Saturday, May 12, 2012

Slowing Down

Speeding Up

While this post's title is "Slowing Down" it's really because things are Speeding Up.  The process of working full time, looking for a new job, preparing to move for an as of yet not obtained new job, and crocheting a sweater and a dress while still maintaining my relationship with my fiance is proving to be a little overwhelming.  But, I don't want to sound whiny or like I'm complaining.  I am really happy with where everything is going; it's just been crazy and stressful and happy all at the same time.

What the speeding up process means for this blog, which I haven't really even pulled up off the ground yet, is that I won't have time to make all of my ideas happen all at once here.  I'm going to post when I can and probably won't do regular segments and I probably won't focus too much on creating a strict focus.

I will be posting the projects I am working on and will probably do some progress posts and the like, but for today I will only leave you with my explanation and a response to those who claim the theory of Jack the Ripper being a woman is a sexist theory based on the evidence behind it.

Jill the Ripper

Okay, so I stole the sub-heading from Jezebel's article on a new account of the Jack the Ripper murders that suggests that the killer may have been female. Jezebel and Mary Sue both dismiss John Morris's arguments as sexist without having read the book. I will admit that I have not read Morris's book Jack the Ripper: The Hand of a Woman either. But I would like to present an alternate analysis of the information presented in the article from the Birmingham Mail where backtracking has led us to as the source article for Jezebel and later Mary Sue.

John Morris and his late father, Byron Morris, did extensive research into the largely ignored possibility of the murderer being a woman, and what woman it may therefore have been.  Their research led them to Lizzie Williams, wife of royal physician Sir John Williams.  Her status as wife of a physician seems rather significant to me when you consider first that there are some who hypothesized that the killer was an educated man, possibly a doctor or an aristocrat and second that the wife of a doctor would likely have assisted her husband upon occasion and most certainly observed at least some portion of his work and studies.

Further indications, according to Morris, include the facts that:

*None of the women were sexually assaulted
*Personal items were laid out at the feet of Anne Chapman in, according to newspaper reports, "a typically feminine manner"
*Three small buttons from a woman's boot were found in blood near Catherine Eddowes
* Remnants of women's clothing- a cape, skirt and hat- were found in the ashes of Mary Kelly's fireplace.  Mary had never been seen wearing them.

Morris posits, "There are numerous clues scattered throughout the crimes which, taken individually, may mean little, but when grouped together a strong case for a woman murderer begins to emerge."

Objection has been raised regarding the phrase "a typically feminine manner," and the articles of women's clothing as clues, but I think most of us would also acknowledge that these are the types of details and characteristics that behavioral analysts look for in creating a criminal profile that can be used as a sounding board for identifying suspects.  But these are not the details that are considered most objectionable or to be the most sexist, but I wanted to save the meatiest bit for last so that I wouldn't forget to share the small details that help create a larger picture.

The Ripper struck five times during the course of ten weeks in 1888.  Of the five victims - Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly - three had their wombs removed, which plays into the motive that Morris suggests for Lizzie.

According to John Morris, Lizzie Williams killed her victims because she could not have children.  This is the crux of the outrage calling Morris's theory sexist, but let me share a little bit more information with you before I fully flesh out this thought.

*Sir John ran abortion clinics in Whitechapel which would seem to indicate that Lizzie would also have some knowledge of surgery regarding specifically female anatomy.
*Stride's murder was believed to be interrupted due to the lack of mutilations to Stride's abdomen.  The reader should also note that Stride and Eddowes were killed on the same night, in what was later referred to as the "double event."
*The only victims not to have their wombs removed were Mary Ann Nichols, the first victim, and Elizabeth Strider, whose murder may have been interrupted.
*In 2005 Tony Williams (a relation of Sir John Williams) wrote a book in which he suggested that Sir John Williams was having an affair with Mary Kelly, the final victim.
*The mutilation of Mary Kelly's corpse was the most savage of the five murders.  Her gruesomely mutilated body was found in the single room where she lived.  The throat had been severed down to the spine, and the abdomen was virtually emptied of its organs.  The heart was missing.

So, now we have the final victim, who was hunted down in her own home and killed in the most extreme fashion.  Seems to me like this is a case of overkill that suggests that Mary Kelly may have been the killer's primary target and that the previous murders were preludes to the real show.

This leads into the proposal that Lizzie Williams, the infertile wife of an obstetrician, in an "unhinged state", murdered five women in the course of ten weeks.  She surgically removed the wombs of three of the women, perhaps in vengeance driven by her own infertility and ended her killing spree with the savage mutilation of her husband's lover.

Lizzie Williams, it would seem, would have had access to surgical equipment and basic training consistent with the murders and certainly had motive.  Shortly after the murders, Lizzie Williams suffered a nervous breakdown and died of cancer in 1912.  She was never interrogated by police about the murders.

Morris is not the first to suggest that the killer may have been a woman and recognizes that, "the case for woman murderer is overwhelming.  But unfortunately it does not sit well in some quarters where such a theory flies in the face of long-held beliefs."

Inspector Abberline, chief investigator on the case, even suggested that the killer might have been a woman who dressed up in Kelly's clothes the following day which would account for a neighbor's sighting of Kelly that was inconsistent with Kelly's estimated time of death.  This set off the theory of the mad midwife.  A woman could have walked freely since the authorities were looking for a man, a midwife could travel at odd hours of the night without drawing undue attention, and the presence of blood on her clothing would be dismissed as the result of her profession.

Morris presents some compelling arguments that are more than just a series of wide generalizations about a hysterical woman with access to surgical equipment and a chip on her shoulder.  Labeling his arguments as sexist is premature when important bits of supporting evidence are disregarded.

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