Orsam Books

THE SUSPECT WHO NEVER WAS

The below article was first published as an entry in Lord Orsam Says...Part 15 and is republished now because Jon Hainsworth has posted in JTR Forums via Michael Banks ('Coming to work for Valentine's school thread', #16) that: 


'Sims and Macnaghten agreed with Farquharson about Montague Druitt's secret life as a serial murderer. For example, in late 1891, Sims had written a column in which he muses that the killer is probably young, a student who has "dabbled in science", an English gentleman, slightly built but very strong, a brunette with a fair moustache, tormented by regret, and a suicide.'

In a later post on JTR Forums, in thread 'Proof of Innocence' (#28), Hainsworth actually describes this 1891 column of Sims as 'a smoking gun' (a claim he first made in 2021 which I responded to in The Smoking Gun With No Smoke).

I cannot stress strongly enough that Sims was quite plainly NOT referring to Druitt in his 1891 column (as I demonstrate below) and it is pure misinformation for Hainsworth to suggest that he was.

* * * * * *  


Sims and Macnaghten agreed with Farquharson about Montague Druitt's secret life as a serial murderer. For example, in late 1891, Sims had written a column in which he muses that the killer is probablyyoung, a student who has " dabbled in science", an English gentleman, slightly built but very strong, a brunette with a fair moustache, tormented by regret, and a suicide.

Sims and Macnaghten agreed with Farquharson about Montague Druitt's secret life as a serial murderer. For example, in late 1891, Sims had written a column in which he muses that the killer is probablyyoung, a student who has " dabbled in science", an English gentleman, slightly built but very strong, a brunette with a fair moustache, tormented by regret, and a suicide.

Jon Hainsworth is back!

The American version of his book, apparently, has 'new information', as did the UK version, but that was a bit of a damp squib to say the least, as I explained in Bridge Over Troubled Water.

In his latest post on the Forum ('Message from Jon Hainsworth and Christine Ward-Agius', #1), Hainsworth tells us, bafflingly, that Druitt is 'not a suspect in the Whitechapel murders'.  No, because you see, he was 'the solution to a handful of upper class Victorians'.

I confess that I stared blankly at my computer screen, attempting to process this information, but could not for the life of me fathom the distinction Hainsworth was trying to make.  Surely the solution to the murders, by definition, involves identifying a suspect.

Anyway, let's not worry about that because it doesn't strike me as the most important point in the world.

I must confess to also not understanding Hainsworth's second argument in his post which is that Druitt did not 'die at the right time'.  He puts those words in quotes so I assume someone has said them but I don't know who, or what the right time means.  As far as I can see, Druitt did die at the right time if Mary Jane Kelly was the last victim.  I think he's saying that Druitt wasn't the obvious suspect during the 1890s bearing in mind that there was a general belief that the Ripper continued murdering women in and after 1889 but I have great difficulty understanding why he's bothered to mention it.  If Kelly was the Ripper's final victim then it's obvious that Druitt's suicide came at a time which shines suspicion on him, but no more than that.

So we now come on to the third argument Hainsworth makes, which is the only important one that I can see in his post.  This relates to what he describes as a George Sims 'source from the Dec 1st 1891 issue of "The Referee" found by Christine'

According to his book, the article in question was actually from the November 1st 1891 issue of The Referee, not December 1st.  His transcript of the article, which also dates the relevant issue to 1 November 1891, can be found here.

So, you might ask, what's so amazingly important about this article by Sims that it becomes the centrepiece of Hainsworth's entire argument that Druitt was the suspect, sorry the solution of the Whitechapel murders?

Well, when we compare what Sims said to the way Hainsworth reports it, we find that Hainsworth is back to his old tricks of noting things said by someone which (vaguely) support his theory while totally ignoring those which contradict it.

The first thing to note about Sims' article is that he was responding to a report that Jack the Ripper was operating in Berlin. In that context, he cited a description of a man seen to have committed a Ripper-like murder, which was that he was 'about twenty years of age, of middle height and slightly built, with blonde hair and mustache'

What this did was trigger Sims into telling his readers that they should not be assuming that the Whitechapel murderer 'is necessarily an old and hardened criminal'.  He was saying, in other words, that the example from Berlin shows us that the murderer might not be like the stereotypical 'rough, vulgar, or drunken corner man or bully' which most people probably assumed Jack the Ripper to be.

As I read his article, that's really all he was trying to say, but, given Hainsworth's interest we must, of course, look closer.

The first thing that Sims said about the Whitechapel murderer in his article was this:

'I think it extremely likely that the Whitechapel murderer was or is an individual of the type now wanted by the Berlin police'.

Oh, oh!  Problemo numero uno.

'was or is'

Sims doesn't seem at all sure in 1891 that the Whitechapel murderer is dead.  In fact, as we've seen, he first said that we should not assume that the Whitechapel murderer 'is' a hardened criminal, which would assume he was still alive at the time. 

Even worse for Hainsworth, Sims said later in the article:

'It is very possible that, if still alive, he may change his tactics, and for this reason the mysterious case of poisoning in Lambeth, where a wretched woman was induced by a "young dark man" to drink poison out of a bottle, ought to be very closely and assiduously investigated'.

So he was there quite clearly and unambiguously saying that he thought that Jack the Ripper might well be the same person as the Lambeth poisoner and he actually advised the police to investigate the Lambeth poisoner with this in mind!!

It would be astonishing if he gave this advice while firmly believing (having been told so by Macnaghten) that Jack the Ripper had died shortly after the murder of Mary Jane Kelly.

What does Hainsworth have to say about Sims' theory that Jack the Ripper might have been the Lambeth poisoner? 

Yes, you guessed it.  Nothing! 

It doesn't fit the theory so it's ignored.  Even worse, Hainsworth tells us that Sims said the very opposite to what he was, in fact, saying.  Hence, he says:

'Sims, the close pal of Macnaghten 'speculates' that the murderer is likely dead, a suicide'

Whooooaaaa!!  Hold on there a minute.  Sims doesn't say that at all.  Nowhere does he say that the murderer was likely dead. 

This is what he does say at the end of the article.

'But possibly the Whitechapel murderer is dead.  The homicidal maniac often turns his hand against himself.'

I'm right in thinking that Hainsworth is a teacher, yeah?  Surely he knows the difference between 'possibly' and 'likely'. Or is he using the Fisherman Dictionary of the English Language where words take on brand new meanings when they are applied to one's theory?

So, no, Sims did not say it was likely that the murderer was dead and had committed suicide. He only expressed it as a possibility, which is odd bearing in mind that he's supposed to have had inside information direct from Macnaghten that Druitt killed himself back in November 1888.   Even odder, as we've seen, is that Sims thought in 1891 that Whitechapel murder might also have been the Lambeth poisoner.  Did Sims believe in ghosts, perhaps?

Having totally misled himself as to whether Sims believed that the Whitechapel murderer was dead or not, Hainsworth goes on to suggest that Sims was describing Montague Druitt to a tee by saying that the murderer was extremely likely to be (or have been):

'young, a gentleman, a brunette, slightly built yet strong, who expressed insincere regret for his crimes, that he was a genius at evading capture, that he had "dabbled" but not qualified in scientific studies (and whose date of death does not explain the murders ceasing, as they haven't yet).'

The first fail here is that Sims did NOT say in his 1891 article that the murderer was a gentleman, nor did he say he was a brunette.  I honestly don't know how Hainsworth imagines these things.  What Sims actually said is that the description provided by the Berlin police of their suspect (namely, about twenty years of age, of middle height and slightly built, with blonde hair and mustache) was extremely likely to be 'of the type' of person who committed the Whitechapel murders.

As to his hair colour, he said by way of caveat, 'not necessarily blonde'.  Now again, my comprehension skills may be limited, but if he had wanted to say that the murderer was not blonde, surely he would have said this.  To me, what he was saying was that the murderer could have had blond hair, but not necessarily, which means that his hair colour wasn't a relevant factor.  It could have been any colour!  He never said in his article that it was likely that the killer was brunette.

As for being a gentleman, he said nothing of the sort.  What he said was that he thought the Whitechapel murderer was extremely likely to be (or have been):

'young and slight, and possibly refined in appearance'

Being (possibly) refined in appearance does not necessarily make a young man a gentleman!  In fact, he thought him likely to have been 'a student'.  Just look at Hainsworth's summary of Sims' description above.  Does he mention anywhere that Sims thought the murderer was a student?   No, he does not, is the answer. And I assume he discards it because Druitt was a professional:  a barrister (and a schoolteacher).

So let's see the full quote from Sims, as transcribed by Hainsworth:

'I think it extremely likely that the Whitechapel murderer was or is an individual of the type now wanted by the Berlin police—not necessarily blonde, but young and slight, and possibly refined in appearance--and my reason is this: The insane motive is most probably a desire to see death, to look upon the actual palpitating heart, to feel the warm blood of the victim, and this would be more likely to occur to a student, a dabbler in science, an inquirer into the mysteries of existence, than to a rough, vulgar, or drunken corner man or bully.'

The first thing we notice here is that Sims GIVES HIS REASON for why he says that the murderer was young and slight, and possibly refined in appearance, which is NOT that he has been told this by a Chief Constable at Scotland Yard!!!  Not at all, it's because he thinks that the desire to see death and feel the warm blood of a victim is something likely to be desired by an immature but educated and curious young male, not the rough hardened stupid criminal type who doesn't care for such things.  That's his theory.

He defines the student as:

'a dabbler in science, an inquirer into the mysteries of existence'

Does that sound like Druitt?  Not particularly, or at all.  He was a barrister and a schoolteacher.  What reason is there to think he had ever dabbled in science or inquired into the mysteries of existence? 

None that I can see.

Sure, Hainsworth has a theory, for which there is precisely zero evidence, that Druitt once studied medicine (which is why he tries, implausibly and without providing any examples, to persuade us in his book that the term 'medical student' was interchangeable in Victorian England with the terms 'doctor' and 'surgeon') but even that doesn't strike me as being the equivalent of someone who dabbled in science.  If Sims meant medicine he would surely have said medicine, not science.

In his Forum post, Hainsworth notably changes 'science' to 'scientific studies' changes, presumably to try and bring medicine into that category but it's so blatant as to be pathetic.

It's notable, incidentally, that in his book, Hainsworth says the following, while trying to argue that a medical student was basically regarded the same as a doctor or surgeon:

'For example the famous writer [Lord Orsam note: he appears to mean Sims] who would fictionalise [the unnamed] Druitt as a middle aged, fully qualified surgeon had also years earlier revealed the murderer to be really only a 'dabbler' in science'.

The plethora of false and circular arguments in that single sentence are amazing.  I couldn't actually tell you when and where Sims is supposed to have fictionalized Druitt as a middle aged, fully qualified surgeon (is he referring to Logan's book?) - and I thought Sims once referred to the killer as a 'mad physician' - but it's just Hainsworth guessing that it's Druitt, just as he's guessing that Sims was labelling Druitt as a 'dabbler' in science.

The rest of Sims' profile of the murderer in his 1891 article comes from this paragraph:

'Not only the reckless hacking of the victim's body, but the cleverness of the murderer in escaping detection and eluding pursuit, is to my mind an evidence of insanity. The reputed strength and cunning of the madman are perfectly true; the very superabundance of his nerve energy may be the cause of his insanity, and his nervous force may not only enable him to put forth abnormal muscular strength, but also to think acutely.'

Hainsworth highlights 'genius at evading capture' but surely that doesn't relate to Druitt more than anyone else in the world.  Did Druitt have a reputation for evading capture?  Not that I'm aware of.  But it's obvious that the Ripper did!

Someone who expressed 'insincere regret for his crimes'.  Well Druitt never said anything about his crimes to our knowledge so this doesn't help us to identify Sims' suspect as Druitt.

Someone who had 'strength and cunning'.  Well why does this apply to Druitt?  Why should we think he had any strength at all?   Let alone cunning. 

What did Sims really say about his suspect?

As we've seen, he certainly said he was very likely a young and slight student (in contrast to a hardened thug) who was possibly of a refined appearance.  He might have had dark hair or blond hair (or red hair, or any other colour hair).  He was quite likely to still be alive, still killing people with a different modus operandi, but he might possibly have committed suicide.  He had strength and cunning and was able to evade capture due to a superabundance of nerve energy.

Is this so similar to Druitt as to be indistinguishable from him?

I really don't think so. Druitt wasn't a student for one thing.  He was also certainly dead whereas Sims thought the Whitechapel murderer might have been alive.  Was Druitt young?  Well not really, he was 31 years old at the time of the murders.  The Berlin suspect to whom Sims was comparing Jack the Ripper was 'about twenty years of age'.  And a student.  I'm sorry Mr Hainsworth, it's just not the same.

Funny isn't it that if Sims was trying to rule Druitt in by saying that the Whitechapel murderer was 'not necessarily blonde' like the Berlin suspect, he didn't also say that he wasn't necessarily as young as 20?  On the contrary, by referring to him as a student, he was suggesting that he WAS as young as 20!!

It's not Druitt, it it?

As far as I can see, having now read two of Hainsworth's books, there's no reason to think that Sims had been told anything by Macnaghten about Druitt prior to 1894 when Macnaghten wrote his memorandum.  Not a thing.

LORD ORSAM
First published: 22 May 2021
Republished: Orsam Day, 14 May 2022

See also:

The Smoking Gun With No Smoke 

and 

A Bridge Too Far: The Curious Case of Mortemer Slade

and

Bridge Over Troubled Water