Image which has appeared on the cross
above the tombstone of Walter Thomas
Porriott at Brisbane's Toowong Cemetery.
It depicts a side-on view of a capped man,
arm raised above his head with a dagger
in his hand.
Mystery Image of Jack the Ripper appears in Australia.
Could this grainy image - which has mysteriously appeared this week on the cross above the tomb of a conviced killer in Australia - be a link to the 120-year old mystery - with the identity of the world first recognised serial killer being revealed in Australia?
Read on about this fascinating twist in this myestery on the eve of the 120th anniversary of the first of Jack the Ripper's murders.
|Is this the final resting place of Jack the Ripper in|
Brisbane's historic Toowong Cemetery?
Tonight is the 120th anniversary of the first of the Jack the Ripper murders of five street prostitutes in Whitechapel - all within a one square mile area of London.
Just after 3.40am on 31 August 1888, Charles Cross was walking along Buck's Row in Whitechapel (now Durward Street) on his way to work when he spotted what he thought was a lost tarpaulin on the opposite side of the road. It was in fact the body of Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols who had been brutally butchered by Jack the Ripper.
A week later, on 8 September 1888, the killer struck again with his brutal slaying of Annie Chapman at 29 Hanbury Street Spitalfields.
On 30 September 1888, he struck twice on the one night. Firstly, he slaughtered Elizabeth "Long Liz" Stride at Dutfield's Yard at 40 Berner Street (now Henriques Street) and, having been disturbed, moved quickly to Mitre Square, Aldgate in the City of London, where he ripped his fourth victim Catherine Eddowes apart.
His final killing was of Mary Jane Kelly on 9 November 1888 - the longest and most-gruesome killing - which latest several hours. This was the only killing which occurred indoors at 13 Miller's Court, off Dorset Street Spitalfields.
No one was ever tried for the the killing of these five women and Jack the Ripper casually walked off into the evenings mists of London on 9 November 1888 never to be seen again. His 71-day killing spree was over.
A feature article appeared today in The Courier-Mail (reproduced below) which identifies a new suspect in this mystery. He is Walter Thomas Porriott who died on 29 August 1952 and is buried in the Toowong Cemetery in Brisbane Queensland alongside his wife Eliza Porriott, known as Bessie.
This follows an earlier article by Damien Murphy (reproduced below with corrections) from The Bulletin magazine in Australia of 30 December 1997.
And on the eve of the 120th anniversary of the first of the Whitechapel murders, an amazing ghostly image on the cross of Porriott's grave has been captured. The grainy figure shows a capped man, with his arm raised and a dagger in his hand high above his head - as if he were ready to pounce on his first victim.
Is this apparition a sign that after 120 years, Walter Porriott has finally emerged from London's East End to graphically declare that he is indeed Jack the Ripper - the Butcher of Whitechapel who despicably despatched five lonely London prostitutes to their eternity in the penultimate decade of the 19th century.
The mystery of Jack the Ripper will live on for another 120 years as Ripperologists around the world search for that one shred of evidence which will finally prove who this murderous fiend really was.
And along with all of the hundreds of possible theories, the grave of Walter Porriott - who was buried 56 years ago today at the historic Toowong Cemetery in Brisbane - will be remembered by many people as the final resting place of Jack the Ripper.
|Historians Paul Tully (left) and Jack Sim inspect the site|
of the grave at Brisbane's historic Toowong cemetery
which some members of Walter Porriot's family believe is
the final resting place of Jack the Ripper.
Jack the Ripper may lay in Toowong Cemetery: historian
The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Australia)
by Tony Keim
August 30, 2008
Could this grave site in Brisbane be the final resting place of one of the world's most infamous and brutal serial killers - Jack the Ripper?
The headstone does not even mention the man many believe to be the Ripper, convicted killer, rogue impostor, backwater quack and man of a thousand identities Walter Thomas Porriott.
It merely reads: "Bessie" died 25th June 1957 and her husband.
Porriott, whose legally acknowledged name was Andrew John Gibson, was buried amid family shame beneath his ever-faithful last wife Eliza "Bessie" Porriott on a hill with Brisbane city views at the Toowong Cemetery.
His story continues to fascinate new generations of crime sleuths around the world more than a century later – tonight marks the 120th anniversary of the Ripper's first grisly slaying in the dark back streets of industrial-era England.
While Ripper fanatics continue to debate the true identity of Jack the Ripper, some are convinced there is strong evidence implicating Porriott in the string of five prostitute murders.
He was a habitual bigamist who broke as many hearts as he did bank accounts by the time he died in 1952.
His actual birth name and date of birth – he was believed to have been in his 80s when he died, although officially he was recorded to be 59 – are just some of the secrets he took with him to his grave.
But Brisbane City Council records reveal that he now lies beneath "Portion 7A, Section 185, Grave Number 9/10".
In 1997 Porriott's Sydney-based great-grandson, Steve Wilson, publicly claimed he had little doubt his late relative was the infamous serial killer.
Porriott was in England when all five "confirmed" murders were committed and when he sailed to Australia in November 1888 the murders stopped, among other pieces of supporting evidence.
Porriott was also known to be a misogynist – he particularly hated prostitutes – who spent his life marrying women in order to fleece them of their assets before fleeing.
Despite all his family's suspicions, many Ripper enthusiasts, known internationally as "Ripperologists", are divided over Porriott's guilt.
Brisbane homicide historian Jack Simm was not entirely convinced but admitted the ongoing conjecture added to the mystique of the legendary whodunit.
Ipswich Ripperologist and councillor Paul Tully, who has been researching for his own Ripper book for the past five years, said: "Porriott was a womanising conman whose modus operandi was unlike that of Jack the Ripper.
"But this is a fascinating Australian connection to Jack the Ripper which cannot be completely dismissed ."
A ripping yarn
by Damien Murphy
December 30, 1997
|Is this the final resting place of|
Jack the Ripper at Brisbane's
Could the man who was Jack the Ripper be buried under an assumed name in the Brisbane suburb of Toowong?
In section 185 of the Toowong cemetery, a tombstone above plots 9 and 10 bears the words: “ BESSIE DIED 25 JUNE 1957 AND HER HUSBAND”.
Cemetery records show that Walter Thomas Porriott was buried below. To police he was known as Andrew John Gibson, convicted killer, bush quack, swindler, owner of a thousand names and a bigamist who left a trail of broken hearts and empty purses around the world when he died an octogenarian in 1952.
One of his descendants, Steven Wilson of Sydney, has tracked Gibson's life and believes circumstantial evidence makes a case that his great-great grandfather was Jack the Ripper.
“Gibson was in England at the time of the Ripper murders. The day he sailed for Australia, November 9,1888, the murders stopped,” Wilson says.
Gibson hated women, spent most of his life swindling them, marrying them and deserting them. His writings show obsessions both with the 'filth' of prostitutes and female genitalia, the latter an obsession which prompted him to pose as a gynaecologist in Australia, South Africa, the United States and England.
Ashamed: Beverly Wilson of Redcliffe, Queensland, says her family has always been deeply ashamed and divided over the crimes and times of her great-grandfather. “We all grew up deeply ashamed of him,” she says. “He made it tough on his own generation and the shame has remained down the line. The older ones used to refuse to speak about him. Growing up, we used to wonder why, and it's only been in recent times that we've started thinking he could have been worse than we ever imagined.”
Jack the Ripper as a forebear is a hard cross. He not only got away with murder, but was the first serial killer to make it as a media star. Such crimes are now almost commonplace, but when he stalked and killed prostitutes in London's East End during the late summer and autumn of 1888, the Ripper's crimes had such social and political dimensions that the newspapers obligingly fed their newly literate mass readership a feast of horror, hatred and fear.
He was dubbed “Leather Apron” and the “Whitechapel Murderer” (after the suburb where most of the murders were committed) but the tag that stuck, Jack the Ripper, came courtesy of signed letters to the press by someone claiming to be the killer.
Nobody really knows if Jack the Ripper was one or many; even the number of murders remains unclear. The Ripper canon is five kills — Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols, Friday, August 31, 1888: Annie Chapman, Saturday, September 8; Elizabeth Stride, Kate Eddowes, both Sunday, September 30; Mary Jane Kelly, Friday, November 9. Some police contemporaries and modern Ripper students believe the killings started earlier, others think they ended later.
Opinions vary also on the body count: the range runs from maybe four to six, or as many as eight. The women were choked, stabbed repeatedly or had their throats slit. Some were butchered — the killer kept victims' viscera as mementoes. Surgeons who conducted post-mortems thought the mutilations (carried out under the difficulties of darkness and the need to keep a watchful eye) showed some rudimentary anatomical knowledge.
Taunts: Correspondence sent to the press deemed by some to be from the killer taunted authorities, while another note came with half a diseased kidney the writer claimed to have taken from one of his victims (Kate Eddowes).
The fascination with the Ripper crimes continues unabated after nearly 110 years. Why? They remain unsolved, for one thing. But Jack the Ripper lives because he “got away with murder”. He is the first murderer of the modern age to become a media-fuelled mythic figure. Others, like Ned Kelly, Dracula, Dr Jekyll, Bonnie and Clyde, Hannibal Lecter, Squizzy Taylor and John Dillinger, might have blazed similar paths of inverted glory, but the myth of Jack the Ripper burns on. The killings of these fact-and-fiction figures allowed their myths to step free of the straitjacket of convention, and they became heroic partly because ordinary people felt cheated by the so-called leaders of the day.
When Jack the Ripper stalked Whitechapel, late 19th century England was riven by Victorian mores, class struggles and urban decay; the failure of two London police forces to solve the murders was perceived as the Establishment's reluctance to protect the lower classes. The Industrial Revolution slums were so loaded with Irish and Jewish immigrants that Irish home-rule partisans and anti-Semites were able to use the killings for their own ends.
The killings were also a commercial primer for newspaper owners and their journalists; the Ripper proved a good murder was worth a thousand advertisements. The retirement memoirs of police involved in the Whitechapel investigations extended the Ripper's shelf-life, and ever since, books have dribbled out (the 1988 centenary was a publisher's heaven); now Ripperologist web sites litter the Internet with news, views, opinions, arguments and gruesome photographs of the victims.
The I-Know-Who-Jack-The-RipperWas cottage industry started as soon as the murders stopped, and continues, with new candidates regularly unveiled. At first the prime suspects were East End Jews and lunatics. In the 1970s, Buckingham Palace was fingered as having been involved in a cover-up to protect the Duke of Clarence (eldest son of the future Edward VII) for allegedly fathering a child with an artist's model — whose nursemaid had been one of the Ripper's victims. The 1992 publication of the (possibly false) Maybrick diary laid the blame on James Maybrick, an arsenic addict driven to murder by his cuckolding wife; in 1993, old letters written by a police officer at the time of the murder identify an American quack called Francis Tumblety. The 1996 book Jack the Ripper: The Simple Truth named Joseph Barnett, a de facto of one of the victims.
There have also been previous Australian Ripper angles:A series of events coincided with the Ripper crimes.
Frederick Deeming was hanged in Melbourne in 1892 for killing his wife. Previously, in England, he had murdered his former wife and four children and went to his death with the press baying he was Jack the Ripper.
One of the leading suspects, solicitor Montague John Druitt, found dead in the Thames a month after Mary Kelly's murder, prompted a flurry in the early 1960s when several Australians made second and third-hand claims they had proof that a man called Druitt had left papers proving the Ripper's identity. The trail went cold in Gippsland, itself a part of Australia steeped in a bloody history of murder and mayhem.
Steven Wilson's contention that Gibson was Jack the Ripper is no more hypothetical than most other claims to the killer's real identity. A psychiatric nurse from Granville in Sydney's west, Wilson spent six years collecting documents, newspaper clippings and legal records on four continents while tracking Gibson's peripatetic life. He has come up with a plausible but circumstantial narrative that paints his ancestor as one of the many men who could have been the Ripper.
Aliases: The Jack the Ripper identification industry tailors facts to fit the opinions. Wilson says that is part of the hunt; his pursuit of Gibson often runs hot and cold because his ancestor, a shyster of epic proportions, changed his story so often to dupe police, family and victims that fact and fiction were sometimes hard to separate.
According to Wilson's research, Gibson's date of birth in England is uncertain, but he was adopted and brought to Australia by a Sydney couple in the 1870s and given the name Charles Ernest Chadwick. The name change was the start of a lifelong career of aliases, one of the last being in 1950 when as the intimate “Dr Darling” he occupied the post of resident medical officer at Sofala Hospital (in the old NSW gold mining town made famous in Russell Drysdale's painting, Sofala).
Chadwick (Gibson) was raised in the Sydney suburb of Canterbury, but when his adopted father died in 1886, family acrimony ensued and he went to England to contest the will. In evidence given to American prison authorities, he left England on November 9, 1888, on the three month voyage to Australia — a list of third-class passengers arriving in the colony of NSW on board the ship Liguria in February 1889 includes the name of one of his aliases, Henry Chadwick; however, a 1893 Goulburn jail record has him arriving in Australia in 1889 on the ship Ormuz.
He was jailed for stealing in July 1889, married (the first of many marriages) Frances Mary Scally in 1891, and was jailed for 18 months in Goulburn on theft and false pretences in 1893 before going on to serve in prisons in Junee, California (San Quentin and San Francisco), South Africa (Durban and Johannesburg), and England (Winchester, Bristol and Stafford). In all he spent nearly 44 years behind bars. His last stint was a 10year sentence for manslaughter handed down at Stafford Assizes in 1940 after he killed a pregnant woman while operating on her posing as a gynaecologist.
Gibson spent much of his life pretending to be a doctor, and wrote long-winded, popular medical books. One of these, written while practising in William Street, Sydney, titled Health and Vigour, contained a section on blood poisoning that revealed a Ripper-like obsession:
“The origin of this fearful disease is unknown, but there is no doubt that it is kept up and spread by prostitution, and aggravated by the filth and bad habits of the lower order of public women … Prostitution must go on until men and women are wise and good enough to lay the axe at the very roots of this deadly evil.”
Gibson married at least 20 times, and the routine varied little. Posing as a doctor he would advise, get consent, marry a patient and fleece her, before quickly fleeing with a new woman. A marriage certificate dated June 12, 1896, in Queensland pens a sketch of the man. The bride was Bertha Ethel Young, born Minindi, NSW, 17 years. Her father's occupation is listed as drover, while Gibson (as groom) calls himself Henry Irwin Llewellyn Cooper, born Dublin, aged 27 years, and lists his occupation as medical practitioner, his father's rank as surgeon, Royal Navy.
The April 1915 Police Gazette listed Gibson's aliases: Dr Ebenezer McKay, Dr Charles Ernest Chadwick, Dr Harry Westwood Cooper, Dr Milton Abraham (alias Monaghan, aka O'Connor), Surgeon-Major Swinton Holme VC, DSO, Dr Henry Irving Llewellyn Cooper, Surgeon Commander Swinton, Dr Boyd, Dr Harry Cecil Darling and Dr Harry Cecil Rutherford Darling. His last alias, Walter Thomas Porriott, came courtesy of his son-in-law, who died perhaps too mysteriously after being apparently struck by his own milkcart while Gibson was back in Australia in August 1936 in the Blue Mountains town of Katoomba.
Returning to Australia again in 1950 after serving 10 years' jail for manslaughter in England, Gibson's penultimate scam was as “Dr Darling”, of Sofala Hospital, but when the gig was up he fled north to the Peel Island leper lazaret on Moreton Bay, Queensland, working as a hospital orderly under the name of Porriott.
His last scam was as an 81-year-old (claiming to be 71) when he married 58year-old Brisbane spinster Eliza O'Leary on April 21, 1951. He died in her arms on August 29, 1952, at New Farm, in Brisbane, but not before obtaining £62.10 ($135) from his new wife to allegedly pay stamp duty on a document from London's High Court of Justice he claimed was a large bequest.
His widow found the document was worthless, like her husband.
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