return to normal view
 A Ripperologist Article 
This article originally appeared in Ripperologist magazine. Ripperologist is the most respected Ripper periodical on the market and has garnered our highest recommendation for serious students of the case. For more information, view our Ripperologist page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperologist for permission to reprint this article.
The Butcher’s Row Suspect – Was He Jack the Ripper?


In his memoirs, retired City of London Police Inspector Robert Sagar reportedly said about the Jack the Ripper murders, “We had good reason to suspect a man who worked in Butcher’s Row, Aldgate. We watched him carefully. There was no doubt that this man was insane, and after a time his friends thought it advisable to have him removed to a private asylum. After he was removed, there were no more Ripper atrocities.” (Reynolds News, 15 September 1946.) Earlier remarks attributed to Inspector Sagar tell us that “…suspicion fell upon a man, who, without a doubt, was the murderer. Identification being impossible, he could not be charged. He was, however, placed in a lunatic asylum and the series of atrocities came to an end.” (The City Press, 7 January 1905). These accounts are similar to those made by retired London Metropolitan Police Superintendent Donald Swanson, who wrote privately about the Met’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Assistant Commissioner Robert Anderson’s suspect, a Polish Jew. Swanson, a Chief Inspector at the time of the murders, wrote that Anderson’s suspect was taken with difficulty to a place and identified by a witness. But the witness refused to provide further evidence against the suspect, effectively terminating the identification process, so that no charges could be brought against him. Consequently, the police reluctantly had to return the suspect to his brother’s house, where “he was watched by police [City CID] by day & night.” More significantly, Swanson wrote “And after this identification which suspect knew, no other murder of this kind took place in London.” In other words, as soon as the suspect realised that he was identified, the murdering of prostitutes by his recognized modus operandi (slashing of the throat), came to an end. Swanson named this suspect “Kosminski.”

Melville Macnaghten, the Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police, described three Ripper suspects in a confidential 1894 police memorandum. One of these suspects he named as “Kosminski,” a Polish Jew and a resident of Whitechapel. Macnaghten also thought that this particular Kosminski went to an asylum about March 1889. Could Kosminski, or somebody similar, have worked as a butcher in Butcher’s Row, and could he have been watched by the police prior to that date? Sagar implied that the suspect he had watched worked as a butcher, but gave few other details. Who was this Butcher’s Row suspect and was his brother’s or another relation’s “house” actually a butcher’s shop? If so, when did the police keep watch on this suspect? And who were his “friends”, if not the suspect’s brother, or another relation?