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Casebook: Jack the Ripper - Message Boards » Books, Films and Other Media » Non-Fiction Books » Vacher l'éventreur et les crimes sadiques (Lacassagne, 1899) « Previous Next »

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Stephen P. Ryder
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Posted on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 9:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Pages 254-265 of this book cover Jack the Ripper, with the following chapter covering "Frenchy" of New York.

I have just placed an order for what appears to be a new (and, if so, first-time) reprint of Lacassagne's Vacher l'éventreur et les crimes sadiques. The imprint is said to be by Elibron Classics, though their web site makes no mention of this title.
Stephen P. Ryder, Editor
Casebook: Jack the Ripper
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Chris Phillips
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Post Number: 75
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Posted on Sunday, June 08, 2003 - 8:17 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Lacassagne's work is available in PDF format on the French Bibliotheque nationale's gallica site:

Chris Phillips

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Chris Phillips
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Post Number: 76
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Posted on Sunday, June 08, 2003 - 8:48 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is anyone familiar with what else Lacassagne's source may say about the Ripper? This is a French translation of an American work:

From the Bibliotheque nationale catalogue:
Mac Donald, Arthur
Le Criminel type dans quelques formes graves de la criminalité, par Arthur Mac-Donald,... traduit de l'anglais par le Dr Henry Coutagne (1893)

[another edition 1894]

From the British Library catalogue:
Title: Criminology ... With an introduction by Dr. C. Lombroso.
Main heading: MACDONALD. Arthur. Anthropologist
Publication details: pp. 416. Funk & Wagnalls Co.: New York, 1893. 8o.

Chris Phillips

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Chris Phillips
Detective Sergeant
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Post Number: 78
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Posted on Wednesday, June 11, 2003 - 4:30 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm grateful to two people who have contacted me by email with further information about Macdonald's work.

It appears that "Criminology" is a separate work from "Le Criminel type", that the latter was never published in English, only in French translation, and that everything it has to say about the Ripper is quoted by Lacassagne.

"Criminology" includes a much shorter comment on the Ripper crimes:
"The trades that expose to contact with blood, as the butcher; or impose a solitary life, as that of the shepherd or hunter, have their influence. This species of lust-murder and mutilation seems to be increasing; it indicates the lowest depth of immorality. In London the common street-walkers, not to mention the so-called higher grades of fast women, naturally become very much excited and nervous, when such murders as those committed by 'Jack the Ripper' are reported."
[pp. 87, 88]

Thanks again to my two correspondents for this information.

Chris Phillips

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Wolf Vanderlinden
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Posted on Wednesday, June 11, 2003 - 11:34 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


The last sentence at the end of the paragraph preceding the one you have posted from page 87 of MacDonald's Criminology states

"The atrocities of ‘Jack the Ripper,' so-called, and of similar murderers (Frenchy, of New York) are without doubt caused by a pathological sexual passion."

This passage is interesting in that only two years after the murder of Carrie Brown criminal experts like MacDonald had separated Ameer Ben Ali, "Frenchy," from the Ripper murders. Although the newspapers of 1891 wondered at the connection and there are certain signs that Chief Inspector Byrnes of the New York Detective Bureau hoped to be credited with capturing Jack the Ripper MacDonald was not fooled.

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Chris Scott
Assistant Commissioner
Username: Chris

Post Number: 1779
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 11:30 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have finally got round to a translation of the section in Lacassagne's "Vacher et Les Crimes Sadiques" which deals with the Whitechapel killings and am attaching below. Any errors in translation are entirely down to me!

From "Vacher et Les Crimes Sadiques" by Lacassagne

Macdonald has given an interesting summary of the victims of Jack the Ripper. We reproduce it here as it is important to compare the deeds of the English murderer with Vacher's method.

First Victim: 1st December 1887, the body of an unknown woman is found mutilated in Whitechapel.

Second Victim: 7th August 1888, a woman is found in the same district with thirty nine stab wounds.

Third Victim: Found towards four o'clock on the morning of 31st August 1888, stretched out full length on her back, clothing disarranged, with a wound in the throat and the stomach opened; there is a pool of blood at the spot where the neck lay.
Here is what the doctor said: "The lower limbs are outstretched; the neck bears deep wounds, the hands and wrists are cold; very little blood around the neck, there is no sign of struggle and the shape of the bloodstains does not indicate that the body has been dragged along. Large knife wounds have been inflicted on the abdomen; five teeth are missing; light tearing of the tongue; some contusions located on the lower part of the jaw and on the right side of the face could have been made by the pressure of the fingers. On the left side of the neck, roughly one inch below the jaw, there was an incision approximately four inches long, which started from a point immediately below the ear. On the same side, but one inch lower and roughly one inch further forward, there starts a circular incision which terminates approximately three inches below the jaw on the right side and which divide all the tissues down to the spinal column; it is roughly eight inches in length, the large blood vessels of the neck are divided on both sides.
These wound were made by a long bladed knife, reasonably sharp and wielded with great force. There was no blood on the lower part of the chest nor on the corresponding part of the clothing. No other wound was found on the body until the lower abdomen. There, two ot three inches in from the left side, there is a very deep wounds whose trajectory is ragged; the tissues were cut across; there are several incisions which cross the abdomen and three or four further incisions seemingly aimed lower and to the right, all made with a knife and with great force. The wounds were inflicted from left to right and could have been made by a left handed person; all are made with the same weapon. No organ is missing; there is no ecchymosis on the arms. The wounds could have been made while the murderer was above the body. The victim was known to be much intoxicated; she was separated from her husband."

Fourth victim: The body of another woman was found in a yard in the same area on the morning of Saturday, 8th September 1888. The head was almost severed from the rest of the body, the intestines were completely detached from the abdomen; the victim lay on her back, her clothes disarranged, a handkerchief tied around the neck as if to hold it in place; there are blood stains on the wall and all round the body; one or more rings appear to have been torn from the middle finger of the left hand, it being known that she had worn three copper rings. No trace of alcohol in the stomach. Two teeth missing; a large contusion on the right side of the head and on the face; finger marks could be distinguished there. The garments are not torn; the outer jacket is stained with blood on the outside both above and below the neck; there is also some blood on the back wall of the house, by the head of the victim at a height of three or four feet from the ground. The black skirt is also lightly stained on the back; there is nothing on the lower part of the garments but the stockings are stained; the boots are in place on the feet.
The legs are raised, the face swollen, the tongue protrudes between the teeth but does not project further than the lips. There are circular, jagged wounds on the neck which commence on the left side; there are two parallel cuts with a distance between them of approximately half an inch. The lower part of the body bears considerable mutilations centred on the stomach; several portions of the abdominal organs are missing from those which were extracted.
The swelling of the face and the protrusion of the tongue constitute signs of suffocation; contusions on the chin and jaw were recently made. The body was mutilated such that a description of all these wounds would be impossible; it can only be said that they were inflicted in a deliberate manner with a weapon five to six inches long and with some anatomical knowledge. The uterus and the organs removed from the abdomen had been extracted by someone who knew where to find them; there were no meaningless incisions.

Fifth Victim: She was found in a yard close to that in the previous case on the morning of Sunday, 30th September 1888, her clothes crumpled, the legs bent, the tracheal artery severed, the buttons of the clothes not undone. The body lay on its side, resting on the left arm, the right arm on the breast; there is some coagulated blood near the throat. The chin is warm, some blood is still flowing from the wound, the neck and the chest are still fairly warm, the legs and the face slightly warm, the hands are cold. The right hand is stained with blood inside and out, the left hand laying on the ground holds a small packet of cachous wrapped in some Joseph paper; the face is tranquil, the mouth half open. The incision in the necks starts on the left side two and a half inches below the angle of the jaw in an almost direct line, and almost completely severed the large vessels on the left side, completely divided the trachea and terminated on the opposite side one and a half inches below the direct line of the angle of the jaw. The blood flow which lasted until death was relatively slight as the cut had only parted the vessels on one side. Her dress was not undone, even at the top. The left hand and the left side of the face are stained with mud; the incision in the neck was six inches long.
A doctor stated: "I believe that the incision was made from left to right. The right hand of the victim was covered with blood. She must have been still alive an hour previously; two seconds would have been enough for this wound to be inflicted on her. A packet of cachous that she was holding had spilled out into the gutter. The killer would not necessarily have been blood stained, for the flow of blood was directed away from him. There was blood only on the left side of the body. The woman must have been on the ground when she was wounded. The abdominal organs were removed with a certain amount of knowledge regarding their exact location and the manner of performing their removal; no professional practice can explain these procedures; more skill was necessary to remove the left kidney. The murderer must have had ample time, without which he would not have made the nicks to the eyelids; he would have needed at least five minutes to commit the crime; I cannot give any reason for the removal of the organs from out of the body. One should not expect to find much blood on the person of the murderer; the mutilation would not have required a great deal of violence; it was done simply to prevent identification."

Sixth victim: Another murder was committed on the 30th September, 1888. The physician said: "It was after two o'clock, the corpse was on its back, the head turned towards the left shoulder, arms at the sides, the clothes had been lifted up, the face very disfigured, the left leg outstretched, the right leg bent at the hip and the knee; the upper part of the dress had been torn open a little way; the abdomen had been laid open and all the intestines had been removed and laid at the right shoulder; one portion of them was completely detached and placed between the body and the left arm. The lobe of the right ear was cut obliquely through its entire thickness; there was no mark of blood on the lower half of the body. The body had only been there a matter of minutes, thirty or forty at most; the face was very mutilated, the throat severed transversely to the extent of six or seven inches; there was no ecchymosis on the scalp. The sternocleoid mastoid muscle was divided; the cricoid cartilage was cut half way through below the vocal cords. The large vessels on the left side of the neck were cut to the bone, the knife having marked the vertebral cartilage; the inside of the jugular vein had been opened to the extent of an inch and a half.
The mutilations were inflicted after death; the abdominal walls had been opened by an incision starting at the breast, with no division above the sternum; the cuneiform cartilage had then been divided, which showed in section how the wound had been inflicted; the knife had been held obliquely, with its point to the right and the handle to the left. The liver had received attention; its left lobe was the site of a further vertical cut. The abdominal walls were divided on a central line to within a quarter of an inch of the navel; at that point the incision moved horizontally to the right for two and a half inches, separating the navel to the left and circling around it, then forming an incision parallel to the previous horizontal cut, leaving the navel on a small tongue of skin, attached for two and half inches to the lower muscle on the left side; from this point the incision headed obliquely to the right; in the fold of the groin there was wound of about one inch in extent which only penetrated the skin superficially. Below another incision, three inches in length, separated all the tissues and there was a wound on the peritoneum of the same extent. There had been no appreciable bleeding; the abdominal wound was made after death, whereby it cannot be expected that there would be blood on the hands of the killer.

Seventh victim:
Found in October 1888. M.T.B. states: "Last Tuesday I saw the decomposed trunk of a woman, which had been found beneath a dark vault; the head was separated from the trunk at the level of the sixth cervical vertebra which had been sawn laterally. The lower part of the body and the pelvis had been removed and the fourth lumbar vertebra had been cut, like that in the neck, by long, curved incisions; the arms had been detached at the shoulder joints by several incisions made below the level of the larynx. There is no blood in the heart, whereby the woman did not die of suffocation or drowning; the small intestine was in situ but the lower part of the large intestine and all the contents of the pelvis had been removed. The time of death, as calculated from decomposition in the open air, indicates a date probably six or eight weeks before the discovery of the body; the incisions were probably made after death.
M.C.A.A. says: "The six or eight incisions in question were obviously made with a very sharp knife by someone who knew what he was doing, but not by an anatomist."
The doctors say: "There was no poison in the stomach; the injuries were made by a person of great anatomical skill; we believe that the murderer had no design on a particular organ in the body."

Eighth victim:
Found on the 9th November, 1888, lying on her back, completely naked, on a bed in her room.
The throat was cut from ear to ear by an incision which was directed down to the spinal column; the nose and the ears had been detached; the breasts were cleanly removed and placed on a table beside the bed; the stomach and abdomen were opened, the face was so gashed as to make it virtually unrecognisable; the kidneys and the heart had been removed and placed on the left thigh; the lower part of the body and the uterus were cut out and these organs have not been recovered; these cuts extended down to the thighs. The clothes were found folded in an ordinary way beside the bed. There was sign of a struggle.

Ninth victim:
About the 1st June, 1889, the lower portion of the body of a well built young woman was found in the Thames. The remains were cut in two places and appeared to have been the water only a short time. The left leg and thigh of this young woman were found a little later on the riverbank in Surrey. The death of this woman took place no longer than forty eight hours before, and the body had been crudely dissected by someone who had some knowledge of the joints of the human body.
A day later the upper part of this woman's body was found; the thoracic cavity was empty; the spleen, the kidneys and a portion of the intestines remained in the body; a central portion of the diaphragm below the breasts and the thoracic wall had been removed as if with a saw; the ribs also had been sawn. On Monday 10th June a woman's arm and right hand were found.
This is what the doctors reported to the Chief Commissioner of Police: "The head, the lungs, the heart, the intestines and the uterus are missing; it seemed that a ring had been forcibly removed from the ring finger of the left hand. The victim had light brown hair, well formed hands and feet, but the nails of both hands had been cut or bitten very short. There was no indication that she had engaged in manual labour. The victim was pregnant at the time of death; the cuts on the body are similar to those found in the affair of the Rainham barge.
This woman was well known in numerous establishments in the Chelsea district; she was last seen alive on the 31 May; she lived from day to day.

Tenth victim:
Found the 17 July 1889 between midnight and 1 a.m. by a constable in an alleyway in Whitechapel.
"Blood was flowing from a wound in the throat; the stomach and the rest of the abdomen were slashed, but these wounds were not deep. The skirt and petticoat had been pushed up."
The divisional surgeon says: "The face was still warm; this was a poor woman, about 40 years of age, of pleasant appearance, with dark brown hair; one tooth was missing, as with one other victim in this series. One of the nails on the left hand was partly detached. This murder is related to the seven other similar murders of recent years. Blood was only found at the spot where the victim was killed."

Eleventh victim:
On 10 September, 1889, the body of a woman was found beneath a railway arch; the head had been detached and both legs were missing. On the front part of the stomach there are deep cuts from which the intestines protrude.
The doctor testifies: "Death dates from three days ago. The only clothing is a very torn and bloodstained chemise and a cord which must have been tied round the waist. The incisions appear to have been made by a left handed man. The condition of the organs indicates that this woman was addicted to drink; the heart is missing; there is no mark of a ring on the fingers; the hands are dirty and neglected in condition; no sign of childbearing; the legs have been removed in a way which indicates a certain skill. The hands are not clenched; no indication of a struggle before death. The amputation could have been done after death. The large wound mentioned above is the only mutilation noted except the removal of a small section of the lower part of the trunk. The fingers were long and rough."
The coroner deposes: "The chemise had not been torn but cut from top to bottom; the armholes of it were cut up to the neck."
The assistant divisional surgeon says: "The body was lying face down, the right arm folded under the abdomen; no mark of blood or sign of struggle beneath the arch. The chemise is torn on the front and the armholes are cut on each side. There was a wound 15 inches long along the outer wall of the abdomen; and, furthermore, a number of ecchymoses, all of recent date. On the outer part of the left forearm, three inches above the wrist, there was a cut two inches in length; another similar wound half an inch lower; both were made after death. All the blood vessels in the body are empty; all organs, except the spleen and the liver, are very healthy; death resulted from haemorrhage. The post mortem mutilations were made with a sharp knife by someone used to cutting up animals, or seeing them cut up, but there is no reason to presume any knowledge of human anatomy."

The author appends the following conclusions:
The crimes of Jack are distinguished by the fact that sexuality takes a particularly bloody and murderous form. In previous cases, except that of L., the death of the victim was the exception, while here it is the rule. It is likely that Jack cut the throat of his victims, maybe because that in itself gave him pleasure, maybe because this led to the death of the victim which allowed him to indulge those cruelties which gave him such pleasure, as when he opened the abdomen, when he pulled out the intestines, when he disfigured or mutilated the sexual organs. An even more perverse form of sexuality is revealed to us by the confession of those who have exhumed bodies and subjected them to similar outrages.
In some instances Jack carried away sexual organs, no doubt to indulge his pleasures further, either in examining them or using them to masturbate. An analogous case, mentioned by Kraft-Ebing, is that of a man who often inflicted knife blows to the neck of a young girl, and who derived sexual pleasure from looking at the bloody knife which he kept in his room for that purpose. We have seen that K. stared fiercely at his knife as he was stabbing his victims.
There is little reason to believe that Jack is mad, however, for he would probably have made some form of confession afterwards. The insane offender is, indeed, not only proud of his crimes but is much more honest than the criminal and usually ends up by confessing. The fact that he has also for so long evaded discovery does not argue in favour of insanity.
As in similar cases, evidence indicates the murderer experiences such a strong sexual pleasure that all revulsion at the cruelty is overcome, at least for the moment, or perhaps this revulsion itself is weak. The idea of simple cruelty does not explain the wounds to the abdomen and the sexual organs and the removal of these organs. But the fact that in one case the intestines were placed on the shoulder of the victim and in another the breasts were cut off and placed on a table, these facts, I assert, indicate that the murderer had time at his disposal and wished to make his crime as horrible as possible simply for the publicity. Of course, this feeling would not have emerged until after the satisfying of the sexual urge.
One reason which has, perhaps, prevented Jack being discovered is that he went about his work deliberately and was not agitated after he had left his victims, which meant no attention was drawn to him. Indeed it is well known from police experience that a large number of criminals assist in their own capture by showing agitation in one way or another.
The facts in the evidence do not require the supposition that the murderer had anatomical knowledge, but, rather, that practice had given him a certain skill.

(Message edited by Chris on March 16, 2005)

(Message edited by Chris on March 16, 2005)

(Message edited by Chris on March 16, 2005)
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George Hutchinson
Username: Philip

Post Number: 422
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 8:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Chris -

This is a truly superb piece of work on your part and one long overdue, but surely this should be a permanent resource and not just for the Message Boards? Does Steve Ryder know about the above posting? There must be other works crying out for this kind of attention.

One can almost see a facsimile edition... but then we have yet to see what Robert McLaughlin comes up with!

Interesting to see how many errors there are when some of the trivial info is correct here; it makes you wonder about the access to information.

Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd!
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Chris Scott
Assistant Commissioner
Username: Chris

Post Number: 1781
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 10:31 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Philip
Thanks for the comments. Yes, Stephen does know and is going to find a permament home for the above
Thanks again

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