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 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.

Timothy Donovan

Donovan was forwarded as a possible suspect by Donald Rumbellow in the book The Complete Jack The Ripper. Donovan, it is claimed, was 28 years of age at the time of the murders, lived at 7 Russell Court, St Georges, in the East, and was a labourer, who also worked casually as the deputy manager of Crossingham's Common lodging house, 35 Dorset Street. He died from cirrhoses of the liver and exhaustion on 1 November 1888.

Donovan said that at about 1.45am on the 8 September 1888 he saw Annie Chapman, whom he had known for about sixteen months, the last four while she resided at the lodging house, eating a baked potato in the kitchen of Crossingham's, she was, in his opinion, the worse for drink. He asked her for her doss-money, which she said she had not got as she was weak and ill and had been in the infirmary. Donovan refused Chapman's request to let her stay on trust and so she left, saying she would be back soon, asking him to save her bed.

Donovan, it has been claimed in his statement's to the police and press, appeared to soften the severity in which he originally dealt with Chapman on the night she was murdered, in an attempt not to appear too unkind in turning an ill women out onto the streets where she was subsequently murdered. Chapman, who was undernourished, was suffering from advanced and chronic diseases of the lungs and the membranes of the brain.

Rumbellow, in his book, makes the suggestion that Donovan almost certainly knew Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly, and that they both knew who Jack the Ripper was, and perhaps this is why they were murdered. While it is true Eddowes had claimed that she knew who the Ripper was, and intended to collect the reward money.

Mary Kelly on the other hand at no time said she knew who the Ripper was, only that she was afraid of someone, though would not say who.

While it is true Donovan knew one of the victims, Chapman, there is no evidence he knew Eddowes or Kelly, this is purely speculation. If Eddowes and Kelly were murdered because they suspected Donovan of being the Ripper and where going to reveal him, who killed Mary Kelly, because by this time Timothy Donovan was already dead.

The theory for Donovan being the Ripper is only credible if you believe Mary Kelly was not a Ripper victim, and was murdered by someone else and disguised as a Ripper murder.

An alternative suggestion is that Rumbellow's suspect is the wrong Timothy Donovan, for there is a second Timothy Donovan, age 30, a labourer, who sounds a little more promising. He has a history of violence, he repeatedly appeared before Thames Magistrates Court during 1887/88 on charges of assault, and in 1904, at 27 Lucus Street, Stepney, murdered his wife. More importantly he was alive when Mary Kelly was murdered.

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Related pages:
  Timothy Donovan
       Press Reports: Echo - 14 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 10 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 12 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 1 April 1903 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 12 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 13 March 1903