Is This the Face of Jack The Ripper?
Face reconstruction of Carl Feigenbaum based on the Sing Sing admittance form. Courtesy: Trevor Marriott.
Thin-haired with deep-set grey eyes and a large, red pimpled nose: this is how Jack the Ripper, perhaps the most notorious murderer in history, might have looked, according to new archival research into police documents.
Retired British police detective, Trevor Marriott, gathered together evidence and has built a case against Carl Feigenbaum, a 54-year-old German merchant seaman, and made him the top suspect for committing the horrific and notorious murders between August and November 1888.
At that time, at least five women in the Whitechapel area in London were found horribly disfigured, often with organs missing.
The name Jack the Ripper was coined in taunting letters sent to the press and police, in which the writer claimed credit for the crimes.
Ripper’s career ended as suddenly as it began with the murderer still at large, making his case one of the history’s greatest murder mysteries.
Since the first murder 123 years ago, more than 200 suspects have been named, including Lewis Carroll, author of “Alice in Wonderland,” Prince Albert Victor and Sir John Williams, obstetrician to the Royal Family.
According to Marriott, there are a number of factors pointing to the obscure German merchant.
“For example, he killed a woman in ripper like fashion with a long bladed knife which he carried. It was the same type of knife used to kill the Whotechapel victims,” Marriott told Discovery News.
The murder occurred in Manhattan, and the woman was his landlady Juliana Hoffman.
For the brutal killing, Feigenbaum went to the electric chair in New York in 1896.
Marriott begun his investigation by examining groups of people who may have been in Whitechapel at the time of the killings.
Since the district is just a short distance from London’s docks, sailors were included in the group of suspects.
Crew lists for ships that were in dock at those times revealed that Feigenbaum, who was already in the 200 suspect list, was visiting London at the time of each murder.
“He had been employed as a merchant seaman for The Nordeutcher Line which had a ship in London on all the murder dates,” Marriott said.
The former detective also found a 1896 report in the National Police Gazette in which Feigenbaum’s lawyer detailed a confession made by his client at Sing Sing jail.
“I have for years suffered from a singular disease, which induces an all-absorbing passion; this passion manifests itself in a desire to kill and mutilate the woman who falls in my way. At such times I am unable to control myself,” he confessed.
No photographs of Feigenbaum exist, but Marriott put together an e-fit based on the description of him when he was in prison in the US.
According to the Sing Sing admittance form, he had deep set grey eyes, dark brown hair and a “medium sized head.”
Standing 5ft 4½ tall and weighting 126 pounds, he had a large, red nose with raw pimples, with poor teeth, almost entirely gone on left sides.
The prison official also noted he had “anchor in india ink on right hand at base of thumb and first finger” and a “round scar or birthmark on right leg below left knee.”
Given the surgical precision of the mutilations, it was usually assumed that the elusive killer had a great knowledge of human anatomy.
But Marriott argued that the removal of the women’s organs occurred in the mortuary, as the 1832 Anatomy Act made it legal to remove organs for medical training.
The theory is supported by documents on the fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes. They indicate that only 14 minutes elapsed from the time the police patrolled the square in which she was killed and her body being found.
According to Marriott, it was virtually impossible for the murderer to have killed the woman and then removed her uterus with surgical precision in such a short time and in almost complete blackness.
“Initially, I thought Carl Feigenbaum was that serial killer,” Xanthe Mallett, a forensic anthropologist from the University of Dundee who reviewed the case and reported it on a BBC One show, wrote on the BBC website.
She then admits that further evidence may show the murders were not all committed by the same person and that “Feigenbaum could have been responsible for one, some or perhaps all.”
“The crimes may have taken place more than 120 years ago, and the review may have shed new light on them, but this case is certainly not solved,” Mallett said.