George Chapman - A Jack the Ripper Suspect
A Beyond the Bones Guest Article
Written by True Crime Source
For many centuries London was a very dangerous place. Jack the Ripper dominated the headlines, but he wasn't the only killer around. The fear of death was everywhere. And police struggled to keep up with London's dark side.
Jack the Ripper
In the late Victorian era, Jack the Ripper dominated the headlines. Whoever he was, he terrorized the Whitechapel area of London's East End. He was one of the cruelest and most feared killers in history.
Attacks associated with Jack the Ripper usually involved female prostitutes who lived and worked in the slums of East End London. The victim's throats were cut followed by abdominal mutilations. At least three of the victims had their internal organs removed, making people believe that the killer had some sort of anatomical or surgical background.
The name "Jack the Ripper" originated in a letter written by an individual claiming to be the murderer that was published in the media.
Although the identity of Jack the Ripper was never discovered, London had several unpleasant characters at the time that were identified as possible suspects. Among the list of over 100 potential suspects was a man named George Chapman.
George Chapman was born Severin Antoniovich Klosowski in December 1865 in Poland. He later changed his name to George Chapman after immigrating from Poland to England in 1887. In Poland, George had trained as a filter. A filter is often mistranslated to a surgeon, but filters were actually military barbers who had some medical training.
Upon moving to London, George worked at a barber's shop until he eventually ran his own hairdressing business in 1889. Also, that same year he married Lucy Baderski. However, George already had a wife in Poland.
His first wife came to England to try and reclaim her husband, but after George and Lucy had a baby who died in infancy, George's first wife gave up and returned home alone to Poland.
George employed several young women. In August 1901, Maud Marsh met with Mr. Chapman for an interview, and she was immediately hired as a barmaid for the Monument Tavern. George quickly entered into a false marriage with Maud, but the pair weren't married for long before Maud fell ill.
She suffered from severe vomiting and spent 12 days in the hospital before recovering and being sent home. However, once she returned home, she became violently ill again. Her mother and doctor could not determine the cause of this mystery illness; however, George Chapman knew all too well what made Maud sick.
Poison was hard to detect at the time. George had used tata emetic containing the deadly element antimony to poison Maud to death. George had brought an ounce of tata emetic from a chemist in Hastings four years prior.
Tata emetic was used for cough mixtures. It caused irritation of the throat as well as vomiting. Antimony was a metal that was part of the mixture. Ingesting too much antimony would cause death. An ounce is around 450 grains; 12 grains is enough for a fatal dose. Therefore, an ounce would be more than enough to kill more than 40 people.
Purchasing poison in London at the time wasn’t hard. It could be purchased from the local drug stores and all one had to do was say that they were going to use it to poison rats.
A police investigation into Maud's death revealed that two other women associated with George had also died from poisoning. They were Mary Isabella Spink, who was murdered on 25 December 1897, and Bessie Taylor, who was murdered on 13 February 1901.
These two women were also previous wives of George and had died from a mysterious illness just a couple of years after meeting him. George had brought in a doctor to treat Bessie when she fell ill, but the doctor was oblivious to the real cause of her illness. George Chapman himself.
Although three women were poisoned, an indictment of a murder could only contain one count, and therefore George Chapman was only charged with the murder of Maud Marsh. He was convicted on 19 March 1903 and sentenced to death. He was hung at Wandsworth Prison on 7 April 1903.
Was George Chapman, Jack the Ripper?
George Chapman poisoned his victims. That isn't how Jack the Ripper did it; you might be thinking. And you are right. So, what makes authorities believe George could have also been Jack the Ripper?
Although George is known as a poisoner, not a mutilator like Jack the Ripper, George was known to beat his wives and was prone to other violent behavior.
Once during a fight with his wife, Lucy, he forced her down on their bed and began to strangle her. He only stopped to attend to a customer who walked into the adjoined shop that he owned. When he left, Lucy found a knife under the pillow, and George later told her that he had planned to kill her. He even pointed out where he would have buried her and what he would have said to their neighbors.
Another way that George fits the profile of the mysterious Jack the Ripper is that he was living in Whitechapel at the time of the murders, and he had some medical knowledge.
However, there is a lack of hard evidence linking George to Jack the Ripper. In fact, criminologists have doubted his potential to be Jack the Ripper based on the known behavior of serial killers.
Usually, serial killers select a single method of murder (e.g., strangulation, stabbing, poisoning) as well as associated rituals (e.g., mutilation, torture). Therefore, it is unlikely that a serial killer would go from butchering and disemboweling victims to a less physical method like poisoning. Also, it is believed that Jack the Ripper selected victims who were previously unknown to him. George, however, killed acquaintances.
True Crime Source is the best online resource for true crime fans. It includes detailed content recommendations for podcasts, documentaries, shows, books, and movies to binge on.
Looking for more true crime content? Make sure to check out True Crime Source
S3E6: The Extended Bob Crane Story
The New York Times Magazine writes, quote “Had Bob Crane not been a sex addict, had he not been bludgeoned to death with his own tripod in an Arizona condo surrounded by an elaborate array of video equipment, had he not photographed hundreds of women naked in twosomes and threesomes and orgies and had his murder not gone unsolved…He would be remembered, if he was remembered at all, as the star of ''Hogan's Heroes,’
As the star of ''Hogan's Heroes,'' Crane enjoyed the same kind of fame as Gilligan or Greg Brady -- his character became part of America's collective pop-culture nostalgia. Embalmed by syndication, Crane would have been the wisecracking Hogan forever. But in the years since his death in 1978, when the porno pictures started surfacing in the tabloids and his secrets began to unravel, Crane became infamous."
And technically, it still might have quieted down if his family hadn't wanted to cash in on the drama surrounding his death. Personally, it was hard for me to get through the research on this one because, it was such a senseless crime- I mean, most of them are, but isn't it enough that his life was taken away at such a young age and in such a brutal way? But then his antics are drug through the mud.
I'm not condoning his actions and maybe this is his "paying the piper", but it just turned my stomach how the family pounced on his fleeting fame.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not listened to the episode, this following may ruin the twists and turns!
I'm curious to hear what you might have taken away from the crime - as a crime. Do you believe John Carpenter was guilty? If not, who do you put as a suspect?
In these types of cases, we are prompted to "follow the money" and in this case, the only ones who would have benefited from Crane's death was Patti Crane. It was proven that there was NO WAY she could have actually, physically committed the murder as she was apparently on an island that night. Police said they actually made the drive to and from Arizona to see if it was possible. I'd be curious of who took out the life insurance policies and when. If she was a suspect, this tidbit would be important too: Apparently on father's day weekend, she took their son to visit him in Arizona. It's caught on video, because... he documents everything. (It's out on YouTube if you want to find it.) It was very touching. He was obviously affected by their visit.
IF she was planning his murder, maybe she planned this visit to divert attention? IF they were planning on a divorce, maybe this prolonged the proceedings... just enough?
When did his first family get removed from the will? Was there a will? He was such a family man, I don't believe he would alienate his children that way. The Scottsdale police department did admit that they never considered Patti Crane a serious suspect.
IF Carpenter killed him... he could have taken the tripod (possible murder weapon with him) cleaned it off, taken it on the plane and it said he went straight to work. He could have easily hidden it among the other millions of tripods that were probably all over his work. And why go to Richard Dawson's house? And stay there?
He does certainly act suspicious, but he really did everything they asked of him. If I remember correctly, he submitted to more than one lie-detector test and passed them all. The police really did have nothing. Did they check out his hotel room? His clothing?
There's no way, that big of a mess did not get on some clothing!
AND that murder was extremely passionate. There was some ANGER involved with those blows.
I usually try to find court transcripts and police records, but I just couldn't get my hands on those. I just had to wade through the sludge of gossip. I still have SO many questions!
Tune in to the Bag of Bones Podcast to hear the whole sorted story.
Books for further reading:
Who Killed Bob Crane- John Hook
Who Killed Bob Crane? is Hook’s first-hand account of a two-year investigation and search for the truth. It’s seen though the eyes of the people who were there—witnesses, detectives, prosecutors, jurors, and family members. John Hook takes readers on an incredible reporter’s journey for an inside look at the sensational physical evidence in a final attempt to learn the truth.
Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography- Carol Ford, Linda Groundwater & Dee Young
Carol Ford writes, quote “We talked with about 200 people—family members; friends as far back as grade school; and colleagues in radio, television, theatre, and film. From them, we learned that Bob was kind. He cared about people. He was generous, considerate, charitable, and compassionate. He was funny and could brighten a room just by walking into it. We have been given heaping helpings of “the dark side” with only little snippets of the good — good that included his devotion as a father to his four children from both of his marriages, his generosity to his friends and his countless hours of volunteer work for numerous charitable organizations.
Crane: Sex, Celebrity and My Father's Murder- by Robert Crane
This is the son't addition. From the description: Through disappointment, loss, and heartbreak, Crane's humor and perseverance shine. Beyond the big stars and behind-the-scenes revelations, this riveting account of death, survival, and renewal in the shadow of the Hollywood sign makes a profound statement about the desire for love and permanence in a life where those things continually slip away
From what I could see, Scott Crane never did get his book published and he also had a movie script in the works that went by the wayside. Probably for the best, I'm sure.
The Murder of Bob Crane: Who Killed the Star of Hogan's Heroes?- Robert Greysmith
This was the book that was used as a base for the controversial movie Auto Focus which starred Greg Kinnear as Crane and William DeFoe as Carpenter
Grab all 6 seasons of Hogan's Heroes on DVD to binge watch at home!
A History Blog
This is a great way to connect over all things American history! Comment on podcast episodes, read quick pieces and extra segments that couldn't make a full episode!
Bag of Bones Podcast partners with Bones Coffee Co! The perfect match!