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1891 NY murder case that ended in a wrongful conviction

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It seemed New York City had its own Jack the Ripper. In April 1891, the mutilated body of Carrie Brown, a former self-styled actor, turned up in what the New York Times called a “squalid” lodging house of “unsavory reputation.”

The fame that eluded her in life found her now, with the newspapers eagerly serving up lurid details, factual or not. Brown supposedly once recited a scene from Romeo and Juliet atop a saloon table. Her penchant for quoting the bard, coupled with her age—she was 60—earned her the nickname “Old Shakespeare.”

She also, it appears, had worked as a prostitute, which along with the heinousness of the crime, including an X carved into her skin, fueled comparisons to the depredations of Jack the Ripper, who had begun terrorizing London three years before and would murder between 5 and 12 women.

Jack the Ripper was so widely notorious even then that Thomas Byrnes, chief of detectives in the New York City Police Department, had boasted they would catch the London serial killer within 36 hours. As if on cue, his men arrested a suspect in Brown’s murder in 32 hours. He was a middle-aged Algerian sailor named Ameer Ben Ali.

Full story: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/sensational-murder-case-wrongful-conviction-jacob-riis-180977955/

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I recently finished a book by Robert Masello called, called THE JECKYL REVELATION.  I think Masello may have used this factoid to create his tale.  The central character is Robert Lewis Stephenson and his play: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  He follows Stephenson's career and his poor health and basically uses his step-son as the Hyde character.  Anyone who's up for some well written drama should try some of his books.  He spices them up with a LOT of historical gems.

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