THE CASE OF GEORGE CHAPMAN
By Tim Lambert
George Chapman poisoned people with antimony. He was born in Poland on 14 December 1865 (his real name was Severin Klosowski). Chapman had some training as a surgeon in his native Poland. However he moved to Britain about 1888 and he worked as a barber. George Chapman married twice, the first time in Poland, the second time, bigamously, in Britain. However his second 'wife' left him in 1892. In 1893 George Chapman met a woman named Annie Chapman and he took her name.
In 1895 after the relationship between George Chapman and Annie had ended he met a woman called Mary Isabella Spink and the two began living together. George Chapman ran a barbers shop. In it Mary entertained the customers by playing the piano. Later George Chapman changed to managing pubs. Meanwhile he tired of Mary and he decided to murder her with antimony. Chapman purchased antimony from a chemist on 3 April 1897. As required by law he signed the poisons register. The unfortunate woman fell ill and she died on 25 December 1897.
After her death Chapman advertised for a barmaid and he employed a woman named Elizabeth Taylor, known as Bessie. They soon began a relationship. However Chapman eventually decided to kill Bessie. She fell ill and finally died on 14 February 1901. Her death was ascribed to 'exhaustion from vomiting and diarrhoea'. It is not clear why George Chapman killed Bessie. Maybe he just grew tired of her.
The third victim of George Chapman was a young woman named Maud Marsh. Chapman employed her as a barmaid at his pub in August 1901 but soon started a relationship with her. However once again Chapman grew tired of the woman and decided to poison her. She fell ill. Meanwhile Maud confided in her sister that George Chapman beat her. Poor Maud died on 22 October 1902. Meanwhile the doctor who attended her, Dr Stoker was unable to explain her illness so Maud's mother asked her own doctor, Dr Grupel to examine her. Dr Grupel too was unable to explain it but after he returned home he sent a telegram to Dr Stoker saying he feared Maud was being poisoned. He was, of course, correct. When Maud died Dr Stoker refused to sign a death certificate. A post mortem showed her body contained a large amount of antimony. The bodies of Chapman's previous two victims were exhumed and were also found to contain antimony. Chapman was charged with three murders and went to trial. Nor surprisingly the jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to death. George Chapman was hanged on 7 April 1903.
It has been suggested that George Chapman was Jack the Ripper. Again there is no evidence to link Chapman to Jack the Ripper and the murders he committed are obviously different. Jack killed strangers by cutting their throats and then mutilated them. Chapman poisoned women he knew. Furthermore in 1888 Chapman was only 23, which makes him younger than the man eyewitnesses saw with the victims shortly before they were killed.
Jack The Ripper