|Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide|
|This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.|
Ostrog was named by Sir Melville Macnaghten in his memoranda as the third suspect, along with Druitt and Kosminski, as more likely to have been the Ripper than Thomas Cutbush. Macnaghten described Ostrog as, 'A Russian doctor, a homicidal maniac, who was said to be habitually cruel to women, this man was in the habit of carrying surgical knives and instruments in his pockets, and his whereabouts at the time of the Whitechapel murders could never be satisfactorily accounted for. He is still alive'.
Ostrog, who used several aliases throughout his life, including Claude Clayton, Dr Grant, Count Sobieski, Dr Barker and Bertrand Ashley to name but a few, was a habitual petty criminal and confidence trickster, who was constantly in and out of prison or on the run from the authorities. His crimes were fraud and theft, usually items such as library books or silverware from colleges.
His long criminal career started in 1863 when he was sentenced to ten months imprisonment for swindling hoteliers in Oxford. In July 1887 using the alias Dr Bonge, he was apprehended by the Cadets from Woolwich Barracks, after he was discovered attempting to steal a tankard. He told the court that he was on his way to play cricket, when a fit of sunstroke gave him an irresistible impulse to run a race, which he thought he was doing when the Cadets chased him. It was in court that he began to show signs of mental instability, and at one point picked up his coat as if to leave and declared he was off to France, if they did not mind, they did, and he was sentenced to six months.
Certified insane while in Wandsworth prison, he was sent to the Surrey pauper lunatic asylum on 30 September 1887, where he was described as 50 years of age, Jewish, a surgeon, married and suffering from mania. He was released on 10 March 1888 and continued his criminal career. He was arrested again in August 1900 for stealing a microscope, and was sentenced to five years imprisonment, giving his address as 29 Brooke Street, Holborn. He was released from Parkhurst prison on 17 September 1904, and the last we hear of him was entering the St Giles Christian Mission Holborn, there are no further records of him.
No records exist of his exact date of birth, but it has been estimated at about 1833, which would have made him at least 55 years of age at the time of the whitechapel murders or possibly even older. This would make him far older than any of the eyewitness sightings of a Ripper suspect, described as 28/35 years old. Ostrog was dark skinned with dark brown eyes, grey hair and was 5ft 11"tall, again this did not match any witness sightings who described the Ripper as a short stout man, a little taller than his victims. This description does not fit Ostrog, who would have been nearly a foot taller. No records have been found to verify Macnaghten's claims that Ostrog was a doctor, had medical training or carried surgical knives. Macnaghten's claim about Ostrog being habitually cruel to women remains unsupported. There is also no evidence throughout his long criminal career that Ostrog used violence on anyone, particularly women.
After the double murder of Stride and Eddowes, the police, having made inquires at the local lunatic asylums, would have noted that Ostrog had been certified insane, and had been released some six months previously, some attention was then attached to him. There is however some evidence that during the Whitechapel murders he was in prison in France. He was arrested on 26 July 1888 under the name Grand Guidon, an alias he had used in France before, and was held in custody until 18 November 1888 when he was sentenced to two years in prison.
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