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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.

Jacob Isenschmid

Isenschmid, a butcher from 59 Elthorne Road, Holloway, came under suspicion after the murder of Annie Chapman, by Dr Cowen of 10 Landseer Road, and Dr Crabb of Hollyway Road. Cowen and Crabb went to the police on 11 September 1888 and informed them that Mr George Tyler, of 60 Milford Road, had become suspicious of his tenant, Joseph Isenschmid, Swiss born and known locally as the Mad Pork Butcher.

Tyler told the police that he had met Isenschmid on 5 September and provided him with accommodation. Tyler also told the police that Isenschmid often stayed out late at night, and had been absent from his lodgings since Annie Chapman's murder.

A visit to Mary Isenschmid, his spouse for the past 21 years, who resided at 97 Duncombe Road, Upper Holloway, revealed that she had in fact not seen her husband for two months, since an argument. Even though she had not seen her husband for sometime she helpfully told the police that he was in the habit of carrying large knives around with him, saying 'I do not think my husband would injure anyone but me, I think he would kill me if he had the chance'. She also told Sergeant Thick that her husband had not been right in his head since a fit in 1882/83.

According to the Star newspaper, his behaviour during this period of insanity was frequently violent, and he was often seen sharpening a long knife. He also began to suffer delusions, one being that everything belonged to him. He also styled himself the 'King of Elthorne Road'.

When Sergeant Thick learned that Isenschmid had told a number of women in Holloway that he was Leather Apron, a watch was put out for this promising suspect. Isenschmid was arrested on 12 September and taken to Holloway police station, where upon he was judged to be insane. He was sent first to the Islington workhouse, and later on 17 September, to the Bow infirmary asylum, Fairfield Road, Bow. On the 18 September, Inspector Abberline reported that, 'Although we are unable at present to procure any evidence to connect him with the murders, he appears to be the most likely person that has come under our notice to have committed the crimes'.

It is not known if Isenschmid was ever formally identified as the man Mrs Fiddymont, the landlady of the Prince Albert public house, 21 Brushfield Street, better known as the 'Clean House,' had seen entering the pub at 7am on the 8 September, shortly after the murder of Annie Chapman. The man's rough appearance had frightened her. Fiddymont was in the pub talking to a friend, Mary Chappell, when she noticed the man's shirt was torn and that he had blood splashes on his hand and below his ear. He was wearing a dark coat and a brown stiff hat pulled over his eyes. The man ordered, and quickly drank his half pint of four ale, and left the pub, whereupon he was followed by Joseph Taylor, a builder who lived at 22 Stewart Street. Taylor, who was described as a perfectly reliable man, well known throughout the neighbourhood, said, 'The man walked very rapidly with a peculiar springy walk that I would recognise again, he carried himself very erect, like a horse soldier. His neck was rather long, and he was holding his coat together at the top. He had a nervous and frightened way about him and his appearance was exceedingly strange'. Taylor watched the man go as far as Dirty Dicks in Half-Moon Street. He described the man as thin, about 5ft 8"tall, 40/50 years of age with a ginger coloured moustache, curling at the ends. And short sandy hair, his eyes, wild like hawk's, and dressed shabby genteel, with a loose fitting pair of trousers and a dark coat.

As Isenschmid was described as early 40's about 5ft 7"tall, very ferocious looking with ginger hair and a normally powerful build, now shrunken with starvation, it would be a fair assumption to say that Isenschmid was the man who called into Mrs Fiddymont's pub.

The importance of identifying the bloodstained man who called into the Prince Albert public house was significant because of it's location only four hundred yards from 29 Hanbury Street, where Annie Chapman had been murdered.

Isenschmid was born in 1845 in Berne, Switzerland. He married Mary Ann Joyce, the daughter of a farmer, in December 1867 and was a butcher by trade. He had become depressed and mentally unstable following the collapse of his business, and in 1887 spent ten weeks in Colney Hatch asylum. Dr John Gray of the Islington infirmary, noted Isenschmid suffered delusions. In one such delusion he threatened to blow up the Queen with dynamite, and in another threatened to kill his wife, children and his neighbours. After ten weeks he was discharged as 'cured' on 2 December, and attempted to make a fresh start with his wife. They moved to Duncombe Road, and he found a new job as a journeyman butcher in Marylebone High Street. Unfortunately it was not long before he began to act strange once more. His wife told the Star newspaper that, 'He got so bad that I got an order to have him put in the asylum again'. Since the separation from his wife, Isenschmid earned his living by going to the East End markets where he would buy cheap cuts of meat, which he would then take back to his lodgings, dress and resell to restaurants and coffee houses in the West End.

This at first promising suspect was in custody when the later murders occurred. Some press reports claim Isenschmid was later released as a harmless lunatic, before being once again readmitted to Colney Hatch.







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Related pages:
  Jacob Isenschmid
       Press Reports: Star - 18 September 1888