Israel Schwartz

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Israel Schwartz
Born19th century
Known forBeing a witness to a murder by Jack the Ripper

Israel Schwartz was a man who, in 1888, claimed to have witnessed an assault on a London woman that is believed to be tied to the Jack the Ripper slayings and one of the few people who might have had a good look at the murderer.[1] Though he was described at the time as being from Hungary, 1891 census entries show him as being Polish and of Jewish descent.[2]

Schwartz officially testified to the police, the following:[3] shortly after midnight on September 30, he was walking down a street when he saw a man stop and speak to a woman who was standing in a gateway. Schwartz stated that the man then threw the woman to the ground. Schwartz crossed the street and began walking away when the attacker saw him. The attacker called out the name "Lipski" — apparently an anti-Semitic insult related to Israel Lipski's murder of a woman the year before. Schwartz reported seeing another man smoking a pipe nearby at the time, and that this man started walking towards Schwartz, possibly following him, prompting Schwartz to run away.[4]

Schwartz described the possible murderer as being around 30-years-old with a height of around 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m), fair complexion, dark hair, small brown moustache, with a full face and broad shouldered.[3]

Shortly after the time that Schwartz claimed this incident had happened, the body of Elizabeth Stride was found in the same location. That same day Schwartz identified Stride's body as that of the woman he had seen attacked and gave testimony to the police about what he had seen.[5] He was able to give descriptions of both men but was unable to say whether they knew each other or had been working together.

Several years after the crimes, Commissioner Robert Anderson claimed in his autobiography The Lighter Side of My Official Life that the Ripper had been identified by "the only person who ever had a good view of the murderer." Chief Inspector Donald Swanson, in marginalia found in his personal copy of Anderson's book, stated that the witness in question was Jewish. Some Ripperologists have concluded that Schwartz was most likely the man being referred to, although a number of other people, primarily Joseph Lawende, have also been suggested. Swanson speculated that the witness had identified but then refused to testify against "Kosminski"—understood to be Aaron Kosminski, a Jewish barber—because it would likely have caused the death of a fellow Jew.[6] This speculation has never been verified.


  1. ^ Shellenberger 2003, p. 16, 1. The Murders.
  2. ^ Sironi, Antonio; Coram, Jane (1 April 2006). Begg, Paul; George, Christopher T.; Zinna, Eduardo (eds.). "Anything But Your Prayers: Victims and Witnesses on the Night of the Double Event". Ripperologist. Maidstone, United Kingdom: Mango Books. 11 (66): 3–14.
  3. ^ a b "Elizabeth Stride (29 Sept 1888): Police report: questioning of Israel Schwartz" (1 November 1888) [Textual record]. MEPO - Records of the Metropolitan Police Office, Series: MEPO 3 - Metropolitan Police: Office of the Commissioner: Correspondence and Papers, Special Series [Subsubseries within MEPO 3 - The Whitechapel Murders ("Jack the Ripper")], Box: Folio No: 204-206, File: MEPO 3/140 - Case papers of eleven victims. With photographs. Described at item level., ID: MEPO 3/140. London, United Kingdom: The National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
  4. ^ Shellenberger 2003, p. 28, 1. The Murders.
  5. ^ McLaughlin, Robert J. (1 March 2003). Begg, Paul; George, Christopher T.; Zinna, Eduardo (eds.). "Interpreting 'Lipski'". Ripperologist. Maidstone, United Kingdom: Mango Books. 8 (45).
  6. ^ Bennetto, Jason (13 July 2006). Currie, Shayne (ed.). "Book claims to solve mystery of Jack the Ripper". The New Zealand Herald. Auckland, New Zealand: NZME Publishing Limited. ISSN 1170-0777.


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