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Malta Joe
Detective Sergeant
Username: Malta

Post Number: 93
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Monday, April 18, 2005 - 1:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The Reno Evening Gazette
Friday Oct 18, 1889


Ottawa, Ontario, Oct 18 - The body of a woman, horribly mangled and slashed, has been found here, and it is believed to be a "Jack the Ripper" case.

The New York World
Saturday Oct 19, 1889

IS IT JACK THE RIPPER'S WORK? Canada has a murder mystery that bears his finger marks.

Ottawa, Ont, Oct 18. - The settlement along the Murray Canal, near Trenton, has been thrown into great excitement over the discovery of the mutilated body of a woman partially buried in a vacant shed on the right bank of the canal. The corpse was that of a well-dressed woman about thirty years of age, who had evidently been disembowelled and one of her legs removed. The intestines were found in an adjacent field, but no trace of the missing leg could be discovered. The identity of the unfortunate woman has not been disclosed. The impression is a foul murder has been committed, yet the motive has not been made apparent. A card was attached to the vacant shed upon which was written in pencil a warning to trespassers to beware, while on a stick, to which was attached a piece of paper, was written in the same hand a lot of doggerel. The coroner who examined the body states that the work has been done with a very sharp knife. Every effort is now being made to ascertain if any woman is missing about the neighborhood but as yet without success. The shanty which the body was discovered is situated in an out-of-the-way place, and it is generally believed that the woman was decoyed there and murdered by a Canadian Jack the Ripper.

(The NY Tribune also had an account of this story. I haven't found any other American newspapers who had reported on this.) My first impression was since this woman was well-dressed, the likelihood of her being a cheap prostitute seemed remote. And if she was a high-society hooker, she wouldn't allow herself to go to some out-of-the-way dump near a canal. So I ruled out prostitution, yet the article told that she was "decoyed" there by her killer. It was a puzzler. For what reason would a well-dressed woman allow herself to be escorted to a lousy shed in a remote area? A possible abortion maybe?

I figured since her leg was amputated, the killer wouldn't walk off with the leg over his shoulder. He probably had to bring a medical suitcase of some kind with him and put the leg in it. A phony doctor or abortionist theory was the only thing I could come up with. The doggerel notes were enticing as well. It sounded like the killer had prepared quite a bit of poetry before he did his dirty work.

The location of the Murray Canal near Trenton sees Lake Ontario to the south. If you were to board a boat at Trenton and sail south, you'd end up in western NY between Buffalo and Rochester. Even though it was a full year after the Whitechapel killings had occurred, the Jack the Ripper name was immediately employed. Obviously, this needed to be looked into some more.
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Malta Joe
Detective Sergeant
Username: Malta

Post Number: 94
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Monday, April 18, 2005 - 2:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I contacted the libraries of the various small Canadian towns in this Murray Canal area. I was hoping they preserved their old newspapers in microfilm form. I also hunted for the Coroner's report on this incident. Sadly, the few American newspapers who told of this crime hadn't follwed up on the story. Well, those small-town Canadian librarians worked like heck for me on this despite their low budget! They're friendly folks, too. The library at Deseronto, Ontario was the first one to respond. The Quinte West, Ontario library gave me info too. Let's get into it:

Deseronto Tribune
Oct 18, 1889

DISTRICT ITEMS: The body of a woman was found interred in sand on the south side of the Murray Canal. It is supposed to be a murder case though others think the work of medical students.

(The Deseronto Librarian claimed that Queen's University at Kingston was a long way from Trenton in the horse-and-buggy era. To me, blaming medical students could have been a police attempt at playing down the incident.

Trenton Advocate
Oct 17, 1889

Portions of the body of an apparently young woman was found buried in the sand near a hut not far from the Murray Canal this week. The general opinion is that it is a subject that had been secured by medical students for dissection, after which it was buried where found. All sorts of rumors were prevalent during the week, a Coroner's Inquest was held, and we believe adjourned till Monday next.

(The Trenton Courier reported that the body was that of a male.)

Trenton Courier
Oct 17, 1889

A GHASTLY FIND. The remains of a man have just been discovered near the Canal regarding which a vast amount of speculation has been indulged in and various conjectures and all sorts of stories set afloat. During the summer a number of young men, including some medical students from Toronto and two young women have been camping at a fish house at the end of the Bay. They brought a "subject" with them which they employed their leisure time in dissecting. On their return home, they buried the body in the back of the hut they occupied. The neighborhood has been put in a state of excitement and further developments may be expected. The names of the parties interested are withheld, several residing not a hundred miles from here.

(The Courier also reported that the students left a warning note that told of the corpse.) Well, that kind of deflated the balloon on this. The report of the Coroner's Inquest came to me next, and that officially popped the balloon.

Trenton Courier
Oct 24, 1889


At the adjourned inquest held this eveniong at Lovetts by DR. Dean, Coroner for E. Northcumberland, the evidence proved the body had been brought down from Toronto by medical students for dissecting and after pursuing their studies they buried the subject in the spot where it was found, as reported in last week's Courier.

The twelve good men and true, brought in the following shrewd and comprehensive verdict. "We, the undersigned jurors empanelled to enquire into the death of a human being, man unknown, whose body was buried on the South end of Porter's farm, in the Township of Murray, find that from the evidence obtained they are unable to ascertain how the said human came to his death."

The 1889 NY newspapers were quite derelict in their duty to report this incident accurately. Hopefully, if other future researchers stumble across this story, this account I've reported will save them a lot of research time. Oddly, a "Ripper Letter" had predicted an Oct 18, 1889 killing, so this Canadian incident would have closely fit into that predicted time frame. I couldn't say if the knowledge of this Ripper Letter encouraged the embellishment of this story or not. It was interesting to follow the story, but it diffused itself pretty quickly.
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Christopher T George
Assistant Commissioner
Username: Chrisg

Post Number: 1420
Registered: 2-2003
Posted on Monday, April 18, 2005 - 3:10 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Joe

Evidently a cautionary tale that shows we should not go off half-cocked when we examine news reports on the Ripper case, especially, I think, incidents unconnected with the London case that allege a connection to the Whitechapel murders.

All my best

Christopher T. George
North American Editor

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