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  Columnist: Patrick Bernauw

Image credit: Wikipedia

True crime mysteries that made history


Posted on Saturday, 2 May, 2009 | 0 comments
Columnist: Patrick Bernauw


Was the Lambeth Poisoner also Jack the Ripper? Three years had passed since those dark days of 1888, when Jack the Ripper had last stalked the gloomy gas lamp lit streets and dismal alleyways of the East End of London, hunting down, killing and mutilating his victims. The women of the street were now once again able to carry on the oldest trade without the fear of the shadow of the murderous serial killer looming over them. Little did they know that this was not to last…

October 1891. In the middle of the night, an intern named Johnson, from Lambeth Medical Institute was called out to make an urgent call to a lodging house off Commercial Street. Here he found 19 year old prostitute, Ellen Donworth convulsing and clutching at her chest and abdomen. Her companions told Johnson that she had said that “a gentleman” had given her some drink from a bottle with “white stuff in it”. He immediately recognised the symptoms of system poisoning and sent for the police. She was whisked off to St Thomas’s hospital but died in the carriage on the way there.

The following day a newspaper carried the headline “The Lambeth Mystery”… Some time later, after an executioner reached for the handle that would release the trapdoor on which the “Lambeth Poisoner”, the man blurted out: “I am Jack…”

The noose and the drop stopped the rest. But was this the Lambeth Poisoner also the One & Only, Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper?

Full story: In the Shadow of Jack the Ripper: The Lambeth Poisoner

The Man Who Survived His Death (And Wrote the Plays of Shakespeare)
Christopher Marlowe, the “father of English tragedy” and the “inventor of dramatic blank verse”, received his education at the King's School in Canterbury and Corpus Christi College of Cambridge. The mystic Francis Kett, burnt in 1589 for heresy, was a fellow and tutor of his college.

In Londen, around 1587, Marlowe started writing for the stage as one of the Lord Admiral's Company of Players. He was befriended with the famous dramatist Thomas Kyd, who shared his unorthodox religious opinions. His atheism and homosexuality brought him in great danger, but fortunately, Marlowe had some mighty friends, like Sir Francis Walsingham, Sir Walter Raleigh, mathematicians as Walter Warner and Robert Hughes and the astronomer Thomas Harriott. However, as the result of some declarations of Thomas Kyd (who was tortured), the Privy Council was investigating a number of serious charges against Marlowe. But then, in a tavern fight in Deptford, in May 1593, Marlowe got slain by a man named Archer or Ingram. Curious enough, the following September he was referred to as “dead of the plague”.

We don't really know for sure the circumstances of Marlowe's death. There is some evidence he worked as a spy for Sir Francis Walsingham, and it is possible his death was a set-up. A few months before, Marlowe got in touch with Lord Strange's Company, and may have been brought in contact with Shakespeare, who clearly wrote plays as Richard II and Richard III under the influence of his predecessor.

Marlowe has written four great plays: “Tamburlaine the Great” (1587), “Dr. Faustus” (1588), “The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta” (1589?) and “Edward II” (printed in 1594). Some say Shakespeare could not have written all those magnificent plays, he hadn't the education to do that... Christopher Marlowe had and he could have survived his “death”, starting a new career… as William Shakespeare.

Full story of his life and work, together with some of his famous poetry: Christopher Marlowe

The Mystery of the Screaming Man
For almost 130 years, the 3000 year old mummified remains of a man, his face contorted into an agonising scream, has perplexed scientists and Egyptologists alike. Does modern science now have the answers about this tormented soul?

In 1881, 300 miles south of Cairo, in the Deir El Bahri valley, tombs, hidden from the world for centuries were uncovered. Here were discovered the remains of some of Egypt's greatest pharaohs: Rameses the Great, Seti I and Tuthmosis III. Yet puzzlingly amongst these great pharaohs in an unmarked and unadorned sarcophagus lay the body of a man whose face was frozen in agony. The hands and feet were bound and the body was uncharacteristically wrapped in a sheep or goat skin: surprisingly, as this was seen as being ritually unclean.

Who was he, and why had he been bound so tightly that the binding marks were visible on his bones? Why had he been entombed in such a way that his soul would be damned and barred from everlasting life?

Now, almost 130 years later, and with the use of contemporary documents, X-rays, CT scanning and facial reconstruction, it is believed that the “screaming man” can be identified.

Read all about it here: The Mystery of the Screaming Man

Copyright by Patrick Bernauw (The Lost Dutchman’s Historical Mysteries) and Chris Jordan

Article Copyright© Patrick Bernauw - reproduced with permission.



 
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Saint George is killing the dragon over and over again
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In the city of Mons (Belgium), Saint George is killing the Dragon over and over again. His legend here is inextricably intertwined with the fate of a knight, Gi...


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