The most difficult type of murder to solve in Victorian times

Stanislas Kosloski, one of the chief suspects in the Ripper case, later hanged for murdering three wives, one of whom is shown with him in this photo.

Without access to modern forensic science, Victorian crime fighters were often stuck when it came to murder by poison. A good example of this kind of crime were the proven murders committed by Stanislaws Kosloski, a.k.a John Chapman, one of the  chief suspects in the Ripper investigation. Chapman murdered three wives and did it with slow poison over time. The chief objection to Chapman as JTR is the  idea  that killers never change their modus operarandi. However, Philip Sugden tells us  in the “Complete History of Jack the Ripper,”  that John Douglas of the FBI says this: “Some criminologists and behavioural scientists have written that  perpetrators maintain their modus operandi,  and that this is what links so-called signature crimes. This conclusion is incorrect. Subjects will change their modus operandi as they gain experience. This is learned behaviour.” Also, an important similarity between JTR and Chapman is that he (or they) killed people, he or they, were actually willing and ready to do the terrible deed. Detective Abberline thought Chapman the most likely Ripper out of all the suspects in the case. So much so that  when Chapman was hung at Wandsworth Prison for the murder of his three wives, Abberline told Ike Godley, the arresting officer, “You’ve  got Jack the Ripper at last.” Chapman also had the basic medical knowledge to perform the mutilations done by the Ripper. Godley, who spent years investigating the Ripper crimes never wavered in his conviction that Chapman and the Ripper were one and the same.

However, the conviction of Chapman for the murders of his wives might have eluded detection if not for the persistence of the doctors who investigated the deaths. The doctor who treated Chapman’s last wife, called in others to consult with him, including a Home Office Analyst, who proved that antimony, a metallic irritant, was the drug that did the deed.

Also on the  theme of Victorian poisonings was the case in Edinburgh that Dr. Bell himself  investigated. Eugene Chantel was a wealthy French linguist. His wife  woke one morning  to find herself  weak and with vomit stains on her pillow. Her husband mentioned a coal gas leak in her room. However, when the woman died, Dr. Bell did a post mortem and found that her blood was of a normal color, rather than the bright red it  should have been if the death were caused by coal gas (which has carbon monoxide in it and turns blood bright red). Thanks to Bell, Chantel was convicted. Altogether, Dr. Bell worked on seven mysterious deaths and got convictions in five of  them. If you’d like  to know even more about Dr. Bell don’t miss this video:

About hudsonhousemysteries

I am a graphic artist. My work is based on photography and I am also a writer of historical novels, specializing in the Victorian era with a strong emphasis on the historical connections between that time and this.I began writing by working with my late father, Alvin Schwartz, who wrote Superman and Batman comics for more than twenty years. Starting very early, about age six, I plotted comic book stories then moved on to writing film, advertising and fiction ranging from young person’s novels to my current historical novels In addition to telling a good yarn, I like to use an historical perspective to comment on modern issues. I learned about art from my mother who was one of Hans Hofmann's students and had one of the last show at Peggy Guggenheim's in NYC. I have had one man shows in Montreal and Toronto. My art website is Alan
This entry was posted in 19th century coal gas system in London, Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes, the hanging of Jack the Ripper, victorian crime, Victorian forensic science, victorian, 19th century, Jack the Ripper, the Raj, victorian child prostitution, 19th century virtuosi, The National Railway Museum, Josephine Butler, and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The most difficult type of murder to solve in Victorian times

  1. JOHN Chapman alias STANISLAS KOSLOSKI and IKE Godley?

    Helena Wojtczak
    Author of “Jack the Ripper At Last?”

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