Did Jack the Ripper Possess Medical Knowledge?

There is a great deal of debate over whether or not Jack the Ripper possessed any medical knowledge.

The question of whether he did or not was raised several times during the inquests into the deaths of the victims, and, although several of the doctors who gave expert testimony were of the opinion that he demonstrated a certain degree of anatomical knowledge, they differed in their opinions of how much anatomical knowledge the murderer had exhibited.

Dr Llewellyn, the doctor who was called to the scene of Mary Nichols murder on the 31st August 1888, for example, opined that the murderer had shown signs of possessing “some rough anatomical knowledge,”  on the grounds that he “seemed to have attacked all the vital parts.”

Wynne Baxter, the Coroner who presided over the inquest into the deaths of Mary Nichols and Annie Chapman, even went so far as state that the mutilations sustained by both victims suggested that the injuries had “in each case been performed with anatomical knowledge.”

Dr George Bagster Phillips, the divisional police surgeon who had examined Annie Chapman’s body as it lay in the backyard of29 Hanbury Street, suggested that the mutilations could have been done by “such an instrument as a medical man used for post-mortem purposes…”  But he also conceded that “those used by slaughter-men, well ground down,” might just as easily have been used.

When recalled to give further medical and surgical evidence by the coroner, Phillips expanded on his earlier testimony and declared that that “the mode in which the knife had been used seemed to indicate great anatomical knowledge.”

Summing up at Annie’s inquest, Coroner Baxter was adamant that her injuries had been made by someone who “had considerable anatomical skill and knowledge.”

So, certainly in the early days of the investigation and inquests into the first two victims of jack the Ripper there was a consensus that, whoever was responsible for the two murders had demonstrated a degree of medical knowledge.