Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Another Mystery Solved? Jack The Ripper

With the news coming out a few days ago that DNA may have finally solved the Whitechapel murders of 1888 along with PBS possibly solving the Servant Girl Annihilator case it seems I am way behind in solving history's greatest crimes.  So I'll just go ahead and say this: Elizabeth Borden was totally guilty. There. Take that... other historic crime... people.  However, this may not be the final word on Saucy Jack. The DNA testing method used has not been studied and the results of the tests need to be independently verified. Like many amature crime sleuths, I first discovered the world of historic true crime through Jack the Ripper. In 1988 the murders were 100 years old and TV (that's what we used to watch back in the day) was awash in Ripper specials...even an awful made for TV movie starring David Hasselhoff. But one show I really got into, The Secret Identity of Jack the Ripper , was hosted by the great Peter Ustinov and featured a panel of experts who were given information on five suspects and asked to give their assessment as to which of these was most likely the killer. I grabbed a notepad and a pencil and parked in front of the TV to studiously take notes. The only reason I remember this at all is because at the end of the program, when the experts revealed their most likely suspects, they all said what I had written down...Aaron Kosminski. One of the experts on the panel was FBI Special Agent John Douglas, one of the FBI's first criminal profilers. I am an admirer of Mr. Douglas' and find his insights into the criminal mind to be quite interesting. You can read a brief write up about the recent Ripper Revelation TM on his website and I highly recommend you read his books.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Victimology: Ruth Cowing Hill

Thomas F. Cowing, Sr.
Thomas (Tom) F. Cowing emigrated from England as a child with his family and grew up in Wisconsin on his parent's farm. He enlisted in the 2nd Infantry of Wisconsin in 1861 and was wounded  and captured at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run on August 28th, 1862. His wound was considered fatal and the Confederates released him. However he recovered and was transferred to the Veterans Reserve Corp in December of 1863 until his term of service ended in June of 1864. He returned to Wisconsin and married Abby Bennett a month later. Eventually he moved to the fledgling town of Alexandria, MN and, with a partner, opened a hardware and implement store. Selling hardware and farming implements paid well and Thomas built a new house for his family. This is the house in which Ruth would spend the first 11 years of her life and it still stands today. Thomas Cowing was a well respected and prosperous member of the town, and Douglas county, when he passed the Minnesota Bar exam in October of 1889, but he promptly moved the entire family to Oregon City. He was named Notary Public of Clackamas county and passed the Oregon Bar in December of the same year. By February of 1890 he had opened a partnership with his oldest son Eugene, arguing land grant cases. It seems this early business venture may not have worked out because he was soon working for J.B. Brockenbrough's land agency. I don't know why Mr. Cowing decided to leave a prosperous life behind and move his whole family to Oregon but it worked out for him financially. Mr. Cowing, and his family, would prosper in the West.