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 Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide 
This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.

Aaron Kosminski

Aaron Kosminski was named in the Macnaghten Memoranda, along with Montague John Druitt and Michael Ostrog as more likely to have been Jack the Ripper than Thomas Cutbush. Macnaghten, in his draft memorandum described No.2 Kosminski, 'a Polish Jew, who lived in the very heart of the district where the murders were committed. He had become insane owing to many indulgence in solitary vices. He had a great hatred of women, had strong homicidal tendencies and was, and I believe still is, detained in a lunatic asylum about March 1889. This man in appearance strongly resembled the individual seen by the City P.C near Mitre Square.

There were many circumstances connected with this man which made him a strong suspect'.

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Sir Robert Anderson had first dropped a hint in 1901 that the police knew the identity of the Ripper in an article entitled Punishing Crime, he wrote, 'Jack the Ripper was safely caged in an asylum', he repeated this claim once again in 1907 in his book Criminals And Crime. Anderson expanded on this a little more in 1910 in his memoirs The Lighter Side Of My Official Life, he wrote, 'I will merely add that the only person who ever had a good view of the murderer, unhesitatingly identified the suspect the instant he was confronted with him. In saying that he was a Polish Jew, I am merely stating a definitely ascertained fact'.

In 1987 Chief Inspector Donald Swanson's personal copy of Anderson's book appeared, complete with Swanson's handwritten notes in the margins and endpaper, he wrote, 'After the suspect had been identified at the seaside home where he had been sent by us with difficulty in order to subject him to identification, and he knew he was identified. On suspects return to his brothers house in Whitechapel he was watched by police city CID by day and night. In a very short time the suspect with his hands tied behind his back, was sent to Stepney Workhouse, and then to Colney Hatch where he died shortly afterwards, Kosminski was the suspect'.

Aaron Kosminski, it would appear, was suspected of being Jack the Ripper by not only Sir Melville Macnaghten, but also Sir Robert Anderson and Chief Inspector Donald Swanson.

Kosminski was born in 1865 though exactly where is still not yet known, though most probably in Russia. He came to England with his sisters and their families in 1882, his mother appears not to have moved with her family at this time, and there is no evidence his father ever came to England He was a hairdresser, though one who had not worked for years. On 12 July 1890 he was admitted to the Mile End Town workhouse infirmary, from his brother Wolf's residence at 3 Sion Square, Commercial Road East. It was noted that he had been insane for two years. He was discharged three days later into the care of his brother, whose address is given as 16 Greenfield Street, this was the address of his brother- in law, Morris Lubnowski . He was readmitted on 4 February 1891 from 16 Greenfield Street, and three days later was committed to Colney Hatch lunatic asylum where he remained until 13 April 1894, when he was transferred to Leavesden asylum for imbeciles.

Leavesden asylum was opened in 1870, and in May 1871 housed 1,600 inmates. He remained there until his death at the age of 54 on 24 March 1919, the cause of death was reported as gangrene of the left leg. He was buried on 27 March at East Ham cemetery, his address was given as 5 Ashcroft Road, Bow, which was the home of Morris Lubnowski and his family.

When Kosminski was admitted to Colney Hatch, it was said that, 'He goes about the streets and picks up bits of bread from the gutter and eats them, he drinks water from a standpipe and refuses food at the hands of others, he is very dirty and will not be washed'. When he was readmitted to the Mile End infirmary Dr Houchin, who examined Kosminski, stated that the patient believed he was guided and controlled by an instinct that informed his mind, that he claimed to know the movements of all mankind and compulsively self-abused himself.

Lets look again at what Anderson and Macnaghten wrote. Macnaghten referred to a city P.C near Mitre Square, which was the night of the double murder 30 September. Except, there was no policeman who saw Catherine Eddowes with her killer, the only witness to see a man with Catherine Eddowes and give a description was Joseph Lawende, except, Lawende was not a policeman. The only policeman who saw one of the victims with a man on the night she was murdered was Constable William Smith, except, Smith was not a city PC. Anderson wrote that the only person who ever had a good view of the murderer identified the suspect the instant he was confronted with him, but refused to give evidence against him because the suspect was also a Jew Constable Smith however was not a Jew. This leaves us with only Joseph Lawende as our witness, or does it.

Lawende claims he only got a glimpse of the man he saw with Eddowes and doubted if he could identify him again. The first seaside home where the identification was supposed to have taken place, did not open until March 1890 in Hove, and Kosminski was not incarcerated until February 1891. Therefore, the earliest the identification could have taken place was February 1891. If Lawende only got a glimpse of the man and doubted he would recognise him again, how was he able to identify him with such certainty some 15 month later. It is therefore quite reasonable to assume that Lawende was not Anderson's witness, so who was.

Lawende was in the company of two men that night, Harry Harris and Joseph Hyam Levy, who saw Catherine Eddowes with her likely killer. Harris took no notice of them, and was unable to supply any description, and was not called at the inquest. Levy, who for reasons not known, became distressed by the couple, this has led to speculation that he recognised and knew the man seen with Eddowes, and that it was he who was Anderson's witness. Levy was called to the inquest but was unable to supply a description, though the press remained suspicious as to the extent of what Levy actually saw or knew. It was the same Joseph Hyam Levy who supported the naturalisation application of Martin Kosminski, though despite the scarcity of the name, no connection has yet been established between Martin Kosminski and Ripper suspect Aaron Kosminski.

Was Aaron Kosminski, Jack the Ripper. He did not die soon after being sent to Colney Hatch as Macnaghten and Swanson claimed, but some 30 years later. He was not removed to a lunatic asylum in March 1889 but February 1891. Even though few records of Kosminski's health have survived, in 1915 he was described as, slight in stature and light in build, his weight was given as under eight stone and even though his weight had slowly decreased he was described as in good health, which suggests that he was always slight of build. Aaron Kosminski was 23 years of age at the time of the Whitechapel murders. Kosminski, either in age or build, does not fit the eyewitness sightings of the Ripper. Elizabeth Darrell described a suspect over 40 years of age, while William Marshall describe a short stout suspect. Israel Schwartz described a broad shouldered suspect, about 30 years old. Mary Ann Cox described a suspect about 36 years of age and finally George Hutchinson described a suspect 34-35 years of age.

Kosminski was at liberty for nearly two years after the murder of Mary Kelly, so why did he stop killing. There is also no evidence he possessed any anatomical knowledge or had violent, suicidal or homicidal tendencies, and was not considered a danger to other people. The Mile End workhouse infirmary declared that he had been insane for two years, therefore the onset of his illness started before the Ripper murders commenced. Would a prostitute, however intoxicated or desperate for money be comfortable accommodating an insane poor immigrant lunatic who was dirty and picked up bread from the gutter, when the word on the streets was that the Ripper was a foreign lunatic. In later years Macnaghten changed suspects and began to favour Montague John Druitt.







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