“Jack the Ripper” knife owned by Donald Rumbelow that featured in the
2008 Museum of the Docklands exhibit.
There is a lot of debate about the type of knife that the Whitechapel
murderer used. In November I flew up to Toronto to be part of a new
documentary that will be aired tonight on the OLN network at 9:30 pm
as part of the “Deals from the Dark Side” series with Steve Santini.
(could anyone record it for me as I am a poor Statesider!). At the
Kingston Museum of Health Care on a cool but non-snowy day, I met
Steve and his companion by a table laden with sharp surgical knives.
The scene was a bit chilling, if you will, not just because of the knives
but because both Steve and his friend are biker guys. See his photo.
At any rate, our discussion was about a knife that Steve was at that
moment considering purchasing. It was a period knife but NOT a knife
that might have been used by a medical doctor, I thought. I told
Steve that nonetheless I considered it conceivable that the knife
could have done the mutilations to the Ripper victims. Indeed, it
was put to me one time by a poster on the Casebook message boards
that a razor could have done the mutilations attributed to the killer.
“Ripper” Neck cuts to Annie Chapman.
Copyright Karyo Magellan.
My theory is a surgical knife did the cuts. Indeed, I had
with me, from my own collection, a modern Tiemann amputation knife,
with a razor-sharp blade, that with the handle measures around 16
inches long. To me, that is the type of knife that likely did the
damage. At the museum, they had period Tiemann surgical knives.
Students of the Ripper case will know, however, that there is some
debate about the murder of third canonical victim Elizabeth Stride,
the first woman killed on the morning of the Double Event, Sunday,
30 September 1888. The medical testimony is that a short knife was
used on her. Of course she is the one “Ripper” victim who only had
her throat cut and who did not have abdominal cuts, the explanation
usually being that the killer was interrupted by the pony and cart
of socialist club member Louis Diemschutz arriving in Dutfield’s
Yard where the murder occurred. This is the traditional explanation
of the lack of mutilations to Stride — that the killer then went
on to satiate his need to mutilate by killing and mutilating the
fourth canonical victim and second prostitute killed that night, Kate
Eddowes. But I feel this is misleading, because if he used a long
knife on all the victims other than Stride, it’s likely that he
would have used a long knife on her throat and then used that same
knife on her abdomen, if he’d had the time. So the throat cut plus
the medical testimony at the inquest are simply highly misleading.
If you are able to watch it, see the episode tonight of “Deals from
the Dark Side.” See you there, my friends!
Keep an eye on YouTube for the episode of “Deals from the Dark Side” about the Ripper knife. Prior episodes of the show have been posted there, e.g., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmLGO78ZKyY&feature=related. Also check out Steve Santini’s website “Medieval Torture: Dark Deeds in the Dark Ages”. Warning! Not for the faint of heart.