Introduction
Victims
Suspects
Witnesses
Ripper Letters
Police Officials
Official Documents
Press Reports
Victorian London
Message Boards
Ripper Media
Authors
Dissertations
Timelines
Games & Diversions
Photo Archive
Ripper Wiki
Casebook Examiner
Ripper Podcast
About the Casebook

 Search:


Most Recent Posts:
Doctors and Coroners: Dr Bond - a few documents - by kjab3112 1 hour and 16 minutes ago.
Doctors and Coroners: Dr Bond - a few documents - by kjab3112 1 hour and 18 minutes ago.
Doctors and Coroners: Dr Bond - a few documents - by elmore 77 2 hours ago.
Mary Jane Kelly: Oh, murder! - by Abby Normal 2 hours ago.
Mary Jane Kelly: shades of Mary Jane Kelly and Joe Barnett - by GUT 3 hours ago.
Doctors and Coroners: Dr Bond - a few documents - by kjab3112 3 hours ago.

Most Popular Threads:
Mary Jane Kelly: Oh, murder! - (49 posts)
Doctors and Coroners: Dr Bond - a few documents - (9 posts)
Neil, P.C. John: PC Neil's Route - (8 posts)
Cutbush, Superintendent Charles Henry: The Curtis Bennett Inquiry - (5 posts)
Mary Jane Kelly: shades of Mary Jane Kelly and Joe Barnett - (3 posts)
Non-Fiction: Ripper Confidential by Tom Wescott (2017) - (2 posts)

Wiki Updates:
Robert Sagar
Edit: Chris
May 9, 2015, 12:32 am
Online newspaper archives
Edit: Chris
Nov 26, 2014, 10:25 am
Joseph Lawende
Edit: Chris
Mar 9, 2014, 10:12 am
Miscellaneous research resources
Edit: Chris
Feb 13, 2014, 9:28 am
Charles Cross
Edit: John Bennett
Sep 4, 2013, 8:20 pm

Most Recent Blogs:
Mike Covell: A DECADE IN THE MAKING.
February 19, 2016, 11:12 am.
Chris George: RipperCon in Baltimore, April 8-10, 2016
February 10, 2016, 2:55 pm.
Mike Covell: Hull Prison Visit
October 10, 2015, 8:04 am.
Mike Covell: NEW ADVENTURES IN RESEARCH
August 9, 2015, 3:10 am.
Mike Covell: UPDDATES FOR THE PAST 11 MONTHS
November 14, 2014, 10:02 am.
Mike Covell: Mike’s Book Releases
March 17, 2014, 3:18 am.
   More Ripper Blogs »

Unmasking Jack the Ripper
"Perhaps the best Jack the Ripper documentary produced in recent years." North American and European DVD formats both available.
Buy now!

 A Ripperologist Article 
This article originally appeared in Ripperologist No. 63, January 2006. Ripperologist is the most respected Ripper periodical on the market and has garnered our highest recommendation for serious students of the case. For more information, view our Ripperologist page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperologist for permission to reprint this article.
On the Trail of Jack the Ripper: Szemeredy in Argentina
By Jose Luis Scarsi

The Spanish version of this article was published under the title Jack el Destripador: una pista en la Argentina in the magazine Historias de la Ciudad, Año 4, Nº 31, Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 2005. Translated from the Spanish by Eduardo Zinna

He came from Europe to fight in the War of the Triple Alliance.(1) He was a soldier, a tanner and a butcher by trade, a barber by vocation. He was a doctor, a landowner and a political refugee. This is the story of a clever confidence trickster, small-time thief and slippery character who for many years held the attention of the press and the authorities. A murder suspect, he committed the same type of crimes in Buenos Aires and in London and, as he died bearing a tarnished title of Count, became another Ripper suspect.

It was more than a year since Alois Szemeredy had last walked in the streets of Buenos Aires. Since that winter night when he was seen fleeing his hotel, in little clothing and a great hurry, his luggage left behind, he had been impossible to find. The police sent detectives throughout the city and, since they couldn't spot him in gin palaces, eateries, underground hangouts, train stations or the docks, they went looking for him in dozens of towns and villages in the Argentine Provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos and Cuyo and over twenty locations in the neighbouring Eastern Republic of Uruguay. Every move of the authorities seemed like an iron circle closing down on the fugitive, but he, shrewd and elusive, always found a gap to slip through.

The circumstances of the brutal crime of which he was suspected were still vivid in the memory when a telegram from the Bahian police confirmed that he had been arrested in Brazil. It was mid-morning on 8 August 1877 when the ship that was bringing him back approached the Catalinas dock. Like a metaphor for a remote remembrance or an uncertain future, the mist and the distance from the coast blurred the outline of the city that once more awaited him. On the docks, an impatient crowd had gathered to catch a glimpse of the vicious killer.

During the journey Szemeredy had tried to commit suicide on two occasions. Sgt. Antonio Augusto Almeida Navarro, who was bringing him from Río de Janeiro, thought that the prisoner was completely insane and was eager to hand him over to the local authorities. Perhaps by chance, perhaps because of a macabre pleasantry of the driver, the carriage taking him to prison went by the house in Corrientes Street where he had allegedly committed murder. The newspapers reported that when they pointed out the house to him and reminded him of the woman who had lived there, he said that 'she was his mistress but he was absent when the murder was committed.' (2)

The Beginning of the Story

The Buenos Aires newspaper La Nación reported on 27 July 1876:

Last night at 10, a young woman who shared lodgings with another woman at 35 Corrientes Street, between Reconquista and 25 de mayo Streets, was horribly murdered. Her name was Carolina Metz and she was not yet 20 years old… Carolina lived with a man who was not her husband. Last night, at the above-mentioned time, Carolina's woman friend ran into the street crying for help… several police officers answered her calls, closely followed by higher-rank policemen. They found Carolina lying in her bed, half-naked, her throat cut from ear to ear.

There, next to the bed, stood the young woman's lover. He was immediately arrested. His statement was as follows: That a few moments earlier, while he was in another room of the house, a man whom both he and Carolina knew had asked for his permission to enter the room where she was. That, after a few moments, he heard cries for help and ran into the young woman's room, where he found her with her throat cut. There were no traces of the man who had gone in a few minutes before. On Carolina's bed was found, covered with blood, the weapon with which her throat had been cut… a sheathknife nearly 10 inches long… which looked brand-new.

On a chair was an overcoat in one of whose pockets they found two portraits. One was of Carolina and the other… precisely of the man who had come in a few minutes earlier… The suspect has not yet been captured by our police, as it usually happens nowadays.

The newspaper does not say it in so many words and only hints at it, but for a whole decade a well known brothel had operated at 35 Corrientes Street. This, and the fact that Carolina had worked there, must have led it to publish the wrong address, since the rest of the newspapers and the police themselves gave the address of the murder house correctly as 36 Corrientes Street.(3)

The man euphemistically described as Carolina's lover was in fact her procurer, Baptiste Castagnet, who had met her in the ship that brought her from Marseilles in 1874. He had met Szemeredy at a card game during one of his frequent trips to Montevideo. When Szemeredy arrived in Buenos Aires Castagnet offered him his mercenary friendship and the services of his ward.

We find more information in police reports. The officer in charge of the investigation stated:

At about 10:30 in the evening of the 25th inst. I was informed that a woman had been murdered at 36 Corrientes Street. I went there at once and found in the front room of the above-mentioned house the body of the woman Carolina Metz, as Bautista Castañet [sic] told me she was called… I inspected said room, noticing a large amount of blood on the bed, the bedclothes in disarray and a black-handled sheathknife covered with blood lying on them. On an armchair were Carolina's clothes and on top of them lay a grey overcoat, a waistcoat of the same colour and a watch and chain apparently of gold and, attached to this chain, two rings, one with a white stone and the other with a green stone, an umbrella with a steel handle and a black beaver hat… in the inside pocket of the overcoat I found the sheath of the knife that lay on the bed, two portraits, a bloodstained white handkerchief embroidered with the initials AS and a key.

The perpetrator of this murder is Alejo Szemeredy, a Hungarian or Austrian, 35 years of age, tall, corpulent, olive-skinned, straight black hair, wears a thick moustache and goatee joined together, speaks good Spanish and claims to be a medical doctor… This man is known in this police station because on the 16th Inst. he came to complain that he had been robbed at the "Hotel de Provence" of valuables worth approximately ten thousand pesos - among which were the two rings now found attached to the watch-chain he left behind when fleeing Carolina's room.

…It became known yesterday that Szemeredy was staying at the Hotel de Roma, room 72, and the manager Luis Soler stated that on the evening of Carolina's murder he arrived some time after 10:30 and said to him: They just stole my hat and the clothes I was wearing I'm moving out another one to report to the police but I need to force the door because the key was left in my overcoat. Believing this statement to be true, he made him enter through a door communicating with his room, where he picked up a poncho and a soft black hat, put them on and left again in a hurry.

It is now known that the watch and chain that Szemeredy left behind in his escape belong to Lt. Col. Domingo Jerez, who resides at the Hotel de Roma, and from whom these items were stolen a few days ago together with some cash.

Until now it is not known what was Szemeredy's motive for this murder… Carolina was buried by her beloved Castañet. Carolina Metz was Alsatian, 20-years old, single. She arrived in Buenos Aires on 13 October 1874 and worked first at the brothel at 35 Corrientes Street, from where she moved to No. 509 in the same street, which she left to live with Bautista Castañet with whom she had had relations since her journey from Marseilles. This woman's family lives in Strasbourg and she had a brother in Digon. (4)

In the aftermath of this brutal murder, particularly when the suspect returned in 1877, the newspapers published numerous items about him and continued to do so until a few years after the end of his trial in 1881.

But let's see who was Alois Szemeredy - for that was his real name - what were the reasons for his journey and what were his adventures since his arrival in Argentina.

Szemeredy was born in Pest - one of the two cities on either side of the Danube which were later merged into Budapest, capital of Hungary - on 7 July 1840. At an early age he enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army. He served with the Auxiliary Hungarian Legion in Ancona, a city situated north-east of Rome on the Adriatic coast. His conduct was irreproachable and he earned a promotion to corporal and given a good behaviour certificate which showed his trade as tanner. He later obtained another good behaviour certificate where he was said to be a butcher and a third one in Turin. On 29 June 1863, however, he deserted. Not for the last time, he vanished from sight.

Two years later, in October 1865, Szemeredy presented himself at the Argentine Consulate in Genoa where he signed up for a four-year term to fight in the War of the Triple Alliance. On 17 March 1866 he was inducted into the Argentine Army and assigned to the Artillery Regiment. In May of the same year he was declared insane and interned in the Hospicio de las Mercedes - an asylum. On 17 September he escaped.

Argentine Police Report on Szemeredy, 1876

The following year we find him in Buenos Aires, working in a barber shop in Victoria Street, near the Congress building - the Argentine Parliament. Some time later, having gained the trust of his employer, he stole tools, money and a horse and escaped to Mercedes. From there he wrote a letter expressing his regret for his conduct to his employer, who forgave him. Back in Buenos Aires, he told his employer that he wanted to return to Europe and, through the good offices of an acquaintance, obtained a free passage. Two days before his ship was scheduled to weigh anchor, however, he stole the jewels of the captain's wife and disappeared. Shortly afterwards he was recognised by the owner of the horse he had ridden to Mercedes and wound up spending six months in jail. Free again, he worked at a barber shop in May Street and then at another one in the town of Saladillo. He did not last long on this job. He soon managed to trick and rob the owner of a jewellery shop.

General Ricardo López Jordán. Szemeredy served under him in 1873.
At the beginning of the 70s Szemeredy arrived in Villa Mercedes, San Luis Province. The military chief of the Cuyo border zone was at that time General Arredondo. There was neither hairdresser nor barber in the whole region and the general went though the torments of hell every time he was shaven by a heavy-handed private. The newcomer suggested to the general that he authorise him to open a barbershop. The general advanced the necessary capital and used his influence with one of his relatives to obtain for Szemeredy the required licence.

Szemeredy cut hair with considerable skill and shaved with recognised ability. Soon the whole population entrusted themselves to his art. In this way he met a compatriot of his who owned a photographer's shop. The photographer was planning to get married and made the mistake of confiding to his new friend that he had saved 1,000 pesos fuertes to pay for the wedding. On an evening when they had gone out together for a few beers, Szemeredy took advantage of the first occasion to absent himself for a while in order to steal the small fortune that his friend had hidden in a trunk. Immediately afterwards he returned to the bar to continue drinking. But when the photographer went home he realised he had been robbed and raised the alarm.

The police formed a search party including two trackers who soon found the trail of the person who had carried away the trunk - not very far away, in fact. Szemeredy, who with great impudence had joined the search party, was immediately arrested. They sent him to the Provincial capital, San Luis, but on 19 April 1871 he was released for lack of evidence. The missing money was never found. Szemeredy worked in San Luis for a while. Later, he was seen in the guise of a gentleman at official balls in neighbouring Mendoza Province.

At the beginning of 1873 Szemeredy arrived destitute in Victoria, Entre Ríos Province, where he entered into a partnership with a barber, Jayme Bojorje. When, a few months later, Bojorje left for Uruguay, Szemeredy became sole owner of the shop. In August of the same year, he was arrested for attempted murder on the person of an Italian named Guido Benonati. As soon as he recovered his freedom, he joined the army of General Ricardo López Jordán, then leading an uprising against the National Government of Argentina.(5) Although he described himself as a medical doctor, Szemeredy was little more than a sawbones.

On 8 December Szemeredy was captured during the battle of Talita. At the beginning of 1874, as he was being taken to the military prison at Martin García Island on board the warship Pampa, he made his escape by throwing himself into the River Plate near the Uruguayan coast. Travelling through Uruguay he arrived in Mercedes, where he met Bojorje again. They discussed the opening of another barber shop but, when their plans did not prosper, Szemeredy continued his journey to Salto, where he stole some jewels and money.

On 28 May 1874 Szemeredy obtained a passage for Europe from the Austro-Hungarian Consulate in Buenos Aires, but jumped ship in Rio de Janeiro. He presented himself at the Austro-Hungarian Consulate in that city and claimed he had been robbed - but was not believed. He left for Bahia, north of Rio, where in October he went to his Consulate passing himself off as the owner of great tracts of land in Entre Ríos. Once again he claimed to have been robbed, this time by a woman and two men who spoke Polish. Although he was wounded in the left arm, the examining physician, Dr Wissman, suspected that Szemeredy himself had inflicted this wound to inspire sympathy and obtain compensation for the valuables and money allegedly stolen from him.

General Francisco Solano López. Szemeredy joined the Argentine Army to fight against him.
While the police and the Austro- Hungarian authorities questioned the 800 Polish settlers in the area without finding the alleged thieves, efforts were being made to succour Szemeredy. But then it became known that in August one Alejo Szemeredy had kidnapped a young woman at Colonia de San Francisco, Santa Catalina Province, to sell her into prostitution in Río. Despite this news and in order to be rid of the scoundrel, the Consulate gave him passage to Buenos Aires, where he claimed to own property. He left Bahia in October on board the German steamer Montevideo, but was taken ashore during the journey on suspicion of having stolen watches and jewels.(6) It seems that upon his return he had the gall to write a letter under the name of Carlos Pinto to the Brazilian Consulate complaining for the treatment given to Szemeredy - that is to say, to himself.

In January of 1875 we find him in Junín practising medicine. His visiting card gave his name as Dr Elois Szemeredy. He would also be known as Luis, Enrique and Alejo Szemeredy, Julio Somegyi, Carlos Pinto and Carlos Temperley. As usual, he remained only a few days in the same place and escaped with a surgery kit belonging to one Dr Caballero and money stolen from a tradesman from Bragado. He continued his criminal journey through Rojas, Pergamino, San Nicolás and Rosario. According to police reports, he left for Milan in May 1875. In July he reported to the Austro-Hungarian Army, from which he had deserted 12 years earlier. Soon afterwards he deserted again and fled to South America.

Back in Argentina, he travelled round the south of Buenos Aires Province, Chascomús and the Tuyú - where he embezzled a Justice of the Peace. He next crossed into Uruguay where he continued his escapades until mid-year. In Montevideo he met Baptiste Castagnet, whom he would see again in Buenos Aires a few weeks later. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires he lodged at the Hotel de Provence. He soon left in a trip to return a few days later. On 18 July 1876 he left the hotel claiming that some valuables left in his room had been stolen; a stratagem to which he resorted often to avoid paying his hotel bills. On 22 July, he moved into the Hotel Rome, where he resided until his precipitate escape following the murder of Carolina Metz.(7)

What have we got here?

This narrative, which has taken us through some of the places where Szemeredy was up to his usual tricks, reveals some of his characteristics. Though some events are difficult to prove and others were magnified by the press, we still can get an idea of his personality. A contemporary newspaper reported that when he was arrested in Brazil they found in his luggage a sharp sheath-knife, a bottle containing 18 grams of chloroform, a small box containing 14 grams of opium in powder form, false beards and moustaches and several artificial jewels.(8) The records of the First Police Station at Buenos Aires show that on 15 July Szemeredi [sic], a resident at the Hotel Provence, room No. 22, came to denounce the theft of: A belt containing 21 ounces of gold, two rings of the same metal and a silver watch with a silk chain.9 These were the rings that, ten days later, he would claim to have found in Carolina's room and on account of which he allegedly had a heated argument with Castagnet, whom he accused of being her real murderer.

Argentine Military Camp, 1866.

The prosecutor, Dr Pondal, spent several years preparing the case against Szemeredy, mainly because he needed to show a motive for the murder. According to a report published in the newspaper La Pampa on 27 May 1879, he asked for the death penalty. La Pampa further reported on 3 November 1880 that Judge Insiarte had sentenced Szemeredy to imprisonment for an undetermined period, the most severe penalty after death. In the meantime, and to render the case even odder, the Austro-Hungarian Minister handed a note to the Argentine Foreign Ministry stating that the Hungarian Courts had advised him that Alejo Szemeredy had inherited a substantial sum from a close relative.(10)

In 1881 Szemeredy's case was still rousing. Let's see what the press had to say on the day he appeared before the Appeals Court, which in those years functioned at the Cabildo, the old town-hall building.

By two in the afternoon over 500 people had gathered attracted by the celebrity of the individual and the notoriety of the case. Thus yesterday Szemeredy, the hero of the day, was the subject of all the talk of the people gathered at the Cabildo… (11)

Long before the time set for the beginning of the hearing, a large crowd filled the galleries adjoining the courtroom… another equally thick crowd waited along the stairs and galleries of the ground floor waiting for the defendant to go by so they could examine him closely.

Szemeredy, who looked about 40 years of age, was dressed all in black, his clothes threadbare but clean, and behaved like a man in full and assured possession of all his senses. With his left hand he smoothed down from time to time his long black goatee flecked with a few grey hairs, while with his right hand he performed the same operation on his hair, letting his hand descend immediately afterwards along his face to his mouth, as if he wanted to erase from it any expression that was either forced or contrary to his idea of the attitude he must assume in such solemn circumstances.(12)

Dámaso Centeno, appearing for the defence, took only two days to demonstrate to the Court that the prosecution's case was seriously flawed. He laid the blame for the murder on Castagnet, who by then was back in Europe, and pointed up the contradictions of the policemen who had investigated the affair. Since he could not describe the defendant as an honest man, Centeno concentrated on showing that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of murder. He made his point so well that, to everybody's surprise, Szemeredy was acquitted on 12 September 1881. Oddly enough, he was sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment for the theft of the watch belonging to Commandant Domingo Jerez. Bearing in mind the years the defendant had already spent in prison, his sentence was considered as served and he was set free.(13)

Jack the Ripper

A psychopath, extreme violence, sex, intrigue and the chance to outwit all institutions: these, the basic ingredients of top grossing thrillers, explain clearly why Jack the Ripper's story continues to stimulate the imagination and lives on in popular fantasy, as easy to recreate as the fog that in our imagination enshrouded London in the nights of 1888.

In the early hours of 8 August of that year, the body of Martha Tabram, an ageing prostitute, was found dead in George Yard, off Whitechapel High Street. She had been stabbed 39 times. Because of the high incidence of crime in the area, whose inhabitants were working class and, in many instances, immigrants, and because the body was found near a pub, the crime was only cursorily investigated.

Three weeks later, in the early morning of 31 August, Mary Ann Nichols died almost instantly when a mysterious killer sliced with great accuracy her trachea, oesophagus and spine and laid open her abdomen, exposing her internal organs and viscera. A week later, the body of Annie Chapman was found with the same type of mutilations sustained by the previous victim.

All three victims were poor, alcoholic prostitutes from the slums of London.

Numerous arrests were made. The few, unreliable witnesses who came forward mentioned a well dressed man of about 40 years of age who spoke with a foreign accent. Towards the end of September, the murderer manifested himself through a letter and a post-card addressed to a news agency. In these letters, written in red ink and signed Jack the Ripper, he spoke of his hatred for streetwalkers and announced future crimes. In the hope that someone would recognise the handwriting and identify the criminal, the police made thousands of copies of the letters and posted them throughout the city. What they achieved instead, besides publicising the murderer, was to spread panic and, in a way, help to popularise the pseudonym of the best known serial killer in history.

The National Congress, Buenos Aires. Szemeredy worked at a barber shop near this building in 1867.

On 29 September, perhaps encouraged by this tacit recognition, the killer chose with just a few minutes' interval two new emissaries of his cruelty: Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes. He only slit the throat of the first one, but had more time to mutilate the second one in his usual way. A few days later George Lusk, president of the Mile End Vigilance Committee, received a package containing half the kidney of one of the victims and a note in which the Ripper claimed to have fried and eaten the other half.

To close his atrocious list, the mysterious Ripper introduced some new elements in the person of Mary Jane Kelly. This time the victim was young and lovely and, unlike the others, was not attacked in the street but in the room at 13 Miller's Court where she received her clients. With the same impunity as before, and enjoying the shelter of the grimy, clammy walls, the morbid criminal took his time to tear apart with surgical precision the inert body of the young woman. He dismembered her anatomy, separated viscera from organs, scattered about the room unrecognisable fragments of her breasts and mutilated her face by cutting off her nose and ears. The police surgeons took over a day to search for missing parts and put together again all the pieces of that macabre jigsaw puzzle.

And then the killer vanished, as furtively as he had come. All clues and suspects were investigated or followed up: from an East End Jewish cobbler to the policemen on the beat; from lawyers and businessmen to Queen Victoria's own grandson. Yet no one was ever condemned for the murders or even formally accused of them. The mystery of Jack the Ripper followed him into his accursed grave and today, when not even the dust of his bones remains, still endures.

In the Suspects' List

After his release from prison in 1881, Szemeredy remained for a short time in Argentina before returning definitively to Europe. On 30 March 1882 he was arrested for desertion and confined in a military prison. In 1885 was declared insane and interned first in a military asylum and then in a state asylum near Pest. He was subsequently released into the custody of his family and disappeared again for several years, although it is known that he made his living as a sausage salesman for a while. In 1886, Dr Gotthelf-Meyer, a specialist on South American law, interviewed him in Budapest. Szemeredy showed up at their meeting carrying a huge stack of newspaper cuttings on his trial. He had tried to sell his memoirs to the Hungarian newspaper Egystertes, which had eventually rejected them, among other reasons, because they were written in the 'Magyar Dialect'.(14) Szemeredy told Dr Gotthelf-Meyer on that occasion that he was considering going to America or joining the Carlistas in Spain.(15 ) Nothing is known of his whereabouts during the next few years. He reportedly spent sometime in Vienna during August 1889 where he registered his address when he arrived.(16) In March, 1890, he made the acquaintance of a widow, Julianne Karlovicz. They afterwards lived together in Budapest, where he worked as an assistant in her pork butcher shop.(17)

Researchers Adam Wood and Eduardo Zinna have tried to ascertain the whereabouts of the slippery Hungarian during the period of the Whitechapel crimes.(18) Zinna has a pet theory, based on the similarity of their names and origins, that Szemeredy may have been in London in 1888 posing as Alonzo Maduro, a businessman from Argentina who spoke English with only a slight Spanish accent, allegedly because he had lived in the United States for a long time.(19)

The Cabildo, Buenos Aires. The Appeals Court met here in 1881 to consider Szemeredys case.
As he tried to place shares of a railway company through Gresham House, a City Brokerage firm, Szemeredy/Maduro met and befriended a young clerk, Griffith S Salway. During his sojourn in London, Szemeredy lived at a hotel east of Finsbury Pavement, ten minutes from Whitechapel. One evening, Salway was strolling along Old Broad Street when he unexpectedly came across Szemeredy, dressed in an old hat and suit, slouching slowly along with bowed head and drooping shoulders. The two walked together through Spitalfields and Whitechapel, arriving back at Szemeredy's hotel at 10:30pm. The following morning the papers carried details of the first Whitechapel crime: the murder of Martha Tabram. When Szemeredy, arriving at the office two hours later than usual, was shown a copy of the Star, he flew into a rage. Salway later heard him say that all prostitutes should be killed and on one occasion found surgical knives in the false bottom of a trunk belonging to Szemeredy. Soon afterwards the alleged Argentine left London and the murders ended.(20)

During February 1892, Szemeredy was responsible for several robberies or attempted robberies in jewellery shops in Vienna, normally involving violence and, in one case, resulting in the death of a shop owner, Andreas Schütz. He also robbed a watchmaker's shop in Vienna on 4 June, leaving its owner, Marie Sotolar, with a badly fractured skull. On 16 September he robbed yet another jewellery shop in Vienna, hitting an employee on the head with a blunt instrument and leaving him lying in a pool of blood. But then his luck ran out.

On 26 September, Szemeredy was arrested in Pressburg, today Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, at a jewellery shop whose owner recognised him as the man who had sold him a stolen watch and chain. He was taken to the police station. Showing the same nervous disturbance as in previous confinements, he decided not to wait for his trial this time. He took a sharp razor out of his pocket, cut his throat from ear to ear and expired within a matter of minutes. His death would have gone unnoticed and been little more than another statistic, had police reports not leaked that Szemeredy and the Ripper were one and the same. Newspapers throughout the world spread the news, but Scotland Yard never accepted the evidence as conclusive.(21)

For many years, every time a notorious murder was committed in Argentina, the newspapers recalled the sojourn of the Ripper in this country and recounted the story for the benefit of new readers. In 1898, La Nación mentioned him under his full name and title of Count Luis Alejo Torsianj Szemeredy in an article comparing his crimes to a gory murder committed in Rosario:

Szemeredy, who was suspected of being Jack and the murderer and thief of Vienna, in Buenos Aires murdered Carolina Metz… spent almost five years in prison only to be absolved without a stain in his character, though this did not quash the belief that he was Jack the Ripper, then far from London he reappeared in Vienna, committed the same type of crimes and, mixed up in a robbery in a jewellery shop was arrested… since then nothing has been heard from Jack the Ripper. (22)

The mystery surrounding all these events is still unsolved. From time to time, newly discovered information fuels discussions on old and new suspects. This is a true story that time has turned into a popular legend and an open-ended narrative.

Acknowledgements

I should like to thank the staff of the Centro de Estudios Históricos Policiales for their kind assistance with my research.

Sources

Begg, Paul: Jack the Ripper: The Facts; Begg, Paul, Martin Fido and Keith Skinner: Jack the Ripper: A to Z; Jakubowski, Maxim and Nathan Brand: The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper; McCormick, Donald: The Identity of Jack the Ripper; Morley, Christopher J: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide; Muusmann, Carl: Who Was Jack the Ripper?; Ripperologist; True Detective; La Libertad, La Nación, La Pampa, La Tribuna Nacional; Olean Democrat, New Oxford Item, Port Philip Herald; Wiener Zeitung Abendblatt.

Notes

1 The War of the Triple Alliance (1864- 1870) was fought between Paraguay on the one side and an alliance of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay on the other. Paraguay's dictator and military leader, General Francisco Solano López, was killed on 1 March 1870 in the last action of the war together with his eldest son, a Colonel in the Paraguayan Army. By this time Paraguay was devastated and a considerable part of its male population had died. (Translator's Note).

2 La Pampa, 9 August 1877, Page 2.

3 La Libertad, 26 July 1876 and La Pampa, 27 July 1876.

4 Comisaría 1º Libro Copiador de Notas Nº 25, (First Police Station, Records Book No. 25), Page 404. Text underlined in the original.

5 Ricardo Lopez Jordán (1822-1889) was an Argentine soldier and political leader who was active in his country's civil wars from 1841 until 1879. On 11 April 1870, his followers assassinated the Governor of the Province of Entre Ríos, General Justo José de Urquiza, and López Jordán took his place. The National Government sent a 16,000-strong army against his 12,000 troops. After several months of armed struggle, López Jordán was defeated and sought exile first in Uruguay and then in Brazil. On 1st May 1873 he invaded Entre Ríos with an 18,000-strong army. He fought the National Army in numerous encounters, including the battle of the Talita Stream where Szemeredy was captured. In January 1874, Lopez Jordán crossed into Uruguay in defeat. His third and last rebellion lasted from November 1876 until his capture on 10 December. On 11 August 1879 he broke out from jail and sought refuge again in Uruguay. In December 1888 he took advantage of an amnesty to return to Argentina. On 22 June 1889, shortly before noon, an assassin came up to him in Esmeralda Street, Buenos Aires, and shot him twice in the head (Translator's Note).

6 La Pampa, 27 July 1877, Page 2.

7 La Libertad, 10 August 1877 From the Inquiry addressed by the Chief of Police to the Judge.

8 La Pampa, 28 August 1877, Page 2

9 Comisaría 1º Libro Copiador de Notas Nº 25, (First Police Station, Records Book No. 25) Page 376

10 La Nación, 25 August 1880, Page 1

11 La Pampa, 28 August 1881, Page 1.

12 La Nación, 28 August 1881, Page 1.

13 La Tribuna Nacional,14 September 1881 Page 2.

14 See Muusmann, Carl, Hvem Var Jack the Ripper? (Who Was Jack the Ripper?). The newspaper was identified in the Port Philip Herald, (Australia), 9 November 1892.

15 The Carlistas emerged at the time of the death of King Fernando VII of Spain. They argued that the King's daughter, Isabel, could not succeed to the throne because the Salic Law, abolished by the King shortly before his death, was still valid in Spain. They crowned the King's younger brother as Carlos V (reigned 1833- 1855) while his niece became Queen Isabel II. The two factions fought the First Carlist War (1833-1840), which was followed by two more (1846-1849 and 1872-1876). Carlos's heirs (Carlos VI, 1855-1861, Juan III, 1861-1868, Carlos VII, 1868-1909, and others) have continued to claim the Spanish throne. (Translator's Note)

16 See Morley, Christopher J: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide.

17 See the Port Philip Herald, 9 November 1892, and the Wiener Zeitung Abendblatt, 28 September 1892.

18 See Wood, Adam From Buenos Aires to Brick Lane: Were Alois Szemeredy and Alonzo Maduro the Same Man?, Ripperologist No. 25, October 1999; and Zinna, Eduardo, The Search for Jack el Destripador, Ripperologist No. 33, February 2001.

19 'Believe it or not, [the two names] sound alike: A-LON-soh-mah-DOOro, A-LOI-seh-meh-REH-dee. The "z" of Alonzo would actually be pronounced as an "s" in South American Spanish; the same applies to the Hungarian combination "sz". Moreover, Alois is a common Austrian/ Hungarian name and Szemeredy a very common Hungarian surname. Alonzo is a surname in Spanish and not a first name; it is a given name in America, though. Maduro could be a surname. It means "mature" or "ripe". An English person with little knowledge of either language who heard the name Alois Szemeredy, and knew the person came from South America, might well interpret the name as Spanish. Alonzo Maduro would then be a possibility.' Zinna, Eduardo, Private correspondence to Adam Wood, (26 April 1999), cited in Wood, Adam, loc. cit. Maxim Jakubowski and Nathan Braund reached a similar conclusion in the Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper, though they spelled Szemeredy's first name as 'Alios'. Adam Wood, however, concluded that Szemeredy and Maduro could not have been the same man.

20 Salway kept his knowledge of the Ripper's identity to himself for many years. In 1949, he told his story to True Detective's Editor, John Shuttleworth, who published it in the May issue of the magazine. See Wood, Adam, loc. cit.

21 Among these newspapers were the Olean Democrat, New York, USA, 27 September 1892, La Nación, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 30 September 1892, the New Oxford Item, Pennsylvania, USA, 7 October 1892, and the Port Philip Herald, Australia, 9 November 1892.

22 La Nación, 21 October 1898, Page 5.


Related pages:
  Alois Szemeredy
       Dissertations: From Buenos Aires to Brick Lane: Were Alois Szemeredy and... 
       Dissertations: The Search for Jack el Destripador 
       Message Boards: Alios Szemeredy 
       Press Reports: New Oxford Item - 7 October 1892 
       Press Reports: Olean Democrat - 27 September 1892 
       Press Reports: Port Philip Herald - 9 November 1892 
       Ripper Media: Hvem Var Jack the Ripper? 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - Alois Szemeredy 
  Eduardo Zinna
       Dissertations: Out of Africa 
       Dissertations: Tea, Scandal and the Rippers Shadow 
       Dissertations: The Eloquence of Stone - A Long Look at Christ Church 
       Dissertations: Yours Truly, Robert Bloch