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greg_parker
greg_parker
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Mon 25 Jan 2021, 4:22 pm
Starting a separate thread so as not to sidetrack the flow of the other thread.

Robert Mann


I first came across his name many years ago in one of the very few books I have read on the case: The Jack the Ripper A to Z  (1996 edition) - basically a list of events, suspects, victims, police inquiries, autopsies etc.  

Mann was listed as an Inquest witness who worked as a mortuary keeper.

I still have the book but can't find it and could not recall his name, so had to search online. In doing so, I came across a 2009 book, Jack the Ripper: Quest for a Killer which actually focusses on Mann as a viable suspect. Editions of A to Z published after 2009 have thus added him to the suspect list.

It was always generally held that the killer was someone with basic anatomical knowledge and some skill with a knife. 

He also obviously had some sort of psycho-sexual mania. 

Looking at suspects, many now and then, looked to butchers or slaughterhouse workers, as well as those who picked up basic surgical skills during military service or as aids to surgeons or autopsy doctors.

I never did cotton on to Jack being a butcher or slaughterhouse worker.  My thought was always that it was someone who had watched human bodies being cut open and being turned on by it - to the point where he could not stop himself from giving it a good old jolly go. Mann would have watched and perhaps assisted with many autopsies.

In my googling, I also found a Jack the Ripper forum which has a 2009 thread on Mann. Most rejected him outright and listed a number of reasons for doing so. My own newbie research into those reasons shows that they may not hold much water.

I'll look at the objections chronologically:

He was an inmate of the Union workhouse and therefore under strict supervision and with strict rules about coming and going:

Response. I doubt he actually lived at the workhouse. In 1872, a new workhouse was built and the old Charles St site was converted to act as the infirmary. The mortuary itself was a few hundred yards from the infirmary. I believe Mann most likely lived at the infirmary to be on hand and also because, according to the Coroner, he suffered "fits". The infirmary would have no need for an iron fist rule and was run by a Matron using both "trained" nurses and inmates for patient "care".  I would think that Mann could pretty much come and go as he wanted.

As a workhouse inmate he would be required to wear the inmate uniform - making him stand out in the streets. 

Response: the only evidence I have found that he wore any uniform was in a single newspaper account of his inquest evidence. If the newspaper account can be trusted (it appeared in one paper only), it could be that he was made to wear the uniform for the inquest as officially representing the Parish workhouse (the infirmary, although by the time of the murders, in a separate location, was still part of the parish union workhouse). Also note that photos from 1902 (only 14 years after the murders) show men lined up to enter a workhouse. One witness described the Ripper as being dressed "shabby-genteel". That is not a bad description of the men in the queue.

The workhouse uniform that Mann may or may not have been required to wear? Not the normal workhouse uniform, but the uniform of an "employee" as seen with this 1906 workhouse photo of a porter and a nurse. The normal workhouse uniform very much resembled prison uniforms of the day. This porter uniform might pass for the clothes of anyone.

If Mann is a viable suspect, why isn't James Hatfield another inmate who helped Mann strip the body of Mary Nichols?

Response: I haven't found any evidence that Hatfield was a second mortuary keeper, or that the above was anything other than a "one off". Mann had gone there alone at first to receive the body, then went to breakfast and for reasons unknown, came back with Hatfield.

In his 50s, Mann was older than witness descriptions indicate
Response: The witness descriptions are not consistent with each other and we have no photo of Mann (unless there is one in the 2009 book). Not every pauperized person fits the stereotype of looking older than their years from the ravages of alcohol. 

Most serial killers are in the 25 to 35 age bracket. 

And some are older and some are younger...plus the FBI profile specifically states that age is difficult to determine in such profiles and the age range should not be set in stone

Most people living in the workhouse were illiterate and had no money anyway to buy the pen, paper, envelope and stamp to send any Ripper letters.

Response: "Most" probably were illiterate. That is not proof that Mann was (assuming at least one Ripper letter was genuine). As for pen, paper etc... I believe these items could easily have been pilfered from the infirmary.

Mann was roused from a deep sleep sometime before 5 to attend to the body of Mary Nicholls. She was murdered at about 3:40 am - not enough time for him to have done it, cleaned up, got back to home base and gone into a deep sleep.

Response: for all they knew, he never cleaned up and the knife was under his pillow. He may even have had blood on him and not drawn suspicion because of where he lived and his job. The deep sleep bit is impossible to prove or disprove, but most people are familiar with the ancient art of faking a deep sleep...

The case for Mann

  • fits the [url=https://vault.fbi.gov/Jack the Ripper/Jack the Ripper Part 1 of 1/view#bypass-fullscreen]1988 FBI profile[/url] that was commissioned
  • fits the geographic profile
  • new the area very will
  • had fits and poor memory. Were these psychomotor episodes?
  • Took a seemingly unauthorized inmate to view Maty Nicholls and allowed that person to cut the clothes off against police orders to leave it alone, prompting the question, was he showing off his handiwork without actually admitting he did it?
  • had access to medical instruments at the mortuary as shown by the cutting off of Nicholls clothing. Also would not arouse suspicion seen with blood on him at the infirmary.
  • At various times, dating back to the murders themselves, it has been thought by some that there were as many as 11 victims, not just the canonical 5 stretching from Apr, 1888 through to  Feb 1891. Mann died of pthisis (a coverall for TB or similar) in 1896. TB itself has a 3 year gap between diagnosis and cure or death. Did the murders stop simply because Mann no longer had the lung capacity for all that exercise?


Last edited by greg_parker on Wed 27 Jan 2021, 1:59 pm; edited 7 times in total
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Vinny
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Mon 25 Jan 2021, 8:14 pm
I have wondered whether the Ripper was a policeman. It would explain why he would be able to get in and out of the area easily if he was a cop who had a beat in the area. Also the victims would trust him and let him get close to them etc. If any bystander or another cop came by while he was committing his crime he could pretend that he had just arrived on the scene and the ripper had just run away upon seeing him etc.

Also this could explain the sloppy police work. If the police investigation showed that the ripper was one of their own guys it could lead to a cover up out of embarrasment. They might deliberately make it look that way.

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Tue 26 Jan 2021, 3:09 am
A documentary on Robert Mann.


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greg_parker
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Tue 26 Jan 2021, 2:17 pm
Thanks Vinny!

The documentary was mentioned at the Ripper forum but didn't think to check if it was on youtube.

He makes some of the same points I have made, along with other convincing tidbits. But there are also some points that I think fall a bit flat, or may not be accurate. Having him come across an already murdered Tabram and stabbing her in a frenzy in particular seems a bit of a stretch. And he makes no attempt to address the living arrangements that surrounded being in a workhouse... no easy way to go in and out at will...and a prison-like uniform. The easy solution is that he lived in the infirmary due to his "fits" and worked and was in attendance most days at the mortuary...  which in that area, I assume was a reasonably busy place. 

All in all, I really do like him as a viable suspect.

I know Alex has a suspect he also likes. To my mind he is also viable, but again, I see one or two problems side by side with much that makes him viable to begin with.

Hopefully Alex will fill us in when he has time... meanwhile anyone else who has a suspect that jumps out at them, please feel free to jump in.

And speaking of jumping... I wonder if these penny dreadfuls on Spring-Heeled Jack had any impact on how the Ripper story played out publicly?

This one is from 1886

Ripper Suspects 220px-Jack4

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Tue 26 Jan 2021, 7:56 pm
Welcome Greg. Mann does seem to be quite a good suspect. What is worrying is that the London Police is still refusing to release the remaining Ripper files from their archives.

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Tue 26 Jan 2021, 7:59 pm
London police fight to keep Ripper documents secret.

https://www.smh.com.au/world/london-police-fight-to-keep-ripper-documents-secret-20110515-1eo93.html




May 16, 2011 — 12.00am
SCOTLAND Yard is fighting an extraordinary legal battle to withhold 123-year-old secret files that experts believe could finally provide the identity of Jack the Ripper.

Four thick ledgers compiled by Special Branch officers have been kept under lock and key since the Whitechapel murders in 1888.

Trevor Marriott, a Ripper investigator and former murder squad detective, has spent three years attempting to obtain uncensored versions of the documents.
But he has been repeatedly refused because the ledgers contain the identities of police informants - and the Metropolitan Police insist that revealing the information could compromise the gathering of information from ''supergrasses'' and other modern-day informants.

Last week, Mr Marriott took Scotland Yard to a tribunal in a last-ditch attempt to see the journals - containing 36,000 entries - which he believes contain evidence that could finally unmask the world's most famous serial killer.
The legal case has cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds and has even involved a senior Scotland Yard officer giving evidence anonymously from behind a screen.
The ledgers provide details of the police's dealings with thousands of informants from 1888 to 1912.
A sample of about 40 pages from the Scotland Yard ledgers was released to last week's tribunal, but with the names of informants and other key details blacked out.

Mr Marriott says the files contain the names of at least four new suspects, as well as other pieces of evidence.
He said: ''I believe this to be the very last chance that we may have to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper.
''To have any possibility of getting near the truth about those horrific crimes, we must see what these ledgers contain. It may be that within them we will find the final piece of the jigsaw that would unlock this mystery and lead to the identity of the killer, or killers, albeit 123 years too late.''
Jack the Ripper killed at least five women between August and November 1888 in the slums of Whitechapel, east London, but experts have claimed other murders may have been committed by the killer. The case remains one of the world's great unsolved mysteries. The tribunal decision is expected later this year.

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greg_parker
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Thu 28 Jan 2021, 12:25 pm
@Vinny wrote:Welcome Greg. Mann does seem to be quite a good suspect. What is worrying is that the London Police is still refusing to release the remaining Ripper files from their archives.
Vinny, one thing in the documentary which stuck out for me was the half a kidney sent to the head of the vigilante committee. This had been properly preserved and was confirmed to be a diseased human kidney. 

Mann would have had access to everything needed to preserve organs at the mortuary. Not sure how many other suspects had that ability? The only ones you could say with any certainty would be any of the doctors who came under suspicion - but there is good reason to discount all of them. None could blend in, in Whitechapel or have the intimate knowledge of the maze of streets, alleys and lanes the real Ripper must have had.  Also a doctor writing that letter would have had to deliberately put in all of those spelling mistakes in the letter that came with the kidney. Expert opinion suggests that the writer was not affecting poor writing; that the poor spelling was real.

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The Cold War ran on bullshit.
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"So what’s an independent-minded populist like me to do? I’ve had to grovel in promoting myself on social media, even begging for Amazon reviews and Goodreads ratings, to no avail." 
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Sun 31 Jan 2021, 3:39 pm
I agree Greg. Mann appears to be the strongest suspect.

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greg_parker
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Sun 31 Jan 2021, 4:26 pm
@Vinny wrote:I agree Greg. Mann appears to be the strongest suspect.
Thanks Vinny.

It really hinges on whether he lived at the Workhouse or at the separately located infirmary where I believe he could have come and gone as he pleased and where he would also not be questioned about blood stained clothes given the type of work they gave him. 

If he lived at the workhouse, he slips right down the suspect list.

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Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
              Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me


"So what’s an independent-minded populist like me to do? I’ve had to grovel in promoting myself on social media, even begging for Amazon reviews and Goodreads ratings, to no avail." 
Don Jeffries

"I've been aware of Greg Parker's work for years, and strongly recommend it." Peter Dale Scott

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Vinny
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Mon 24 May 2021, 6:26 pm
Any further updates about this, Greg?

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greg_parker
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Mon 24 May 2021, 11:45 pm
@Vinny wrote:Any further updates about this, Greg?
Unfortunately not, Vinny.

Have been tied up trying to get up to speed on another historical case and have developed a whole new respect for pandemics as a result...

_________________
Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
              Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me


"So what’s an independent-minded populist like me to do? I’ve had to grovel in promoting myself on social media, even begging for Amazon reviews and Goodreads ratings, to no avail." 
Don Jeffries

"I've been aware of Greg Parker's work for years, and strongly recommend it." Peter Dale Scott

https://gregrparker.com
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Vinny
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Wed 26 May 2021, 7:45 pm
Thanks Greg.

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