By the last week of October 1888, it was becoming more than obvious that the police were not closer to catching the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders than they were when the crimes began several months previously.
One problem that was confronting them was whether or not the killer had demonstrated any anatomical or surgical knowledge in his atrocities.
THE OPINION OF DR THOMAS BOND
Anxious to clarify this point, on the 25th of October, Robert Anderson, the head of the Metropolitan police’s Criminal Investigation Department, wrote to Dr. Thomas Bond, the Police Surgeon for Scotland Yard, to seek his guidance in the matter.
Anderson enclosed reports of the evidence given at the inquests into the murders of Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes.
HIS REQUEST TO BOND
In the accompanying letter wrote, he wrote that:-
“In dealing with the Whitechapel murders the difficulties of conducting the enquiry are largely increased by reason of our having no reliable opinion for our guidance as to the amount of surgical skill and anatomical knowledge probably possessed by the murderer or murderers.
I brought this matter before Sir C. Warren some time since and he has now authorised me to ask if you will be good enough to take up the medical evidence given at the several inquests and favour him with your opinion on the matter.
He feels that your eminence as an expert in such cases – and it is entirely in that capacity that the present case is referred to you, will make your opinion specially valuable.
BOND’S PROFILE OF JACK THE RIPPER
Having studied the inquest reports, Bond sent his reply on the 10th of November.
The day before had seen the murder of Mary Kelly, and Bond had spent much of that afternoon conducting a post mortem examination of her body.
As a result Bond was also able to give an opinion as to whether Mary had been killed by the same man who had carried out the previous four murders.
AN EARLY OFFENDER PROFILE
His response to Anderson, was sent from his London home, which was located at The Sanctuary, next to Westminster Abbey.
Today that report is considered a very early example of criminal profiling.
“I beg to report that I have read the notes of the 4 Whitechapel Murders viz:
1. Buck’s Row.
2. Hanbury Street.
3. Berner’s Street.
4. Mitre Square.
I have also made a Post Mortem Examination of the mutilated remains of a woman found yesterday in a small room in Dorset Street.
ALL MURDERS BY THE SAME HAND
1. All five murders were no doubt committed by the same hand.
In the first four the throats appear to have been cut from left to right. In the last case owing to the extensive mutilation it is impossible to say in what direction the fatal cut was made, but arterial blood was found on the wall in splashes close to where the woman’s head must have been lying.
2. All the circumstances surrounding the murders lead me to form the opinion that the women must have been lying down when murdered and in every case the throat was first cut.
TIME BEWTEEN DEATH AND DISCOVERY
3. In the four murders of which I have seen the notes only, I cannot form a very definite opinion as to the time that had elapsed between the murder and the discovering of the body.
In one case, that of Berner’s Street, the discovery appears to have been made immediately after the deed.
In Buck’s Row, Hanbury Street, and Mitre Square three or four hours only could have elapsed.
In the Dorset Street case the body was lying on the bed at the time of my visit, 2 o’clock, quite naked and mutilated – Rigor Mortis had set in, but increased during the progress of the examination.
From this it is difficult to say with any degree of certainty the exact time that had elapsed since death as the period varies from 6 to 12 hours before rigidity sets in.
The body was comparatively cold at 2 o’clock and the remains of a recently taken meal were found in the stomach and scattered about over the intestines.
It is, therefore, pretty certain that the woman must have been dead about 12 hours and the partly digested food would indicate: that death took place about 3 or 4 hours after the food was taken, so one or two o’clock in the morning would be the probable time of the murder.
NO EVIDENCE OF A STRUGGLE
4. In all the cases there appears to be no evidence of struggling and the attacks were probably so sudden and made in such a position that the women could neither resist nor cry out.
In the Dorset Street case the corner of the sheet to the right of the woman’s head was much cut and saturated with blood, indicating that the face may have been covered with the sheet at the time of the attack.
5. In the four first cases the murderer must have attacked from the right side of the victim.
In the Dorset Street case, he must have attacked from in front or from the left, as there would be no room for him between the wall and the part of the bed on which the woman was lying.
BLOOD AT THE SCENE
Again, the blood had flowed down on the right side of the woman and spurted on to the wall.
6. The murderer would not necessarily be splashed or deluged with blood, but his hands’ and arms must have been covered and parts of his clothing must certainly have been smeared with blood.
7. The mutilations in each case excepting the Berner’s Street one were all of the same character and shewed clearly that in all the murders, the object was mutilation.
WAS THERE SURGICAL KNOWLEDGE?
Coming to the answer to Anderson’s query concerning surgical or anatomical knowledge, Bond wrote that:-
8. In each case the mutilation was inflicted by a person who had no scientific nor anatomical knowledge.
In my opinion he does not even possess the technical knowledge of a butcher or horse slaughterer or any person accustomed to cut up dead animals.
9. The instrument must have been a strong knife at least six inches long, very sharp, pointed at the top and about an inch in width. It may have been a clasp knife, a butcher’s knife or a surgeon’s knife. I think it was no doubt a straight knife.
A PROFILE OF THE KILLER
Bond then went on to describe the type of person that the murderer was likely to be:-
10. The murderer must have been a man of physical strength and of great coolness and daring.
There is no evidence that he had an accomplice.
He must in my opinion be a man subject to periodical attacks of Homicidal and erotic mania.
The character of the mutilations indicate that the man may be in a condition sexually, that may be called satyriasis.
It is of course possible that the Homicidal impulse may have developed from a revengeful or brooding condition of the mind, or that Religious Mania may have been the original disease, but I do not think either hypothesis is likely.
The murderer in external appearance is quite likely to be a quiet inoffensive looking man probably middle aged and neatly and respectably dressed.
I think he must be in the habit of wearing a cloak or overcoat or he could hardly have escaped notice in the streets if the blood on his hands or clothes were visible.
THE KILLER’S LIVING ARRANGEMENTS
And finally, Bond gave his opinion on the likely living arrangements of the perpetrator of the atrocities:-
11. Assuming the murderer to be such a person as I have just described he would probably be solitary and eccentric in his habits, also he is most likely to be a man without regular occupation, but with some small income or pension.
He is possibly living among respectable persons who have some knowledge of his character and habits and who may have grounds for suspicion that he is not quite right in his mind at times.
Such persons would probably be unwilling to communicate suspicions to the Police for fear of trouble or notoriety, whereas if there were a prospect of reward it might overcome their scruples.
I am, Dear Sir, Yours faithfully, Thos. Bond.
OF LIMITED USE TODAY
Bond’s profile of the killer is, by its very nature, of limited use in the continuing hunt for Jack the Ripper.
Since the killer was never actually brought to justice it is impossible to judge the accuracy of Bond’s predictions about his character, appearance and living arrangements.
The profile’s lasting influence on the case is the claim that the murders of Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly were carried out by the same person – thus putting forward the idea of the canonical five victims that is still adhered to today.
However, it is also worth noting that, following the murder of Alice Mckenzie, on the 17th of July 1889, Bond Examined her body, again at the request of Robert Anderson, and reported that:- “I am of opinion that the murder was performed by the same person who committed the former series of Whitechapel murders.”
AN INFLUENTIAL REPORT
Bond’s report seems to have influenced Sir Melville McNaughton, in his insistence in his 1894 memorandum that:- “The Whitechapel Murderer had 5 victims – & 5 victims only.”
His speculation that the killer was possibly living among respectable people who might have had some knowledge of his character and habits, but who were unwilling to communicate their suspicions to the police, may well have influenced Sir Robert Anderson’s assertion in his memoirs that if the killer wasn’t living absolutely alone, his people knew of his guilt, and refused to give him up to justice.
ERRORS IN THE REPORT
It is also worth noting that there are several errors in the report.
For example, his claim that when he arrived at Miller’s Court Mary Kelly’s body was lying on the bed “quite naked and mutilated” was demonstrably incorrect, since a glance at the horrific photograph of her lying on the bed, quite clearly shows that she was wearing a chemise.
Even the artist for The Illustrated Police News, who wasn’t actually present at the scene, depicts her as wearing a chemise, so quite how Bond missed it or forget about it, is, to say the least, intriguing.
His assertion that:- “ In each case the mutilation was inflicted by a person who had no scientific nor anatomical knowledge”, was at odds with the opinions of several other doctors, most notably Dr. George Bagster Phillips who examined the body of Annie Chapman and who testified at the inquest into her death that there were indications of anatomical knowledge on the part of the murderer.
AN EARLY CRIMINAL PROFILE
Bond’s report, although it evidently influenced the thinking of several senior officers on the case, is of little actual value in helping us solve the mystery, since the killer was never caught, and it is therefore impossible to measure how accurate or reliable his findings were.
Historically, it is of interest as one the earliest attempts at offender profiling, but in the absence of an arrest and conviction, it remains little more than informed speculation as opposed to ascertained historical fact.