Naming Someone “Jack The Ripper” As Revenge

Posted: December 4, 2009 in The Non-Rippers
Ex-convict and Burglar, Joseph Liss, alias Joseph Silver
In my research, I have found that naming someone "Jack the Ripper" as an act of revenge is quite apparent in a couple of cases, and the best example of that is one Joseph Liss, alias Silver. In 1895, Joseph Liss testified at a huge and well publicized indictment trial on allegations of Police and Government corruption in New York City. One name that cropped up during the trial was a name that is not unfamiliar to Ripper researchers – that of Inspector Byrnes. Liss/Silver, a burglar and ex-convict, who had recently served a sentence in Sing Sing, New York, returned to South Africa in 1898 and was executed in Poland in 1918, as a spy. The accusations of Joseph Liss as having been the Whitechapel fiend may have its roots in this most fascinating New York Police corruption trial. I now present the articles:
Lawyer Moss Gives His Views of the Arrest of McManus and Jacobs.
Grand Jury Takes Up the Case and Begins an Investigation – The Parkhurst Society’s Lawyer Tells His Side.
Frank Moss, counsel to the Parkhurst society, related yesterday his side of the story of the transactions that have led to the arrest of Detectives Jacobs and McManus on the complaint of the society for conspiring to commit a burglary at 8 Delancey Street. The story of the arrests and the detectives’ side of the case were told in the New York Times yesterday.
"It is conceded," said Mr. Moss, "that Silver or Liss is a professional burglar and that after he had served a term in prison he became intimate with Detectives McManus and Jacobs, and, according to McManus, has had many "transactions" with them.
"Just what those transactions were I cannot now state, but McManus said, under oath, that they were for the purpose of enabling him and Jacobs to apprehend other criminals, and he then declared that he and his partner are in almost constant communication with twenty-five or thirty burglars and thieves with whom they are on friendly terms as a means of discovering crime in this city.
"McManus and Jacobs were friendly with Silver early in February, and, according to their story, the meetings were frequent and were had at Jacobs’s house and at a restaurant after midnight. Subsequent to the friendly relations of which they tell, Mr. Cohen’s place was robbed and Cohen at once recognized Silver’s picture in the Rogues’ gallery as that of the man who had robbed him.
"The case was put in the hands of Detectives McManus and Jacobs to arrest Silver, and, although the robbery was committed on Feb. 14, he was not arrested until Feb. 25, ten days later, during which time they admit that they had five interviews with Silver. Then, when they learned what a bad hole they were in, they arrested Silver under an assumed name on a charge of being a suspicious character, and we for a time lost track of him. McManus took him to Essex Market Court on Tuesday and arraigned him as John Doe, and adjusted matters there so that no record of the arraignment was made in the court and Silver was remanded in the custody of the detectives.
"We kept looking for the man, and when in sheer desperation he was again arraigned on Wednesday, I appeared and volunteered to defend him, and thereby obtained an opportunity to cross-examine the detectives. They admitted that they had been friendly with him for a long time; that they were at 8 Delancey Street by appointment with him, and that during the ten days in which they were presumably trying to arrest him they had frequently held communication with him.
"McManus and Jacobs saw our detectives and knew that they were watched, as we had spies on them and Silver, and they admitted that they arrested him because they knew that they had been seen. They met him at Pell Street and the Bowery and tried to arrange for him to leave the country on the Paris when she sailed.
"When the detectives had Silver arraigned the first time, he could have been discharged, but they kept him in custody to work upon him, and when he was arraigned on Wednesday and I appeared they had to make a charge against him. Instead of charging him with robbery, they took two hours to draw a complaint that charges him with an attempt at bribery, saying that he confessed to a robbery and offered $50 to them to keep still about it.
"On their cross-examination, McManus said that when he saw Dennett at 8 Delancey Street he became suspicious, and that his suspicions continued until he received the money package by express. He stated that the reason he did not take the express package containing the money was that he would have to receipt for it, and that otherwise he would have accepted it. He sent Ike Van Leer, one of his friends, to Paterson N.J., to ask Silver to come to New York, and told Van Leer to tell Silver that the reason he did not take the $50 was because it had been sent to Police Headquarters, and that that was not the proper place to send money.
"They say that Silver proposed to them, at the meeting on Monday night, to give him money and clothing to leave the country, and that when they saw they were watched while talking to him they arrested him at once. It is evident that our detective’s presence at the time of their consultation was the cause of the arrest, and not their desire to take him for the robbery. They arrested him in desperation, as our men were constantly watching Silver.
"The detectives tried to shield themselves behind Superintendent Byrnes at first, but when he disclaimed any knowledge of what they alleged they had been doing they tried to get behind Inspector McLaughlin. If the Inspector gave them instructions to permit the robbery and then consult with the thief, as they did before arresting him, I would like to know it. Superintendent Byrnes complained to me yesterday because I had taken such a sensational course in the matter, but I told him that it was the detectives’ own fault. As I said to McManus in court, when I saw him telling his story:
"I am after your scalp, and will get it if possible, but don’t hang yourself, as you are now doing."
Jacobs and McManus yesterday retained Howe & Hummel as counsel. The lawyers sent the following letter to the Grand Jury, which began to investigate the case:
Gentlemen: Charles Jacobs and Charles B. McManus, two officers who have been connected with the Municipal Police Department for the past eleven years, and whom we represent as counsel, were arrested yesterday on a charge of conspiracy, with intent to commit a burglary, by Superintendent Byrnes, at the instance of an ex-convict named Joseph Liss, alias Joseph Silver. The warrent for our clients’ arrest was issued by the Hon. John W. Goff, Recorder of this city, in his magisterial capacity, and an examination was set for Tuesday at 1:30 o’clock in the afternoon. Information has reached us that, in express discourtesy of Judge Goff, and in utter disregard of the rights of the two officers, whose record in the department is, as the records will convince you, thoroughly unblemished, a movement is on foot to investigate the charges before your honorable body.
All we ask, as a matter of justice to these two police officers, is that, should your honorable body take up the matter, you will subpoena Officers Jacobs and McManus to appear before you, in order that they may, without the slightest reservation, give their testimony in the proceedings. An indictment framed without a hearing from the accused would not only be an act of injustice, but would go very far to injure two innocent men. We have taken the liberty to send a copy of this letter to Judge Cowing, Recorder Goff, and District Attorney Fellows.
The Grand Jury began an investigation of the case yesterday, hearing Liss, or Silver, whom the detectives had arrested. Jacobs and McManus were summoned to appear before the jurors. The jury adjourned at 1 o’clock, without having found an indictment.
The Grand Jurors will sit over today in order to continue the case.
Source: The New York Times, March 1, 1895
Charged With Conspiracy by Headquarters Detectives.
Agents E.A. Whitney and Arthur Dennett of the Parkhurst society in New York and Joseph Liss, alias Silver, an alleged burglar, were arrested this morning, charged by Detective Jacobs of Inspector McLaughlin’s staff with conspiring.
The prisoners were taken to the Tombs police court. Dennett said he was waiting for the chance to be arrested, because it would afford him an opportunity to prove his charges against Jacobs.
Frank Moss, who appeared for the prisoners, waived examination, and they were released on $1,000 bail, furnished by Mrs. Jane Brague of 115 West Forty-fourth street.
Source: Brooklyn Eagle, March 13, 1895, Page 16
The New York Extraordinary Grand Jury Finishes Its Work.
A Presentment Handed Up by the Foreman Saying That Much Yet Remains to be Done by the Regular Grand Juries – Some of the Cases Considered in Which the Charges Were Dismissed Today.
The extraordinary grand jury, which has been in session in New York since January 7 last, concluded its work today and was discharged by Justice Ingraham. The work of the jury has been to investigate the police and other departments of the city where corruption was alleged to have existed. Over thirty indictments have been found by the jury, including those against police captains and ward men. Election frauds have also been fully investigated and fifteen indictments and arrests followed.
The grand jury filed into the court of oyer and terminer, in New York, at 10:05 o’clock this morning. A few minutes later District Attorney Fellows and Special Assistant District Attorney Austin G. Fox came into the court room.
Foreman Francis H. Leggett immediately arose and addressing the court said:
"May it please your honor, I am requested by the grand jury to state to the court that the mass of evidence before us satisfies us that there is good reason for further investigations into various departments of the city government, including not only those to which we have devoted our attention, but others into which by reason of lack of time alone we have been unable to inquire, and we ask that the regular grand juries be hereafter directed to institute investigations into allegations of official misconduct and corruption in all of the city departments until the entire subject shall have been thoroughly inquired into, and the truth or falsity of such allegations determined."
Justice Ingraham in discharging the jury, thanked them for the patient and good work they had done. He said he agreed with the recommendation of the jury as to further investigation and that he would do all in his power to get the matter presented to another jury. When the justice charged the jury in January last, he said he never thought it would require the time of the jury that it did, but the jurors had done their work faithfully and for it they should have all praise possible.
The jury before adjourning passed a resolution of thanks to John D. Lindsay, assistant district attorney, who has had charge of the presentment of the cases to the jury.
Mr. Lindsay then gave out a statement of cases that had been considered, and indictments refused. They follow.
"The grand jury considered the charge against John C. Sheehan of having commanded and induced the ballot clerks of the Twenty-fifth election district of the Thirteenth assembly district, to violate the election law at the last election by omitting to deliver constitutional amendment ballots to voters unless the voters asked for the same, the election law requiring that full sets of ballots shall be delivered to all voters by the ballot clerks, and that the voters shall receive them all and return such as are not voted. The grand jury examined all the witnesses who could give any evidence in support of the charges including Charles C. Beaman, Joseph Larocque, Judge Henry R. Beckman, William Travers Jerome, beside the Good Government club watchers, all the election officers (inspectors, ballot clerks and poll clerks), and a number of voters. In all twenty-four witnesses were examined. The evidence failed to show that a crime had been committed and the charge was dismissed.
"Another charge against ex-Police Commissioner Sheehan was that based upon the testimony given by Captain Schmittberger before the senate investigating committee, to the effect that Sheehan had endeavored to induce Schmittberger to permit a gambler named Maynard to maintain a gambling house in the Twentieth precinct, of which Schmittberger was the captain. Schmittberger testified before the committee that a man named Proctor had come to him with a letter of introduction from Commissioner Sheehan and had asked him to permit Maynard to run his place, saying that he (Proctor) was interested in it, and that Sheehan himself had personally solicited him to permit the place to be run.
"The grand jury, in considering this charge, took the testimony of Captain Schmittberger, Maynard, the gambler, and a number of police officers connected with the precinct and dismissed the charge."
The following statement of facts was also given out by Assistant District Attorney Lindsay:
"No indictments were found in any matters relative to which Joseph Liss, alias Silver, testified.
"Specific charges against Officers Jacob and McManus and Lang in the Budner and Stromloff matter were dismissed.
"The Budner case was a charge against Jacob McManus and Joseph Goldberg of extorting $250 from Harris Budner, in April, 1890, by threatening to accuse Budner of a crime. The grand jury, after hearing Liss’ evidence, examined in this matter Harris Budner, his son, Jude Budner, and his two daughters, Yetta and Lena, and dismissed the charge."
The Stromloff case was another of Liss and the charge was that Jacobs, McManus and Lang had conspired to extort money from Stromloff by threatening to send him to Sing Sing, and failing in this, had caused him to be committed and sentenced to imprisonment for eight years upon a charge of burglary, of which he was entirely innocent.
The grand jury fully investigated this charge, and examined as witnesses Sarah Stromloff and Abraham Stromloff, the convict’s mother and brother, in addition to hearing the testimony of Silver, and dismissed the charge.
It transpired that serious charges had been made against Superintendent Byrnes by Dr. and Mrs. Whitehead.
The grand jury, after hearing the charges, did not consider them strong enough on which to base an indictment and the charges were dismissed.
Source: Brooklyn Eagle, April 5, 1895, Page 14

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