One of the more modern forms of profiling that investigators use to analyse potential suspects in criminal cases is ‘Geographical Profiling’. The UK has several leading experts in this field, including Dr Canter of Liverpool University (who features within Shirley Harrison’s ‘The Diary of Jack the Ripper’) and Dr Chainey of University College London, to name but two. In this post, I would like to showcase the work of Dr Chainey, who very recently featured as a guest on the podcast ‘Profiling Evil’ with his work on ‘Jack the Ripper’. It would be advisable to watch the video below before reading my take and comments on this work.
Interestingly Dr Chainey uses this work to train new investigators on the art and science of ‘Geographical Profiling’. He puts much weight on the work done on the killer’s movements pre and post-murder pattern to identify the killer’s anchor location. I feel his natural inclination is to believe that the most likely suspect was someone living local, with intimate knowledge of the streets. That may well be his opinion.
The reason I even mention or even feature this particular clip (despite some errors obvious to Ripperologists) is because of how Dr Chainey ends his presentation. He ends it with a list of suspects who he believes are the ONLY credible suspects. This is because they had a proven and direct connection to his analysis’s geographical anchor zone. Begrudgingly I’m sure, but James Maybrick’s name is there at the bottom of the list. For that, I wish to commend Dr Chainey to put aside any opinion he may have of Maybrick’s candidacy and accept that as a named suspect in modern times, he is as valid a suspect as any other.
James Maybrick spent around a decade in his 20s living and working in the City of London and had proximity to Whitechapel. We know this because of his early career as a Shipbroker Clerk in the City, his sham marriage to Sarah Ann Robertson, and the fact he had a business address at 46 Lime Street in 1866 – a two-minute walk from Mitre Square. He had direct geographical connections.
Dr Chainey identifies the red anchor zone, including Thrawl Street, Wentworth Street, Goulston Street, and interestingly at the most southerly tip of the hot spot – Middlesex Street. Those familiar with the Maybrick scrapbook will know Middlesex Street is referenced as to where he claims to have stayed during his visits to the capital. It’s extraordinary that a hoaxer would have such luck in naming a street that has scientifically been proven to be within the anchor zone of at least three different geographical profiles. I will temper that with the fact the geographical footprint is a small one.
If you are a scientist and believe that data does not lie, you must still present the data accordingly. It may not be what you think it to be. Or even the most probable, but that does not mean you get to dismiss it. This is why I respect Dr Chainey’s work here, as he stayed true to his scientific principles. As a result, James Maybrick gets recognised as a valid suspect accordingly.
There is scientific evidence surrounding both the watch and the scrapbook that could do with more uncomfortable honesty by those scientists who assessed them. Perhaps then, we may get some real progress with the artefacts.
Maybe science will eventually help build the case for James Maybrick after all.
JACK THE RIPPER: THREADS
Think you know Jack the Ripper? Think again.
What if ‘Jack the Ripper’ was a cotton merchant from Liverpool? What if the diary or watch, purported to be James Maybrick’s, is genuine? This gripping fictional tale is a circumstantial exploration of James Maybrick being ‘Jack’.
Using a mix of fact and fiction, actual events and characters are brought to life in this gripping story.
Did one of his family members murder him in 1889, ending the reign of terror in London’s Whitechapel?
“Jack the Ripper: Threads” is the debut novel of Jay Hartley.
A historical crime thriller that will challenge everything you thought you knew about history’s most famous unsolved serial murders.