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Unmasking Jack the Ripper
"Perhaps the best Jack the Ripper documentary produced in recent years." North American and European DVD formats both available.
Buy now!

Sun
United Kingdom
17 February 1894

THE STORY OF "JACK THE RIPPER."
SOLUTION OF THE GREAT MURDER MYSTERY.
HIS PERSONALITY, CAREER, AND FATE.

ANTECEDENTS OF JACK THE RIPPER.

The next point to be considered about the criminal lunatic in Broadmoor, whom we identify as Jack the Ripper, is whether we can add to the accumulation of evidence against him any facts in his personal characteristics, his hereditary traits, and temperament which will point him as one likely to commit the Whitechapel crimes.

This man was born in 1865 in London. His father separated from his mother, whom he was said to have treated badly. In the case of the father, the morbid element appears in the treatment of his wife, his neglect of his child, and, finally, in his flying from his responsibilities and in his contracting a bigamous marriage abroad.

This man was employed in several offices, in none of them for a long time; and in every case his dismissal came from such irregularity as one would expect in the case of such a man. One of the most common of these irregularities was his constant irregularity of hours. He had begun at an early age that system of night waking and stopping in bed late in the daytimes, which finally developed into his turning night into day, and working under the protection of darkness his fiendish crimes. At the time when he committed the Whitechapel murders this tendency had so far developed that he spent most of every day in bed, and it was not till nine or ten o'clock at night that he ever went forth. It will be seen how much such habits helped him in evading detection. They kept him from being seen by all but a few; outside the relatives and chance lodgers who resided there, the house in which he lived concealed his identity, his very existence. In short, he was, except for a few people, hidden from all the world. The man who stalked Whitechapel was a thing of shadow and night - a thing hidden away from the common gaze, just like the family of a lunatic or imbecile who only signifies his existence to the casual visitor by the stifled cry or the muffled groan.

HIS TEMPERAMENT.

The testimony we are about to quote is fully clear as to the man's having what we may call the Jack the Ripper temperament.

Already we have given many instances of that morbidness of mind, and especially in the direction of constitutional disease, which everybody who has studied this class of crime known to be a most significant impelling motive towards the murder of fallen women. So strong was this urging upon him, that, as we have already pointed out, he contemplated for a long time the assassination of a doctor who refused to take his hypochondria for real disease.

All the witnesses singularly agree in this description of the morbid and filthy tendencies of this man's mind. Some of the statements made to me we shall have to omit as they are too loathsome for republication; but anybody reading between the lines will see the type of diseased and vile creature this man was. Anatomy held for him an irresistible fascination. We have already mentioned that in his room were found drawings and diagrams, just such as one would expect to find in Jack the Ripper's habitation - diagrams of women mutilated, but mutilated in just the way in which the murdered women of Whitechapel were found mutilated.

In bed most of the day, out most of the night, engaged almost exclusively in the study of anatomy and the drawing of mutilated women - is not that exactly the picture one would form of the type of lunatic who would commit the Whitechapel murders? When it is added that, altogether outside the Whitechapel horrors, the creature who so lives has committed other homicidal offences, the case becomes irresistible.

THE TESTIMONY OF ACQUAINTANCES.

We now proceed to give the testimony of persons who knew the man we call Jack the Ripper. It will be seen that they correspond with our summary of these contents:-

First, there is the statement of S K. S K is a literary man; has written some works, and formerly knew A B; well, this is what he says of him:-

He was a curious fellow, and led and eccentric life. He was a clerk, but generally lost his employment by being continually late at the office, owing to his lying in bed till late. This came about through his being out very late at night. He used to come in through the windows and on one occasion I remember he broke the parlour window so as to undo the latch. He used to study books of anatomy, and was dirty in his habits and in his mind. He associated largely with fallen women. His appearance suggested filthy habits. I know that the police had their suspicions of his being Jack the Ripper.

I shall return to the sentence in this statement which I have italicised presently. For the moment, let me go on to give another statement which will help us to form a picture of this man. It is by H L:-

STATEMENT OF H L.

I knew A B. He was an idle, dissolute young fellow as long as I have known him. The way that he came to be arrested as a lunatic by the authorities was in this way. He seized a relative by the throat and tried to cut her throat with a large knife. She struggled and escaped and being now seriously afraid of him, gave information, but, like a woman, she became sorry afterwards. The police thought that he was Jack the Ripper. Whether it was true of not I cannot say, but undoubtedly the scene of the murders is only about 15 minutes from here he lived. He had a terrible face. For instance, when I married I took my wife to show her my old lodgings. When we left my wife said to me, "Did you ever see such a man? He has the head of a murderer!" He was found on medical authority to be a lunatic, and unfit to plead to the indictment, and there the matter began and ended.

He seemed very dazed, and as though he were under a great cloud. His conversation was very incoherent as a rule, but at times he spoke naturally. He appeared very frightened when the young women were taken to the asylum to identify him (which two of them did).

THE HOUSE OF JACK THE RIPPER.

And now we return to a passage in the first statement - "He used to come in through the window," says S K, "and on one occasion I remember he broke the parlour window so as to undo the latch." Now let us see what kind of a house was that in which this man lived. It will be seen, we think, it was just the kind of house which would facilitate the doings of such a creature as Jack the Ripper. Here is a description of it by one who has thoroughly investigated it.

The house is separated by a wall from a mews, kept open during the night for the convenience of carmen. The entrance to the mews is from a street running behind the houses. It was by the entrance to the mews that A B approached the house. When he came home early in the morning he climbed the garden wall and entered the house by the back window, and by the same means he left it when an endeavour was made to secure him as a lunatic. His curious conduct was well known to the neighbours who always regarded him as a little weak in the head. A B's room in the house was on the top floor. It was somewhat of the garret pattern, poorly furnished, and used by him as a writing room. When at home during the day he wrote a great deal, destroying, however, most of what he wrote immediately it was finished.

At the bottom of the garden attached to the house there was a small outhouse, which the police, when searching the house, neglected to overhaul. In this much might have been found. Shortly after the arrest the outhouse was pulled down.

THE MILE END JOB.

I pass to another branch of the case. It will be remembered that the charge on which the man was brought up was that of stabbing girls. When he was arrested he had a most significant observation. "Is this," he said, " for the Mile End job? I mean the public house next to the Syndicate where I just missed her that time. They took me to be of the Jewish persuasion."

Now this is an extraordinary observation in connection with the facts we are about to relate.

Inquiries were made for any trace of the "Mile End job in the public house next to the Syndicate," to which the lunatic referred on his arrest. It was discovered that next to the Jewish Synagogue in the East end there is a public house and that during the Jack the Ripper period of 1888 some disturbance was one night caused at the bar of the public house by a fallen women screaming that Jack the Ripper was talking to her. She had been drinking and conversing with a young man of slight build and of sallow features, and she pointed to him when she made the startling announcement that he was Jack the Ripper. The man immediately took to his heels, departing with an alacrity that prevented all pursuit. The incident was but briefly reported in the daily papers under the heading of "Another Jack the Ripper Scare."

But a description of the man whom the woman pointed out was given as that of a young man of 27 or 28 years, slight of build and of Jewish appearance, his face being thin and sallow. This led to the theory entertained for some time that Jack the Ripper was a Jew.

The public house incident took place about the middle of September. On the night of September 30, 1888,

TWO WOMEN WERE KILLED,

one in Berner streets and one in Mitre square. Over the latter there was written on the rough wall in chalk, "The Jews are not the men that will be blamed for nothing." The writing was ordered to be obliterated by Sir Charles Warren. In connection with the Mitre square murder, the City Police offered, on October 2, 1888, a reward of 500 for the capture of the murderer, and the description given of the person wanted was:- "Age about 28; slight; height 5ft 8in; complexion dark; no whiskers; black diagonal coat, collar and tie; carried newspaper parcel. Respectable appearance."

Now we say that these facts enormously add to the proof that the man who made this observation was the same man who had murdered the two women on the night of September 30, 1888. The mistake of saying "syndicate" for synagogue rather adds to the strength of the story.

ANOTHER LINK.

But that is not all. It will be remembered that this man was charged with stabbing either four or six young women. These young women stated that while passing along the streets they had been stabbed by a man who, in each case, had made off at great speed. The women described that they had been struck by some sharp instrument, their clothes being punctured and smothered in blood, and all of them suffering more or less from haemorrhage.

What was this instrument like? We must go back to the time of this man's escape from the lunatic asylum. On the evening after he had had that remarkable interview with the man and his sweetheart in Camden Town the escaped lunatic returned to his house. It was twelve o'clock. His feet were bleeding, a fact on which, it will be remembered, the father of one of the girls stabbed commented. He had a bath, he changed his clothes, and it was understood that he was going to bed.

After everybody else had gone upstairs, they heard a heavy tread outside in the street. They thought the lunatic would be frightened, went downstairs,

AND FOUND HIM GONE.

He came back again at one o'clock to dinner, and stayed until seven o'clock in the evening. He went to sleep, and one of his relatives then took a knife from his pocket and hid it behind a piano. He then went out and wandered about the streets all Sunday evening. During the evening a police constable called at the house. He had heard that the man had returned home again and had gone to arrest him.

The police officer obtained the knife which had been taken from the man and hidden behind the piano.

THE KNIFE.

And now let us see what kind of weapon this was. The knife is one of the bowie pattern, the sharp blade tapering to a point, being nearly 6in in length, and also having a kind of sword hilt. The black handle is knotted, seven points on either being tipped with pearl. The knife bears the name of a firm in the Minories.

THE SHEATH.

The lunatic himself, in spite of his insanity, felt the importance of the knife. To a police officer he made the significant observation, "I am all right - they can't do anything with me. The sheath only was found on me." And this observation was true; for in the hip pocket of his trousers had been found a leather sheath into which the knife fitted. Moreover he exhibited great concern that the knife had been given up to the police.

THE TERRIBLE LIST.

And now let us set forth the terrible list of the crimes which were committed by the wretched man called Jack the Ripper by himself:-

August 7, 1888 - Martha Tabran, found in George yard Buildings, Commercial street, Spitalfields, with 39 wounds on the body - supposed to have been murdered with a bayonet.

September 1 - Mary Ann Nichols found in Buck's yard, Whitechapel road. Throat was cut from ear to ear. Body ripped up abdomen almost to the breast bone; stabbed and gashed on thigh.

September 8 - Annie Chapman found at 29 Hanbury street, Spitalfields.

September 30 - Elizabeth Stride found in Berner street, Whitechapel, nearly opposite the International and Educational Club. Head nearly severed from the body.

September 30 - Catherine Eddowes or Conway, found in Mitre square, Aldgate - woman's throat cut from the left side; abdomen ripped open. Above the body was written in chalk on the wall, "The Jews are not the men that will be blamed for nothing."

November 9 - Mary Jane Kelly murdered in a house in Dorset street, Spitalfields. Body terribly mutilated and gashed.

July 17, 1889 - Alice McKenzie murdered, her throat being cut and body mutilated in Castle alley, Whitechapel.

September 11, 1889 - Woman, unidentified, murdered, her throat being cut and body mutilated in railway arch, Pinchin street, off Backchurch lane.

February 13, 1891 - Frances Coles murdered, her throat cut and body mutilated, in alleyway of the Great Eastern Railway which leads from Swallow Gardens, Whitechapel.

These crimes have horrified the whole world. The perpetrator has remained unknown. To this paper was accorded the duty of discovering him. The story, brought to us months ago, has been subjected to the most rigid scrutiny. Not days, or weeks, but months have been devoted to its investigation. Clues, elusive and slight, have been followed up; witness after witness has been examined. Every line of evidence has been sifted, weighed, collated. Much of the information in our possession we have not mentioned in the desire to make plain within the narrowest and most stringent limits which the telling of an intelligible narrative would permit we have kept our account. In the interests of the peace and security of the community and the tranquility of the public mind we ask that this story may be subjected by the authorities and the public to the most rigid investigation.

A JOURNALIST'S VERDICT.

The London correspondent of the Liverpool Daily Post writes in that paper today:

I happen to know a good many details connected with the identification of Jack the Ripper with a homicidal maniac now incarcerated in an asylum. These, for reason sufficiently patent to journalists, The Sun has abstained from publishing but I am able to express a strong conviction that chain of circumstantial evidence is complete and irresistible. The Sun has got up the race with a skill and patience that might be well imitated by the Criminal Investigation Department and indeed the fact that the police inquiry signally failed is a disquieting commentary on the investigation of serious crime. The impossibility of giving names and stating facts which might implicate or incriminate others has seriously handicapped the newspaper revelations, but your readers may take it that there are behind the broad outlines proofs which supply all the links in the chain and rivet them emphatically. The lunatic, it must be understood, does not belong in the lowest class of society, his relatives being fairly well to do people of the comfortable lower middle class. Without dwelling too strongly on the present demeanour of the man, all that is known of his past habits and tendencies points to his being chronically possessed of that

INSENSATE MANIA

which satisfies itself only with the slaughter of fellow beings. There is, indeed, apart from the Whitechapel murders, a record of eleven homicidal crimes, committed, attempted, or planned, and it is for some of these, perpetrated in a manner singularly suggestive of the Whitechapel methods that he is now in confinement. Then as to Whitechapel. The murders began with his residence there, lasted while he remained, ceased when he left, and were resumed when he returned. There is, moreover, evidence identifying him with them still more closely. Some of this cannot be published, but amongst it is the discovery in his rooms of abominable drawings, showing such mutilations as were committed on the unfortunate victims. His way of life, the state of his clothing, to say nothing of testimony as to direct identification, are all strongly confirmatory, no less than the fact that he has on occasions practised successfully the low but simple cunning which enables a man to defy detection by mixing among those who are seeking for him. All this, and more, put together, makes the demonstration irresistible. But as he is already imprisoned as a hopeless lunatic, and nothing more could be done if the crimes were brought home to him, the case will probably never be judicially investigated, although it affords tempting scope for the pen of some future De Quincey or Poe.


Related pages:
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       Press Reports: Sun - 13 February 1894 
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       Press Reports: Times [London] - 15 April 1891 
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