|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.|
Rumours that Szemerdy may have been Jack the Ripper were first reported in the Daily Graphic in 1892, and later in 1908 by author Carl Muusmann in the book Hvem Var Jack The Ripper, (Who was Jack The Ripper).
On 25 July 1876 in Buenos Aires, a young prostitute, Karoline Metz, was murdered. Baptiste Castagnet, who lived with her and was also her pimp, was waiting in the room next door while Karoline was with a client, when he heard screams. He rushed in to find Karoline on the floor, blood pouring from a wound to her throat. On the bed lay a sheath knife covered in blood, a man's black felt hat, an umbrella with a handle made of steel and a grey cloak and vest with a gold watch and chain inside. Castagnet became a suspect, and was arrested, and held in custody for 17 days before being released. Word soon began to spread that Alios Szemerdy was in fact the murderer, after items left in the victims room had been identified as belonging to him. He fled to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, but was arrested during a street festival. On 12 September 1881 after his defence had skilfully managed to convince the court of his innocence, Szemerdy was acquitted of the murder of Karoline Metz.
In 1885 charges of robbery and murder were brought against him and he was place in a lunatic asylum in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
No records exist of his known movements until 1889, so there is a possibility he was actually incarcerated during the period 1885/89 when the Whitechapel murders occurred in London. We know he spent sometime in Vienna during August 1889 because he registered his address when he arrived. He was there again in 1892 when he was arrested again on suspicion of robbery and murder. A series of robberies against pawnbrokers and watchmakers had occurred, and one victim had died after been struck over the head with a blunt object. A goldsmith in Prezburg remembered a man called Szemerdy had robbed him of a watch two years earlier, and informed the police. Szemerdy was arrested, but before he could stand trial committed suicide by hanging himself. The pawnbrokers, who survived the attacks, where shown the body of Szemerdy, and at once identified him. One witness said, 'If you have seen that beard once, you will never forget it'. Szemerdy, who described himself as a surgeon, though in other reports was said to have been a sausage maker, was believed to have deserted the Austrian army, and spent sometime in a mental institution. Szemerdy was born in 1844 and was 44 years old at the time of the Whitechapel murders. He was described as tall and thin with a thick moustache and beard. There is no evidence he was in London at the time of the murders, though there is a strong possibility he was incarcerated in Argentina at the time.
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