Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Criminal Profiling: Part 1 History and Method

Early Crime Analysis

Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook
Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook
In 1888, in an area called Whitechapel in London's East End, five prostitutes were murdered in fairly quick succession, as depicted in a proliferation of books, including Rumbelows Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook. Innovative measures were called for, and the case unintentionally launched the area of criminal profiling, based in victim and crime scene analysis.

Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols
Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols
The first woman killed was 45-year-old Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols. On August 31, she went out into the street. A friend saw her at 2:30 a.m., and an hour later, she was found dead. Her skirt was pulled up to her waist, her legs were parted, and the severe cuts into her abdomen and throat appeared to have been made by a long-bladed knife. The next woman, too, was worked over with such a knife. Annie Chapman was discovered on September 8. Her stomach was ripped open and her intestines pulled out. Her throat was cut, too, and her bladder and uterus had been removed and taken away.

A note that arrived on September 29 raised hopes for a lead. Signed, "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper," the author claimed that he was "down on whores" and would continue to kill them. By the end of that month, on September 30, there were two victims on the same night with slashed throats: Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes. These kills were bolder. With Eddowes, the intestines had been pulled out and placed over the right shoulder, the uterus and one kidney had been removed, and the face was oddly mutilated.

Then came a letter "from Hell" to the head of the Whitechapel vigilante organization, enclosed with half of a kidney that turned out to be afflicted with Bright's diseasea disorder from which Eddowes had suffered. The note's author indicated that he'd fried and eaten the other half. He even offered to send "the bloody knife" in due time, and taunted, "Catch me if you can.

Drawing of Mary Kelly in Miller's Court
Drawing of Mary Kelly in Miller's Court

It was the last victim, Mary Kelly, 24, who took the brunt of this offender's frenzy. On November 8, she apparently invited a man into her room and after he killed her, he spent about two hours disemboweling her. He also skinned her chest and legs. Her heart had been removed and was missing, and hunks of flesh had been cut from her legs and buttocks.

In response, the police requested an analysis from Dr. Thomas Bond, a surgeon. He had assisted in the autopsy of Mary Kelly, so had a pretty good idea of just how demented this killer was. Investigators wanted a specific description of the wounds and procedures, but in notes dated November 10, 1888, Bond offered more.

The murders had escalated in brutality and were clearly sexual in nature, with an intense element of rage against either women or prostitutes. Except for the last one, they were clean, quick, and out in the open, often disemboweling the victim in some manner.

Bond said that all five had been committed by one person alone who was physically strong, cool, and daring. He thought the man would be quiet and inoffensive in appearance, middle-aged, and neatly attired, probably wearing a cloak to hide the bloody effects of his attacks out in the open. He would be a loner, without a real occupation, eccentric, and mentally unstable. He might even suffer from a condition called Satyriasis, a sexual deviancy. Very likely, those who knew him would be aware that he was not right in his mind.

Profile of a Criminal Mind
Profile of a Criminal Mind
According to Brian Innes in Profile of a Criminal Mind, Bond added that he believed this man possessed no anatomical knowledgecould not be a surgeon or even a butcher, but this is contradicted by Don DeNevi and John Campbell in Into the Minds of Madmen. They quote Bonds notes as indicating that the killer had great surgical expertise and anatomical knowledge. In addition, Bond believed the offer of a reward would garner clues from people who knew the man. He was certain the same man was responsible for the murder of a sixth woman, Alice McKenzie, whose autopsy he had performed as well.

Into the Minds of Madmen by Don DeNevi and John Campbell
Into the Minds of Madmen by Don DeNevi and John Campbell
But despite the details of this report, Red Jack was never caught. Within a few years, criminal profiling moved out of the surgeons hands and onto the couch of criminal psychiatrists.

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