Who was he?
George Chapman was born Seweryn Kłosowski in Nagórna, poland in 1865.
Little is known about his life previous back in Poland, other than that at the age of fourteen he apprenticed for a surgeon and attended a course in practical surgery at the Warsaw Praga Hospital.
It is believed that he worked as a nurse, or doctor’s assistant in Warsaw until December 1886, and it is believed he moved to London in 1888.
It is also known that he had a wife in Poland, who raised objections when he married a young Polish girl while in London. Nevertheless, Kłosowski continued his relationship with his second wife and moved with her to the United States in 1891.
There the two of them lived in New Jersey, where once, in an argument over Kłosowski’s cheating, he threatened her with a knife and calmly explained how he would kill her and dispose of her body.
After this incident, his second wife traveled back to London without Kłosowski. Kłosowski followed her to East London, where they briefly met up before ending their relationship.
Once again, Kłosowski took on a new mistress, who he married to take on her last name, Chapman, and all her money. Along with an Anglicized version of his first name, he gained his new moniker: George Chapman.
Soon after the marriage, Chapman continued with his brazen infidelities resulting in his newest wife leaving him.
In 1895, Chapman met Mary Isabella Spink, an alcoholic divorcee, who he married and had placed him in her will. Chapman beat Spink often, and in 1897 poisoned her with tartar-emetic, a toxic compound similar to arsenic, which he purchased from a local chemist.
After killing her, Chapman took her inheritance and repeated this method of murder on his next two mistresses Bessie Taylor and Maud Mars.
After the latter’s mother suspected Chapman of killing her daughter in 1902, he was arrested, and the bodies of his previous wives were exhumed to discover that they had all died from the same cause.
Chapman was found guilty and hanged on April 7, 1903
Why is he one of the Jack The Ripper Suspects?
Chapman was first identified as a suspect in the Ripper killings when he was first arrested in 1902. Frederick Abberline, a detective at Scotland Yard involved in the Whitechapel murder cases reportedly said “You’ve got Jack the Ripper at last!” to the officers who brought in Chapman.
Abberline had interviewed Chapman’s second wife, who told the inspector that her husband would often go out during the night for hours on end while they were living in Whitechapel at the time of the Ripper murders.
Chapman was also a murderer in the area who picked women as targets of his violence.
However, despite Abberline’s convictions and the press’ speculation, Chapman was never an official police suspect in the killings.
Does the case against him hold up?
Though there is little evidence connecting Chapman to the murders, there is no solid evidence to eliminate him as a suspect. All of Chapman’s known murders have been of women who he personally knew and were committed through the use of poison.
For him to have killed and mutilated strange women with a knife seems outside of his usual methods.
It is also unsure if Chapman could speak English at the time of the murders, something the Ripper would have had to have done to lure some of his victims.