I went a little off script this week.
I've been working on a series about
the victims of Jack the Ripper.
Almost every investigative book only concerns itself
with the identity of Jack. His victims are
dismissed as aging, alcoholic prostitutes.
While I am fascinated by an historical murder mystery,
I don't like the glossing over of the victims.
No matter their age, or what they had to do
to survive in the dangerous world of
London's Victorian East End, at least the victims
of Jack the Ripper were not murderers.
Their stories are more worthy of exploration
than that of the brutal animal that killed them.
That noted, I stumbled on another Victorian murder
case which bears a tangential relationship to
that of Jack the Ripper: the puzzling murder
of Miriam Angel.
Her convicted killer was named Israel Lipski.
One of the potential witnesses to
the killer of Elizabeth Stride heard one of the
two men near her utter the name, "Lipski".
Was Lipski the name of her killer?
Was Lipski used as a derogatory word aimed at
the passerby witness? 125 years after the last
of the Ripper slayings, the debate rages on.
What of Miriam Angel?
Six months pregnant, Miriam Angel resided
in a boarding house at 16 Batty Street on the East End
of London. On June 28, 1887, someone forced her
to consume nitric acid, resulting in the
death of herself and her unborn baby.
Israel Lipski, an umbrella stick salesman, was
found under her bed with acid burns in his mouth.
Lipski was arrested despite his insistence that
his employees, Harry Schmiss and Henry Rosenbloom,
had actually killed the young woman, forced him
to also consume some of the nitric acid
and then fled the scene.
Lipski was quickly found guilty and sentenced
to hang although there was a great deal of
public debate in regard to his guilt.
The case was reopened but Israel Lipski broke
down during the investigation and made a complete
confession to the crime.
Doubt about his guilt continues to this day.
Israel Lipski was the subject of an
investigative book in 1984 as well as
a 2011 publicly conducted debate.
A wonderful discussion of the whole of his case
as well as the racially charged atmosphere of
Victorian London can be found HERE.
But, again, what about Miriam Angel? Her life and
death are given but the most brief mention
before moving on the interesting bit
about her murderer.
Who was Miriam Angel? Was she married?
What did she do to support herself?
Why was living alone? Where was the father of her baby?
We shouldn't just be glossing over the identity
and life of a young woman.
She deserves better.