5 April 1903
London, March 25.
It is doubtful if a more extraordinary development ever took place in connection with the prosecution of a criminal than that by which Severino Klosowski, alias George Chapman, just condemned to die on April 6 for poisoning three women in succession, is indicated as the world famous assassin, Jack the Ripper, as well as the author of similar crimes in America.
Although a brief statement of the fact has been sent by cable, the details are worth giving in full. Klosowski, a Pole, who, as George Chapman, kept a saloon in the East End of London, was arrested on the charge of killing pretty Maude Marsh, his bar maid and nominal wife, by poisoning her. Then it was discovered that two former wives of Klosowski's had died in suspicious circumstances and when the bodies were exhumed large quantities of antimony, the poison used by the murderer in killing Maude Marsh, were found in them. Klosowski's trial left no possible doubt that he had put all three women out of the way as he had grown tired of them and he was condemned to be hanged.
It was first suggested that Klosowski might be Jack the Ripper when at his trial it came out that when the Police reached London in 1888 - the year of the Ripper crimes - he went to live in George yard, Whitechapel, where the first of the famous murderer's many women victims was found dead, and that this was his home during all the time when the assassinations were being committed. At the trial, too, a woman named Lucy Braderski (sic), whom the police had discovered and who proved to have been the murderer's first and real wife, testified that he had once attempted to kill her with a long knife - precisely such as weapon as that with which the Ripper is supposed to have mutilated his victims. The woman also testified that she and Klosowski once made a trip to the United States and lived there for several months. Soon after returning to this country they separated.
Since Klosowski's conviction, Scotland yard, whose officials never have taken any stock in the cries that the Ripper was dead, or a lunatic, but who always have hoped to wipe off a stain on their record by nabbing him, have been working quietly on the clew thus gained.
It is F.G. Abberline, former chief detective inspector of the Scotland yard forces, who now declares publicly his conviction that Klosowski was the Ripper. And ex-Inspector Abberline is the exact man who might be expected to take the greatest interest in this part of the murderer's record, as he it was who had charge of criminal investigations at the time of the Whitechapel crimes.
Briefly, these are the reasons which the retired sleuth hound has just given to the present commissioner of police for his belief that Klosowski's arrival in London and residence in Whitechapel was coincidental with the beginning and duration of the Ripper murders.
Then, there is the circumstance, which was brought out at the murderer's trial, that he studied medicine in Russia and was once an assistant surgeon, One of the features of the Ripper murders was the horrible precision with which the assassin's victims were mutilated - which at the time gave the idea that the criminal must be a physician.
At Klosowski's trial, too, it was stated that, when he lived in Whitechapel, he was in the habit of wearing a peaked cap. Such a cap was worn by the Ripper. The Ripper, like Klosowski, was a man of middle height, and it is stated also that each of the few persons who claimed to have seen the Whitechapel murderer, described him as a "foreign looking man."
There is also the circumstance that Klosowski once attempted to kill the only one of his wives who escaped from him alive by attacking her with a knife. But what has impressed ex Inspector Abberline most strongly of all is the fact that toward the end of 1888 Klosowski went to the United States to live. For one of the most sensational developments of the Ripper mystery was that, shortly after the murders ceased in Whitechapel, a series of crimes of the same sort began in America. At the time it was supposed that some American pervert merely had been inspired to imitate the London assassin example.
There is still another link in the chain with which, as the author of the Whitechapel murders, the ex Scotland yarder is seeking to forge about the Pole, Klosowski, and curiously enough, it also is particularly of interest to Americans.
"While the coroner was investigating one of the East End murders," says ex Inspector Abberline, "he told the jury a very queer story. You will remember that the divisional surgeon, who made the post mortem examination, not only spoke of the skilfullness with which the knife had been used, but stated that there was overwhelming evidence to show that the criminal had so mutilated the body that he could possess himself of one of the organs. The coroner, in commenting on this, said that he had been told by the subcurator of the pathological museum connected with one of the great medical schools that some few months before an American had called upon him and asked him to procure a number of specimens. He stated his willingness to give $100 for each. Although the strange visitor was told that his wish was impossible of fulfillment, he still urged his request. It was known that the request was repeated at another institution of a similar character in London. The coroner at the time said: 'Is it not possible that a knowledge of this demand may have inspired some abandoned wretch to possess himself of the specimens? It seems beyond belief that such inhuman wickedness could enter into the mind of any man; but, unfortunately, our criminal annals prove that every crime is possible!'
"It is a remarkable thing," Mr. Abberline pointed out, "that after the Whitechapel horrors America should have been the place where a similar kind of murder began, as though the miscreant had not fully supplied the demand of the American agent."
It was only yesterday that the veteran Scotland yarder's remarkable theory was made public, and at this time it cannot be said what steps will be taken toward confirming it. When convicted of the poisoning of his three wives, Klosowski, who so far had assumed a careless attitude, broke down completely and wept as sentence was being passed upon him. His lawyer who visited him in the condemned cell the other day, reported that the criminal was employed in writing out a lengthy statement of some kind, so that there is a possibility that Klosowski has decided to reveal himself as one of the most famous of modern criminals and is the man of all men upon whom the London police have, since the commission of the ghastly series of butcheries in Whitechapel, been most anxious to lay their hands.