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The most notorious serial murderer in the annals of British crime actually may have set foot on American soil during the late nineteenth century. In 1891 and 1892, four women were brutally mutilated and killed in New York and New Jersey. Because they were murdered in the same general area and time frame, the circumstances point to the possibility that the women were all victims of the same killer. Severin Klosowski (a.k.a. George Chapman, the "Borough Poisoner"), a prime suspect...
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The most notorious serial murderer in the annals of British crime actually may have set foot on American soil during the late nineteenth century. In 1891 and 1892, four women were brutally mutilated and killed in New York and New Jersey. Because they were murdered in the same general area and time frame, the circumstances point to the possibility that the women were all victims of the same killer. Severin Klosowski (a.k.a. George Chapman, the "Borough Poisoner"), a prime suspect in the Ripper case, was living in the area at the time.
With Victorian-era New York as his backdrop, author R. Michael Gordon recounts the gruesome scenes, focusing on the details that strongly suggest Chapman and the Ripper were one and the same.
The once-proud East River Hotel was, by 1891, well past its best days, if it ever had any. This so-called "dive" or flophouse was very near the imposing Brooklyn Bridge, which dominated the New York City skyline. The hotel had served as a meeting and drinking place for the men who worked the docks for many years but had fallen into disrepair. Located near the docks and facing the East River, it was the first place many dock workers and sailors had gone after a hard day's work. It was also close to the waterfront slips where ships, mostly from the European mainland and England, bearing huge numbers of immigrants would dock. It was not too surprising to find that this area was also crowded with prostitutes, many on their last legs. By the time of Carrie Brown's murder the four-story brick building, then owned by Mr. James Jennings, was reported to be a "lodging house of unsavory reputation, and is chiefly resorted to by the women who prowl about the neighborhood after nightfall." The "bawdy resort" on the southeast corner of Catharine and Water Street, fronting on Water Street, was badly in need of repairs, which would never come. It was, however, able to supply cheap tiny rooms at around 25 cents a night to the few who cared to visit and more to the point it had a small bar located on the first floor. Beyond being the Carrie Brown murder site, the location was also rumored to have been used by the underworld thugs in control of the local area for dumping their victims into the East River. Local legend has it that a subterranean tunnel had been constructed for just such purposes, but that rumor has yet to be confirmed.
For more than half an hour Carrie Brown and Mary Healey sat at a small table drinking beer as bartender Samuel Shine cleaned glasses and served the small group cheap drinks. That evening Mr. Shine would also serve as night clerk for the hotel. It was to be just one more long night of drunken women and dirty men for the aging bartender, but at least the work put a roof over his head and food in his stomach. It was more than many who called the docks their homes could boast, so he did not complain very much.
It did not take long for the drinks to take effect on Carrie, as another woman joined the group. Before long Mary would leave the hotel with the woman named Lizzie, leaving Carrie to herself. Now bolstered by drink, she began to tell the housekeeper, Mary Miniter, about her long life and the family who she said no longer seemed to care about "Old Shakespeare." For Miniter, who had never met Brown before, it would not be long before she would find a reason to leave. Later, Miniter was interviewed and would give one of the few accounts of the life of Carrie Brown to the readers of the daily New York papers as they began to ask is this was one of Jack's!
Part One: Scotland Yard Hunts a Serial Killer
1. The American Search for Jack the Ripper
Part Two: New York City
2. "Old Shakespeare"
3. The Hunt for Jack the Ripper
4. "Frenchy" Goes on Trial
Part Three: Long Island
5. A Mysterious Murder on Long Island
6. The Search for Hannah's Killer
Part Four: New Jersey
7. A Brutal Murder in New Jersey
8. A Mysterious Murder Along the Tracks
Part Five: A Serial Killer Returns Home
9. Once Again London Was Calling
10. Chief Inspector Abberline Names "Jack the Ripper"