Carrie “Shakespeare” Brown was a down on her luck prostitute, eking out a living in New York City’s rough and tumble waterfront, known in the 19th century as the Fourth Ward. Carrie, who’d seen better days, was known throughout the waterfront for her habit of jumping up on bar tables and reciting soliloquies from Shakespeare when she’d had three or four stiff drinks, and needed a few nickels for a couple more.
One night in April, 1891, her luck would take a turn for the worse… Little did our down and dirty dive bar thespian know that her last night on earth would be Shakespeare’s birthday.
Another strange twist would emerge in the case when the police found her mutilated corpse. There were a number of astonishing similarities between Jack the Ripper’s MO and the murderous style of whoever murdered and mutilated Carrie Brown. Chief NYPD Inspector Thomas Byrnes was known for bragging that if he’d been in London in recent years, he’d have made light work of Jack the Ripper. Did the mysterious English killer come to New York to taunt the hubristic Byrnes? Or was it a copycat killer? And who was the mysterious character they called “Frenchy?”
Check out the video below, as former NYPD Detective Ike Ilkiw tells the tale of Carrie Brown’s horrific 1891 murder.
Recorded live at the Merchant’s House Museum, October 2013. For more information on the museum, visit merchantshouse.com. For more on Ike Ilkiw and his NYC walking tours of notorious crime scenes, visit nycadventuretours.com/tours.