Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jack The Stripper

Outlandish Theories

Even before the discovery of this fifth body and the emergence of the paint spots clue, police were convinced there was evidence and suspects out there to be considered, if only they could find them. The very fact that the girls were naked suggested to police that the killer was keen to leave as little evidence as possible around the bodies. It seemed unlikely that the girls would have ended up naked of their own accord. None of them were in the habit of undressing for sex these were girls who plied the "car trade", and the only disrobing normally required would be to hitch up their skirts and pull down their underwear in the client's passenger seat. That suggested they were being killed, then stripped naked after death, and their bodies being taken to the river (or in this new case, elsewhere) for disposal. Where were those clothes now? Where had the bodies been taken to be stripped? Had anyone spotted the killer's car? Whatever the answers, the mystery man didn't appear to be a frenzied madman violently snuffing out his victims in a fit of psychosis it all appeared quite calculated, designed to leave as few clues to his identity as possible, and to perplex police.

Other bizarre elements of the case also threw up questions. Why were several of the girls' teeth missing? Was it just a sign of their profession that all the victims had suffered from STDs in the past, and three were pregnant at the time of death? Could these details be significant in guessing the killer's macabre motive?

One senior detective, Detective Superintendent William Baldock, joined the investigative team after Barthelemy's body was discovered, and he propounded the startling theory that the women might have been choked to death during the act of fellatio. Yet you have to ask if that were the case, why wouldn't the women have bitten their killer on the very sensitive part of his anatomy with which he was choking them? Even if they had lost a couple of teeth, this would surely still have been possible.

Author David Seabrook, who was granted access to closed police files on the case while researching his recent book, Jack Of Jumps, dismisses the fellatio theory as "a fairytale," borne of ignorance about such taboo sexual practices in the 1960s. Yet it perhaps reflects the state of "clutching at straws" to which investigating officers had been reduced.

Traditional police vigilance didn't seem to have paid off so far. Extra police had been employed to watch comings and goings around the river Thames after Lockwood's body was found, in the hope was that if the killer struck again, he might just be caught red-handed, or at least be spotted in the vicinity for future reference.But no sooner had that trap been laid than Helene Barthelemy's body was found, this time away from the river. It was almost as if their quarry was second guessing detectives' next moves, and keeping himself one step ahead at all times. It was almost as if...he knew how the police operated.

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