GEORGE CHAPMAN - RIPPER SUSPECT
Severin Klosowski qualified as a junior surgeon in Poland in 1887. Later that year, or early the next, he came to London and found work as an assistant hairdresser.
In October 1889 he married Lucy Baderski and by 1890 was working at a barber’s shop in the basement of the White Hart Pub, in George Yard, off Whitechapel High Street.
The couple moved to America in 1891 where he established himself as a barber in Jersey City.
Following a violent argument, a now pregnant Lucy returned to England where, on 15th May 1892, she gave birth to a baby girl. A few weeks later Klosowski also returned to London and the couple were briefly re-united.
But in 1893, he found another woman, coincidentally named Annie Chapman, and they lived together until she left him in 1894. Klosowski, however, acquired a lasting keepsake from the relationship, for he adopted her name, and from then on was known as George Chapman.
His next lover was Mary Spink, who he claimed to have married. However, she died on Christmas day 1897.
His next wife, Bessie Taylor, fared little better and died on 13th February 1901.
Unperturbed Chapman married again, but when this wife, Maud Marsh, also died on 22nd October 1902, her family sought the opinion of their own doctor who became suspicious. The bodies of his first two wives were exhumed and significant traces of poison were found.
Chapman was arrested, found guilty of murder and was executed on 7th April 1903. Following his conviction there were suggestions in the press that he might also have been responsible for the Whitechapel Murders.
So a journalist from the Pall Mall Gazette sought the opinion of, the by then retired, Inspector Frederick George Abberline.
Abberline admitted that he had never harboured any suspicions against Chapman in relation to the Jack the Ripper murders until the Attorney General had made his opening statement at his trial.
Since then, however, he had been "so struck with the remarkable coincidences in the two series of murder" that he had not been able to think of anything else for several days past…"
The Gazette quoted Abberline as observing that "there are a score of things which make one believe that Chapman is the man…" These included his having studied surgery and the Whitechapel murders having been, according to Abberline, "the work of an expert surgeon."
Abberline was also struck by the facts that Klosowski's arrival in England coincided with the beginning of the murders; that on arrival he lodged in George Yard, where the first murder was committed; and that the murders ceased in London when Chapman went to America, "while similar murders began to be perpetrated in America after he landed there."
However, Abberline is wrong in a lot of what he says about Chapman. Although Chapman did have surgical training, there is considerable debate over whether or not the Ripper possessed surgical knowledge, and the murders cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as the work of an "expert surgeon."
Although Chapman arrived in London around the time that the murders began, so did thousands of other immigrants. Chapman didn’t begin working in the White Hart pub in George yard until 1890, around two years after the first murder. Although the murders did cease once Chapman had left for America, this could easily have been coincidence. However, no similar series of murders coincided with his arrival there.
The major objection against Chapman has to be that a killer who could brutally eviscerate his victims with the frenzied violence shown by Jack the Ripper, is highly unlikely to have turned to wife poisoning as a means of venting his homicidal fury. Despite Abberline’s contention that a "…man who could watch his wives being slowly tortured to death by poison, as he did, was capable of anything…" it seems unlikely that Chapman was Jack the Ripper.