Was Jack the Ripper a Doctor?

Yesterday’s article looked at whether Jack the Ripper’s early crimes, the murders of Mary Nichols and Annie Chapman, suggested that their killer demonstrated any medical knowledge. Today’s article looks at the last three vicitms, Catherine Eddowes, Elizabeth Stride and Mary Kelly and discusses contempoarary opinions for doctors.

At the inquest into the death of Catherine Eddowes, Dr Sequira, the first medical man to examine her body in Mitre Square, expressed the opinion that the murderer possessed no great anatomical skill.  

Dr Frederick Gordon Brown, the City ofLondon Police Surgeon, stated that the person who inflicted the wounds on Catherine Eddowes would have required a good deal of knowledge as to the position of the organs in the abdominal cavity and the way of removing them.

He also believed that her murderer would have required a “great deal of knowledge” as to the position of her left kidney in order to have removed it. But such knowledge, he stated, could have been possessed by someone accustomed to cutting up animals.

The final medical man to express an opinion on the question of anatomical knowledge at Catherine Eddowes inquest was Dr William Sedgwick Saunders, who had assisted at her post-mortem. He was adamant that the wounds showed no sign of having been inflicted by a person with great anatomical skill.

The main dissenting voice on the issue of the murderer possessing any anatomical or surgical knowledge was that of Dr. Thomas Bond, the Police Surgeon for the Metropolitan Police’s A Division, who, in aftermath of Mary Kelly’s death, prepared a report on all the murders.

According to Bond, the mutilations were inflicted “…by a person who had no scientific nor anatomical knowledge… [not even] the technical knowledge of a butcher or horse slaughterer or any person accustomed to cut up dead animals.”

So, with the exception of Dr. Thomas Bond, all the doctors who had examined the victims’ bodies were of the opinion that a basic grasp of anatomy was demonstrated by the killer, although their opinions differed as to how in depth his anatomical knowledge was.