|A Ripperoo Article|
|This article originally appeared in Ripperoo, the flagship magazine of the Australian Cloak and Dagger Club. For more information, view our Ripperoo page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperoo for permission to reprint this article.|
Story by Leanne Perry / introduction from Julian Rosenthal.
In the Autumn of 1888, the East End and much of London was pitched into a state of fear, panic and hysteria, due to the state of the brutal murders committed by someone known as 'Jack the Ripper'. The person responsible for these atrocities was never found and there is still speculation today as to who he was. Over the years, profiles of serial killers have been developed, including modus operandi and personality profiles, but none of these methods have identified who the murderer might have been. Hopefully by studying and researching the case of Jack the Ripper, we might be able to understand and comprehend the human desire to commit such horrid murders, and in tern teach us something that might stop them happening again. JULIAN ROSENTHAL.
Following the discovery of Mary Ann Nichols, on the 31st of August 1888, the ‘Standard’ newspaper reported: ‘Another Horrible Murder In Whitechapel’. The ‘Observer’ reported: ‘Another Brutal Murder’. The ‘East London Advertiser’, caught the local mood, when it reported: ‘The crowds of people, which have since daily assembled at the scene of the murder, have been reduced to a condition of almost abject terror’. The ‘Daily News’ reported: ‘Very rarely has anything occurred, even in this quarter of London, that has created so profound a sensation’. The enduring image of a sinister monster, dressed entirely in black and carrying a medical bag, as he stalked through the shadowy, cobblestone streets of Whitechapel, was born.
Over the weekend of Annie Chapman’s murder, anxious and agitated crowds, gathered outside the murder site, the mortuary, the local police station and at the ‘Ten Bells’ pub. Businesses were forced to close and thousands of people swarmed the streets. The crowds came from all over London. People were quick to capitalize on the situation and set up stalls, that did a thriving business. Residents even charged people to view the actual murder site, until they were stopped by police.
When ambulances rushed towards London Hospital, at anytime over the ‘Autumn of Terror‘, informed crowds pursued it, sensing another victim. Angry mobs called for a mans lynching, after he suddenly threw a woman to the ground and began kicking her and threatening her with a knife. The man turned out to be blind and the woman his regular escort.
People “saw” the supposed killer everywhere: Landlady, Mrs. Fiddymont, was so panicked when a suspicious looking man stopped at her pub, that she had him followed by a patron. A woman named Lyons, met a man in Flower & Dean Street. He said to her: “You are about the same style of woman as the one that’s been murdered“. She asked: “What do you know of her?” He responded with: “You’re beginning to smell a rat. Foxes hunt geese, but don’t always find ‘em. Another man asked the caretaker of a subway, if the killer had been caught yet, before producing a knife:
“This will do for them!” he snickered, then ran off. He told the police, when he was arrested that he was just having a laugh.
Following the discovery of Liz Stride’s body, on the 29th of September, crowds had already began gathering in Dutsfields Yard, before P.C. Lamb arrived. The yard gates had to be closed once Dr. Phillips showed up.
The other case that night, was the murder of Catharine Eddowes in Mitre Square. The double murder, or ‘Double event’ as it has become known as, stunned the East End like nothing before it ever had. News of the ‘Double Event’, spread rapidly and thousands of curious people, gathered at both murder sites. The ‘Star’ noted: ‘The entire East End was in a furore of excitement’. The ‘People’ reported: ‘so great was the crush at Mitre Square, that it was found requisite to keep a considerable number of extra constables on duty’.
On the 27th of September 1888, The ‘Central News Agency’ received the first letter from someone who called himself ‘Jack the Ripper’. The next day, a bloodstained postcard arrived and the publicity of these two correspondences, created thousands of fake Jack the Ripper letters to show up, wasting a great deal of police time and showing the sick sense of humour, that some people had.
On October the 16th, a letter, with half a human kidney was delivered to the address of the President of the ‘Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, inside a 3" square cardboard box. If the sender was a hoaxer, he must have counted on George Lusk to show it to the police and for it to eventually reach the press. At the height of the Ripper scare, police and newspapers were receiving about 1000 letters per week, suggesting ways to catch the murderer.
Police conducted house-to-house searches, ten thousand handbills were distributed and more police were drafted to the area, (including plain-clothed detectives).
The Ripper crimes brought out many cranks, weirdoes:
Ordinary male civilians dressed as females, hoping to catch the fiend. Some prowled the streets with weapons. Police made many fruitless arrests, of anyone who looked ‘different’, acted ‘suspiciously’, ‘carried small black bags’ or ‘owned blood-stained clothes’.
Even to this day, the fascination of this unsolved mystery continues. Jack the Ripper has become the ‘star’ of many books, articles, dramas, music, fiction, poems, games and now Websites. There’s even a production of a Rock Musical. All this has and still is proving very popular with the curious world, who is in search of the truth.
Nightly guided tours of London’s East End, visiting the murder sites, can be picked up most evenings.
There’s a ‘Jack The Ripper Haunts walk’, a ‘Jack the Ripper London tour’, one called ‘On the Trail of Jack the Ripper’ and ‘In the footsteps of Jack the Ripper’ and more.
The ‘London Dungeon’, is one of the city’s premier tourist attractions. It shows a ‘Jack the Ripper Experience’ exhibition, as visitors try to experience the fear and terror that people felt, all those years ago.
Perhaps the real reason that we are all fascinated with Jack the Ripper, is that he was never caught. The curiosity of these murders is captivating, and until we know the truth, he may return!SOURCES:
'Jack the Ripper, The Simple Truth' - Bruce Paley.
'The Jack the Ripper A-Z' - Begg, Fido, Skinner.
'Jack the Ripper, The First American Serial Killer' - Evans & Gainey.