“User is currently unavailable”-How we all grew up in the detached generation

When the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6th 1945, a hundred thousand candles were all snuffed out in a second. World war II was ending, and if there was ever going to be a testament to the monumental loss of life that had happened in six short years, the US had just provided it. Still, “one good boom deserves another”, as some might say, and only two decades later populations worldwide were rocketing. It was like it had taken not one-but two global conflicts-to kick the human species from its slumber. But even as the tides of war receded, it was clear the flood-waters of “the baby boom” were there to stay. And that was generation X.

It was a post-war dream with picket fences and radio static and rock and roll. Against the backdrop of civil rights protests, missile crises and the space race, the youth of the time took center stage and made the most noise. Sitting in suburban front rooms, they watched Martin Luther King march on Washington. We call them black and white TV sets, but back then a different type of colour was issue. The summer days of childhood wouldn’t last though. The older brigade of characters were spent. Eisenhower, Churchill et al were like lazy dogs; content to count their victories and die happy on the old family rug on the porch. But beyond the garden gate the new pups kept scrapping.

And so with a JFK gunshot ringing in their ears, drugs in the air and rage in their hearts, it was generation X who were off to fight fire in the east, with hardly a senior year of high-school between them. Vietnam was a sort of rite of passage, a process, a requirement-a calamity.

Across the water one of our parents got a lash for creaking the desk. And so their generation tried to sit still and shut up, even if every day was patched clothes, a penny here and there and a couple “our fathers” before they got a chance to get out to their friends. It was rain and it was wind and it was an Ireland that didn’t even know where it was heading because it couldn’t see outside of the confession box. But by eighteen it was a trade to your name and money in your pocket and a chance to head down to the local on a Friday. It wasn’t perfect but they managed to get by with a little sweat and a good deal of dignity.

This isn’t a “ah sure times were better then” piece. They weren’t. On any given day your grandad hadn’t enough bread to throw to his children. A good half of the grandmothers saw their dreams of work die behind a kitchen door. Your parents couldn’t even have dreamed up the privilege of your childhood if they’d wanted to. And how could have they? It didn’t belong to them. It belonged to generation Y.

We were born out of a different war. The 80s was like a car engine cutting out. The economy stared our parents in the face and told them to stop pushing their luck. But eventually when you’re broke down you have to turn the key and hope something is left in the tank. Even if it’s nothing, it’s closure.

What our thirty-something mothers and fathers found when they shifted into gear was that somebody had been working on the roadways. Suddenly things weren’t as stop-start as before. Avenues were opening up everywhere. People wore ties and had savings. Families went to the south of spain on package holidays and people spent wages on loan repayment for a house with three bedrooms. It was comfortable and getting better by the second. And in the middle, sat us.

We were the proverbial “90s kids”, as much associated with tacky coloured rain jackets as we were with Nintendo games and Britney Spears. Our mornings were digging into cereal boxes trying to find the toy, our afternoons were flicking between Rugrats and a Disney VHS and our evenings were trying to work a dial up connection while our mother was on the phone. It was a 60s childhood on LSD with a lot more money and a tad less religion. School was more “BN biscuits” than beatings and by age twelve you’d got your first taste of the 21st century when someone dropped a phone in your lap.

So simple only 15 years ago. It had text, Snake, and if you were lucky, a camera. Your first phone was underused and overvalued and only three years later it was rubbish. By the time we moved near secondary school we started to forget the rules of “bulldog” and “Mother May I” and focus went towards sports and indoor games. Toys were now in a box in the attic and every child was glued to a playstation 2. Those spring nights when you’d came running home after a game of soccer and a round of Tip the Can with half a dozen fly bites up your arm were fewer and further between and soon people had shiny new Xboxs that you didn’t have. The space race our parents watched was lagging behind the technology race of our childhood. In ten years we went from mobile phone to camera phone to smart phone; the transitions getting quicker and quicker. Internet was no longer a question of “how fast” as “for how long”. At age fifteen we had a reason to be on the internet. Social media was a thing now and important factors like profile pictures and top friends were up for discussion. The ghost of your 15 year old dad passed you on his way to a job while you sat muddling over how many “x’s” to send back to a girl you might have met once at a disco.

Girls and boys still played by the same rules only now your phone was the middleman. He was a really lousy middleman who said nothing much outside of “Wuu2” and “haha” if he was in a good mood. Things like “I’ll text you” were dead and now it was “I’ll talk to you on facebook”. You had 228 friends on facebook and one of your friends had 50 more. It mattered.

After the age of sixteen life started to take the backseat role to social media like the whole thing was a big satire. Twitter had joined the ranks now. It was shorter, snazzier, sexier and had a fuck load less meaning to it. Facebook statuses got saved for special events like a birthday while Twitter was your day to day place to listen to everybody whine about the 21st century hangover they’d been born into. We lashed out at our parents and researchers claimed “things were the same 50 years ago.” You staunchly believed it and carried on with your mid-teen hormonal rants not ever stopping to notice how nobody seemed to talk to their family anymore. You knew it because they were talking to you, on a screen, over an internet. They were plugged in. They were unavailable.

By the time college was in your sights, the internet had gone exponential. It was still only a teenager itself really. You had login details for about 15 different pages even though two years ago it was just keeping track of what your facebook and email passwords were. It was the time of the “photobomb” and the “hashtag” and trends. You didn’t want to spill a drop from the cup that was your newsfeed. You wanted to see it all, and like it all, and share a few bits if they would get you likes in return. You only retweeted the best bits and favourited anything else, confident you’d need to have those stored somewhere for some reason or other later. TV, the biggest advance of your childhood, was starting to look a little dated. Netflix, project free tv and putlocker had dethroned it. Even Youtube was only living off the scraps of the viral video, but you didn’t have any room for sympathy.

Now in college, your effective social life revolved around social media. It wasn’t about “what you were doing” as much as “what you were seen doing”. You planned nights out, classes, etc on facebook chat and might have text as a last resort. You didn’t have phone numbers for reasonably close friends because you had their facebook.

Half the college was filling up your newsfeed with some new social justice campaign. It was Ladbible vs #YesAllWomen and you weren’t really sure where the substance of communication had gone anymore. You ended up in more fights with your friends because the wrong emoticon meant something to somebody. It was no longer necessary for people to get mugged to be attacked because people were writing stuff about them all over websites. Bullying in person had become so uncool. Everybody who was anybody was doing it online now.

You clicked into a link on facebook and seemed to lose half a day.

You were “seen at 14.28” but nobody was replying yet. It had been 10 minutes.

You weren’t sure whether to add first because only losers added first.

You stalked people’s pictures and then pretended to laugh that concept off like you didn’t actually do it more than you cared to admit to yourself.

You tortured yourself over people’s J1 pictures and their new boyfriends.

This isn’t a “put down your phone” video. It isn’t inspirational. But it is borderline truth. It’s dramatised and it’s cynical but it’s not dishonest or far-fetched.

Is this the right way forward? Or have we all bought into something we probably weren’t ready for in the first place?

Either way, we’re more detached than ever, but I hope Generation Z don’t look back and blame us for what we’ve done here.

[User is currently unavailable]

It’s a Wonderful Life

Below is a completely unedited, unaltered stream of thoughts about my day as it unfolds. Some of it will not make sense. I don’t know why I’m documenting this, but here goes.

The clock just passed twelve, and St.Stephen’s Day is over. I’m standing in the Bailey, and I’ve just raised my voice so the woman behind the bar knows I want 3 jaegerbombs. I want three bombs, and cash back. I like the Bailey. I love cream. It’s fitting that Baileys and Cream is a real thing, but I’ve never tried it, so I digress.

I have my three bombs lined up like I’m going to war, and know I’m not coming back. Two fellas next to me think I’ve marbles rolling around in my head. But I don’t. I know the power in this payload, and despite their efforts, these fellas are having none of it. I pick up my bombs like fucking Gatsby with a wine glass and bid them good night.

Half twelve, the bailey is still empty.

One O’clock, still fairly empty. I love it. Three hours of space, and room to move. You could play a fucking five-a-side in the Bailey there’s so much room to manouevre.

At two, it’s off to Hillbillys. I’m inside, and the man behind the counter is looking at me like I want a five chicken tender meal. Not so fast Hill Bill Volume II, I’ll have myself Taco Fries and a Spicy Chilli Cheese wrap. Talk about a la fucking carte dining. 2 minutes later my “rumblies” are being appeased by authentic Mexican delicacies.

By the time I get home I’m fresher than the cold. I’m operating the house alarm like I manufactured the fucking thing. There’s no button smashing here. Oh no. This is red wire-blue wire type precision. With the house done up like fort fucking knox, it’s off to bed.

I’m up the next morning and I must have left the hangover at the door. Head feels like marshmallow. The pink ones-none of that white shit here. My bed is the hot chocolate, and I don’t even care if I’m melting. I’ll be that witch in the wizard of Oz because I’ve got my laptop and three bars of wifi access. You’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy.

Fresh and ready by two. Time to go to work.

By work I mean into town. There’s a book to be returned. When I go to replace it, I see the new book is half price. Up to the counter I walk like I wrote The Wind in the Willows last weekend. So that’s the new book in the bank and 10 euro coming my way. Cheque please.

10 euro richer on Patrick’s Street feels like I just dropped a new album. Before I know it I’m in Jack and Jones with a 50 euro bonus card from work. They tell me they’ll take the card, I tell them I’ll take 110 euro worth of goods for 53. With the bonus card, I’m only coughing out 3 euro from the bank. Walk out of there like fucking Bradley Cooper in Limitless

By this stage I know I’ve got the motherfucking touch today. I’ve got everything I came for but I almost feel like ad libbing this town venture. Whose to say how many shops I could swindle. The Great Train Robbery Christmas special.

I’m no common fool though, I can Kenny Rogers this and “know when to fold’em”. So I’m off to get me some coffee. Go into Gloria Jeans and there’s white chocolate mocha on the menu. Can’t even fathom any other words they could put in there to make that item better. Coffee in hand I think I’m gonna walk right outta here like Inside Man. But I’m not. Instead I sit there. In ten minutes I’ve got three bestseller book ideas and a belly full of heat. Like Frodo to Sam though; “There’s room for a little more”. So I walk outside into the air with the last of my coffee like I’m gonna find my partner and solve a murder. Instead, I’m walking under a ferris wheel and the city library. I feel like Rockafella with a cup o’legal street high. I built this fucking city.

Running total says I just went into town and came out with a three euro cash surplus. Somewhere in the past, Kyle is balancing a balance sheet in third year business. He smiles. He fucking knows: money.

When I get home I’m told I’m going to see the Hobbit again. I’m feeling so good I think, fuck it, throw me in as the sixth army. With my luck today I’ll have that movie wrapped up in twenty minutes. Meanwhile, it’s time to kick back and watch Harry Potter 3 and write a blog. Oh shit. I am not THAT good am I? This piece just became circular (just like Harry Potter 3). Read the title of the blog: It’s a wonderful life. NO. Sit down. Another circular movie.


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Monday Mystery-Annie Chapman (Jack the Ripper Part II)


So, it might not be exactly one week on, but I’ve finally got round to the second post in this series. Today we’re going to look at Jack the Ripper’s second murder, which happened on September 8th 1888. Of late, there has been much rumour on the identity of the murderer, with newspapers and books alike claiming they’ve solved it by DNA. Until some hard evidence surfaces (such as this DNA proof appearing in a journal and not in the Daily Mail), this blogger is not going to consider it worthwhile. Instead, we’re going to go back in time again to a misty London, and see what happened for ourselves.

Annie Chapman was born Eliza Ann Smith. She was the daughter of George Smith of the 2nd Regiment Life Guards and Ruth Chapman. Her parents married after her birth, on 22 February 1842, in Paddington. Smith was a soldier at the time of his marriage, later becoming a domestic servant. On 1 May 1869, Annie married her maternal relative John Chapman, a coachman, at All Saints Church in the Knightsbridge district of London. For some years the couple lived at addresses in West London, and they had three children:

  • Emily Ruth Chapman, born on 25 June 1870.
  • Annie Georgina Chapman, born on 5 June 1873.
  • John Alfred Chapman, born on 21 November 1880.

In 1881 the family moved to Berkshire where John Chapman took a job as coachman to a farm bailiff. But young John had been born disabled, while their firstborn, Emily Ruth, died of meningitis shortly after at the age of 12. Following this, both Chapman and her husband took to heavy drinking and separated in 1884. Annie Chapman eventually moved to Whitechapel, where in 1886 she was living with a man who made wire sieves; because of this she was often known as Annie “Sievey” or “Siffey”. After she and her husband separated, she had received an allowance of 10 shillings a week from him, but at the end of 1886 the payments stopped abruptly. On inquiring why they had stopped, she found her husband had died of alcohol-related causes. The sieve-maker left her soon after, possibly due to the cessation of her income. One of her friends later testified that Chapman became very depressed after this and seemed to give up on life. Her friends called her “Dark Annie”, for her dark brown hair. By 1888 Chapman was living in common lodging houses in Whitechapel, occasionally in the company of Edward “the Pensioner” Stanley, a bricklayer’s labourer. She earned some income from crochet work and selling flowers, supplemented by casual prostitution. An acquaintance described her as “very civil and industrious when sober”, but noted “I have often seen her the worse for drink.” In the week before her death she was feeling ill after being bruised in a fight with Eliza Cooper, a fellow resident in Crossingham’s lodging house at 35 Dorset Street, Spitalfields. The two were reportedly rivals for the affections of a local hawker called Harry, but Eliza claimed the fight was over a borrowed bar of soap that Annie had not returned.

The Murder

According to the lodging house deputy Tim Donovan and the watchman John Evans, at about 1:45 a.m. on the morning of her death, Chapman found herself without money for her lodging and went out to earn some on the street. At the inquest one of the witnesses, Mrs. Elizabeth Long testified that she had seen Chapman talking to a man at about 5:30 a.m. just beyond the back yard of 29 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields. Mrs. Long described him as over forty, and a little taller than Chapman, of dark complexion, and of foreign, “shabby-genteel” appearance. He was wearing a hat and dark overcoat. If correct in her identification of Chapman, it is likely that Long was the last person to see Chapman alive besides her murderer. Chapman’s body was discovered at just before 6:00 a.m. on the morning of 8 September 1888 by a resident of number 29, market porter John Davis. She was lying on the ground near a doorway in the back yard. John Richardson, the son of a resident of the house, had been in the back yard shortly before 5 a.m. to trim a loose piece of leather from his boot, and carpenter Albert Cadosch had entered the neighbouring yard at 27 Hanbury Street at about 5:30 a.m., and heard voices in the yard followed by the sound of something falling against the fence. He took no notice.

Evidence indicated that Chapman may have been killed as late as 5:30 a.m., in the enclosed back yard of a house occupied by sixteen people, none of whom had seen or heard anything at the time of the murder.The passage through the house to the back-yard was not locked, as it was frequented by the residents at all hours of the day, and the front door was wide open when the body was discovered. Richardson said that he had often seen strangers, both men and women, in the passage of the house. Her throat was cut from left to right, and she had been disembowelled, with her intestines thrown out of her abdomen over each of her shoulders. The morgue examination revealed that part of her uterus was missing. Chapman’s protruding tongue and swollen face led Dr Phillips to think that she may have been asphyxiated with the handkerchief around her neck before her throat was cut. As there was no blood trail leading to the yard, he was certain that she was killed where she was found. He concluded that she suffered from a long-standing lung disease, that the victim was sober at the time of death, and had not consumed alcoholic beverages for at least some hours before it. Phillips was of the opinion that the murderer must have possessed anatomical knowledge to have sliced out the reproductive organs in a single movement with a blade about 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) long. However, the idea that the murderer possessed surgical skill was dismissed by other experts.


Now we shall examine a timeline of events, similar to last week, but this time stretching back to a few days before the murder occurred.

AUG 31, 1888
Polly Nichols found dead in Buck’s Row.

SAT, SEP 1, 1888 Annie fought with and lost to a fellow lodger, Eliza Cooper, over a half-pennce.

MON, SEP 3, 1888 Annie’s friend, Amelia Palmer, saw Annie in Dorset St who complained about being ill. Palmer noticed a bruise on Annie’s right temple and asked, “How did you get that?” “Yes, look at my chest,” replied Annie, opening her dress to reveal another bruise. Annie also stated, “If my sister will send me the boots, I shall go hopping.”

TUE, SEP 4, 1888 Amelia saw Annie at the Spitalfields Church, and Annie again complained of feeling unwell, stating that she should go to the casual ward. Palmer noticed Annie’s pale condition, who replied that she had nothing to eat or drink all day. Palmer gave Annie 2d (1p) and told her to buy some tea, not rum.

FRI, SEP 7, 1888
Crossingham’s house deputy, Timothy Donovan, permitted Annie to sit in the kitchen, asking where she had been all week. “In the infirmary,” answered Annie.

FRI, SEP 7, 1888
Palmer met Annie in Dorset St. Annie was still feeling ill. “Are you going to Stratford to-day?” asked Palmer. Annie answered, “I feel too ill to do anything.”

FRI, SEP 7, 1888
Palmer saw Annie, again, in the same spot. Annie said, “It is of no use my going away. I shall have to go somewhere to get some money to pay my lodgings.”

FRI, SEP 7, 1888
Annie returned to the lodging-house and was, again, permitted to sit in the kitchen, leaving after only a short time.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Annie returned to the lodging-house, saying she had been to Vauxhall to see her sister, and that her relations gave her 5d (2 1/2p).Fellow lodger, William Stevens, saw Annie in the kitchen. Annie said she had been to the hospital and would go to the infirmary the next day. She had a bottle of lotion and a bottle of medicine. She took out a box of pills from her pocket, and, upon handling it, the box broke. Annie placed the pills in a torn piece of envelope she found on the floor near the fireplace.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Frederick Simmons, a fellow lodger, and Annie had a beer.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Simmons saw Annie leave Crossingham’s (#35 Dorset St), believing she went to the Brittannia pub, (located on the north-west corner of Dorset St and Commercial St).

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Annie returned to the lodging-house and was eating a baked potato in the kitchen. Donovan sent the night watchman, John Evans, for her doss money. Annie went to Donovan and said, “I haven’t sufficient money for a bed, but don’t let it. I shall not be long before I am in.” “You cant find money for your beer or your bed,” replied Donovan. “Never mind, Tim. I shall soon be back. Don’t let the bed,” Annie responded. (Donovan thought Annie was drunk.)

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Evans escorted Annie outside. Annie then said, “I won’t be long, Brummy. See that Tim keeps the bed for me.’ Annie then walked up Little Paternoster Row, into Brushfield St, and turned towards the Spitalfields Church. (Evans thought Annie was the worse for drink.)

SEP 8, 1888
Emily Walter was in the backyard of 29 Hanbury St with a man. He was 37; Dark beard and moustache; foreign accent; dark vest and pants; black scarf and felt hat; short dark jacket.

          Hanbury St curves south-east from Commercial St to the junction of Baker’s Row and Old Montague St. #29 was on the North side of the street, between Wilkes St & Brick Ln. 27 Hanbury St was next door on the West side of #29. 29 Hanbury St, a 3-story building with residents living on each of the three floors and in the attic with a small business on the ground floor and one working out of the cellar. On the left-hand side of the buildings’ front was two doors: the door on the right led to the shop. The door on the left opened to a passageway containing stairs to the residences and another door leading to the backyard. #29 was owned by Mrs Amelia Richardson, who ran a packing case business out of the cellar and was assisted by Francis Tyler and her son, John Richardson. A cat’s meat shop was in the ground floor front room and was used by Mrs Harriet Hardyman and her 16 year old son. The ground floor back room was a kitchen. Mrs Richardson and her 14 year old grandson slept in the first floor front room. The first floor back room was occupied by Mr Waker and his adult, retarded son. Mr Thompson, his wife, and their adopted daughter slept in the second floor front room. Two unmarried sisters, Misses Copsey, lived in the second floor back room. Living in the front room of the attic was John Davis with his wife and three sons, and occupying the attic’s back room was Mrs Sarah Cox. Typically neither door was locked in the passageway. Three small stone steps led to the yard, which was about 14′ x 12′. The yard was part dirt and part paving stone. About 3′ to 3′-6″, left of the doorway, was a 5′-6″ high fence made of wooden pailings, separating the yards of #27 & #29. To the right of the doorway, were cellar doors, which led to a workshop. Two feet away, on the right, was a water pump. At the yard’s far left corner was a storage shed, and at the far right corner was a privy.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Davis woke up.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Thompson left for work without going into the back yard. Mrs Richardson, dozing fitfully, heard him pass her room and called out, “Good morning.”

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
John Richardson stopped by to check the cellar door padlock, which he often did since it had been broken into some months earlier. He was not actually in the yard, since he could see the padlock from the top of the steps.Richardson sat on the steps, trying to trim a piece of leather from his boots with a table knife that he brought from home.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Richardson left.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Dawn broke.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Davis fell back asleep.(A case of mistaken identity had incorrectly placed Annie at the Ten Bells pub.) Mrs Elizabeth Long left her house at 32 Church Row for the Spitalfields Market.Spitalfields Market opened.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Albert Cadoche of 27 Hanbury St woke up.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Cadoche went into the backyard of #27. Upon his return to the house, he heard voices quite close to him. Of which, he could only make out the word “No.”

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Sun rose.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Cadoche re-entered his backyard and heard a fall against the fence. Cadoche returned to the house and prepared to leave for work.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Davis woke back up. Walking South down Brick Ln, Long neared Hanbury St, noting the time from the clock of the Black Eagle Brewery, Brick Ln. She then turned westerly onto Hanbury St.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Cadoche passed by the Spitalfields Church. Long saw a man and woman standing near 29 Hanbury St, talking. The man had a shabby, genteel, and foreign appearance. He had a dark complexion; wore a brown deerstalker and a dark coat; He seemed 40-ish; and, was slightly taller than the woman “Will you?” the man asked. “Yes,” said the woman.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
A Few Minutes After 5:30am
Long reached the Spitalfields Market.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Davis and wife got out of bed as the Spitalfields Church clock struck the quarter hour. They had some tea.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Davis went downstairs, noticing that the passageway door to the street stood wide open, which was not unusual. Davis then opened the other door to enter the backyard and saw the body.

      Annie was lying on her back, parallel with the fence, which was to her left; Her head was about 2′ from the back wall and 6″-9″ left of the bottom step; Her legs were bent at the knees; Her feet were flat on the ground pointing toward the shed; Her dress was pushed above her knees; Her left arm lay across her left breast; Her right arm at her side; The small intestines, still attached by a cord, and part of the abdomen lay above her right shoulder; 2 flaps of skin from the lower abdomen lay in a large quantity of blood above the left shoulder; Her throat was deeply cut in a jagged manner; A neckerchief was around her neck.

Davis immediately left the yard and ran out into the street.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
(Tyler, who was frequently late for work, was not yet at the house).

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
James Kent and James Green were standing outside their workshop at 23A Hanbury St, waiting for their fellow workers to arrive when Davis entered the street. “Men! Come here! Here’s a sight. A woman must have been murdered!” shouted Davis to Green and Kent.Henry John Holland was passing by and followed the others to the yard. Only Holland ventured into the yard.All of them then left: Green, apparently, returned to work; Kent did not notice a constable in the area, so he went to his workshop for a brandy while looking for a canvas to put over the body; Holland went to the Spitalfields Market, where he found a constable who was on a fixed point; and, Davis went to the Commercial Street Police Station, to report the finding.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
(exact time unknown)
Mrs Hardyman woke up to the sound of Davis and the others in the passageway and sent her son to see what was going on. Upon his return, he said, “Don’t upset yourself, mother. It’s a woman been killed in the yard.”

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Mrs Richardson went into the passageway after receiving news from her grandson. (Only Annie’s body was in the yard.) Inspector Joseph Luniss Chandler was at the corner of Hanbury St and Commercial St when he saw several men running from Hanbury St. “Another woman has been murdered,” he was told.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Insp Chandler arrived at the scene. (A crowd had already begun to gather in the passageway, but no one was in the yard.) He sent for the Divisional Surgeon, Doctor George Bagster Phillips, 2 Spital Square; He sent for an ambulance and reinforcements from the Commercial Street Police Station; He notified Scotland Yard and covered the body with sacking he borrowed from a neighboring resident.Kent returned to #29 and found that Insp Chandler had taken possession of the backyard and that a crowd had gathered in the passageway near the door.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Dr Phillips learned of the body.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
Dr Phillips arrived upon the scene and began his initial examination.

      Estimated time of death was viewed as c.4:30am; The face was swollen and turned to her right side; The tongue was very swollen, protruding between the front teeth but not the lips; The limbs were not very stiff but rigor mortis was commencing; The throat was deeply severed by a jagged incisions which reached right around the neck; The body was cold, but heat remained in the body under the intestines.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
The ambulance had arrived and Dr Phillips ordered the body to be taken to the Whitechapel Workhouse Infirmary Mortuary in Eagle St off of Old Montague St. As the body was being removed, the contents of Annie’s pocket, which had been cut, were discovered at her feet: A folded piece of coarse muslin, a comb, and a pocket hair comb in a case. (Dr Phillips felt the items were arranged/placed.) Dr Phillips and Insp Chandler then searched the area, finding an envelope piece with the Royal Sussex Regiment crest, the letter “M” in a man’s handwriting, letters “SP,” the number “2,” and the postmark “London, 23 August, 1888″ containing the 2 pills laying by her head; A wet leather apron drying on the water tap 2′ from the body; A basin of clean water resting beneath the water tap; 6 spots of blood on the back wall, near where Annie’s head had lain, were located about 18″ off the ground and ranged in size from that of six pence to that of a pin point; About 14” off the ground, near the position of Annie’s head, were clotted patches and smears of blood on the pailings of the still-intact fence; No blood stains were found in the passageway, in the rest of the house, in the street, or in the adjoining yards; An empty nail box and a piece of flat steel were found in the yard.News of the murder had spread, and Sergeant Edward Badham was met by several hundred people as he conveyed the body to the mortuary.

SAT, SEP 8, 1888
In the passageway of #29, Insp Chandler spoke with Richardson, who told Insp Chandler that he had been at the house earlier that morning, but that he did not go into the yard. Though, he was certain that Annie’s body was not there at that time.


Below we examine stories already highlighted above with others as well. Overall it gives a better picture of those present.

Albert Cadosch: Cadosch testified that on the morning of 8th September 1888, he got up at 5.15am and went into the yard, presumably to relieve himself. On going back to the house, he heard a voice say “No!” from behind the fence which divided the backyards of Nos.27 and 29 Hanbury Street. A few minutes later, he needed to use the yard again, whereupon he heard something touch the fence from the other side. His suspicions were not aroused as he had occasionally heard people in the yard of No.29 at that time of the morning. He did not hear the rustling of clothes and he did not look to see what was causing the noises When he left the house, he noted that the clock of Christ Church read 5.32am. He did not see any man and woman together outside, nor did he see Mrs Elizabeth Long.

Mary Chappell: A friend of Mrs. Fiddymont who saw a suspicious looking man with blood on his hand in the Prince Albert on the morning of 8th September 1888. After the man left the pub, Chappell followed him and on Brushfield Street she pointed him out to passer-by Joseph Taylor.

John Davis: On Friday, September 7th 1888, he had gone to bed at approximately 8.00pm; his sons came in at different times thereafter, the last one at about 10.45pm. Davis was awake between 3.00am and 5.00am on the morning of the 8th, before falling back to sleep for half an hour. He got up at 5.45am. He was certain of the time as he heard the clock of Christchurch chime.When he went downstairs to the backyard, he noticed that the front door of the housewas wide open (not unusual) and that the back door leading to the yard was shut. When he entered the yard, Davis saw the body of Annie Chapman.He did not go any further into the yard, but ran out into the street where he saw two men whose names he did not know (actually James Green and James Kent) and after telling them of his discovery, they went to see the body for themselves. Davis did not know the deceased and heard nothing suspicious during the night.

Mrs. Fiddymont: the wife of the proprietor of the Prince Albert pub which stood at the corner of Brushfield Street and Steward Street. She stated that at 7am on 8th September 1888, soon after the death of Annie Chapman, she was standing in the ‘first compartment’ of the bar talking with her friend Mary Chappell. A man entered the pub (in the ‘middle compartment’) whose appearance frightened her. He was wearing a brown stiff hat, a dark coat, and no waistcoat; his hat was pulled down over his eyes and with his face partly concealed he asked for half a pint of ‘four ale’. She served the drink whilst looking at him through the mirror at the back of the bar. As soon as he saw Mary Chappell watching him from the other compartment, he turned his back and got the partition between himself and her. Mrs. Fiddymont was struck by the fact that there were blood spots on the back of his right hand. She also noticed that his shirt was torn. The man drank the beer in one gulp and immediately left.

Alfred Gunthorpe: Passed down Hanbury Street on his cart a few minutes after 5.40am, 8th September 1888 and reported seeing nothing out of the ordinary before he turned into Brick Lane. This was a few minutes after his colleague James Wiltshire had passed that way.

Elizabeth Long: On Saturday morning 8th September 1888, Mrs Long was passing down Hanbury-street from home and going to Spitalfields Market. It was about 5:30; she was certain of the time, as the clock at the Black Eagle Brewery had just struck the half-hour when she passed 29 Hanbury Street(see below). She was on the same side of the street as No.29 and outside the house she saw a man and woman on the pavement talking. The man’s back was turned towards Brick Lane, while the woman’s was towards the Spitalfields Market. They were talking together, and were close against the shutters of No.29. Mrs Long saw the woman’s face, but she did not see the man’s, except to notice that he was dark. She described him as wearing a brown deer-stalker hat, and she thought he had on a dark coat, but was not quite certain of that. She could not say what the age of the man was, but he looked to be over 40, and appeared to be a little taller than deceased. He appeared to be a foreigner, and had a ‘shabby genteel’ appearance. Witness could hear them talking loudly, and she overheard him say to the woman, “Will you?” to which she replied, “Yes.” They remained there there as Mrs Long passed, and she continued on her way without looking back. Mrs Long saw nothing to indicate that they were not sober and apparently, it was not an unusual thing to see men and women talking together at that hour, in that locality. On 12th September, she went to the mortuary and identified the body of Chapman as being the woman she had seen on the morning of the 8th. Apart from this sighting contradicting the evidence of Dr George Bagster Phillips, who gave the estimated time of Chapman’s death as around 4.30am, it also proves problematical when compared with the evidence of Albert Cadosch. His timings would have it that he heard the noises in the backyard of No.29 before Mrs Long’s sighting. One possible solution is that Mrs Long heard the brewery clock strike the quarter-hour (ie 5.15am) rather than the half-hour. This, however, remains conjecture.

John Richardson: At about 4.45am on 8th September 1888, he called at 29 Hanbury Street on his way to work in order to check that the cellar doors in the backyard were secure(a few months previously, the cellar had been broken into and a saw and a hammer were stolen). He also occasionally checked the house itself to make sure that the stairs and landings were not being used by prostitutes and their clients. Looking out of the door to the backyard, he satisfied himself that the cellar was secure. He then sat on the second step leading down into the yard in order to cut a piece of leather from his boot which had been hurting him. He would have been a mere yard from where Chapman’s body was discovered but did not see anything. He was no more than three minutes at the house and although it was only just getting light, he could see all round the yard, believing that had the deceased been lying where she was later found, he most certainly would have seen her.

James Wiltshire: Informed the press that he had been driving through Hanbury Street at 5.40am on 8th September 1888. He stated that “there was no bother then, and no sign that a murder had been committed. There were people about, but I did not notice anyone in particular.

The press

Similar to the murder of Polly Nichols, newspapers here in Ireland picked up the story of Annie Chapman

The Munster News and Limerick and Clare Advocate
Limerick, Ireland
Saturday, 8th September 1888

The Central News says:- All London has been horrified this morning by another atrocious murder in Whitechapel. A woman about thirty, an unfortunate, was found at four o’clock this morning in a backyard of a common lodging-house at Hanbury street, her throat having been cut from ear to ear. Her body was ripped open, the heart and bowels being torn out and lying on the ground. Some of the entrails were found tied around the woman’s neck. The police have a clue

LATER – Excited crowds surround the house in Spitalfield where the woman was found murdered this morning. As the lodginghouse is always open it is quite possible the woman was murdered in the street and dragged into the yard afterwards. Rings appear to have been wrenched off the deceased’s fingers. The police believe only a maniac could have committed such a fiendish crime.

LATER STILL – The woman murdered in Spitalfield last night, has been identified as a prostitute named Anne Siffey. She was under the influence of drink last night, and was seen at an early hour this morning. She was unable to pay her lodging money last night at the common lodging house where she lived.

As a final note, with a murder mystery spanning a hundred years and more, stories have always grown up from Jack the Ripper. One of the more interesting ones comes from a book of supposedly true occurring ghost stories. Back in the 1970s a Mr. Chapman (no relation to victim) was living in Hanbury street. On no less than four occasions, he pulled back the curtains and saw a man and a woman disappearing down the alley into the yard. These sightings always happened in Autumn.

Next time, the mystery gets truly bizarre as the Ripper strikes twice in one night….

Chewsday-September 2nd-Why religion could meet its Waterloo

So, normally it’s a day for facts, but given I put a spin on it last week, why not do it again today? Chewsday gets a spin opinion edition this week, and up for debate today is the future of religion. To those not familiar with the title reference, in 1815 Napoleon lost his effective grip on the military rule of Europe when he was defeated at the battle of Waterloo. Almost exactly two hundred years later, religion worldwide is facing a similar fate (ya know, like being wiped out, not failing as a French emperor). In the interest of eliminating bias on the part of the reader, I am not going to reveal any of my personal beliefs in the course of this piece.

—————DISCLAIMER: all of the below thoughts are my own. No offence is purposefully wrote into my blog and I ask you , the reader, to refrain from feeling insulted by what is essentially an opinion piece———–

Mainstream religion has existed now for a couple of thousand years. As a result of this, we now see figures like over two billion people worldwide have declared themselves as Christian. On the Islamic front, we have roughly 1.6 billion. Overall, about 90% of the world describe themselves as somewhat religious. We might not consider ourselves in Ireland to have such a large religious following, but figures show we do circle in on the 90% mark (although interestingly our 10% atheist population is one of the highest by country worldwide). So, running with these basic figures, we can see that even removing any influence religion has on state or everyday life, it is indeed deeply rooted in the people of most nations.

However, a casual glance at the morning papers or the evening news is enough to show us that religion as a whole is under fire. At the moment, conflicts worldwide that are fuelled by religious beliefs (such as the situation in Gaza) are the leading stories in the media. Similarly, we see that closer to home scandals on the part of the Catholic church have called the power of religion into question, and why is it exactly that in a “secular world” religion has such an effect on the lives of pretty much everybody. In Ireland we can look at the issues of legalized marriage for sexual minorities and abortion as examples that highlight how religion in part can control the way our society progresses. It is apparent that in an increasingly liberalized and free-thinking world, religion is too archaic to survive, and by the end of even the next century we may be looking at an entirely non-religious population in at least the western world.

What is now a modern approach to spirituality and belief is having people declare that they do not belong to an organised religion, but do hold the view of a God or deity. This has been due widely to parts of the dogma or theology of a religion not agreeing with personal beliefs. Our civilized world is moving forward at a staggering rate, and thus our perceptions of those around us and on society as a whole are starting to strain from what religion has served us as fact for millennia. We see of course that the fundamental values are unchanged, such as those highlighted in the ten commandments. This is indeed a crux of many non-religious outlooks, as we can pin point these values as inherent and not at all associated to which religion we do or do not conform to. We all know murder is wrong. We all know we shouldn’t steal or lie. If religion and atheism can agree on such key topics, then why is it there is unrest about religion at all?

The problem, as usual, doesn’t lie in what we all can agree on, but rather on what we can’t-especially if what we can’t is at all influenced by religious thinking. The cusp of any religion is that there is a God. Whether he/she/it had a son on earth, or takes multiple forms, or made us all in six days doesn’t matter at that basic level. A god exists, and all life and the universe is a direct result of his/her/its work. On the opposite end, is that there is no God, and life is a happenstance of probability in a dizzyingly giant universe, in which billions and billions and billions of planets circle countless stars. From about five hundred years ago onwards, the great debate has been science vs. religion.

Much of this has been due to phenomena in the universe being labelled as God or a result of God. Science has then challenged these views and over time proved there is method in the madness, and that we can account for these seemingly crazy features of our lives. What remains at this stage of the game are the big questions. Where did we come from? What happens when we die? Do we matter? These are the bigger ones that have been left fairly unscathed as the battle of science and religion rages on.

At the moment, no matter what viewpoint we hold, we strictly do not know. We all have theories, and many are quite plausible, but frankly, we’re still a small bit in the dark. It might frighten you, but we may never know. It’s been a long fourteen billion years since things went boom, and it may hurt you to learn humanity isn’t going to be around for another fourteen billion to work it all out. That’s right. It may be unnerving, but the earth is doomed. So are our ancestors. The sun will die eventually, and with it, so will our collective scrap of life.

Back to my point, why is it religion is dying? It’s quite simple, really, but we continue to ignore it. Religion is failing not only because people think otherwise, but also because it is fixed. Fixed. Immovable. Stubborn. Whatever you call it, it’s the one common link between all the world’s faiths that we fail to recognise. Looking at Christianity, for over two thousand years it has remained near static. Everything associated with it has descended in a steady line from the teaching of the bible, and only here and there have other roots shot off to unknown territory. Islam is fairly similar. Unfortunately, for these religions and others, we have not stayed static. We, the human race, are constantly moving. Not physically, no. Our nomadic days are now over. As a society, we are sprinting ahead. Especially in the last century, our views on race, gender, employment, crime, love-anything have basically done a flip on what has gone beforehand. So to sum up, on one side you have a society whose thinking is racing downhill, and on the other side you have religion-sitting pretty at the bottom of the hill and refusing to get out of the way.

You see where I’m going with this? Yep, eventually things will collide, and realistically they already have. It won’t be pretty. I hate to predict the future, but in this case, I can tell you religion won’t win. Might rack up a long list of casualties, but it won’t come out on top. It’s like having a really infected arm. A lot of your body might really like that arm, but if it’s your survival or some pretty limb, you’ll hack that limb off in a heartbeat my friend. So instead of that future, why don’t we all take some cool antibiotics right now and keep ourselves intact? I don’t apologize to the militants on both sides of the religion debate when I label them the proverbial “bad bacteria”. There is no reason anybody can offer why in a civilized world religious belief and non-religious belief couldn’t just chill next to each other and be buds.

The problem lies in religious authority refusing to recognise how far we’ve come. I can’t really list out all the things we have to change, but here’s a little quick start list

1. Sexual minorities are people

2. Women are people

3. Other religions are people

Ya, so basically, people are people. One of the greatest idiocies in the entire fucking world can be found in the religion vs. atheism debate. We tend to not acknowledge fundamentalists. Like, as I said, I’m all cool with everyone’s beliefs, but they’re wrong. They’re really wrong and there’s far too much evidence for them to deny. Their beliefs though, so if they’re not affecting anyone, leave ’em at it. The world constantly says if you’re religious you better not be a fundamentalist. Grand, so the only choice left to religious people is to analyse, use reason, and accept what they see fit. Therein lies the problem. Another large sect of the debate (on both sides) says “you cannot pick and choose. Religion isn’t up for interpretation.” And in that one sentence, you have the entire problem that nobody at all will recognise and do something about.

1. Nobody can be a fundamentalist, because evolution and fossils

2. You can’t say Adam and eve are metaphors because you said you’re religious

Literal logic fail.

This is what the entire blog was getting to. Either we move forward and say to religion “look, you’ve done ok. You’ve also killed a tonne of people. P.S. gays aren’t sinful” and get about proper social change, or we keep slamming the same table with our head saying “Oh dam you religious people, I hate how you won’t accept our beliefs. P.S if you do you’re a hypocrite.”

Here’s the bottom line. IT’S OK TO DISAGREE WITH WHAT YOUR RELIGION SAYS. You are an autonomous person. You are the pinnacle of evolution. Oops, ya evolution happened. If there is a God, then creation of the universe gave you free will. If you have free will, you can think. If you can think you are allowed to have your own version of the story.

“But that’s blasphemy to God. God’s word is final”

Mayhaps, it may be. Let’s get is straight though, religion is man made. Jesus may have existed (historians show he probably did) and he may have been the ideal person (or, I don’t know, the actual son of God). I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But, and that’s a big but, we made Christianity after his death. We wrote the gospels (granted based on his word), but it was wrote from the hand of a living, mortal man. In 33 AD, you think people wanted to read about how we couldn’t invade places and how homosexuality was indeed normal? No, they didn’t, so they didn’t write that. They wrote what they believed and were educated enough to know. We’ve moved on since then. We’re actually smarter than them. We know things they didn’t. Name one other area of thought where it is unacceptable to challenge what is already there?

*radio silence*

I thought so.

It is unnatural to be forbidden to question your faith. It’s not what spirituality or God would be about. If you’re made in the image of a God, then you’ve been given that rationality and logic on purpose. Humanity will continue to change. Religion can literally not afford to stay still. There are millions of people everyday who live as apologists for their religion. Nobody should have to question their beliefs because of what people outside of their person do everyday.

I’m in a family. Do I agree with everything they do? No

I’m Irish. Do I think the Irish government are right about everything? No

And I don’t have to. I’m allowed be a part of those things and still think for myself.

The same goes for any religion. If you’re at the stage where you get told it’s their way or the link road (ya we don’t have highways), then it’s time for the organisation (NOT you) to change. Some two thousand year old book doesn’t have to right to tell you you’re only allowed into the club if you dress accordingly. This is 2014. If religion doesn’t accept that social change happens, there’s an ABBA sized Waterloo heading its way.


Monday Mystery-Mary Ann (Polly Nichols)-Jack the Ripper Part I


In the mid-19th century, Britain experienced an influx of Irish immigrants, who swelled the populations of the major cities, including the East End of London. From 1882, Jewish refugees from pogroms in Russia and other areas of Eastern Europe emigrated into the same area. The parish of Whitechapel in London’s East End became increasingly overcrowded. Work and housing conditions worsened. Robbery, violence and alcohol dependency were commonplace, and the endemic poverty drove many women to prostitution. In October 1888, London’s police estimated that there were 62 brothels and 1,200 women working as prostitutes in Whitechapel. The economic problems were accompanied by a steady rise in social tensions.  In 1888, such perceptions were strengthened when a series of vicious and grotesque murders attributed to “Jack the Ripper” received unprecedented coverage in the media.

Mary Ann Nichols (commonly called Polly) was born to locksmith Edward Walker and his wife Caroline on 26 August 1845 in London. On 16 January 1864 she married William Nichols, a printer’s machinist, and between 1866 and 1879, the couple had five children: Edward John, Percy George, Alice Esther, Eliza Sarah, and Henry Alfred. Their marriage broke up in 1880 or 1881 from disputed causes. Her father accused William of leaving her after he had an affair with the nurse who had attended the birth of their final child, though Nichols claimed to have proof that their marriage had continued for at least three years after the date alleged for the affair. He maintained that his wife had deserted him and was practising prostitution. Police reports say they separated because of her drunken habits.

Legally required to support his estranged wife, William Nichols paid her an allowance of five shillings a week until 1882, when he heard that she was working as a prostitute. Nichols spent most of her remaining years in workhouses and boarding houses, living off charitable handouts and her meagre earnings. She lived with her father for a year or more but left after a quarrel. He later heard she was living with a blacksmith. At the time of her death she was living in a Whitechapel common lodging house in Spitalfields, where she shared a room with Emily “Nelly” Holland.

The murder

Heavy rains had ushered out one of the coldest and wettest summers on record. On the night of August 30, the rain was sharp and frequent and was accompanied by peals of thunder and flashes of lightning. The sky on that night was turned red by the occasion of two dock fires.

At about 23:00 on 30 August, Nichols was seen walking the Whitechapel Road. An hour and a half later, she was seen leaving a pub in Spitalfields called the Frying Pan Public House. She made her way to a public house where money was paid nightly for residence. At around half one, she was told by the deputy to leave the kitchen of the lodging house because she could not produce her doss money. Polly, on leaving, asked him to save a bed for her. ” Never Mind!” She said, “I’ll soon get my doss money. See what a jolly bonnet I’ve got now.” She indicated a little black bonnet which no one had seen before.

She met Emily Holland, who was returning from watching the Shadwell Dry Dock fire, outside of a grocer’s shop on the corner of Whitechapel Road and Osborn Street. Polly had come down Osborn Street. Holland described her as “very drunk and staggered against the wall.” Holland called attention to the church clock striking 2:30. Polly told Emily that she had had her doss money three times that day and had drunk it away. She said she would return to Flower and Dean Street where she could share a bed with a man after one more attempt to find trade. “I’ve had my doss money three times today and spent it.” She said, “It won’t be long before I’m back.” The two women talked for seven or eight minutes. Polly left walking east down Whitechapel Road, an hour before her death. She was never seen alive again.

At about 3:40, she was found lying on the ground in front of a gated stable entrance in Buck’s Row (since renamed Durward Street), Whitechapel, about 150 yards from the London Hospital and 100 yards from Blackwall buildings, by cart driver Charles Cross. Her skirt was raised. Another passing cart driver on his way to work, Robert Paul, approached and Cross pointed out the body. Cross believed her to be dead, but Paul was uncertain and thought she might be unconscious. It was dark, and even though she had had her throat cut, there wasn’t a large amount of blood. They pulled her skirt down to cover her lower body, and went in search of a policeman. They informed PC Jonas Mizen and continued on their way to work. As Mizen was approaching the body, PC John Neil came from the opposite direction on his beat and by flashing his lantern, called a third policeman, PC John Thain, to the scene. PC Thain fetched surgeon Dr Henry Llewellyn when it was clear it was murder, who arrived at 04:00 and decided she had been dead for about 30 minutes. 

The initial inspection

Her throat had been slit twice from left to right and her abdomen mutilated with one deep jagged wound, several incisions across the abdomen, and three or four similar cuts on the right side caused by the same knife at least 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) long used violently and downwards. Llewellyn expressed surprise at the small amount of blood at the crime scene, “about enough to fill two large wine glasses, or half a pint at the most”. His comment led to the supposition that Nichols was not killed where her body was found. Death would have been instantaneous, and the abdominal injuries, which would have taken less than five minutes to perform, were made by the murderer after she was dead. When the body was lifted a “mass of congealed blood”, in PC Thain’s words, lay beneath.

The inquest

As the murder had occurred in the territory of the Bethnal Green Division of the Metropolitan Police, it was initially investigated by the local detectives, inspectors John Spratling and Joseph Helson, who had little success. Elements of the press linked the attack on Nichols to two previous murders, those of Emma Smith and Martha Tabram, and suggested the killing might have been perpetrated by a gang, as in the case of Smith. The star newspaper instead suggested a single killer was the culprit and other newspapers took up their storyline. These suspicions caused Scotland Yard to get involved, including detective Frank Abberline.

Although Nichols carried no identification, a Lambeth workhouse laundry mark on her petticoats was sufficient to give police enough information to eventually identify her. Later, Nelly Holland and William Nichols confirmed an identification provided by a former workhouse resident.

The murderer caught?

Rumours that a local character called “Leather Apron” could have been responsible for the murder were investigated by the police, even though they noted “there is no evidence against him”. Imaginative descriptions of “Leather Apron”, using crude Jewish stereotypes, appeared in the press, but rival journalists dismissed these as “a mythical outgrowth of the reporter’s fancy”. John Pizer, a Polish Jew who made footwear from leather, was known by the name “Leather Apron” and was arrested despite a lack of evidence. A Scotland yard detective named William Thicke had received a tip in relation to this, and rather than investigate further, ordered his immediate arrest. He was soon released after the confirmation of his alibis. Pizer successfully obtained monetary compensation from at least one newspaper that had named him as the murderer sometime after.

After several adjournments, to allow the police to gather further evidence, the inquest concluded on 24 September. On the available evidence, Coroner Baxter found that Nichols was murdered at just after 3 a.m. where she was found. In his summing up, he dismissed the possibility that her murder was connected with those of Smith and Tabram since the lethal weapons were different in those cases, and neither of the earlier cases involved a slash to the throat. However, by the time the inquest into Nichols’ death had concluded, another woman had been murdered, and Baxter noted “The similarity of the injuries in the two cases is considerable.” The police investigations into the two murders were merged, and so began the infamous legend…..

Studying the mystery-a timeline of events

It is strange enough that a woman was murdered in the dead of night and nobody heard. What makes the first killing of Jack the Ripper so sinister, is that based on a timeline that is shown below, he had silently killed Polly Nichols at the right time, in the right place, and then faded into the shadows unseen.

First, we’ll re-examine the timeline of Nichol’s movement and then superimpose the following “witnesses” or “associated parties”:

1. Patrick Mulshaw, a night porter at the sewage works 220 yards from the scene

2. Slaughter house workers Henry Tomkins, Charles Brittain, and James Mumford, working from Barber’s Knacker’s yard 150 yards from the scene

3. Widow Ms Green, her daughter and two sons, who lived upstairs directly next to the scene of the murder (2 Buck’s Row)

4. Walter Purkiss and his wife, who live directly opposite the scene of the murder

5. PC Thain, PC Neil and PC Mizen, all working the night of the murder.

THUR, AUG 30, 1888
4:45pm Patrick Mulshaw came on duty as the Night Porter at the Sewage Works, Winthrop St (220 yards from Brown’s Stable Yard.

THUR, AUG 30, 1888
8:00-9:00pm Slaughterers, Henry Tomkins, Charles Brittain, and James Mumford, started work at Barber’s Knacker’s Yard, Winthrop St (150 yards from Brown’s Stable Yard).

THUR, AUG 30, 1888
9:00pm Son of Mrs Emma Green went to bed at the family’s residence, 2 Buck’s Row (East of and next to Brown’s Stable Yard).

THUR, AUG 30, 1888
9:45pm Mrs Green’s second son went to bed.

THUR, AUG 30, 1888
11:00pm Mrs Green and her daughter, sharing the same bedroom, went to sleep. (Their bedroom over looked the gateway of Brown’s Stable Yard). Polly was seen walking by herself down Whitechapel Rd near this time.

THUR, AUG 30, 1888
11:00-11:15pm Resident and manager of Essex Wharf, Buck’s Row, Walter Purkiss and his wife went to sleep in their second floor, front bedroom (opposite Brown’s Stable Yard).

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
Midnight Tomkins and Brittain left the slaughter house and walked to the end of the street.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
12:30am Polly was seen leaving, by herself, the Frying Pan pub (corner of Brick Ln and Thrawl St).

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
1:00am Tomkins and Brittain returned to work. Purkiss was awake. His wife was pacing their room.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
1:20am Polly showed up at the kitchen of 18 Thrawl St.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
(exact time unknown) The house deputy put Polly out. “I’ll soon get my doss money”, she laughed as she departed. “See what a jolly bonnet I’ve got now.” The house deputy said she was tipsy.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
2:00am Purkiss fell back asleep, but his wife was still pacing.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
c.2:30am Holland, returning from watching the second fire on the docks at Shadwell Dry Docks, saw Polly at the corner of Osborne St and Whitechapel Rd. Holland mentioned the time as the clock struck 2:30am and tried to persuade Polly to go to 18 Thrawl St. Polly mentioned her new bonnet, that she had her doss money several times that night but drank it away, and that she would rather be where men and women can sleep together.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
(2:35am) Polly then walked down Whitechapel Rd, toward Buck’s Row.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
3:00am Mulshaw woke up, having dozed off earlier.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
3:15am Police Constable John Thain (96J) went up Brady St.
Police Constable John Neil (97J) passed through Buck’s Row.

      Buck’s Row ran East-West from Brady St to Baker’s Row. Parallel to it and meeting it about half-way along its length was Winthrop St. Going East down Buck’s Row from the corner of Buck’s Row and Winthrop St was a board school, Brown’s Stable Yard, and tenements. Across the road from the stable yard were wharves. East of the wharves was Browne & Eagle’s Wool Warehouse, Schnieder’s Cap Factory, and then a low brick wall continued on down to Brady St. At the North-West corner of Buck’s Row and Brady St was a street lamp. The area was frequented by prostitutes. From Osborne St and Whitechapel Rd, the stable yard was about one-half mile.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
(exact time unknown)  PC Neil passed through Winthrop St and saw Tomkins, Brittain, and Mumford at work. Sergeant Kerby passed down Buck’s Row.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
(exact time unknown) Charles Andrew Cross left home at Doveton St for work at Broad St.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
3:40am Cross walked through Buck’s Row and saw a bundle in front of the stable yard gateway. He thought the bundle was an abandoned tarpaulin, only to discover that it was a woman’s body. Robert Paul travelled through Buck’s Row on his way to work at Corbett’s Crt. Cross pointed out the body to him. “Come and look over here. There’s a woman lying on the pavement.”
Polly was lying on her back with her skirts lifted almost to her stomach. Cross felt her hands – cold. “I believe she’s dead.”
Paul felt her hands and face – cold. As he pulled her clothes down, he touched her breast and thought he felt movement. “I think she’s breathing, but very little if she is.” Cross then asked Paul to help him adjust the body, but Paul refused.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
c.3:43am Cross and Paul left, intending to notify the first constable they came upon.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
3:45am PC Neil was travelling easterly through Buck’s Row when he independently discovered the body. He noticed Polly’s true condition only after shining his lantern on the body.

      Polly was lying lengthwise with her head turned towards the East; her left hand touched the gate; her bonnet was off her head, lying near her right hand; her skirts were rumpled just above her knees; her throat was severely cut; her eyes were wide open and glassy; blood had oozed from her throat wounds; her arms felt warm from the elbows up; her hands were open. The gateway was 9′-10′ in height and led to some stables; they were closed.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
c.3:47am PC Neil noticed PC Thain passing North through Brady St and quietly signaled him with his lamp. PC Thain responded likewise and approached the scene. “Here’s a woman has her throat cut,” said PC Neil. “Run at once for Dr Llewellyn.” PC Thain immediately left to fetch Doctor Rees Ralph Llewellyn at his surgery at 152 Whitechapel Rd (300 yards from Buck’s Row). Neil then examined the ground.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
(exact time unknown) At the corner of Hanbury St and Baker’s Row, Cross and Paul informed Police Constable Jonas Mizen (55H) of the body. “You are wanted in Baker’s Row by a policeman,” said Cross in passing. “A woman is lying there. She looks to me to be either dead or drunk, but for my part I think she is dead.” After further clarification, PC Mizen replied, “All right,” and then left for Buck’s Row.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
(exact time unknown) PC Mizen arrived at Brown’s Stable Yard, and PC Neil sent him immediately for an ambulance and reinforcements from the Bethnal Green Police Station and then searched the area for clues.

FRI, AUG 31, 1888
c.4:00am Dr Llewellyn was notified at his surgery. Mulshaw had not seen or heard anything in the past hour. Sgt Kerby arrived back in Buck’s Row and interviewed Mrs Green while PC Neil interviewed Purkiss. Neither them, the keeper of the Board School, nor the watchman at Browne & Eagle’s Wool Ware house and Schnieder’s Cap Factory heard anything unusual.

What becomes clear from our timeline is that the murderer must have had at most about a fifteen minute window to conduct his attack. New evidence is revealing the Ripper may have strangled his victims first (lowering the chance of screams) and then cut the throat when the victim was on the ground. This may explain the small pool of blood at the neck. Even with only fifteen minutes, what is more surprising is that nobody heard or saw the Ripper with his victim. It is widely accepted the Ripper did not strike from the dark, and may have lured his victim’s to their doom with the promise of alcohol, accommodation or money. It is likely he played the part of a client before the murders. Below is a picture of the stables outside which Nichols was found. I have been to Buck’s Row myself, which now looks markedly different. Still get an eerie sense of something though…

The Witnesses

Henry Birch was the proprietor of a milk-stand in the yard of Number 2, Little Turner street, Commercial Road. He claimed to have sold a glass of milk to a “frightened”, suspicious-looking man on the night after the Polly Nichols murder. His story appeared in The Star:

Not later than a quarter-past eleven a man stepped hurriedly into a yard entrance at No. 2, Little Turner-street, Commercial-road. On one side of the yard is a milk stand. The man asked for a glass of milk, and, when served, drank it hurriedly, then, looking about in a frightened manner, asked if he might step back into the yard. The proprietor, Henry Birch, did not object, but presently, his suspicions being aroused, he stepped towards the man and found him drawing on a suit of new overalls over his ordinary clothes. The pants were already on, and he was stooping to take a jacket from a black shiny bag that lay at his feet when Birch stepped up to him. He seemed to be very much upset by the interruption, and for a moment could not speak. Presently he said, “That was a terrible murder last night, was’nt it?” and before Birch could answer he had added, “I think I’ve got a clue,” and, snatching up his bag, he disappeared down the street.

Sarah Colwell was a resident of Honey’s Mews, Brady Street, which lies about 120 yards from Buck’s Row. She told the press that at the time the murder of Mary Ann Nichols was allegedly committed, she heard a woman running along Brady Street shouting “murder, police!”. Mrs. Colwell stated that she could only hear the one set of footsteps, despite being sure that the woman was running away from someone.

Another press account has it that Mrs. Colwell was woken by her children who said that somebody was trying to gain entry to the house. This time, the scream of “Murder! Police!” was heard five or six times, gradually fading away. The shouts seemed to be going in the direction of Buck’s Row.The generally accepted time of this incident is 12.00am, making it unlikely that it was the screams of Mary Ann Nichols

Harriet Lilly was married to brewer’s carman William and lived at 7 Buck’s Row, Whitechapel. She said to the press on the afternoon of 6th September 1888 that:

I slept in front of the house, and could hear everything that occured in the street. On that Thursday night I was somehow very restless. Well, I heard something I mentioned to my husband in the morning. It was a painful moan – two or three faint gasps – and then it passed away. It was quite dark at the time, but a luggage went by as I heard the sounds. There was, too, a sound as of whispers underneath the window. I distincly heard voices, but cannot say what was said – it was too faint. I then woke my husband, and said to him, “I don’t know what possesses me, but I cannot sleep to-night.”

The press

I’ve managed to dig up a few press releases at the times of the murder. The following appeared in The Irish Times on Sept. 1st 1888

You will have from other sources an account of the horrible murder committed last night in Whitechapel, where a woman of 40 was found with her throat cut and the lower part of her body almost hacked to pieces. The aspect of this tragedy noted here is its suggestive resemblance to the atrocity reported about three weeks ago where a woman of like age was found in the open hall of a common lodging house, also with her throat cut and thirty nine slashes and stabs in different parts of her person. The similarity in many points of these two crimes has stirred again suspicion that both poor women were victims of the same miscreant. We hark back to the time a century ago when “the monster” prowled about London attacking women with a knife, and the theory is that some still more sanguinary scoundrel may now be gratifying a like mania. If so, it can only be hoped that he will speedily experience the punishment of his predecessor.

Experience punishment he did not. The Ripper attacks only intensified. Next week we look at the second murder, and a wealth of more mysterious evidence.

Mary Nichols grave





Chewsday-August 26th-The Debunking Edition

Nice to put a spin on old concepts, so this week I’ll take a break from the facts and hit on some common misconceptions. Below are two that spring to mind as I write

1. Humans only use ten per cent of their brain

How this made it into mainstream thought at large, I do not know. I’m not here to go research on why people are wrong, just here to tell them that they are. At any one time, it is true that humans only use certain parts of their brain. This is perfectly fine. Our brains are divided up into lobes each of which has areas generally connected to certain functions, senses etc. Therefore, when going about your day-to-day life, your brain (the part we commonly consider the brain is the cerebral cortex) combines relevant areas with more primitive nerve tissue in the brainstem and the lower central nervous system, and as a result we have movement, sensation and so forth. The new movie Lucy and Limitless before that both touch on this subject and aim to show that pharmaceuticals could somehow enhance that and allow for all areas of the brain, or “hidden areas” if we really want to get the fake science out here, could be accessed, thus improving our ability to be charming like Bradley Cooper or be a role model like Scarlett Johannson.

Of course, under no circumstances would it be even feasible to be activating large areas of the brain to carry out most of the body’s function. Even higher thought and emotion have defined pathways and can be approximated to certain areas, showing that even our newly acquired functions (and when I say new that is obviously relative) don’t need us to turn on all the lights in the proverbial house at the same time. Activating large parts of the brain’s electrochemical circuitry does remind me of one REAL life phenomenon. We call it epilepsy, and it isn’t Bradley Cooper.

If people are really so fascinated as to “access those hidden areas”, then I’m sorry to say you’ll be disappointed. You can, however, make great use of what is there, and tweak it for your desires. Things like muscle memory, priming, conditioning and memory retrieval are all real life possibilities, and can have their proof traced to exact neural pathways. Using drugs to modulate the electrochemical side of the brain is as real as Chewsdays, but expanding that to say we could find a drug that could harmonise the entire central nervous system into performing not only in perfect tandem with other parts but also at some advanced level without basically killing you from the contradictory effects is only a dream, I’m afraid.

2. Loads of people out there just have “natural” or “inherited” intelligence

Nothing is worth shaming more than hearing “they get it all from their father” or “And their mother is a doctor”. Granted, as with almost everything based on proteins, intelligence does have some link back to our genes. Some research shows a figure of 50%. No, it doesn’t mean that half your intelligence is from your parents, but it does mean is that half of the differences in people’s intelligence could be genetically related. That being said, you have to wonder when we have this solid figure to work with, why is it we overlook the other portion so much, especially since it’s the only one we have any effect over. Of course, I’m talking about environment. Environment ranges from your relationship with your parents, to how your school runs, to well..the actual environment, Basically, if you know it’s not mapped out in the genetic code, it’s environment. In the modern world, we strive to find peculiarities. We aim to look for odd things, or things that don’t fit the norm. That is why the media and society as as whole is constantly obsessed with the concept of a genius. A genius, if played correctly by the media, can be a shining example that somewhere back the line the ole’ intelligence gene (actually had to write that term) fell into place. After that point, no matter what circumstances a child grows up in, they are destined for greatness.

Sound familiar. Well, plausibly, it can happen. Depending on which area of intelligence an inherited factor could pertain to, it is conceivable a person could show up on our radars if they followed the right path. From a biological point of view, however, the figures don’t add up. With only very small fractions of people having an IQ of even >130 (so ya know, take it easy with the amount of 170s out there), it is far more likely any perceived intelligence is based in environment and not in genetics. I once read a quote on cancer causing genes that went like “genetics loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger”. Perhaps it is poignant here also. After all, even with an inherited level of genius, things have to fall into place during childhood for this to emerge. The “naturally smart” quip fails to explain how people far down the dubious IQ ladder can outperform their counterparts higher up in social, academic, emotional or business settings in any shape or form. Commitment to education or determination in training easily outweighs most of the genetic abnormalities of intelligence people could be born with. And both these concepts are the roots of environment.



Monday Mystery-Staten Island Disappearances

Last week on RTE I caught a documentary around twelve O’clock that provided the inspiration for this week’s mystery. The documentary itself was called Cropsey, and it comes highly acclaimed after receiving good reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. Cropsey, the narrator explains, was a sort of boogeyman of Staten Island. For the kids in the neighborhood, Cropsey was the escaped mental patient who lived in the old abandoned Willowbrook Mental Institution, who would come out late at night and snatch children off the streets. Sometimes Cropsey had a hook for a hand, other times he wielded a bloody axe, but it didn’t matter, Cropsey was always out there, lurking in the shadows, waiting to get them.

In a period of around twenty years spanning from the early 1970s to the late ’80s, five children went missing on Staten Island. It was only then that the world, the police, and the children themselves sat up and realised that Cropsey was real, and he was taking kids just liked the urban legend had said. The Willowbrook State School was a “school” for mentally retarded children back in the ’60s through the early ’80s.  In 1972, Geraldo Rivera got his big break by doing an exposé on the school, showing its deplorable conditions. Overcrowding, neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and illegal experiments were just some of the things that went on at Willowbrook.  It was finally closed in 1987.

But the disappearances had been happening for nearly two decades at that point. In 1972, 5-year-old Alice Perreira vanished after her brother had left her alone for a moment. They had been playing in the lobby of their apartment on Tysen’s lane. Reports also suggest she may have been spotted in one of the local parks sometime later. Whatever the truth is, she has never been seen again.

Holly Ann Hughes was last seen in the vicinity of Richmond Terrace and Park Avenue in Staten Island, New York at approximately 9:30 PM on July 15, 1981. Her mother sent her to purchase soap at a nearby deli at the time. She has never been seen again.Some statements say she was seen walking home from her babysitter’s house last. A month after her disappearance, Holly’s mother received an eerie phonecall from her apparent kidnapper. The man who called himself “Sal” said Holly would be returned safely if the mother came and performed sex acts on film with him. The mother, accompanied by detectives, went to Penn Station in New York City, but Holly’s captor never showed. She said she never really believed “Sal” had Holly, and thought at this point that her daughter was dead. Holly’s parents would later criticise the police for their handling of the investigation, where they supposedly discarded many key witnesses based on prior criminal records. The police have stated no misconduct occurred at the time. Holly’s mother stated her child was a streetwise girl who knew how to take care of herself.

In 1983, 11-year-old Tiahease Jackson was reported missing after her mother had sent her to purchase food and she did not return. She was last seen exiting the Mariner’s Harbor Motel in Staten Island on August 14. She lived in the hotel with her mother and three siblings. The family had moved there after being burned out of their apartment. Tiahese’s mother also described her daughter as streetwise and safe. She had frequently run errands in the city and was sometimes on her own. She had been warned about predators. Both Tiahese’s mother and uncle have been cleared by lie detectors and are not considered suspects.

In 1984, Staten Island resident Hank Gafforio was reported missing after he did not return home one night. Gafforio was described as being “slow” and had an I.Q. in the 70s. At the time of his disappearance he was 22. He went out drinking that night, but was denied service at Mugs Away. Instead, he spent the night at The Spa Lounge. Hank lived at 99 Heberton Ave with his parents and three brothers, and coincidentally lived just around the corner from Holly Ann Hughes’ house. In fact, in one chilling news report surrounding the disappearance of the girl, Hank can be seen in the background staring blankly into the camera.

Jennifer Schweiger, born with Down syndrome, was reported missing on July 9, 1987. She said that she was going on a short walk, only to never return. Residents banded together to form a search group and found her body after a 35-day search. While combing the area around Willowbrook State School, George Kramer, a retired NYC firefighter, had his attention caught by a particular spot. He returned with the police and a small foot was unearthed. With continuous digging, the entire body was unearthed from the shallow grave and the remains were positively identified as those of Jennifer. In the next few days, police would search the grounds for evidence, which is when the case took a chilling turn.



Andre Rand was born on March 11, 1944 as Frank Rushan. The origins of the name “Andre Rand” are unknown. In the mid 1960s, Rand worked as a custodian Willowbrook. The hospital is located on Staten Island, New York and is surrounded by a forest called the Greenbelt. On May 25, 1969, Rand was arrested for the attempted sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl. He was caught during that attempt and was charged with kidnapping and attempted sexual assault, and served 16 months in prison.After his time was served, he was accused of raping a young woman as well as a 15-year-old girl.On a separate occasion, Rand picked up a group of 11 children from the YMCA located in Staten Island NY in a school bus, purchased a meal for them without the consent from any of their parents, and took them a New Jersey airport. None of the children were harmed in this encounter, but Rand was apprehended and served 10 months in jail for unlawful imprisonment.

Andre Rand was first suspected in the case of Jennifer Schweiger when one of his makeshift camps was found near the site of her body. In 1988, Rand was charged with the kidnapping and first-degree murder of Jennifer Schweiger. The Staten Island jury could not reach a verdict on the murder charge, but convicted Rand of the first-degree kidnapping charge. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. He would have been eligible for parole in 2008 if not convicted of a 2nd kidnapping. In 2004 Rand was again brought to trial, this time charged with the kidnapping of Holly Ann Hughes 23 years earlier. A jury convicted Rand of the kidnapping in October 2004, and he was sentenced to another consecutive 25 years to life in prison. He will become eligible for parole in 2037, when he is 93 years old.

In 1981, Rand’s aunt had lived in the same building as Holly Ann Hughes. Holly’s mother also identified him as the voice she heard on the other end of the phone one month after her child’s disappearance. Witnesses claim to have seen Rand’s green car circling the block at the time of the girl’s kidnapping, and a few have even gone so far to say they saw Holly in the car itself. Rand also has some circumstantial evidence to the case of Alice Perreira. At the time she went missing, he was working as a painter in her apartment. In the case of Tiahese, Rand was known to have had a campsite in the vicinity of her hotel, and was even seen loitering in the car park on occasion. Gafforio also lived on the same block as Rand.

To this day, Rand maintains his innocence in relation to the disappearances. He has remained the prime suspect in each case due to his claims of being excited by children, and his self proclamation as a new Ted Bundy. Whether Rand actually murdered the five children above, the majority of which could be linked by having mental disabilities, we do not know. The real kidnapper, or Cropsey, could still be out there. The Willowbrook area remains a centre for supposed hauntings and mysteries to this day……

NEXT WEEK on Monday Mysteries, we take a look at part one in a series of posts surrounding one of the most famous mysteries in human history. The post will go up on August 31st, exactly matching the date the most chilling serial killer ever started his grisly murders.

Fog falls down over London’s East End. The year is 1888, and on a cold autumn night the last of the tavern lights are snuffed out, plunging Whitechapel into darkness. The streets are empty, only here or there littered with prostitutes who can’t afford to avoid the cold. Sitting alone in a black world, the ladies of the night are seldom stirred. Something stalks out of a street alley, and sees young Polly Ann Nichols stumbling along the pavement; drunk and humming to herself. That night Polly, and the world, come face to face with something horrid. On August 31st we meet Jack the Ripper…..


Chewsday-August 19th

One thing that always makes for a good fact is weird stories surrounding those in the public eye. This week, I went digging to find out which celebrities/stars have made a weird name for themselves. The following two are only some of my results.

It’s hardly surprising that footballers make it on the list as people who leave us pondering just what on earth were they thinking. In today’s world, with finances just as crucial as three points on a Saturday, contract signings can become a source of amusement.When footballer Stefan Schwarz signed for Sunderland in a record transfer for the club in 1999, it was explicitly written into his contract that he was forbidden from travelling into space.

Sunderland were worried that Schwarz, a well known space entusiast, would be tempted to accompany one of his advisers, who had tickets for one of the planned upcoming commercial tourist flights into space that were then scheduled for 2002. In the end, by the time Schwarz ended his playing career with Sunderland in 2003, only two paying tourists had actually flown in space, and regular tourist flights into space are yet to become a reality.

Jockey Frank Hayes holds the dubious distinction of being the only jockey to have won a race while dead. In 1923, he suffered a heart attack mid-race while riding at Belmont Park in New York. By the time the horse, Sweet Kiss (a 20 to 1 long shot) crossed the line in unexpected triumph, Hayes was dead – although he managed to stay in the saddle. Hayes’ death was not discovered until Miss Frayling and race officials came to congratulate him shortly after the race. It was theorised that the fatal heart attack was probably brought on by Hayes’ extreme efforts to meet the weight requirements, possibly followed by the excitement of riding to the front of the pack. After the discovery of Hayes’ death, all further post-race regulations were waived by the Jockey Club, the result being declared official without the customary formality of weighing in. Hayes, dressed in his colorful racing silks, was buried three days later.

Monday Mystery-Disappearance of Judy Smith

In 1997, Judy Smith was a 50-year-old mother of two from Newton, Massachusetts. She had recently gotten married to her attorney husband, Jeffrey, and decided to fly to Philadelphia to join him on a business trip.

When she forgot her ID at Boston’s Logan International Airport on April 9, 1997, the couple then decided to travel separately and meet later that night. When they met up, they went to their hotel room and made plans for the next day. On April 10, Judy went sightseeing while Jeff went to the conference, and that morning was the last time that he saw his wife alive.

At 5:30pm, Jeff came back to their hotel when he discovered that Judy was nowhere to be found. When she didn’t come back that night, he began searching the route that Judy had taken that day while sightseeing. He soon notified the Philadelphia police and Judy’s children and they all began searching for her, but to no avail. Then, on September 7, 1997, a man and his son hiking in the woods near Asheville, North Carolina discovered the skeletal remains of a woman who had been stabbed to death. The remains were soon identified as Judy’s, but a pair of Bolle’s sunglasses and a blue backpack found with her body was not hers. At first, nobody could not understand how Judy ended up in North Carolina, but some began to suggest that Judy may have left Philadelphia voluntarily and went to North Carolina. What makes this story truly baffling is that Judy’s remains were found 600 miles away from her hotel.

Authorities found that the clothing Judy was wearing suggested that she was hiking in the area at the time, not that she had been dumped there. Several shop owners reported talking to a “Judy from Boston” in Asheville after she vanished and a hotel clerk even remembered her staying at the hotel from April 10-12. Since she still had her wedding ring and $167 in her possession, robbery did not seem to be a motive. Even though she normally carried her belongings in a red backpack, a blue backpack was found at the scene. Police do not suspect Jeff Smith in the disappearance and death of his wife, but despite his insistence that he and his wife were in good terms with their marriage and that his wife met with foul play in Philadelphia, police believe that Judy may have planned her disappearance, and met with foul play while hiking neat Asheville. Investigators believe that the killer is not native to North Carolina, but may have ties to the area. Judy’s killer has never been identified and the case remains unsolved.

Authorities believe that the owner of the Bolle’s sunglasses and blue backpack found with Judy’s backpack is her killer, and that he has ties to the area where she was found.


Among the theories Philadelphia police pursued were that Judith Smith ran off to establish a new life – or that she was murdered. It now looks possible that both may have happened. Smith, a nurse, was a hiker and lover of the outdoors, so the area where she was found – national forest land in Buncombe County, about 18 miles from Asheville – would seem like just the sort of place she might go if she had run away. Smith’s decomposed body was found Sept. 7, but only positively identified Monday through dental records. Authorities in North Carolina requested the records after a doctor spotted a story in a local newspaper about an unidentified body being found – and remembered that he had seen a flier about Judith Smith.

Buncombe County Sheriff Bob Medford said Smith had been dead since the spring, probably not long after she was reported missing. She was dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, but had warmer clothes with her. The clothes were in a blue backpack – not the red backpack that was her signature – indicating that at some point after April 10 she bought a new backpack. She had $80 in a pocket of her jeans and $87 in the pocket of a winter jacket. About 20 feet from her body was a paperback she apparently had been reading, a medical murder mystery, Flashback by Michael Palmer.

“It didn’t appear she was dragged out there,” Medford said. “The indications are she wanted to be there.”

North Carolina authorities have classified the case a murder mainly because because the body was buried. There are also indications Smith’s body may have been dragged a short distance to the grave. Medford said animals may have dug Smith’s body up, but could not have buried it.

All indications pointed to Judy being in a good mood, and a witness who spoke with her said she mentioned her husband was an attorney. If the woman that witness spoke to was indeed Judy Smith, no one knows why she felt compelled to run off without telling her family. And if Judy chose to disappear on her own, how did she wind up dead on a remote mountain?

Chewsday-August 12th

On this day in 1860 Klara Polzl was born in the Austrian village of Spital. Less than thirty years later, she would give birth to Adolf Hitler.

Klara Polzl had several children during her life, but only Adolf and his sister Paula would survive into adulthood. Klara Hitler first discovered a lump in her breast in 1905, two years after her husband’s death, but initially ignored it. After experiencing chest pains that were keeping her awake at night, Klara finally consulted the family doctor, Eduard Bloch (a Jew), in January 1907. Dr. Bloch told Adolf that Klara had a small chance of surviving and recommended that she undergo a radical surgery. The Hitlers were devastated by the news. Klara underwent the mastectomy at Sisters of St. Mercy in Linz whereupon the surgeon, Dr. Karl Urban, discovered that the cancer had already moved to her chest. Dr. Bloch informed Klara’s children that her condition was terminal.

For the next 46 days (from November to early December), Dr. Bloch performed daily treatments of experimental chemotherapy. Klara’s mastectomy incisions were reopened and massive doses of iodoform soaked gauze was applied directly to the tissue to “burn” the cancer cells. The treatments proved to be futile and Klara died at home in Linz from the toxic medical side effects. Despite her death, Adolf pledged his gratitude forever to their family doctor. Even as late as 1937, he inquired about his well-being. During the start of World War II, Bloch asked Hitler for help, and was allowed emigrate to the United States after being protected from the Gestapo. Klara Hitler may have gave birth to Adolf Hitler, but her death caused the life of one Jew to be saved.

On this day in 30BC, Cleopatra died. Regarded as one of the most influential leaders in history, the Pharoah met her end under debated circumstances. Some argue she used a cobra known as an asp to bite her, putting her body into a paralysed state which eventually led to death. Others suggest after her capture she was murdered. Most historians agree Cleopatra killed herself, rather than face public humiliation in Rome for her defeat. Her husband, Marc Anthony, had killed himself with his own sword after hearing she was dead. Realising this wasn’t true, he was brought to her, where he died. Cleopatra’s son by Caesar was killed shortly after.