YOURS TRULY JACK THE RIPPER.
THE JACK THE RIPPER LETTERS.
If there was a turning point in the public's perception of the Whitechapel Murderer it came in the aftermath of the two murders that took place on 30th September 1888.
The fact that the murderer had managed to murder twice and then disappear into the area where the police were looking for him led to increased press and public criticism of the police.
This, coupled with a desperate need for information that might help bring the killer to justice led the please to make what turned out to be a huge mistake.
On the 29th September 1888 the Central News Agency, whose offices were situated on New Bridge Street in the City of London, had forwarded a letter to the police that they had received on the 27th September.
The missive, dated 25th September, was addressed to ‘The Boss, Central News Office, London, City.’ It read:-
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn't you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife's so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance.
Jack the Ripper
The letter was made public on the 1st October. By the 4th copies of it were appearing in newspapers all over the world.
It was this letter and the chilling signature it bore "Jack the Ripper" that helped turn five sordid East End Murders into an international phenomenon and raised the unknown perpetrator into the realm of legend. Because so chillingly accurate was that name that it caught on immediately and the murderer acquired the name that would ensure that the crimes would remain in the public eye long after the murders themselves had ended.
Releasing it, however, was a mistake because, by the end of the week, Sir Charles Warren was agreeing with his most senior detectives, most notably Robert Anderson his Assistant Commissioner, that the letter had not come from the killer.
The letter was, to quote Anderson, the work of an “enterprising London journalist.” So by releasing it Warren brought his men no closer to catching the killer.
What he did do was spark off a national pastime. Because hoaxers across the land began reaching for their pens, and by November the police had received almost 1400 letters purporting to come from the killer. Every one of them had to be read, assessed and, if possible, followed up. Thus the already overstretched detectives were stretched almost to breaking point.
One such letter was sent to Mr George Lusk the head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. On the 16th October 1888 he received a small package in the evening post. Opening it he found a letter addressed from hell. Wrapped inside the letter was half a human kidney. The letter read:-
Sor I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer signed
Catch me when you Can
The inference of the letter was that the Kidney was part of the kidney that had been removed from Catherine Eddowes body in Mitre Square.
Several commentators have used this to suggest that this is the only letter that can have been written by the murderer.
However, the consensus at amongst doctors at the time was that the Kidney hadn't come from Catherine Eddowes body and this view is largely echoed by the majority of Jack the Ripper historians.
Indeed, the general consensus is that the kidney was sent by a medical student as a practical joke and that it therefore was one of the many red herrings that the authorities were receiving throughout October 1888.
With no clues to go on the police opted for a policy of trying to catch the ripper red handed and to this end the number of plain clothed detectives in the area was increased to 89. These men wandered the streets night after night in all manner of disguises - some even dressed up as prostitutes. But the joke in the neighbourhood was that no matter what disguise these detectives wore they always kept their policeman’s boots on, so they just looked at their feet and knew exactly what they were!
But the increased policing meant that the whole of October passed with no further murders and by the end of the month the general consensus was that the killing spree had ended.
Jack the Ripper though was simply biding his time. He knew it would only be a matter of time before economic necessity forced another victim in to his clutches.
As the 8th November became 9th November Mary Kelly left her room in Dorset Street, desperate to raise the 29 shillings she owed in rent arrears. At the same moment Jack the Ripper was leaving his lair in the East End and his bloody swansong was about to begin.