The real Edmund Reid

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I absolutely love the BBC/Amazon Prime TV Drama “Ripper Street” and I think the last season was the best season so far.

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I only found out recently that the main character in the show was based on the actual inspector in the Jack the Ripper case, Edmund Reid.

Detective Inspector Edmund John James Reid (21 March 1846 in Canterbury, Kent – 5 December 1917 at Herne Bay, Kent) was the head of the CID in the Metropolitan Police’s H Division at the time of the Whitechapel murders of Jack the Ripper in 1888.

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Edmund Reid was born in Canterbury, Kent in 1846. Prior to joining the police he worked as a grocer’s delivery boy, a pastry-cook and a ship’s steward before joining up in 1872 (Warrant no. 56100), serving in P Division (Camberwell). At the time of his joining he was the shortest man in the police force – at 5 feet 6 inches tall. A talented police officer, within two years he was made detective, and he steadily rose up the ranks. In 1885 he was made Detective Inspector and based at Scotland Yard, before organising and heading up the CID department in newly formed J Division (Bethnal Green) in 1886. In August 1887 he received a reprimand from head of CID James Munro (for what is not known but as he did not lose rank or pay, it was probably relatively minor) but within days he had been transferred to H Division (Whitechapel) to replace Frederick Abberline (who had been transferred to Scotland Yard but would later return to head up the Whitechapel Murders investigation).

Reid was the officer in charge of the enquiries into the murders of Emma Elizabeth Smith in April 1888, and Martha Tabram in August 1888, before Inspector Frederick Abberline was sent from Scotland Yard to ‘H’ Division in Whitechapel to co-ordinate the hunt for the killer.

He organised numerous identity parades for PC Barrett and Pearly Poll at the Tower of London and Wellington Barracks and questioned soldiers picked out by them or who were absent without leave. In his report on September 24th his frustration at the pair being unable to conclusively identify a suspect is apparent when he describes their evidence as “worthless”.

Reid did not take part in the investigation into the Polly Nichols murder as it occurred in J Division, and he was on leave during the time of the Annie Chapman murder. (He also did not investigate the later Catherine Eddowes murder as it occurred in the City of London Police’s jurisdiction).

Following the Elizabeth Stride murder, Reid was telegrammed at the Inspectors quarters at Commercial Street Police Station and immediately went to the murder scene at Berner Street. He monitored the searches, established a timeline of events of the body being discovered, organised house to house enquiries and ensured each person present at the scene was inspected and questioned before being allowed to leave.

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At 4.30am when the body was taken from the scene he personally walked to the home of the Corner Wynne Baxter to inform him of the murder, and upon his return conducted one final futile search of the scene in daylight before ordering the blood be washed away at 5.30am. He then went to the mortuary at St George in the East to inspect the body and take a description.

Reid was also involved in the investigations of the Mary Kelly murder as he was telegrammed to attend the scene.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/11/09/mary-jane-kelly-the-last-victim-of-jack-the-ripper/

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Reid would also be called to the scene and headed the investigation into the Pinchin Street Torso case and the murders of Alice McKenzie and Frances Coles, determining which areas of investigation to follow and delegating tasks to the other officers in CID.

During the time of the Whitechapel Murders, Reid was not seconded full time to the case so also had other duties (including preparing and compelling the morning report of crime in the area each day) and crimes to investigate (these included the “Great Silk Robberies” of late November 1888).

Reid’s own theory on the murders he spoke about during an interview with Lloyd’s Weekly News in 1912.

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“The whole of the murders were done after the public-houses were closed; the victims were all of the same class, the lowest of the low, and living within a quarter of a mile of each other; all were murdered within half a mile area; all were killed in the same manner. That is all we know for certain. My opinion is that the perpetrator of the crimes was a man who was in the habit of using a certain public-house, and of remaining there until closing time. Leaving with the rest of the customers, with what soldiers call ‘a touch of delirium triangle,’ he would leave with one of the women. My belief is that he would in some dark corner attack her with the knife and cut her up. Having satisfied his maniacal blood-lust he would go away home, and the next day know nothing about it.”

Saying later in the same interview on claims by others that the identity of the killer was known:

“But this I will say at once. I challenge anyone to produce a tittle of evidence of any kind against anyone. The earth has been raked over and the seas have been swept, to find this criminal ‘Jack the Ripper,’ always without success. It still amuses me to read the writings of such men as Dr. Anderson, Dr. Forbes Winslow, Major Arthur Griffiths, and many others, all holding different theories, but all of them wrong. I have answered many of them in print, and would only add here that I was on the scene and ought to know.”

As well as being a talented police officer (he held 50 rewards and commendations for his duty) Reid was also an early aeronaut (making the first descent by parachute from 1000ft in 1877 in Luton, being awarded a gold medal in 1883 by the Balloon Association of Great Britain following a record-breaking ascent in the balloon “Queen of the Meadow” from The Crystal Palace and made a total of 23 ascents), a Druid of Distinction, a talented actor, singer and a master of sleight of hand. His author friend Charles Gibbon named fictional Detective Sergeant Dier after Reid by reversing his name and many of Reid’s personal characteristics are present in the character.

For the television show Ripper Street, the writers made some drastic alterations to Reid’s biography. For example, Reid and his wife Emily are together until her death in 1900. They have two children together, Elizabeth and Harold, neither of whom are lost in a boating accident on the Thames. Being a fictional representation of the detective, the television character also seems to have a drastically different personality from the historical Reid and few of the cases he investigates have any historical basis.

In 1896 he retired from the Metropolitan Police, and after a brief stint as a pub landlord for seven months he became a private detective. In 1903 he retired to Hampton-on-Sea and in characteristic eccentric Reid style named his residence “Reid’s Ranch”, painting castle battlements and cannons on the side of his home, keeping a pet parrot and decorating the interior from photographs of his London cases.

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The garden contained an eccentric collection including a cannonball, a flagpole flying the Union Flag and a post from the end of the pier, and a wooden kiosk named the “Hampton-on-Sea Hotel” from where he sold soft drinks and postcards of himself to tourists. He soon became the champion of his neighbours in a campaign to save their homes from sea erosion. By 1915 he was the last remaining resident and he himself abandoned his home in 1916, moving to Herne Bay. In 1917 he remarried, but died on 5th December that year aged 71.

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Mary Jane Kelly-The last victim of Jack the Ripper.

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Mary Jane Kelly A.K.A.. Marie Jeanette Kelly, Mary Ann Kelly, Ginger, Fair Emma

Compared with other Ripper victims, Kelly’s origins are obscure and undocumented, and much of it is possibly embellished. Kelly may have herself fabricated many details of her early life as there is no corroborating documentary evidence, but there is no evidence to the contrary either.According to Joseph Barnett, the man she had most recently lived with prior to her murder, Kelly had told him she was born in Limerick, Ireland in around 1863—although whether she referred to the city or the county is not known—and that her family moved to Wales when she was young.

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Mary Jane Kelly was approximately 25 years old at the time of her death which would place her birth around 1863. She was 5′ 7″ tall and stout. She had blonde hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion. “Said to have been possessed of considerable personal attractions.”

She was last seen wearing a linsey frock and a red shawl pulled around her shoulders. She was bare headed. Detective Constable Walter Dew claimed to know Kelly well by sight and says that she was attractive and paraded around, usually in the company of two or three friends. He says she always wore a spotlessly clean white apron.

 

On the morning of 9 November 1888, the day of the annual Lord Mayor’s Day celebrations, Kelly’s landlord John McCarthy sent his assistant, ex-soldier Thomas Bowyer, to collect the rent. Kelly was six weeks behind on her payments, owing 29 shillings.Shortly after 10:45 a.m., Bowyer knocked on her door but received no response. He reached through the crack in the window, pushed aside a coat being used as a curtain and peered inside discovering Kelly’s horribly mutilated corpse lying on the bed.

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The Manchester Guardian of 10 November 1888 reported that Sgt Edward Badham accompanied Inspector Walter Beck to the site of 13 Miller’s Court after they were both notified of Kelly’s murder by a frantic Bowyer. Beck told the inquest that he was the first police officer at the scene and Badham may have accompanied him, but there are no official records to confirm Badham being with him. Edward Badham was on duty at Commercial Street police station on the evening of 12 November 1888. The inquest into the death of Mary Kelly had been completed earlier that day, when around 6 p.m. George Hutchinson arrived at the station to give his initial statement to Badham.

The wife of a local lodging-house deputy, Caroline Maxwell, claimed to have seen Kelly alive at about 8:30 on the morning of the murder, though she admitted to only meeting her once or twice before;moreover, her description did not match that of those who knew Kelly more closely. Maurice Lewis, a tailor, reported seeing Kelly at about 10:00 that same morning in a pub. Both statements were dismissed by the police since they did not fit the accepted time of death; moreover, they could find no one else to confirm the reports.Maxwell may have either mistaken someone else for Kelly, or mixed up the day she had seen her. Such confusion was used as a plot device in the graphic novel From Hell .

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The scene was attended by Superintendent Thomas Arnold and Inspector Edmund Reid from Whitechapel’s H Division, as well as Frederick Abberline and Robert Anderson from Scotland Yard.

Arnold had the room broken into at 1:30 p.m. after the possibility of tracking the murderer from the room with bloodhounds was dismissed as impractical. A fire fierce enough to melt the solder between a kettle and its spout had burnt in the grate, apparently fuelled with clothing. Inspector Abberline thought Kelly’s clothes were burnt by the murderer to provide light, as the room was otherwise only dimly lit by a single candle.

The mutilation of Kelly’s corpse was by far the most extensive of any of the Whitechapel murders, probably because the murderer had more time to commit his atrocities in a private room rather than in the street.Dr. Thomas Bond and Dr. George Bagster Phillips examined the body.

Phillips and Bond timed her death to about 12 hours before the examination. Phillips suggested that the extensive mutilations would have taken two hours to perform,and Bond noted that rigor mortis set in as they were examining the body, indicating that death occurred between 2 and 8:00 a.m. Bond’s notes read:

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“The body was lying naked in the middle of the bed, the shoulders flat but the axis of the body inclined to the left side of the bed. The head was turned on the left cheek. The left arm was close to the body with the forearm flexed at a right angle and lying across the abdomen. The right arm was slightly abducted from the body and rested on the mattress. The elbow was bent, the forearm supine with the fingers clenched. The legs were wide apart, the left thigh at right angles to the trunk and the right forming an obtuse angle with the pubis.
The whole of the surface of the abdomen and thighs was removed and the abdominal cavity emptied of its viscera. The breasts were cut off, the arms mutilated by several jagged wounds and the face hacked beyond recognition of the features. The tissues of the neck were severed all round down to the bone.
The viscera were found in various parts viz: the uterus and kidneys with one breast under the head, the other breast by the right foot, the liver between the feet, the intestines by the right side and the spleen by the left side of the body. The flaps removed from the abdomen and thighs were on a table.
The bed clothing at the right corner was saturated with blood, and on the floor beneath was a pool of blood covering about two feet square. The wall by the right side of the bed and in a line with the neck was marked by blood which had struck it in several places.
The face was gashed in all directions, the nose, cheeks, eyebrows, and ears being partly removed. The lips were blanched and cut by several incisions running obliquely down to the chin. There were also numerous cuts extending irregularly across all the features.
The neck was cut through the skin and other tissues right down to the vertebrae, the fifth and sixth being deeply notched. The skin cuts in the front of the neck showed distinct ecchymosis. The air passage was cut at the lower part of the larynx through the cricoid cartilage.

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Both breasts were more or less removed by circular incisions, the muscle down to the ribs being attached to the breasts. The intercostals between the fourth, fifth, and sixth ribs were cut through and the contents of the thorax visible through the openings.
The skin and tissues of the abdomen from the costal arch to the pubes were removed in three large flaps. The right thigh was denuded in front to the bone, the flap of skin, including the external organs of generation, and part of the right buttock. The left thigh was stripped of skin fascia, and muscles as far as the knee.
The left calf showed a long gash through skin and tissues to the deep muscles and reaching from the knee to five inches above the ankle. Both arms and forearms had extensive jagged wounds.
The right thumb showed a small superficial incision about one inch long, with extravasation of blood in the skin, and there were several abrasions on the back of the hand moreover showing the same condition.
On opening the thorax it was found that the right lung was minimally adherent by old firm adhesions. The lower part of the lung was broken and torn away. The left lung was intact. It was adherent at the apex and there were a few adhesions over the side. In the substances of the lung there were several nodules of consolidation.
The pericardium was open below and the heart absent. In the abdominal cavity there was some partly digested food of fish and potatoes, and similar food was found in the remains of the stomach attached to the intestines.”

Phillips believed that Kelly was killed by a slash to the throat and the mutilations performed afterwards. Bond stated in a report that the knife used was about 1 in (25 mm) wide and at least 6 in (150 mm) long, but did not believe that the murderer had any medical training or knowledge. He wrote:

In each case the mutilation was inflicted by a person who had no scientific nor anatomical knowledge. In my opinion he does not even possess the technical knowledge of a butcher or horse slaughterer or a person accustomed to cut up dead animals.

Her body was taken to the mortuary in Shoreditch rather than the one in Whitechapel, which meant that the inquest was opened by the coroner for North East Middlesex, Dr. Roderick Macdonald, MP, instead of Wynne Edwin Baxter, the coroner who handled many of the other Whitechapel murders. The speed of the inquest was criticised in the press;Macdonald heard the inquest in a single day at Shoreditch Town Hall on 12 November.She was officially identified by Barnett, who said he recognised her by “the ear and the eyes”,and McCarthy was also certain the body was Kelly’s. Her death was registered in the name “Marie Jeanette Kelly”, age 25

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Kelly was buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Leytonstone on 19 November 1888. Her obituary ran as follows:

The funeral of the murdered woman Kelly has once more been postponed. Deceased was a Catholic, and the man Barnett, with whom she lived, and her landlord, Mr. M. Carthy, desired to see her remains interred with the ritual of her Church. The funeral will, therefore, take place tomorrow [19 Nov] in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Leytonstone. The hearse will leave the Shoreditch mortuary at half-past twelve.
The remains of Mary Janet  Kelly, who was murdered on Nov. 9 in Miller’s-court, Dorset-street, Spitalfields, were brought yesterday morning from Shoreditch mortuary to the cemetery at Leytonstone, where they were interred.
No family member could be found to attend the funeral