How a Jack The Ripper copycat got away with brutal murder of barmaid on London train 124 years ago

A historian believes he has solved the gruesome 124-year-old murder of a barmaid on a London train.

After studying the evidence for a decade, Dr Jan Bondeson believes he has proof a 33-year-old barmaid was killed by a Jack the Ripper copycat who had purchased a false moustache to avoid identification. 

The professor says his research proves a man named Arthur Miller killed the barmaid in a rage, while wearing a false moustache, and later bragged he had done a ‘Jack the Ripper’ job. 

Elizabeth Camp was travelling to Waterloo station when she was brutally murdered on February 11, 1897.

The 33-year-old’s body was found by a carriage cleaner with her head wedged underneath a seat and her legs outstretched on the floor.

Her skull had been bashed in from repeated blows by a blunt instrument.

Scotland Yard investigated the heinous killing, searching every inch of the track between Vauxhall and Putney in south London for clues.

Here, they found a large, heavy pestle with blood and hair on it which they identified as the murder weapon.

Historian Dr Jan Bondeson believes he has finally solved the gruesome 124-year-old murder of barmaid Elizabeth Camp. Pictured: A train conductor discovers her body in a train carriage

Historian Dr Jan Bondeson believes he has finally solved the gruesome 124-year-old murder of barmaid Elizabeth Camp. Pictured: A train conductor discovers her body in a train carriage

However, they never charged anyone in connection with the crime which has remained a mystery – until now.

Over a century later, historian Dr Jan Bondeson has pored over the evidence in the case, including police files, to try and identify her killer.

He believes the person responsible for her brutal death was 25-year-old Arthur Marshall, the son of a Reading publican.

He has outlined his theory in his book, Rivals of the Ripper, which sheds new light on several grisly late 19th century murders.

Dr Bondeson, of Cardiff University, said Marshall may have killed Miss Camp in a fit of rage as she resembled an ex-girlfriend who had left him to emigrate to America.

He said it seems likely that Marshall used a false moustache during the murder to trick possible witnesses in the event of an identity parade.

Dr Bondeson said: ‘This murder should have been solved at the time as it took place on a train but no witnesses came forward and a man was spotted running from the train so it is extremely likely it was him.

‘It has taken me 10 years to research this crime and I have looked at police files at the National Archives and newspapers of the day as her murder was a huge story.

A portrait of Elizabeth Camp

A side profile of Arthur Marshall

After poring over evidence, Dr Jan Bondeson believes Ms Camp (left) was murdered by Arthur Marshall (right), the son of a publican who bought a moustache on the day of the murder

‘The police did not charge Arthur Marshall as they couldn’t understand why he would kill a complete stranger, but there is a theory that she resembled his ex-girlfriend who ran off to America.

‘It was very suspicious that he bought a false moustache on the day and it appears this was done to conceal his identity in a clever ploy.’

Miss Camp, from Shoreditch, east London, had been on a day out to see her two sisters in Feltham, west London, before catching the train back to Waterloo.

Her fiance, greengrocer Edward Barry, was waiting at the platform there to meet her upon arrival at 8.25pm that night.

A sketch of the murder of Elizabeth Camp

A sketch of the murder of Elizabeth Camp

Dr Bondeson said a man matching Marshall’s description was spotted by a workman with badly blood-stained clothes after leaving the train at Wandsworth, en route to Waterloo.

He believes her killer must have alighted at Wandsworth, Clapham Junction or Vauxhall, with the porter observing a ‘wild-eyed’ character leaping out of the train in a hurry.

Scotland Yard’s attention first turned to Mr Barry but both he and Miss Camp’s former boyfriend William Brown had ‘rock solid’ alibis.

Another tip-off was that the eccentric barrister Charles Prideaux might have been involved in the murder, but he was in a private asylum.

At about 9pm on the night of Miss Camp’s murder, a barman at the Alma public house opposite Wandsworth Station said he served a scruffily dressed young man acting strangely.

He had a large brown moustache and was wearing a ripped coat covered in fresh blood spots.

The witness also noticed scratch marks on his face.

The man was later identified as Marshall and he was arrested in bed at his father’s pub two weeks later.

During the police interview he told them he travelled from Reading to Guildford, and then on to Waterloo.

Pictured: The funeral procession of barmaid Elizabeth Camp as it leaves St Peter's Church

Pictured: The funeral procession of barmaid Elizabeth Camp as it leaves St Peter’s Church

At the coroner’s inquest, Marshall said he had bought a large fake moustache from a shop on the day of the murder as he thought if he wore it he would be more likely to be accepted in the Army.

He was shown a portrait of Miss Camp and claimed he had never seen her in his life, but two labourers who spoke to him said he told them he had done a ‘Jack the Ripper’ job.

In the end, detectives decided there was not enough evidence to charge Marshall and the coroner recorded that Miss Camp had been slayed ‘by person unknown’.

Dr Bondeson said this was an ‘understandable’ mistake given the facts known at the time, but all the signs point at Marshall being the culprit.

He said: ‘The identity of the man at the Alma is crucial for the solution of the murder of Elizabeth Camp.

‘One of the four Alma witnesses picked out Arthur Marshall with certainty, although he lacked a moustache, and another did so in a tentative manner, while two other witnesses failed to recognise him.

‘Arthur Marshall’s strange behaviour after the murder is also notable – why did he hint to complete strangers that he had committed a crime, and that the detectives were after him?’

He added: ‘It is understandable why Marshall was released from police custody, and why the coroner’s inquest returned a verdict of murder against some person unknown.

‘There was nothing to suggest that he had ever known Miss Camp, no evidence linked him to the pestle, and he had no previous conviction for serious crime.

‘…This railway traveller got a fixed idea that he should kill a woman, and that he had purchased the false moustache and the pestle in Guildford.

‘When he sees an unprotected woman in a second-class carriage, he is struck by her likeness to his own faithless girlfriend, who had left him and gone to America.

‘Before the train comes into Wandsworth, he attacks her with the pestle in a murderous rage, before he leaves the train in a great hurry, aghast at what he had just done.’

Rivals of the Ripper, by Dr Jan Bondeson, is published by History Press in paperback and costs £14.99.

From hell: The infamous serial killer who terrorised Victorian London

Jack the Ripper is thought to have killed at least five young women in Whitechapel, East London, between September and November 1888, but was never caught.

Numerous individuals have been accused of being the serial killer.

At the time, police suspected the Ripper must have been a butcher, due to the way his victims were killed and the fact they were discovered near to the dockyards, where meat was brought into the city.

There are several alleged links between the killer and royals. First is Sir William Gull, the royal physician. Many have accused him of helping get rid of the alleged prostitutes’ bodies, while others claim he was the Ripper himself.

A page from the Illustrated Police News page covering the the murders of Jack the Ripper

A page from the Illustrated Police News page covering the murders of Jack the Ripper

A book has named Queen Victoria’s surgeon Sir John Williams as the infamous killer. He had a surgery in Whitechapel at the time.

Another theory links the murders with Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence.

At one point, cotton merchant James Maybrick was the number one suspect, following the publication of some of his diary which appeared to suggest he was the killer.

Some believe the diary to be a forgery, although no one has been able to suggest who forged it.

Other suspects include Montague John Druitt, a Dorset-born barrister. He killed himself in the Thames seven weeks after the last murder.

George Chapman, otherwise known as Severyn Kłosowski, is also a suspect after he poisoned three of his wives and was hanged in 1903.

Jack the Ripper is thought to have killed at least five young women in Whitechapel, East London, between September and November 1888

Jack the Ripper is thought to have killed at least five young women in Whitechapel, East London, between September and November 1888

Another suspected by police was Aaron Kosminski. He was admitted to Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum and died there.

Dr Thomas Neill Cream poisoned four London prostitutes with strychnine and was hanged in 1892.

Some of the more bizarre links include Lewis Carroll, author of the Alice in Wonderland books, who taught at Christ Church until 1881 – which was at the forefront of the Ripper murder scenery.

Winston Churchill’s father – Lord Randolph Churchill – has also been named as a potential suspect.

Crime writer Patricia Cornwell believes she has ‘cracked’ the case by unearthing evidence that confirms Walter Sickert, an influential artist, as the prime suspect. Her theories have not been generally accepted.

Author William J Perring raised the possibility that Jack the Ripper might actually be ‘Julia’ – a Salvation Army soldier.

In The Seduction Of Mary Kelly, his novel about the life and times of the final victim, he suggests Jack the Ripper was in fact a woman.

Police discovering the body of one of Jack the Ripper's victims, probably Catherine Eddowes

Police discovering the body of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, probably Catherine Eddowes

In February 2019, it was suggested that Jack the Ripper may have been a sinister Dutch sailor who murdered two ex-wives in his homeland and bludgeoned to death two other women in Belgium.

Crime historian Dr Jan Bondeson has named Hendrik de Jong as a prime suspect for the most notorious set of unsolved murders in history.

At the time of the Whitechapel murders, de Jong is believed to have worked as a steward on board a ship which made frequent trips from Rotterdam to London, providing him with the perfect means of getting out of the country after his heinous crimes.

He later murdered two of his ex-wives in his native Netherlands in 1893 and bludgeoned to death two women above a pub before attempting to set their bodies on fire in Belgium in 1898.

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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