A reconstruction of a murderer's face has reawakened interest in one of the world's most famous unsolved mysteries: Who was the serial killer behind Britain's "Jack the Ripper" murders in 1888?This is the picture they created:
More than 100 suspects have been suggested over the years, including Lewis Carroll (author of "Alice in Wonderland") and Victorian painter Walter Sickert (who was fingered in a book by crime novelist Patricia Cornwell after a $4 million investigation). This week, the BBC is throwing a spotlight on a dark-horse candidate: German merchant seaman Carl Feigenbaum, who was executed in New York in 1896 for a totally different killing.
Feigenbaum was convicted for the murder of his landlady in Manhattan, and his attorney, Willam Sanford Lawton, said afterward that his client admitted to having an "all-absorbing passion ... to kill and mutilate every woman who falls in my way." It was Lawton who first suggested that Feigenbaum was behind the murders of women in London eight years earlier.
More than a century later, retired British police detective Trevor Marriott has put together Lawton's claims and other evidence to build a case against Feigenbaum, and the case received a big boost from the BBC One program "National Treasures Live."
Marriott matched up shipping records with the timing of some of the murders, and suggested that Feigenbaum's ship could have been docked in London at the time. He also argues that not all the killings attributed to Jack the Ripper were done by the same person, based on his analysis of the locations and the different ways in which the the victims were slashed to death.
The traditional lore surrounding Jack the Ripper is that he must have been familiar with anatomical dissection, because he removed the internal organs of his victims so quickly and skillfully. Marriott contends that the organs couldn't have been cut out at the scene of the crime, but were removed at the London mortuary by doctors in training.
This is not the first time Jack the Ripper has been theorized to have an American connection. There is some belief that another Ripper Suspect, George Chapman (real name Severin Klosowski), came to the United States and continued his murders in the New York area. Yet another Ripper suspect (the best one, in my opinion), Francis Tumblety, was actually an American himself.
I have Marriott's book, Jack the Ripper: the 21st Century Investigation. I had started it but never finished it, largely because Marriott's description of the crimes pales in comparison to that of Philip Sugden and Paul Begg. I can't say I'm impressed by Marriott's contention that the victims' organs were removed in the mortuary, since in at least two of the cases (Annie Chapman and Catharine Eddowes) first responders observed at the crime scenes (29 Hanbury Street and Mitre Square, respectively) intestines already removed from the victims and placed out of the way to access the areas the killer wanted.
But I'm going to give Marriott another shot here and see what he has in support of his theory that Jack the Ripper was Carl Feigenbaum.