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The American Murders of Jack the Ripper
R. Michael Gordon
ISBN: 0-275-98155-X
Praeger Publishers
Hardcover, illus.

Casebook Review:

This is R. Michael Gordon's third book on the Whitechapel Murders, and through each of them runs a common thread - George Chapman, a.k.a. Severin Klosowski. For Gordon there is no question - Chapman and the Ripper were one and the same, and both names are used interchangeably throughout the text.

This book focuses entirely on a series of four murders committed in the New York/New Jersey area during 1891 and 1892. One of those names is familiar to the Ripper audience - Carrie Brown - but the other three are "newcomers" to the field: Hannah Robinson, Elizabeth Senior and Mary Anderson. All four, according to Gordon, were slain by George Chapman - alias, Jack the Ripper.

In the case of Carrie Brown there are, as other researchers such as Michael Conlon have shown, enough similarities to support some slight connection to the Ripper series. Not so for the remaining three. For Gordon the connection seems to be that they were murdered in the same general area and timeframe that George Chapman was known to have been living there. Elizabeth Senior was strangled, with her throat cut and several stab wounds to the chest... sounds promising at first, but she was 73 years old. Robinson herself was strangled and left for dead beside a railroad, while Anderson was shot in the back with a revolver (her throat was then cut with a razor, post-mortem). Superficial similarities exist, to be sure, but hardly enough to definitively state that these were The American Murders of Jack the Ripper.

In the end your opinion of this book will likely hinge on your opinion of George Chapman as a suspect. If you champion his candidacy as the Ripper, this book would be an important addition to your Ripper library. Others may not agree, though Gordon's in-depth analyses of these three relatively unknown Victorian murders does provide for interesting reading, even if it has nothing at all to do with Jack the Ripper.

From Praeger:

"For the first time, the American murders of Jack the Ripper are revealed in the 1891 and 1892 crimes of Severin Klosowski (a.k.a. George Chapman, the Borough Poisoner), a prime suspect in the Ripper case. After his narrow escape from Scotland Yard, the killer would travel to the New York City area where four high-profile murders took place soon after his arrival. With Victorian era New York as his backdrop, Gordon recounts the gruesome scenes. He also details Klosowski's subsequent return to England where he would eventually be convicted and executed for another murder spree, this time with poison as his weapon of choice!"

"Readers will learn about these unknown Ripper victims: Carrie Brown, an aging prostitute, was brutally slashed and mutilated in her hotel room in 1891. Hannah Robinson, a servant girl, was found strangled to death at a construction site on Long Island that summer. Early the following year, 73-year-old Elizabeth Senior struggled bravely against an intruder who stabbed her multiple times in her New Jersey home. Finally, the body of a teenager, Herta Mary Anderson, a New Jersey hotel maid, was found in a wooded area near Perth Amboy, dead from a bullet wound with her throat cut. How could the Ripper evade capture so easily? Why did the American connection remain hidden for so long? "

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Related pages:
  George Chapman
       Dissertations: The Cable Street Dandy: Severin Klosowski aka George Chap... 
       Message Boards: Severin Klosowski (a.k.a. George Chapman) 
       Press Reports: Atlanta Constitution - 24 March 1903 
       Press Reports: Atlanta Constitution - 5 April 1903 
       Press Reports: Bluefield Daily Telegraph - 7 April 1903 
       Press Reports: Elyria Daily Chronicle - 7 April 1903 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne News - 23 March 1903 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne News - 7 April 1903 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel - 23 March 1903 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 24 March 1903 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 31 March 1903 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 15 January 1903 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 17 March 1903 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 8 April 1903 
       Press Reports: Washington Post - 21 October 1910 
       Press Reports: Washington Post - 26 October 1913 
       Ripper Media: Alias Jack the Ripper: Beyond the Usual Whitechapel Suspe... 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - George Chapman 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - Wolf Levisohn 
       Ripper Media: More Studies in Murder 
       Ripper Media: The Trial of George Chapman: Introduction 
       Ripper Media: Trial of George Chapman, The 
       Suspects: George Chapman 
  R. Michael Gordon
       Message Boards: Alias Jack the Ripper: Beyond the Usual Whitechapel Suspe...