One topic hotly debated in Ripperology is commonly referred to as the ‘GSG’. This acronym stands for ‘Goulston Street Graffito’. In the early hours of the ‘Double Event’ of Sunday the 30th of September 1888, graffiti was found above a discarded piece of Catherine Eddowes’ apron on Goulston Street – specifically outside the Wentworth buildings. Whether the message was a deliberate clue left by the killer is debated. To understand it, I believe we will require context.
THE MURDER OF ELIZABETH STRIDE
The third canonical victim Elizabeth Stride was found dead with her throat cut across the carotid artery, like the other canonical victims before her. Just inside the entrance of Dutfield’s Yard, her body was discovered by the returning Louis Diemschutz, who had spent the day hawking cheap jewellery in Sydenham market.
Around 1 am on the morning of 30th September 1888, Louis’s pony reared up as it approached the yard, presumably as the body startled the animal. The entrance was extremely dark, and Louis disembarked the cart and went to investigate. He could tell it was a body and went inside the club next door to fetch his wife and get a candle. The club he entered was the ‘International Working Men’s Educational Club’. This club also housed a socialist newspaper that catered predominantly to Jewish Eastern Europeans, who had abandoned their religion in favour of politics. Upon returning to the body with his wife and some club members, they quickly ascertained that the woman was indeed dead. The alarm was raised.
The most interesting aspect of this murder was that the body was not mutilated like all the other victims before and after. This has led to speculation that she may not have been a victim of Jack the Ripper. The sheer fact that her throat was cut similarly to the other victims (which was not common in Whitechapel street murders anyway) and that another victim was murdered just an hour later would strongly suggest that he had not completed the job he set out to do. He was most likely disturbed and escaped detection. He hadn’t yet got his fix. Read more about the murder on Wikipedia.
THE MURDER OF CATHERINE EDDOWES
Catherine Eddowes’s body was found by a patrolling police officer named PC Watkins in a dark corner of Mitre Square at around 1.45 am – within an hour of Elizabeth Stride’s murder. This time, Jack was not disturbed and left behind the canonical five victims’ second most gruesome crime scene.
Catherine Eddowes had been released from Bishopsgate Police Station at around the same time that Elizabeth Stride was murdered. Witnesses claim they saw a man speaking with Eddowes on the corner of Church Passage just before she was killed. As well as the extreme mutilation he conducted on his victim, he was able to extract one of her kidneys in almost pitch-black darkness. This has led to some historians claiming the killer had some anatomical knowledge.
The most interesting fact about this murder was that it was the only one of the five canonical murders committed in the City of London jurisdiction. Read more about the murder on Wikipedia.
DISCOVERY OF THE GRAFFITI
Around an hour after discovering Catherine Eddowes’ body, another patrolling police officer found a piece of soiled and bloodied apron on the pavement outside Wentworth Buildings on Goulston Street, now inside the Metropolitan Police jurisdiction. Just above it, written in chalk, was some graffiti.
MET POLICE VERSION
The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.METROPOLITAN POLICE VERSION
This version has been adopted by history, transcribed by PC Long and endorsed by Superintendent Arnold. It took five weeks after the event to officially report this to the Home Office. Charles Warren, the Commissioner of the Metropolis, who had never personally visited any crime scene connected with the murders, was suddenly interested in attending this one. Upon his instruction, the graffiti was wiped off the wall as he claimed he believed there would be a riot if left up. He refused to wait for a photograph. The apron itself was definitely from the Eddowes crime scene.
CITY OF LONDON POLICE VERSION
This is where it gets interesting. The City of London Police has a different version transcribed by D.C. Halse, who had arrived at the scene before the senior officers of the Metropolitan Police. His version reads:
The Juwes are not the men that will be blamed for nothing.CITY OF LONDON POLICE VERSION
The subtle difference in the two transcriptions greatly impacts the overall context of the message. If you read my post on the ‘From Hell’ and ‘Openshaw Letters’, I suggest the killer deliberately tried to sound uneducated and local. If we apply that same logic to the City of London Police’s version of the graffiti, you could argue he says, “Don’t blame the Jews for anything”.
This could be an example of a statement that includes a double negative and a positive. If we inverse the negatives, then “are not” should be “are”, and “nothing” should be “anything”. The positive “will be” becomes “will not be”. So put that all together. “The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for anything.” Seems pretty clear to me.
I believe he wants to appear uneducated and local, deliberately mis-spelling Jews to project the idea of ill education, as well as the misuse of context. This behaviour of ill education manifests even more in the later letters. I believe he wants the police and eyewitnesses to ‘cotton on’ that Stride was one of his, despite being found in the vicinity of a Jewish club. He was connecting the two murders to make it obvious he killed both. If he writes the message more grammatically correct, he risks giving too much of a clue about his class and level of education.
THE JEWISH OBSESSION
Before the ‘double event’, the police had arrested John Pizer, a Jew with the local nickname ‘Leather Apron’, based only on the fact they found a leather apron at the crime scene of Annie Chapman’s murder. The apron was later claimed as property of a resident of Hanbury Street. Pizer also had an alibi, meaning that the police eventually released him. However, the damage was done. The anti-semitic feeling flowing through the veins of the daily papers had now manifested itself onto the streets of Whitechapel.
With no evidence whatsoever, the Jewish population became the focus of suspicion by the police, press and gentile population around them.
Jack did not want others taking credit for the work he had done.
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