The Ripper’s Knife

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Donald Rumbelow Jack the Ripper Knife 

“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.

Karyo Magellan Ripper Neck Cuts

“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.
Steve Santini
Steve Santini

6 Responses to “The Ripper’s Knife”

  1. Steve Santini Says:

    Dear Christopher,
    It was very nice to meet you and have you on the episode of “Deals From The Dark Side” that dealt with a knife purported to have been used by Jack The Ripper. You were a perfect gentleman and I learned a great deal from you. Last night the episode aired here in Canada and you were brilliant in it! Now that you have my e mail addy I do hope you will keep in touch. My very best regards, Steve Santini

  2. admin Says:

    Hi Steve

    Yes, indeed, let’s keep in touch.

    I had fun filming the show and am glad that I was able to be of help to you in the investigation into the knife.

    I have been asked about the provenance of the knife. I was told by Buck Productions that it was found in the street a block away after the second murder, i.e., Annie Chapman, but nothing more.

    I wonder if you are prepared to say anything more about the provenance of the alleged Ripper knife?

    One other thing, did you end up buying the knife for your collection? As I recall, you told me that the owner had loaned it to you for the episode of “Deals from the Dark Side” and that you were considering buying it.

    Best regards

    Chris

  3. Steve Santini Says:

    Hi Chris,

    The oral history that came with the knife related that it had been found by one David Martin, a Victorian dustman, in a gutter near the site of the second murder. Try as we might we were unable to locate any records of the names of dustmen in the Whitechapel area in 1888.

    Apparantly, all such workers were something of independant contractors and were not in any sort of sanitation or other labor union of the day.

    I wanted to have a “Blue Star” test, (a blood detecting chemical test more sensitive than Luminol), done on the knife but time and budget concerns prevented this. We did find however that the maker’s hallmark on the knife proved it dated to pre 1890.

    Perhaps in time I will make my own arrangements to have further testing done on the knife because yes, I now own it. In the end the previous owner of the knife gave it to me free and clear. He stated that he did not like the feel of it and simply wanted rid of it.

    Cheers, Steve

  4. Steve Santini Says:

    One other thing concerning the oral history of the knife…

    When Mr. Martin brought the knife home he apprantly, (so we are told), considered turning it into the Police. As the people who sold the knife to the author who eventually gave it to me said, Martin’s wife talked him out of going to the Police with it lest he himself be considered a suspect.

    And so there it stayed to be used for years and years to cut bread, carve meat, and fullfill other duties one would expect a knife to be party to. In fact, there was a dark joke in the family that they used to actually call it “The Ripper’s Knife” and would call out for it by that name when it was needed to be fetched from the kitchen drawer to cut or carve something up.

    Macabre yes,… but interesting all the same.

    Cheers, Steve

  5. diane Says:

    just watched the episode about the rippers knife Npw the man who was going to sell it to steve said originally that he could not get inspiation from the knife for a book then after steve tried to authenticate it and came back to the man he said that he could keep the knife as he had all the inspiration he need from it, that he had wrote his first and was well on his way with the second……..whats that all about!!! thanks diane n. ireland

  6. Shawn Davisson Says:

    Hello,
    I watched the episode recently and happened to watch Antique Roadshow tonight, and saw a knife that looked just like the “Ripper Knife”. It was part of a Surgical Kit from the mid to late 1800s.
    Here’s a link to the type they showed.
    http://www.medicalantiques.com/civilwar/Images_2/images/Saws/Tiemann_1864.jpg
    Very interesting correlation, I thought!
    :)

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