28 April 1896
CARL FIEGENBAUM WAS GUILTY OF MANY CRIMES
FINALLY DIED IN THE EXECUTIONER'S CHAIR IN SING SING
Belief that he was none other than the Whitechapel Fiend of bloody memory - caught in the act of butchery
"Jack the Ripper", if all accounts are true, will trouble society no more. Carl Fiegenbaum was killed in the electrical chair at Sing Sing, N.Y., the other day. His lawyer now declares that the man executed was the fiend who set the world horror-stricken with his revel of blood in Whitechapel.
This remarkable criminal was electrocuted for killing Mrs. Johanna Hoffman. He had defied the police of all the continents. He murdered when and where he chose. And no detective is to reap the glory of bringing the worst assassin of the century to his doom. To a lawyer belongs the credit of revealing the probable identity of the man who was executed Monday.
As the murderer's body was being carried from the death chair to the autopsy room William Sanford Lawton, his counsel, who fought for more than a year and a half to save the life of his miserable client, made a statement, declaring his full belief that Fiegenbaum was "Jack the Ripper", author of many of the Whitechapel murders.
The lawyer was the only man whom Fiegenbaum trusted. And Mr. Lawton, knowing at least some of the man's secrets, said after seeing him go calmly to his death with a half-spoken prayer on his lips: "I will stake my professional reputation that if the police will trace this man's movements carefully for the last few years their investigations will lead them to London and to Whitechapel."
And then he told the facts which led him to that conclusion. Fiegenbaum or Zahm, had been all over Europe and much of this country. He seemed on first acquaintance to be simple-minded, almost imbecile, yet the man was crafty beyond measure. He had means of his own, as was proved by a will he made before his death, yet he always professed extreme poverty.
Mrs. Hoffman, who lived in two miserable rooms with her son Michael, was very poor. Fiegenbaum hired one of the rooms for the merest pittance, promising to pay when he had secured work. He lived there for two days. During the following night Michael Hoffmann awoke to find the boarder in the act of cutting his mother's throat. Fiegenbaum ran at him, knife in hand, and the boy sprang out on a window ledge. Fiegenbaum stabbed the woman again, jumped from the rear window into an area, threw away the knife, and escaped. Mr. Lawton's idea is that he had planned a murder of the "Ripper" order, and that the boy's cries prevented him from carrying out his intentions. The man was caught red-handed that night. Once in a burst of confidence Fiegenbaum said to his lawyer:
"I have for years suffered from a singular disease which induces an all absorbing passion. This passion manifests itself in a desire to kill and mutilate every woman who falls in my way. At such times I am unable to control myself." The lawyer at once thought of the Whitechapel crimes and looked up the dates, selected two. When he saw Fiegenbaum again and was talking with him confidentially, he said: "Carl, were you in London from this date to that one," naming those selected.
"Yes", the prisoner answered, and relapsed into silence. But as time went on the lawyer, in tracing his movements prior to the crime, discovered that Fiegenbaum had never lived in any house which was not in charge of a woman. Mr. Lawton once put the question of the Whitechapel murders to Fiegenbaum, whose reply was that the Lord was responsible for his acts and that to Him only could he confess. Mr. Lawton drew enough from the man, however, to convince him that the prisoner was no other than Jack the Ripper, who for more than a year held London in terror while he murdered twelve women of the pavements; that he was responsible perhaps for some of the mutilations which sent a chill through Wisconsin; and that he was the man who entered a room in the East River hotel with old "Shakespeare" some hours before her mutilated body was discovered.