George Chapman (14th December 1865 – 7th April 1903) was a Jewish serial killer known as the Borough Poisoner and a major suspect in the Jack the Ripper case. Born Severin Klosowski in the village of Nagórna, (now part of Koło), in the Warsaw Governorate of Congress Poland and able to speak fluent Yiddish and with a partiality to the pseudonym, over the course of his lifetime presented four names Klosowski, Ludwig, Chapman, and “Smith”. Chapman/Klosowski arrived in England in 1887 a year prior to the Ripper murders having qualified as a junior barber-surgeon (feldscher). Kosminski was trading as a hairdresser in Baker Street during the same period. Sometimes referred to as the first victim of Jack the Ripper, Chapman was interviewed multiple times by police and remained a prime suspect in the murder of Martha Tabram. As the Ripper case intensified and more evidence came to light police reasoned that the killer was acting with a partner. In 1891 Kosminski was committed to the Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum and the murders seemed to stop abruptly. This coincided with Chapman leaving for America specifically Jersey City, New Jersey with his then wife, Lucy Baderski. At which point New York was to experience a vicious murder that of an elderly prostitute named Carrie Brown or “Old Shakespeare”. The murder made headline news as the media reported it specifically as a crime of the Whitechapel Ripper. There were accusations of incompetence levelled at the NYPD investigators with regards to the handling of the case. In the meantime and undetected Chapman was on his way back to England. Chapman went on to become another well-known Jewish serial killer and was hanged on April 7th 1903 for murdering several of his wives.
Chapman remained a figure of interest and featured in many Ripper articles and documentaries until Russell Edwards made his DNA evidence and wider theories public which exposed Kosminski and seemed to bring the case to a close. However, armed with Edward’s fresh approach and using the early reasoning of police that the killer was acting with a partner AZL researchers investigated further into the ‘Old Shakespeare’ murder. She was murdered in a common lodging house in Jersey City, New Jersey on St George’s day Patron Saint of England 23rd April. Her body was discovered on the 24th, 1891. Incidentally William Shakespeare was born and died on 23rd April. The body was first strangled, savagely gutted and the pathologist report indicated that an ‘X‘ had been carved on her left buttock. However, when consideration is given to the day on which ‘Old Shakespeare’ was murdered the so called ‘X’ becomes a cross. This is not the first time that the killers had left their calling card. Leaving the shawl imprinted with St Michaelmas daisies at the Eddowes murder and a piece of her apron at the site of “The Goulston Street Graffiti” was deliberate incitement to law enforcement when one considers that investigators were cognisant of the killers and even had Kominski in custody.
For a more in-depth investigation into the nature and perpetrators behind these crimes the original article can be found here.