The Thames Torso Murders of Victorian London

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About the Book

The Thames Torso Murders have been overshadowed by Jack the Ripper and his crimes, but were just as brutal and gruesome. They began in 1887 in London’s East End, just north of the Thames River in Rainham, England. The killer took one victim that year, another in 1888, and two more in 1889. He resumed his crimes in 1902, taking his last victim south of the Thames and leaving her body in a pile of dismembered parts as he had done with most of his other victims.
This work delves deep into the case of the Thames Torso Murders. It begins with a look at London in the late 1800s, a time of great confusion and tremendous population increase, and the killer’s path to London, which seems to include a murder in Paris in 1886. The book then examines in great detail each murder and the investigation that may have been hindered by the search for Jack the Ripper. It also raises the idea that Jack the Ripper and the Torso Murderer may have been the same man—Severin Klosowski, better known as George Chapman, the Borough Poisoner. It ends with an examination of Serial Killers; the Ripper, Torso, and Borough Poisoner murder cases; the search for clues to the serial killer responsible for the five Thames Torso murders; and Wolff Levisohn, a dark horse who seems to have known much about all three sets of murders, testified at Chapman’s murder trial, and then faded away as Chapman was sent to the gallows.

About the Author(s)

R. Michael Gordon is the author of several books, and has written extensively on Victorian London and the Ripper phenomenon. He lives in Long Beach, California.

Bibliographic Details

R. Michael Gordon
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 257
Bibliographic Info: 4 maps, 27 photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2002
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1348-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1665-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii

Introduction     1

SECTION I: The Road to Serial Murder

1 London’s Bloody History     15

2 Of Torsos, Torture and Serial Murder     20

3 The Rainham Mystery (1887)     33

4 A Rich Environment for a Serial Killer     47

SECTION II: The Ripper Era

5 The Whitehall Torso Mystery (1888)     63

6 In the Shadow of the Ripper     86

7 The Torso Murder of Elizabeth Jackson (1889)     122

8 The Mystery of the Pinchin Street Torso (1889)     141

SECTION III: A Serial Killer and a Final Torso

9 The Serial Killer Up Close     165

10 On the Trail of a Victorian Serial Killer—George Chapman     176

11 The Torso of Salamanca Place (1902)     201

12 A Possible Motive as a Dark Horse Emerges—Wolff Levisohn     212

Postscript of Terror     224

Appendix 1: Table: Victims of the Thames Torso Killer     229

Appendix 2: Chronology of Death     231

Appendix 3: The Ripper Letter     234

Appendix 4: Note by Chief Inspector Frederick George Abberline     235

Bibliography     237

Index     243