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
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!