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The Bogus Laundry Affair

The Bogus Laundry Affair

by Randy Williams
part one

Randy Williams is a Pennsylvania-based private investigator and describes himself as follows;- " I'm a fighter... AND a lover.  Lover of martial arts, lover of true crime novels, lover of word puzzles, lover of things Italian, lover of wine, lover of horses, travel and foreign languages, lover of women, lover of Chinese culture and above all, lover of a mystery."
He has written nine books on the martial arts, and Sherlock Holmes and the Autumn of Terror is his second venture into fictional writing.
"The writing of Sherlock Holmes and the Autumn of Terror has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, and may well be its crowning achievement.  During the four months it took me to write it, I met some lifelong idols and heroes, found much more evidence against the person I have suspected of being Jack the Ripper since 2013 and learned so much more about Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the actual Ripper case, England and its history, religion, classical music, opera, magic, superstition and occultism, architecture, Scotland Yard, Socialism/Anarchism and much, much more.  I hope to have brought to the reader some new information on those subjects as well as to have provided some entertainment along the way. "

Sherlock Holmes and the Autumn of Terror

by Randy Williams

with Dr. Michael M. Baden, Dr. Henry C. Lee and Dr. Cyril H. Wecht




To William A. Cheetham (1929-2013)
Thank you for all the love, for being my dad, my role model and hero, and for taking such great care of my mother for all these years, which you are still doing.
To My Mother and My Big Sister
Thank you both for loving me unconditionally, warts and all, and for your support for me throughout my life, and throughout this project.
To Sifu Ted Wong Kam Ming (1937-2010)
Thank you for sharing the teachings of Bruce Lee with me.  I will never forget the way you encouraged me to pursue my dreams, against all odds.


The evil and cruel party that came to be known as “Jack the Ripper,” England’s first serial killer, terrorized the streets of Whitechapel in London’s East-end during the fall of 1888, now referred to as The Autumn of Terror.  The five “canonical” murders (those generally agreed upon by the majority of Ripper experts, known as “Ripperologists” as being committed by the infamous killer) took place during the exact period when legendary literary sleuth Sherlock Holmes would have been in his heyday as a thirty-five-year-old “private consulting detective” in London.  In the series of short stories and novelettes penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle during those years, Holmes was often called in to assist the (portrayed as mostly incompetent) London Metropolitan Police and Scotland Yard in their more problematic investigations.  Which begs the question; why did Holmes never take on London’s -- and indeed the world’s -- most infamous unsolved mystery, which would have taken place right under his very nose in 1880’s London?  My answer; he did. And not only did he investigate it at the request of The Crown, but in my story, he also solved the case.  However, like many of the fictional detective’s most puzzling and intriguing cases, the results of this investigation led Holmes to make connections to persons and events whose revelation could result in explosive situations which might have had serious ramifications on British politics and society.  And so, in the same way a number of supposedly unreleased case outcomes mentioned through Watson’s narration in stories like The Problem of Thor Bridge, The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger and The Adventure of the Creeping Man, the results of the Ripper case have remained unpublished -- “entombed in a tin box” -- until such time that all concerned parties are long-since dead, or the implications of the investigation’s outcome could no longer be damaging or threatening to national security.  Thus, 125 years after the fact, the Ripper’s identity could finally be revealed in the year 2017.
My story, Sherlock Holmes and the Autumn of Terror, is a fictionalized version of my own actual theory on the true identity of Jack the Ripper, which has never before been put forth, and is supported by the huge amount of irrefutable evidence I have amassed as you will see.  It is based on years of investigation, numerous trips to the actual crime scenes in London, as well as the application of Holmes’ methods in my own experience as a Private Detective, my avid readership of all the Holmes stories and my love for foreign languages, solving puzzles and word games.  I have used all of this, along with expert advice, to create what I believe to be a possible, plausible resolution to one of the world’s greatest unresolved mysteries.  Many of the people, incidents and evidence presented in this tale actually existed, and are intermingled with characters, colloquial dialect and events taken from Doyle’s writings in order to create and maintain an air of authenticity.  But reader beware -- lest you condemn me for not having done my research in my contemporary usage of slang such as “nark of the police,” “crib” (in reference to someone’s home or apartment), “smash-and-grab,” “What’s up” and other modern-sounding words and phrases in the 1800’s, let me assure you that all of these -- and many more -- were borrowed directly from the pages of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s own Sherlock Holmes works.  There may be two exceptions.  Let’s see if you can tell which ones they are.
Also included in this novel is a short story-within-a-story called The Bogus Laundry Affair that was written from Holmes’ perspective, in the style of The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier.  The reader may choose to skip directly over it or read it entirely separately from the rest of the book, as doing so will have no bearing on the outcome of the rest of the bigger story -- it contains no spoilers.  ‎The only thing it has in common with Doyle’s original concept as introduced in The Adventure of the Cardboard Box is the name of the story, the mention of one DI Aldridge, and a generous sprinkling of Holmes- and Watson-isms as borrowed from a number of my favorite Sherlock Holmes tales as well as other writings of horror, mystery and imagination by Doyle. 
It is with great honor that I am able to say that this book was written with the technical advice and inspiration of three men that I have held in the highest esteem for most of my adult life, and that I had the good fortune to have been able to meet through a wonderful series of events that began in February of 2015, when I was invited to a dinner at which Dr. Michael Baden, world-renowned Forensic Pathologist was present.  He was a guest of a very close friend, Sam Sanguedolce, who happened to be First Assistant District Attorney of Luzerne County, near my home in rural Northeast Pennsylvania.  Dr. Baden was in town to testify in the murder case of Hugo Selensky, a local man that, with an accomplice, had killed a couple in a very cruel manner, and had buried their corpses on his property.  Dr. Baden had been originally called in on the case at its inception in 2002, and was in town to testify for the prosecution about the cause and manner of death, as well as other details about their autopsies, and what was found in those examinations.  Through sheer luck, I found myself alone with Dr. Baden for the better part of two hours, as he had been barred from the courtroom during the testimony of another witness.   During that time, we established a friendship that continues to this day, and which led to my meeting Dr. Henry C. Lee, and in turn, Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, both of whom are known for their expertise throughout the world, and were great contributors to this book regarding the medical details of the murders, as well as crime-scene analysis in my fictional recreations of the crimes based on the actual reports of police and medical examiners from London during the period of the Ripper killings.  Dr. Wecht helped me to recreate the murders in a manner consistent with the actual findings of the real medical examiners that worked on the case.  Dr. Lee helped me greatly with the development of the Leu character, and was particularly enlightening in giving me an understanding of the nature of bullet trajectory and ricochet properties that in turn would help me explain Dr. Watson’s “wandering war injury” that Holmes experts love to point out as an error in Doyle’s writings.  I hope to have resolved this issue once and for all, with the help of the world’s leading expert on the subject as a small tribute to the creator of the legends that are Holmes and Watson.  I also hope to have settled a similarly pesky revolver issue. 
The first times I received phone calls from each of the three doctors will forever remain etched into my memory.  My heartfelt thanks go out to these three men, as well as Samuel Sanguedolce, without whom I’d have never had the opportunity to meet the Doctors.  My thanks also go out to Detective Michael Dessoye -- Chief of Detectives for the Office of the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania District Attorney, who also worked with Sam and Dr. Baden on the Selensky case, which was the model for some of the crimes I have dramatized here.  I also wish to thank my long-time dear friend Mr. Chris Short of Derby, England, whose London research on the International Men’s Educational Club was crucial to the development and direction of my actual theory of the true Ripper crime.
Also of great assistance to me in the writing of this book were the remaining members of the Panel of Ten -- a group of men that I had enlisted to help me maintain accuracy in matters of historical detail, London police procedure, Toxicology and the study of the effects of certain poisons.  I chose a rather quirky method of inviting them to be a part of my project, by sending them weekly installments of the story for their approval, but rather than doing so as myself, all of my communication with them in that regard was done via e-mails written to them “from the desk of John H. Watson M.D. through the offices of Black Stallion Security and Investigations” -- my own firm (clue!).  Besides those already mentioned, the members of that panel include Kenneth Widman, Douglas Zahn, Gary Angove and Dr. Michael Rieders.  I must also include my thanks to my good friend Matt “Murdoc” Savory for his invaluable help with my Cockney rhyming slang and all things British. Thank you, men.
In order to avoid confusing the reader by explaining in detail each archaic term, person or historical fact I refer to in the text of my story, I have opted to use footnotes to which the reader can refer for more information about those items at the back of the book.
Lastly, I would like to point out that for dramatic purposes, the chapters are not necessarily in chronological order, and that those attributed to the actual writings of Dr. John H. Watson, Sherlock Holmes and the actual Jack the Ripper will appear in a different typeface (known as “Baskerville Old Face” HA!) and use the British system of spelling and punctuation to separate them from other narration.  I ask the reader to take into account the dates that head each chapter, as I have remained as true to the actual story of Jack the Ripper as I have been able to do, with as much attention to historical detail as possible, while fictionally bringing the famous Baker Street detective into the picture to present my own actual theory of the killer's true identity and methods.  I hope that by bringing together my favorite real-life mystery and my favorite fictional sleuth, I may introduce one or the other to friends around the world, many of whom I have not yet met.
Forest City, PA. 26 April, 2015

7 May, 1889.  221B Baker Street
          The chronicling of the accounts of my experiences is normally the purview of my friend and sometime-biographer Dr. John H. Watson, but because I have often taken the occasion to point out the short-comings of his accounts, and have periodically accused him of tailoring his writings to the minds of the masses and their desire for sensationalism, he has defied me to ‘try it for myself.’  And as I sit here, pen in hand, I can begin to understand his desire to write an entertaining account that will keep the reader’s attention, rather than the terse, clinical prose necessary for my usual monographs upon a variety of subjects pertinent to the science of criminology.
          By way of self-description, I can tell the reader that I have taken up lodgings in the rooms at 221B Baker Street, a whole house to myself.  After all, it costs very little more than a furnished apartment, while the advantages are enormous.  Sometimes I like to be quiet, very quiet; with other people living in the house, that’s not possible.  Occasionally it happens that I prefer to be noisy, particularly noisy: it occurs to me that I want to ascertain whether I’ve lost my aim, whether my nerve is steady, and my eye correct; and then I blaze away with my revolver at a mark on the wall for hours, sometimes for days together; or, feeling a feeling a passion for exercise, I pile up my furniture, and amuse myself with taking a flying leap over it, or jumping down a whole flight of stairs, coming down sometimes rather loudly and heavily, I can tell you.  Other lodgers in the house might reasonably object to that kind of thing.  They could no more stand me than I could tolerate them, in fact.  We should never agree.  We could never come to terms as to being noisy or quiet at quite the same times.  In fact, I’ve tried life in lodgings, and found it a dead failure.  The landlady always came up to give me notice to quit just as I was thinking of going down to let her know I couldn’t endure to stop under her roof any longer.  So now I’m on a different plan.  I’ve a house of my own, with only Mrs Hudson to contend with.  A man’s house is his castle.  This is my castle – Holmes Castle, if you like; and I can do as I please in it; play the drum or the violin, or leap-frog; fire off anything from a popgun to an Armstrong; be as quiet as a mouse or noisy as Verdi’s orchestra; and there’s no one save Mrs Hudson to interfere with me or say me nay.  It’s a capital good house, is 221B.  Perfectly suited to my occasional periods of low spirit; when such misfortune happens to me, I know what course to pursue.  I keep myself to myself, as people say.  I don’t victimise my friends.  I don’t try to pull them down to my low level.  I don’t want to inoculate every one I meet with my malady.  Low spirits are very catching sorts of things.  A determined man may spread his disorder far and wide among his acquaintances, if he gives his mind to it.  For my part, I feel penitent, and a little ashamed; and I lock myself up till I am better.  I don’t care to go whining about, making everybody miserable under the pretence of obtaining their sympathy.     
          The following case, which I took up in the spring of 1889, was able to distract my mind sufficiently to enable me to momentarily relieve myself of the heavy burden that another affair had placed upon my shoulders.  And as such, I believe it to be one of the more colourful tales in my collection, leading me as it did through the labyrinthine streets of London’s Chinatown and its opium dens, through the docks of Canary Wharf and leaving me at its end upon the doorstep of one of the highest offices in the land.  It is therefore quite appropriate that I should choose this case, above all others, to make my debut in the arena of popular creative writing, knowing as I do that its particulars shall likely remain entombed in a tin box, and not see the light of day for many years to come.
          I find from my notebook that this case began on the seventh of May, 1889, when I had a visit from the wife of Mr. Joyce Cummings, the rising barrister and an old friend.   She had been referred to the agency by Dr Michael Braeden, with whom I had become acquainted during my handling of that other aforementioned case -- a dismal East-end affair that Watson will surely recount at some future date; he will no doubt produce one of his meretricious finales to the tale once we have exposed its black roots.
          One forenoon, Mrs Annette Cummings, a tall and fiery redhead with an ethereal, other-world beauty and whose height nearly equalled my own, was announced and shown into my sitting-room by Mrs Hudson.  She took a seat upon the sofa opposite my own well-worn velvet armchair.  She was a tall woman, strongly feminine, from the rich coils of her red-coloured hair to the dainty garden slipper which peeped from under her cream-tinted dress.  One well-gloved hand was outstretched in greeting, the other pressed her handbag against her side.
         ‘I am most pleased to meet you, Mr Holmes.  I have heard a great deal about your remarkable adventures.’ she said as she took her seat.  ‘Do you mind  if I smoke?’
         ‘Please do.  Be my guest, for we shall, I fancy, have a good deal to discuss.’
         ‘Indeed we do Mr Holmes, but how is it that you are already aware of that fact?’ she asked, flipping open an expensive silver case and drawing out a hand-rolled cigarette.
        ‘I assume, Mrs Cummings, that you are here to discuss what has been happening in Half Moon Street.’
        ‘Mr Holmes---!’
        ‘My dear lady, there is no mystery in my determination of Half Moon Street as the locus of your problem; your letter came with that heading.  And because of the very pressing terms in which you fixed this appointment, it becomes clear to me that something sudden and important has taken place at that location.  Pray tell, Mrs Cummings, what is the matter?’

        ‘It is my husband, with whom I believe you are acquainted.  It’s his health, Mr Holmes.  He seems to be wasting away.’  She placed the cigarette into a long holder and brought it up to her painted lips.  I made a long arm and lit it with a matchstick before she could reach into her handbag for one of her own.  She drew upon her cigarette, its end glowing brighter as she inhaled.  ‘Thank you, sir.  And now to Joyce’s problem.’  She exhaled a small cloud of bluish smoke in a most alluring manner.  ‘And mine.’  

        ‘About a year ago, he took to drink.  At first, he took his glass often.  Then it became a whole bottle of an evening.  But that is not the issue that has brought me to your door -- rather, it is his use of opium.  He learned to take the drug while he was away in Prague recently on a legal matter, and it has consumed him in such a way that I can no longer abide by it.  Both he and his legal practice are on the down grade, and I am afraid that I will lose him soon, for the doctors have diagnosed him with a weak heart and dropsy brought on by the infernal narcotic.’
       She took another long draw upon her cigarette and said, ‘He spends nearly all of his time and money at some place in the Canary Wharf that panders to such weaknesses of man.  As I am told, all manner of vices are catered to by a Chinaman there known as “Mr Johnson.” ’
       ‘Quite an unusual surname for a Chinese,’ said I.  ‘Perhaps it is Jan Sun, or something of the like.’  I knew full well, however, that the man of which she spoke could be none other than the infamous Ah Sing, whose opium den in Cornwell Street had at one time been probably the most famous in London during the 1860’s period known as ‘Dark England.’  It was frequented by the local Chinese sailors on break from working on the ships, but also attracted gentlemen from the very elite of London’s high society in the West-end.  But now, in 1889, the opium den was near completely a thing of the past.  In 1868, the Pharmacy Act had recognised dangerous drugs and limited their sale to registered chemists and pharmacists, after doctors and scientists warned about the dangers of drug addiction. When the small number of opium dens gradually declined following crackdowns from the authorities, individuals like Ah Sing were forced to move from their properties, and had to find alternative ways of making a living.  And the method chosen by Ah Sing was the subject of an ongoing investigation of mine that was already underway at that time.
        ‘I’m sure I have no idea, Mr Holmes, but the man is slowly robbing me of my husband, and my children of their father, piece by piece.  He has been behaving in a fashion that is clean against his usual nature.  Is there nothing you can do?’  She dabbed at her eyes, which had begun to well up with tears of despair.
        Just then, Watson entered the room, and took note of the crying woman.
        ‘Good Lord, Holmes!  According to Mrs Hudson, this poor woman has been here for less than ten minutes, and you already have her in tears.  You outdo yourself, man!’
         At this, Mrs Cummings showed the hint of a smile, and a bit of colour returned to her pale, freckled cheeks.
        ‘It’s none of Mr Holmes’ doing, good sir.’ said the red-head.  ‘I’ve been recounting a sad story for which there seems to be a tragic end in sight.’
        ‘Tut tut, Mrs Cummings!  There is no such ending coming to this affair, if Doctor John Watson and I have anything at all to say in the matter.  Allow me to present to you my trusted friend and assistant.’
         Watson bowed to the lady, and I sensed a certain lingering of his eyes upon the crossed bare calves of our new client.  No other verb than leered can describe Watson’s method of beholding the lovely red-headed Amazon.
          ‘This is Missus Cummings, Watson.  She does not object to tobacco, so you may feel free to indulge your own filthy habits.  Mrs Cummings has quite an interesting story to tell which may well lead to further developments in which your presence may be useful.  Please go on with your story, Mrs Cummings.’
          ‘Well, gentlemen, during an examination, Michael -- Doctor Braeden that is -- noted an extreme weight loss in me, and other manifestations of a nervous nature that caused him some concern.  When I told him what little I could about the cause of my own distress, he suggested that I contact you immediately.’
          ‘It is well that you did so, my good woman.’ said Watson in a soothing tone.
          ‘Pray, continue.’ said I
          ‘Well, as I’ve told you, Joyce began drinking to excess some time ago, then began dabbling in Laudanum, morphia and arsenic usage. 93 After attending to a legal matter in Prague, he returned with a new obsession for opium.  He claims that he confines his usage of the drug to the smoking of it, but I have seen the tell-tale needle-marks upon his arm, and other parts of his body.  And I have found within the store of our home a large quantity of a strange, foul substance in wooden crates marked “Laundry Soap” and bearing oriental symbols like those seen upon the signs of restaurants and bookshops in Chinatown.  If it is opium, Mr Holmes, it is far more than one would suppose might be needed by one man.’
          ‘Singular!  Most singular, Mrs Cummings!  And to what end would he keep such a thing upon your premises?  There can only be one answer; what alternative could be conceived?’
          ‘I fear that he is making some sort of business around it, Mr Holmes.  And I believe that business is illicit and could cost him his position at the law firm.’ she cried.

Part Two will be printed here on Wednesday 22nd June

Talking with author Randal W Williams - http://www.englishinformerinfrance.com/full-article/Talking-with-author-Randal-W-Williams

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