– Frederick Deeming

‘Mad Fred’ Deeming is an interesting case.  A career criminal, he was known to be a kind of Jekyll and Hyde personality.  Pleasant and cultured one moment; violent and moody the next.  He possibly contracted syphilis during one of his voyages at sea, and suffered seizers and bouts of mania as a result (after his arrest, he claimed his mother, with whom he was very close with and who died when he was around twenty, talked to him from beyond the grave and told him to kill).  The crimes for which he was arrested and hanged were of a particularly brutal nature.  He killed his first wife and four children by slitting their throats and smashing their skulls, then buried their bodies under the floor in his house.  Next he moved to Australia with his new wife, whom he also killed by cutting her throat and bashing in her head and afterwards, buried her body under the hearthstone in their bedroom.

Apparently, while in prison awaiting execution, he confessed to being Jack the Ripper – though this claim has never been proven.  Still, it’s easy to see why the press at the time were quick to declare Deeming as being the notorious Ripper.  He was a criminal who had killed six people by cutting their throats.  He was possibly suffering from mania brought on from syphilis, and claimed he had killed because his dead mother told him to.  It’s also interesting to note that his father committed suicide by slitting his throat.

However, there are certain factors that severely weaken Deeming’s candidacy for being the Ripper.  Firstly, he was an extremely cunning and manipulative man.  He was a fraudster, using many aliases around the world and his considerable charm in order to con people out of their money.  He was charming enough to convince the young and attractive Emily to marry him and move to another country.  And the murders, while they share some similarities to those in Whitechapel, were a product of callous planning and afterwards, Deeming went to great lengths to conceal the bodies (very different to the blitz-style attacks of the Ripper, who struck when opportunity presented itself and gave little thought to concealing the bodies).  Also, the murders appear to be more pragmatic, a way of ridding his life of unwanted baggage, rather than lust-murders by a deranged and disorganised serial killer.

Lastly, there’s every possibility that Deeming was in South Africa at the time of the Ripper murders.

So, while undoubtedly a cold-blooded murderer, it’s unlikely that Deeming was Jack the Ripper.

Candidacy of Frederick Deeming: **½ (out of 5)

Published on November 7, 2010 at 11:08 am  Leave a Comment  

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