Meredith Coplien

My name is Meredith Coplien, and I live in Orange Park Florida (Jacksonville area). I am currently a student studying CompTIA A+ and stay at home mom. I’m married to a wonderful man who happens to be in the Navy with 2 little boys (the oldest being special needs). I don’t know when my first paranormal experience was, per se. My mother’s culture kinda made it out to be an everyday occurrence. It wasn’t until I was older did I realize that it wasn’t so much so with American culture. I grew up as a Navy Brat, which has brought my travels to Washington State, Hawaii, Bahrain, Sicily, Italy, and finally Florida. After marrying my husband, it has brought me to Illinois and back to Florida. Needless to say, that I have experienced a lot of different cultures, their ideas on the paranormal, and just some plain weird stuff that would happen during our stays in foreign nations (which I will eventually get to talking about one day). I don’t have a lot of experience when it comes to the paranormal. I have a lot of personal experience, just not technical. I believe in logic and science should come first and foremost in the field, to rule out the normal before jumping to the paranormal.

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Jack The Ripper

JACK THE RIPPER: Case Closed Author:  Andrew Cook

JACK THE RIPPER: Case Closed
Author: Andrew Cook

History was made in 1888 at Whitechapel, England when one of the first recorded serial killers stalked an impoverished neighborhood. Between August 31st, 1888 and November 9th, 1888, five women were brutally murdered and butchered in the streets. But the details of the murders are nothing compared to greatest question that has plagued history since: who was Jack the Ripper?

While also named the “Whitechapel Murderer” and “Leather Apron” at the time of the crimes, very little is known about the actual person.  There have been theories that went from the practical to the ridiculous. Others that went from gang killings to cult followings. It seemed nobody could agree on the profession or profile of the person the police and Scotland Yard were pursuing, let alone the identity.

The East End of London was so densely populated and crime ridden, that gang activity and murders were just a passing thought in the life of the people who lived there. The labyrinth-like layout of the area may have hindered the process, as there were many ways in and out of the areas where the murders were committed. Lighting was dim in the streets. In some alleys there was no lighting at all, making the crimes that were committed easier to accomplish while remaining unseen.

There are five generally accepted victims of Jack the Ripper (also referred as the Canonical Victims). Many of the woman had similar lifestyles. This creates various theories about the suspect and his (or her) victimology.

Mary Ann Nichols was nearly 44 years old when her body was found. She was the wife of William Nichols with whom she had separated with several years earlier, and was the mother of five children, four of which lived with her at the time of her death. It is commonly thought that she was an alcoholic, and this is what led to her life of prostitution. Her body was found at Buck’s Row on August 31st, 1888 by a Car-man named Charles Cross, who signaled a friend, Robert Paul for assistance. While Cross believed the woman to be dead, Paul thought he could still feel a faint heartbeat. According to reports, both men had agreed that they didn’t want to be late for work, and alerted police after rearranging her skirts to provide her some decency. Her autopsy shows that she had her throat slit twice with a rather large knife and several incisions were made into her abdomen. Investigators believed that she had been killed elsewhere, as there was a lack of blood to indicate that she bled out where she was found.

Annie Chapman was 47 years old at the time of death. She was also married and separated from her husband, John Chapman, with whom she had three children. It was commonly thought that she was an alcoholic as well, since she had been arrested several times for her intoxication. Annie turned to prostitution after the death of her husband. Her body was found on September 8th, 1888 by another Car-man by the name of John Davis. The medical report shows extensive damage to her body. As with the last victim, her throat had be cut, but only once. However, her abdomen had been disemboweled and her intestines was removed and thrown over her shoulders. Upon further examination, it was discovered that her uterus had been removed.

On September 30th, 1888 the body of Elizabeth Stride was discovered. She was 45 years old. She was married to John Stride, and she did have a stillborn baby girl, but no other children of record. It is believed that her husband and she had separated prior to his death in 1884. Elizabeth was also known to be an alcoholic and was arrested for being drunk and disorderly on many occasions. She did make money through legitimate means, but occasionally prostituted herself on the side for extra income. Her body was discovered by Louis Diemschutz, a jewelry salesman, in the early hours of the morning. While her throat had also been cut, it is believed that Louis had scared off her murderer before he could finish with the mutilation of her body.

Catherine Eddowes was also found on September 30, 1888. While there was no evidence she was married, she did live with Thomas Conway for some time, and had three children with him. They did separate and she took her daughter, while Conway took her one of her sons (it is unclear what became of her third child). Only 45 minutes after Elizabeth Stride’s body had been found, Catherine Eddowes’ still warm corpse was discovered. Catherine’s skirts had been pulled up past her abdomen. She had been disemboweled as well, and her intestines had been pulled up past her right shoulder, and smeared with fecal matter. A piece of the intestine had been detached and placed between her body and her left arm, in a sort of design. Her throat had also been cut. As with Mary Ann Nichols, the crime scene showed little blood from the murder and disembowelment.

Mary Jane Kelley was only 25 years old when she was murdered. She lived with a man named Joseph Burnett and a Mrs. Carthy who seemed to only know things about her through her stories of her family, as no one claimed her body. Mary Jane was from Ireland, and traveled with her family to Wales. She had been married at the age of 16 to a man name Davies, and her husband had died two or three years later in an explosion. There had been a suggestion that a child came of this marriage, but she did not have one residing with her during her time in London. When she arrives in London, Mary Jane claims to have landed a job at a high end Brothel on the West End. Accounts found that she was belligerent when she was drinking, but overall a very sweet person. Mary Jane Kelley was found by a landlord after he went to collect past-due rent. When knocking did not get an answer for him, he went to the window where he found her body lying on her bed. The medical examination found that her whole abdomen and thighs were disemboweled. . Unlike the other victims, it seemed the Ripper did not worry about being caught, as he or she took the time to cut up her face. All her organs from her abdomen were emptied from her body, and her breasts had been removed. These were placed systematically in various stages around her body.

There is a theory that the Ripper had thirteen other victims alongside the Canonical Five, ranging from the years 1887-1891. While many of them shared the same attributes of alcoholism and prostitution, two stood out that were able to give a description of their assailant. Annie Millwood was admitted to the Whitechapel Workhouse Infirmary on February 25th, 1888 with several stab wounds to her body. The exact number is unclear, and she would die less than a month later of “natural causes”. She described the man that attacked her as a stranger, but no one else had seen the attack itself.

Ada Wilson was attacked on March 28th, 1888 at her home. She claims that a man in his 30’s knocked on her door, and when she answered, the man forced his way into her home and demanded money. After refusing him, he stabbed her twice in the throat and ran, leaving Ada Wilson for dead. She, however, survived and was able to recount her tale to the authorities.

It is very possible that these two women may have been the first attempts at murder by the Ripper. As the body count increased, so did his methods. Using only a knife, as some may claim, he went from attacking women to evolving into a serial killer that not only mutilated the bodies of the women he killed, but managed terrify and panic a whole city.

Screenshot_7The Ripper Letters are in no way, an indication of who the murderer was. Upon simple examination, it is fairly easy to determine that the “Dear Boss” letter was written by someone completely different than the author of the “From Hell” and “Saucy Jack” letters. While the “From Hell” letter did have what seemed to be a human kidney, the recipient of the letter, George Lusk, was unable to determine if it belonged to Catherine Eddowes (the Ripper’s 4th victim).Screenshot_8

The suspect list continues to grow even today. More than 500 people have been identified as Jack the Ripper, including those of the noble class. One of which was Prince Albert Victor. Although there was no solid evidence, he became a suspect well after all the main players were dead. It was thought that he was mentally unstable (or in our day, he might have been mildly autistic). But that theory has been shot down by several experts as the Prince has been accounted for in other places, with several witnesses and royal documents and records back up his innocence.Screenshot_6

Screenshot_5Quite a few have been dubbed “Jill the Ripper”, as experts in the field believed that the famous serial killer may have been a woman. This theory grew credence as the community at large were looking for a man, thus making it easier for a woman to go about her business without harassment, or a second thought. Add in the theory that this woman may have been a midwife, or an abortionist, walking around with blood on their clothing would have the people around her not batting an eye. As experts would theorize on this, they thought “who else would know the human anatomy so well besides a physician?”

Screenshot_4There is a theory that H.H. Holmes, the famous doctor turned serial killer in Chicago may have been the infamous killer of Whitechapel. In 1893, a few short years after the last document murder in London, made his 60 room boarding house into a “murder trap”. It is believed he had killed over 200 people, mostly women, although he only admitted to 27 murders. He was tried and convicted of those killings in Chicago, and was hanged in May 1896.

Forensics back in the 19th century were shoddy at best, considering forensics was in its infancy. Many of the scenes were contaminated by the civilians, police force and the coroner. This makes identity harder to reveal even today, as the contamination could be from anyone. Most of the evidence had been handled by many people, even experts without the use of gloves or masks, making anyone who had come into contact with them a suspect using today’s technology. One touch, one sneeze, made any evidence unusable by today’s standards.

References:

1. http://www.jack-the-ripper.org

2. http://www.casebook.org/index.html

3. http://www.biography.com/people/hh-holmes-307622

4. Serial Killers and Mass Murderers: Profiles of the World’s Most Barbaric Criminals By Nigel Cawthorne (Book) (Amazon)

Effigy Mounds

flight_1Built during the Late Woodland period by mound builders, Effigy Mounds became a regional and cultural phenomenon spanning Iowa, Minnesota, and the Southern Wisconsin-Northern Illinois Border. There are mounds with geometric shapes, and over 200 common animal themes. An amazing feat, considering the prehistoric tools used by the Native Americans at the time.

What separates these mounds from others like it is the fact that these lack traded goods from long-distance tribes, or any sort of valuables. Some burial mounds only possess a simple cooking pot. This practice of burying their people in humble means may suggest that the communities that these mounds originated from were egalitarian, believing that all people were equal within the communities and even politically. But the practice of many that lack any markings that are geometric in shape still remain a mystery.

Today, only a handful remain intact due to agricultural development. That, however, has not stopped the theories of why they were built. Archaeologists believe that the geometrically shaped mounds were meant as a place of burial or sacred ceremonial sites, such as funerals, because some mounds had items believed to be used during a burial. Items that could have been used in the afterlife to make their transitions easier and more comfortable.

Native Americans have argued that they were sites of refuge, not of burial. That these were places of great religious importance, such as a place for birthing children. It could be suggested, that since some of these mounds lack any burial items, that this may have been a place of worship or clan meetings.

Others have suggested that they were built in observance of celestial bodies. There is a theory that the placement and shape of the mounds is what the Native American tribes of the day believed how the universe was shaped.

Some archaeologists suggest that the animal-shaped effigy mounds were territorial markers. Since this was a race of hunter-gatherers, it could be that they marked where one group, or tribe, had positioned for themselves to gather crops or hunt for their meat. It is also thought that each clan had an animal spirit, or an animal representative, and the mounds were built to honor those spirits.

Without the mound builders present, and only mythology and stories handed down through generations one could only guess why they were originally built. As scientific data has proven inconclusive, much of the theories presented can only be speculation of a race long past.

Sources:
http://www.discoveramerica.com/…/the-effigy-mounds.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effigy_mound
http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/tp-004/
http://www.nps.gov/…/historycu…/effigy-moundbuilders.htm

Voynich Manuscript

vonich man

The Voynich Manuscript

 

An elaborate ruse by a Charlatan to fool a client during a time when Alchemy was at its prime? Or could it possibly be a language no one has ever seen before, and will lay hidden until its author is revealed?  One of the mysterious of all texts, the Voynich Manuscript has remained untranslated for several centuries. Considered at the time of discovery a small but thick book, this leather-bound tome was approximately 7 inches by 10 inches, and held over 200 pages. The pages themselves hold what are thought to be herbal depictions of unidentified plants, astronomical drawings depicting many nude women and zodiac constellations. Some pages have biological drawings of tubs with intricate piping network that seem to depict body organs with nude woman bathing,  and short paragraphs marked with star-like “bullets” that could be recipes. They also contain circular diagrams that seem to be cosmological in nature, and pharmaceutical depictions of plant parts with texts.

None of the texts have been seen anywhere else in the world, and has intrigued those that have seen its pages or heard of its existence. Unlike the Rosetta stone, there is no other language that is discernible to those attempting to decipher its code. The finest of the American and British “code-breakers” during World War II seemed to have failed.

(Re)Discovered in 1912 by an antique book dealer in a Jesuit College in Frascati, Italy, Wilfrid M. Voynich bought the book from the Jesuits. Later photographing and sending them out to experts around the world in an attempt to decipher the book and its many pages, Voynich failed to make any leeway as to what is actually contained in any of the texts itself.

However, a letter was found tucked in the manuscript written by Johannes Marcus Marci of Cronland to Athanasius Kircher that was dated 1665 or 1666 by Voynich. It states that the manuscript was originally purchased by Emperor Rudolph II of Bohemia, sometime around 1586, for a great sum of 600 ducats, or what some experts say would have been $14,000. In the letter, Marci asks Kircher to attempt to break the cipher, and mentions that Roger Bacon, a Franciscan Friar who lived from 1214-1294, may be a possible author of the manuscript.

The letter left very little clues to those who have tried to decipher the words in the manuscript. In fact, it left more questions to be answered.  Questions that couldn’t be answered without knowing what the symbols in the book mean. This brought about questions of who wrote it and to what purpose? Although Voynich went about to prove that that Roger Bacon was indeed the author of the book, many theories have been presented. These theories have included anything from Leonardo da Vinci to a massive hoax on a very historical scale.

The theory that Roger Bacon wrote the manuscript has been debunked by carbon dating in 2009, which puts the vellum of the book to the early 15th century.  Well after Roger Bacon’s lifetime in the 13th century. It is with the C14 dating of the early 15th century that would probably exclude Leonardo da Vinci as its author, since he would either be a very small child (if the carbon dating was off by decades) or was yet to be born.

That leaves the possibility of a hoax. As before, if the carbon dating is accurate, what would possess a person to go through such extensive work to fool others? Was it an elaborate ruse by a Charlatan to fool a client during a time when Alchemy was at its prime? Or could it possibly be a language no one has ever seen before, and will lay hidden until its author is revealed?

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voynich_manuscript
http://www.world-mysteries.com/sar_13.htm
http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/voynich.html
http://www.edithsherwood.com/voynich_decoded