrett's part it would seem that he did not get a good look at the soldier and was not confident about an identification. Barrett made a wrong identification, obviously not sure of himself and a mere reading of how Barrett identified the men shows how unsure he was. He did, in fact, reject the first man he had chosen as he had medals whereas the man seen in George Yard had not.

2. She was seen going up George Yard at 11.45 pm but the estimated time of the murder was around 2.30 am, NOT 3.30 am when Crow probably saw the body. Thus it was 2 hours 45 minutes before the probable time of the murder NOT 'nearly 4 hours'. Just because they 'went up' George Yard at 12.45 does not mean that they immediately went for sex. Go out of the far end of George Yard into Wentworth Street, turn left and just up the road was another pub. And the pubs were still open at that time. But, of course, the soldier who committed the murder may not have been, and was probably not, the same one who had gone up George Yard with her at 11.45 pm. She could have picked up another soldier after that, there were many of them about. I am not claiming that the soldier she was seen with by Connelly was the same one who killed, he might have been, but I use the fact as it shows she was with a soldier when last seen before she died.

3. You say, 'This is telling for your version of events'. I say, 'It certainly is!' And, as I have stated, PC Barrett had no reason whatsoever to make it up and merely got into a muddle over his identification. I cover this in 'The Man Who Hunted Jack the Ripper' page 21.

4. Ditto.

5. Just because nothing was heard does not mean that the murder was silent. It means that nothing was heard! Yes, Tabram may have been strangled first, and so may some of the other victims. However, strangulation is and was a very common method of murder, as is and was the use of a knife, sometimes both methods being used. I think that I prefer the official reports and medical evidence to the sensational broadsheet The Illustrated Police News, although I guess that 'throttled' sounds much better for the reading public than 'possibly strangled.' The fact that she was found lying on her back, legs apart and her clothes up would be just the position one would expect to find her in if she had been murdered by a client paying for sex. The stab wounds were all over her body and, apparently, inflicted in a frenzied manner rather than the deliberate mutilation exhibited by the killer in the subsequent murders. If her client had been unable to have sex with her (possibly because of drink) she may have ridiculed his inability or lack of 'manhood' which caused him to go into a rage.

As I say, it all comes down to personal opinion and interpretation. And either may be the right answer. However carefully weighing what is known and speaking from many years police experience I tend to think this was not a Ripper killing.

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Guest Stephen Turner

Stewart, well argued Sir.

As this is an Educational site, and many visitors to these threads will know little of the case, I should point out that the above debate is one of many "Either, or" that occur in this mystery. It is possible to make a strong case for for both sides,but on reflection I find Stewarts to be more persuasive. Any serious study of all things JTR

requires a formidible knowledge of the events,history of Whitechapel,police proceedures in Victorian times, Weapons used, Eyewitness accounts, etc, etc ,etc. The best place to start, is with a book that simply lays out the KNOWN facts,without this knowledge it is impossible to get beyond idle speculation, I belived that the first five books I read had in turn solved the mystery.( Everybody from Prince Albert Victor, to William Gull John Netley,and uncle Tom Cobley) Dont fall into that trap. Steve.

PS Whether she was a ripper victim or not, poor Martha is, as Mr Ogan says, the forgotten victim.

Edited by Stephen Turner
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Hi Steve

If I might do so, let me recommend several books on the case that take a more objective view so that newcomers don't fall into the trap of getting caught up in the theory for a particular suspect. I believe everyone in the field has high regard for Philip Sugden's The Complete History of Jack the Ripper in which Sugden, a careful and thorough historian, takes a detailed look at the case. Paul Begg's Jack the Ripper: The Facts is also excellent, as is Don Rumbelow's The Complete Jack the Ripper.

Don's book, originally published in the 1970's, was one of the first to take an objective look at the case and to cast aside the myth and misinformation that bedevils consideration of the Whitechapel murders. Both Don and Forum member Stewart Evans are former policemen, Don having been a City of London constable, and Stewart a uniformed constable with the Suffolk Police. Rumbelow and Evans therefore bring hands-on knowledge of police procedures and protocol to the case.

A book that Stewart Evans has written with another leading Ripperologist, Keith Skinner, The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Companion, aka, in the US, The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook collects together all of the major documents in the case with informed commentary. Also useful as a handy reference guide and encyclopedia is The Jack the Ripper A to Z by Paul Begg, Martin Fido, and Keith Skinner. The Daily Telegraph was one of the better newspapers of the day, and a book that collects the press reports on the case that appeared in that newspaper is The News from Whitechapel: Jack the Ripper in the "Daily Telegraph" by Alexander Chisholm, Christopher-Michael DiGrazia, and Dave Yost.

Steve, I hope this guide to some of the major sources on the Whitechapel murders proves useful to visitors new to the case.

Best regards

Chris George

Edited by Christopher T. George
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Guest Stephen Turner

Thank you Chris, Excellent suggestions. And of course take out a subscription to the "Ripperologist". Steve.

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Hi Steve

Well, taking out a subscription to Ripperologist goes without saying. Thanks for the plug! :ice

Steve, I wonder if you are going to attend the Brighton Jack the Ripper convention upcoming this October? If so, I look forward to meeting you.

One other thing, I have tried several times to enable a picture but have yet to get it to "take" -- both pics I was trying to post are apparently not too large. I have been able to enable them in other forums but not this one so far.

All my best

Chris

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Guest Stephen Turner

Chris, yes I shall be at Brighton, looking foward to it.

If you email your photo to John Simpkin he will attach it in the threads.

Steve.

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