Authors Showcase: The Ripper’s Haunts by Michael L. Hawley
April 13, 2016
The Book: The Ripper’s Haunts
The Author: Michael A. Hawley
The Story: Hidden from history for over a century, the name of Scotland Yard’s key suspect in the mysterious Jack the Ripper murders was rediscovered in 1993. The man’s name was Dr. Francis Tumblety, an Indian herb doctor born in Ireland around 1833. As a teenager in the 1840s, Tumblety immigrated with his family to Rochester, New York, because of the Irish potato famine.
Within ten years, he began his highly successful traveling/advertising Indian herb doctor business, first traveling through Canada from Toronto to St. Johns and eventually making his way to New York City by 1860.
At the onset of the Civil War he was reported to have shown his anatomical collection to military officers in Washington DC in an attempt to convince General McClellan, the Commander of the Army of the Potomac, he was a credible surgeon. Favored in the collection was his uterus collection, the very same organ taken out of two of the Ripper victims. Failing at this attempt, he merely resumed his normal herbal advertising.
In the 1880’s the ubiquitous Tumblety was in the habit of spending half the year in England, and in May of 1888 – the year of the Ripper murders – he sailed across the Atlantic making residence in West End London. During the murders, he was arrested on suspicion for the Whitechapel crimes, but since they did not have enough evidence against him, they rearrested him for a misdemeanor charge that could stick; gross indecency.
Tumblety’s illegal rendezvous with young men finally caught up with him. He quickly jumped bail and sneaked out of England. The murders stopped. A Scotland Yard detective followed him back to New York City, but since his misdemeanor charge was not extraditable, nothing could be done.
The following year, another prostitute was murdered in Whitechapel and Scotland Yard was convinced it was at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Since Tumblety was in New York, he was disregarded as a suspect. It was only later that the experts realized this murder was not from the Whitechapel fiend.
Tracing Tumblety’s footsteps through Victorian London has revealed haunting finds. A macabre wax museum operated just yards away from the first vicious attack, in which the proprietor callously showcased explicit wax models of the fiend’s victims, presented to the public just hours after each untimely death.
A clandestine police investigation was being quietly pursued, based upon a Jekyll-Hyde theory that the killer was harvesting female organs in his quest to create an elixir of life.
Surprisingly, actor-producer Richard Mansfield’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was showing at the famous Lyceum Theatre in London during the 1888 Autumn of terror; incredibly, the employees of the theater were members of an organization that was also in search of the precious elixir.
The business manager for the Lyceum Theatre was none other than author of Dracula, Bram Stoker. His best friend was Sir Henry Hall Caine, old boyfriend of Francis Tumblety.
Recent studies on the Jack the Ripper murders performed by experts in forensic science, sociology, and criminal profiling support the conclusion that the person linked to these graphic killings was less of a sexual predator, and more of an extreme woman hater. The Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard’s secretive Special Branch in 1888 stated that Tumblety’s, “feelings toward women were remarkable and bitter in the extreme, a fact on record.”
The last Ripper victim, Mary Kelly, was murdered, eviscerated, and displayed lying on her back in her bed. This image is identical to a popular nineteenth century wax museum display of the “Anatomical Venus,” an erotic display of Venus reclined nude in bed with her abdominal organs revealed.
Interestingly, in January 1888, within a mile of Tumblety’s New York City residence the police raided four wax museums and destroyed the Anatomical Venus models, something Tumblety would have hated.
Also in January 1888, Tumblety was interviewed by a Toronto Mail reporter, and he told the correspondent that he was in constant dread of sudden death from heart and kidney disease. How interesting that the three organs taken from Jack the Ripper was the heart, kidney, and the uterus.
About Michael L. Hawley:
Michael L Hawley is the author of Searching for Truth with a Broken Flashlight (2010), The Ripper’s Hellbroth, The Watchmaker Revelations, by Big Sky Press (2013), Jack’s Lantern, The Watchmaker Revelations, Book Two, by Big Sky Press (2014) and Curse of the Bayou Beast, The Watchmaker Revelations, Book Three, by Big Sky Press (2015).
Michael was honored as the subject of an article in The Buffalo Spree, June 2011 for his first work, and in the Niagara Gazette, October 13, 2013, for The Ripper’s Hellbroth. In the last few years, he has published nine research articles in British journals on the Jack the Ripper mystery. He has recently retired as a commander and naval aviator in the U.S. Navy, and is currently enjoying a second career as a secondary science teacher.
He holds a master’s degree in science (invertebrate paleontology) and secondary science education at State University of New York, College of Buffalo. Additionally, he holds a bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University in geology and geophysics and a second degree at the College of Buffalo, in earth science secondary education and chemistry.
He was the recipient of Phi Delta Kappa’s Outstanding Teacher Award (Western New York) in June 2013, and has been showcased on the TV show, ‘In the Classroom’. He is also a 6th Degree Black Belt in Wadokai Aikido. Michael and his wife are blessed with six children. His creative story telling has become an integral part of their family time.