Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jack The Ripper in New York (?)

Location:   Sing Sing Prison
Year:   1894   

Trevor Marriott, a retired police detective in the United Kingdom, recently put forward an interesting theory regarding the identity of the infamous serial killer, Jack The Ripper.  Marriott believes that Jack The Ripper was a German merchant seaman named Carl Feigenbaum, aka Anton Lahn, aka Karl Zahn.  

Feigenbaum has been a long-time suspect, but Marriott has worked diligently to fill in the gaps of what we know about the man.

The Ripper was responsible for at least five (and probably more) gruesome murders of women in London's Whitechapel district in 1888 (and possibly on into 1891).

But does Marriott "twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts" as the Ripper's fictional contemporary and would-be nemesis, Sherlock Holmes, would ask?  

In late 1893, Feigenbaum slashed the neck of his landlady, Johanna Hoffmann, in the Lower East Side tenement apartment where he was a boarder. This seems, on its face, to be a "Ripper"-like killing:  A vicious and bloody knife attack on an innocent woman living in a poor area of a major city.

But Feigenbaum murdered her in broad daylight, in front of a witness (her son Michael), and, even for the crude forensics of the day, left a plethora of evidence behind. When the police came to the apartment, the blood-soaked Feigenbaum, who had not fled the scene, offered up the laughably weak defense that his brother (who lived in Brooklyn, and whom he had not seen in years) had done the crime. None of these elements seem to make Feigenbaum the canny, frightening Ripper. 

Still, the Hoffmann murder was clearly not his first. He spoke of other killings for which he was responsible (but never of the Ripper killings). As a result, the police in several Midwestern towns were able to close the books on a number of unexplained mutilation murders---all women.  The British authorities, however, were less convinced and remain officially unconvinced of Feigenbaum's being Jack The Ripper.

Feigenbaum, having admitted to his lawyer that he enjoyed killing and mutilating women, went to the electric chair in New York State in 1894.

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