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The Broken Pipe
Jeff Hamm

In an interview in September 1908, Anderson stated,

"Something of the same kind happened in the Ripper crimes. In two cases of that terrible series there were distinct clues destroyed - wiped out absolutely - clues that might very easily have secured for us proof of the identity of the assassin.

In one case it was a clay pipe. Before we could get to the scene of the murder the doctor had had taken it up, thrown it into the fire-place and smashed it beyond recognition.

In another case there was writing in chalk on the wall - a most valuable clue; handwriting that might have been at once recognized as belonging to a certain individual. But before we could secure a copy, or get it protected, it had been entirely obliterated."

The writing, I think it's safe to assume, refers to the Goulston St. Graffiti.

The pipe, however, has two possible "references", the one found in MJK's room, or the one found on Alice McKenzie.

Of these two crimes, MJK's murder scene had a pipe and a fireplace. However, Alice McKenzie's pipe is recorded as actually being broken by one of the mortuary attendants (documented in Dr. Phillip’s report; Evans & Skinner, pg. 457; “While searching the clothing one of the attendants found a short pipe, well used, which he thoughtlessly threw onto the ground & broke it. I had the pieces put on one side meaning to preserve them but up to the time of writing this report they have not been recovered by me.”). This quote is in a section titled “Discovery of & subst. Loss of short clay pipe”. I’m not sure if “loss” refers to the fact the pipe was broken, or if it means the pieces themselves were misplaced, which could be what’s being alluded to in the last part of the quote.

So which of these “pipes” is Anderson referring to when talks about it as being “a clue that might very easily have secured for use proof of the identity of the assassin”? Is he talking about the pipe found with Mary Kelly, or the pipe found with Alice McKenzie. Which is it?

Anderson talks about a fireplace at the scene of the crime. Alice McKenzie was murdered outside, so that could suggest Anderson is talking about the pipe from the Mary Kelly crime scene. Mary Kelly was murdered in her room where there was indeed a fireplace.

Despite the fireplace reference, the pipe referred to is in all reasonable probability the one found at the McKenzie crime scene. Recall, Anderson’s full account of the situation involving the fireplace is that the "doctor had taken it up, thrown it into the fire-place and smashed it beyond recognition". Furthermore, this is all supposed to have happened “Before we could get to the scene of the murder”. This scenario, as presented, is absurd and sounds more like a dramatic embellishment.

First of all, it describes the doctor being at the crime scene before the police get there. Dr. Phillips, who was at the Kelly scene, did not enter the room until the police had the landlord force the door and he did not arrive before the police because it was the police who summoned him. McKenzie was discovered by a police officer and again, it was the police who summoned the doctor, Dr. Phillips again in fact. In other words, in neither case was the doctor there before the police. I should point out that I’m assuming Anderson’s use of “we” means the police in general and not himself personally. This interpretation is reasonable since he uses “we” in reference to the Goulstan St. Graffiti when he was out of the country at the time (Sudgen, pg 300), was on leave at the time of the McKenzie murder (but Munro went to the scene; Sudgen, pg. 349), and I have found no reference of Anderson ever being at the Kelly scene. In Appendix 2 of Evans and Skinner’s “The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Companion”, Anderson is described as not taking an active part in the investigation, which suggests he did not go to any of the crime scenes.

If we discard the "method by which the pipe got broken" (the Doctor throwing it into the fireplace at the crime scene), but retain the idea that "it was broken by the doctor, or at least while he was responsible for it", then this fits with independent reports concerning the pipe found at the McKenzie crime scene. This pipe was broken by the doctor’s assistant. In fact, Dr. Phillips describes the assistant as “carelessly throwing it on the floor”. Such a description can easily be applied to the situation where the assistant is sorting the belongings. The attendant meant to toss the pipe onto the clothes he was examining, and he missed, or it bounced off the clothes, or possibly it fell out and broke when he was sorting clothes and “dropped” would have been more accurate. Regardless, this description is far more believable that a doctor picking up a pipe at a crime scene before the police arrive and throwing it into a nearby fireplace.

Furthermore, the pipe is described as a clue that "..might very easily have secured for us proof of the identity of the assassin." The owner of the pipe at the Kelly crime scene was Barnett, and he admitted to it. So even if the pipe was subsequently broken, the pipe isn’t a “clue that could have” identified a suspect because the owner of the pipe has been identified! On the other hand, Alice McKenzie was known to borrow pipes from fellow lodgers, as found in the statement of Elizabeth Ryder (Evans & Skinner, pg. 465). The implication is that the pipe found might not have actually been Alice’s, but one she borrowed from someone else. Which she was known to do. And possibly this person was her murderer. If the original owner of the pipe could be located, then this person could have been investigated as a suspect in Alice’s murder. Therefore, the pipe at the Alice McKenzie crime scene, that was broken while under care of the doctor, was a clue that could have led to the identity of a suspect for her murder. Of course, it is quite possible she borrowed it from someone other than the murderer, but this was a clue that the police would want to follow up to see where it led.

As far as I’m aware, there is never a mention of the pipe from the Kelly crime scene getting broken. Morever, there was never any doubt as to who actually owned the pipe since Barnett admitted to it. Even if it had subsequently become broken (which there is no evidence that it was if Anderson is actually talking about Alice’s pipe), it had already served it’s purpose as leading to the identity of it’s owner. In contrast, there is documentation of the McKenzie pipe getting broken while in the Doctor’s care, and that the McKenzie pipe’s owner was not identified, and this unidentified pipe owner would have been a suspect worth investigating. In other words, Anderson’s statement can only be in reference to the pipe found at the McKenzie murder.

So, it appears that in 1908, Anderson has conflated the fireplace from Mary Kelly’s murder and the events surrounding the loss of the pipe from Alice McKenzie’s murder. However, apart from the fireplace, even after 20 years Anderson’s descriptions of events are not too bad a fit to the events surrounding the “McKenzie” pipe. But if Anderson didn’t think McKenzie was a victim of the Ripper, as he clearly states, why is he talking about the loss of her pipe in reference to the Ripper crimes?

Alice McKenzie apparently went under the name “Kelly” (Evans & Stewart, pg. 453; although Superintendent Arnold who wrote this report does imply some uncertainty if this was her name. Also, it’s ambiguous if Kelly is here meant as a first or last name). Anderson appears to have remembered that in a murder that was initially thought to be committed by the Ripper (the report he received from Dr. Bond said it was; Monro thought it was; Evans & Stewart, pg 451) there was a pipe that was broken while in the doctor’s care. If Anderson had heard that Alice McKenzie was known as “Kelly”, this would help to confuse the two murders further. Dr. Phillips was the doctor on the scene for both crimes as well, and it was Dr. Phillips who had the attendant who broke the McKenzie pipe. The aspects of Anderson’s statement that doesn’t fit with the McKenzie crime is the fireplace and the notion that the doctor arrived before the police. The latter is almost approaching the absurd to presume it should happen. But at Mary Kelly’s murder Dr. Phillips was on the scene well before the door was forced, so he was there early. He may also have arrived before Monro at the McKenzie murder, if not strictly before the police. Mary Kelly was murdered in a room that did have a fireplace and the fireplace was important; clothes were burned in it, presumably by the Ripper. After the body had been removed, the ashes of the fireplace were apparently searched for something. After 20 years, Anderson may simply be blending some details from Mary Kelly’s murder with the broken pipe from Alice McKenzie’s (alias Kelly) murder. The common name (Kelly), a similar piece of evidence (a pipe), both thought to be Ripper murders at the time they occurred (though the opinion on Alice later changed, it would have temporarily been thought of as the “last Ripper murder”), etc. In other words, there are just enough similarities that would make these two crimes hard to differentiate after 20 years without having the written reports in front of you, which would be the case when Anderson was being interviewed.

So, why is this at all worth thinking about? Because it appears to imply that Anderson links the crime associated with the Graffiti (Eddowes) and the broken-pipe (McKenzie) as being committed by the same individual. Meaning, based upon the pipe one could reasonably make the claim that Anderson believed the Ripper to be active at least until July 17th, 1889. His claim that the broken pipe was a clue to the Ripper, and the deduction that this broken pipe is from the McKenzie murder, allows this deduction. Anderson also received a report from Dr. Bond, who thought McKenzie was murdered by the same individual as the “canonical five” (Evans & Skinner, pg 455), which strengthens the possibility he might believe she was a Ripper victim. Similarily, Mono’s report suggests this so if we assume that Anderson would know what Monro thought/wrote we might assume Anderson also thinks of McKenzie as the last Riper victim. Although, Dr. Phillips did not hold the opinion that McKenzie was murdered by the “Ripper” (Evans & Skinner, pg 460), he does allow for the possibility that McKenzie was a “Ripper” victim. This is shown by his statement “I do not here enter into the comparison of the cases neither do I take into account what I admit may be almost conclusive evidence in favour of the one man theory if all the surrounding circumstances & evidence are considered” (Evans & Skinner, pg 460).

Now, if Anderson believes McKenzie was a Ripper victim, then when Anderson claims his suspect was sent to an asylum shortly after the last murder and from then on there were no more, then "shortly after" means, shortly after July 17th, 1889 (date: McKenzie) and not shortly after Oct 9th, 1888 (date: Kelly; Presuming that there isn’t a 3rd later murder that Anderson thinks is by the Ripper; ie. Francis. Coles in 1891).

However neat and tidy this conclusion may be, one piece of direct evidence far outweighs nice logic! Anderson has commented directly that he did not believe the McKenzie murder was by the Ripper, as shown by this quote in Sugden (pg. 349), “Years later Anderson claimed that the murder was an ‘ordinary murder … not the work of a sexual maniac.’” And in Jack the Ripper A-Z (Begg, Fido, & Skinner, 1994; pg 22) a more full quotation is given as follows:

“I am here assuming that the murder of Alice M’Kenzie on the 17 July 1889 was by another hand. I was absent from London when it occurred, but the Chief Commissioner investigated the case on the spot. It was an ordinary murder and not the work of a sexual maniac.” In other words, Anderson clearly does not think Alice McKenzie was a Ripper victim.

We now have a paradox if we accept everything at face value. The bulk of the description concerning the pipe in Anderson’s description can only fit the one from the McKenzie murder. Furthermore, his statement clearly indicates that he considered this pipe as a clue that might have led to the killer who also may have left the graffito, and hence by the same person. And yet, in another statement, Anderson describes the McKenzie murder as an “ordinary murder”, separating it from the 1888 “Ripper” murders with which the Graffito is associated. Anderson can’t simultaneously believe McKenzie was and was not a Ripper victim, hence a logical paradox.

How can this paradox be resolved? There are a few possible solutions. The first is to assume that the pipe must therefore come from the Kelly murder. This, however, creates a paradox of it’s own. The owner of the pipe was identified so it wasn’t needed as a “clue to the identity” because that information was available. The owner of the pipe can’t simultaneously be unknown and identified. So this leads to no solution at all!

I will present what I believe to be the simplest resolution of the paradox.

Most likely is Anderson has simply forgotten that the broken pipe comes from McKenzie’s murder. However, because this murder was initially thought to be a Ripper murder, the loss of the pipe evidence would be a highly memorable event. Although he subsequently decides McKenzie is not a Ripper victim, the loss of the pipe at the time it occurred would be encoded in his memory as being associated with the Ripper crimes. And so when recalling details about lost evidence associated with the Ripper crimes, he recalls the pipe incident. When asked about, or when recalling, the McKenzie murder directly, though, he remembers he discounted it because he’s primed by the name.

In summary, then, the lost pipe Anderson refers to is the pipe that got broken when Dr. Phillip’s assistant threw it on the floor before the owner of the pipe could be verified. Anderson has forgotten that this incident is associated with the murder of Alice McKenzie when he makes this statement. However, when the pipe had been broken Alice was thought to possibly be a Ripper victim, so the loss of the “pipe clue” is associated in his memory as a lost clue pertaining to the Ripper. He does not, however, believe Alice McKenzie to be a Ripper victim. Finally, his statements cannot be used to assume that any importance was placed on the pipe found at the Kelly murder scene.

Related pages:
  Alice Mackenzie
       Message Boards: Alice Mackenzie 
       Official Documents: Alice Mackenzie's Inquest 
       Press Reports: Alderley and Wilmslow Advertiser - 19 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Daily Gleaner - 26 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Despatch - 17 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Despatch - 19 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Despatch - 19 July 1890 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Despatch - 20 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Despatch - 21 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Dunkirk Observer Journal - 17 July 1889 
       Press Reports: East End News - 19 July 1889 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 17 August 1889 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 20 July 1889 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 17 August 1889 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 20 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 17 August 1889 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 20 July 1889 
       Press Reports: El Foro - 13 August 1889 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 11 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 14 August 1889 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 18 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Frederick News - 19 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Frederick News - 28 August 1889 
       Press Reports: Freeborn County Standard - 25 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Fresno Weekly Republican - 18 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Galveston Daily News - 18 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Galveston Daily News - 19 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Herald and Torch Light - 18 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Marion Daily Star - 17 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Massillon Independent - 19 July 1889 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 17 July 1889 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 18 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 20 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 27 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 3 August 1889 
       Press Reports: Salem Daily News - 15 August 1889 
       Press Reports: Sandusky Daily Register - 18 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Te Aroha News - 27 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Times - 15 August 1889 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 13 August 1889 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 17 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 18 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 19 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 20 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 22 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 29 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 17 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 18 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Walthamstow and Leyton Guardian - 10 August 1889 
       Press Reports: Walthamstow and Leyton Guardian - 20 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Weekly Gazette and Stockman - 18 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 16 August 1889 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 19 July 1889 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 26 July 1889 
       Victims: Alice Mackenzie 
       Witnesses: Edward Badham 
       Witnesses: P.C. Joseph Allen 
       Witnesses: P.C. Walter Andrews