It has often been stated that Jack the Ripper neither had, nor needed, the requisite professional skills of a doctor in order to complete his ghastly crimes. After all, it is argued, there are other trades where dissection and killing are neccessary traits of the journeyman. Butchers, slaughtermen, hunters....each has a reason for having a sharp knife. But do any members of this group actually posess the anatomical knowledge required to target human organs post mortem. Then, as now, there was a marked difference of opinion as to this question. Two police medical consultants, Drs. Bond and Phillips, added to the air of confusion surrounding the investigation by quite categorically adopting opposing viewpoints. We can summarise these viewpoints, by placing them into context - a notional "slash and grab" attack and a calculated sadistic attack, in the doctors own words.
Dr. Thomas Bond, a specialist in venereal diseases, entered the proceedings at a late stage. After familiarising himself with the case, by careful scrutiny of his peers notes, he was adamant that the crimes were committed "...by a person who had no scientific nor anatomical knowledge." And worse, the perpetrator "...[did] not even posess the technical knowledge of a butcher or horse slaughterman or any person accustomed to cut up dead animals." These statements have reverberated through the years in much the same manner as the McNaghten Memorandum. This surely is scientific proof that JTR was just a labourer, a madman who frenziedly attacked his victims and severed bodily organs by wildly plunging his hands into the carcass and pulling out anything substantial he reached. Dr. Bond verifies this notion considering that "...his hands and arms must have been covered [in blood]". This seems to contradict his later assumption that the murderer was a man "...of great coolness and daring".
How much reliance can we place on Dr. Bond's thoughts bearing in mind that he made up his mind only after looking at one victim. And one victim who may not have been killed by the mythical Jack the Ripper. Perhaps in a form of reproach Dr. George Bagster Phillips stated that he reached his own conclusions after having "...ignored all evidence not coming under my observation." A sure sign of professional disagreement, (probably around the time of the Kelly post mortem but reiterated in the Alice McKenzie report). It is a euphemism that Dr. Bond was not in full possession of the details and was reaching the wrong conclusions through his own personal bias. Phillips after all had no compunction in identifying the killer as a seasoned doctor. "Obviously (my italics) the work was that of an expert - or one, at least, who had such knowledge of anatomical or pathological examinations as to be enabled to secure the pelvic organs with one sweep of the knife." An argument which directly contradicts Bond's assertion that the killer had no anatomical knowledge whatever, human or otherwise.
Phillips' statement shows how we have been approaching the question wrongly. Far to great an emphasis has been placed on Eddowes' missing kidney probably because of the corresponding letter and arguments therein. It may be the case that a "...butcher or horse slaughterman ..." would have been able to identify the organ that he had removed but, in deference to Dr. Bond, only after the dissection. That is, an element of "slash and grab" persists. But the issue of the "pelvic organs" is the key to this mystery. It shows that the Ripper targeted this area, they were removed "with one sweep of the knife" remember, and thus the killer did not employ a "slash and grab" technique.
So why are the two doctors conclusions so mutually exclusive? I think the answer lies with the mutilations carried out on Mary Kelly chief of which is the severing of the intestine. A doctor, a butcher or a slaughterer would never cut into the intestine in this way. Dr. Bond based all his other deductions upon this feature so deciding the killer's occupation and modus operandi. He also decided that "..All five murders were no doubt comitted by the same hand", an analysis which seems to fall flat when one considers Dr. Phillips closing statement in the McKenzie Report. "...After careful and long deliberation I cannot satisfy myself on purely anatomical and professional grounds that the Perpetrator of all the "Whitechapel Murders" is one man." And this, it must be stressed, is the word of the man in attendance at four of the murders.
Dr. Bond's report is just one more of the spurious and inaccurate official documents which seem to populate this case. That he was a doctor senior in reputation to Bagster Phillips is evident by Phillips' muted responses to the slights on his own work. However, even the great specialists do not, and cannot, make diagnosis through correspondence. Therefore we are looking at the possibility that Kelly was killed by a hand other than the Whitechapel Murderer, or that one of these doctors is wrong.
In conclusion I think that history should favour the testimony of Dr. Phillips for the simple reason that he was trusted by the police and because he was present. There seems to be too much of the ratiocinative detective at play in Dr. Bond's report. Furthermore, though actively trying to apprehend the killer as shown by his belief in the police introducing a reward, Dr. Bond seems to take a moralistic view. Why else, for instance, does he make mention that Kelly was "quite naked" when he reached the scene. Metaphorically this is true but in fact she was wearing a linen chemise which says little about Dr. Bond's powers of observation but perhaps speaks volumes about how seemingly insignificant matters could cloud his judgement.
Therefore the answer to question at the top of the page, was Jack the Ripper a medical man, is yes. But from where did he get his qualification - Oxbridge, army, navy, UK, USA.? And who was he? Well I don't know, but at least the range has been narrowed down a bit.
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