A distinguished magistrate, Montague Williams published his autobiographical work Later Leaves in 1891. It contains his enigmatic account of a visitor who shared with him "an undoubted clue to the mystery" which Williams believed to have been "remarkably ingenious." Williams hesitates to offer any more details of his visitor or his theory, explaining that "the reasons for my reticence are concerned merely with the interests of justice."
We now know that Williams's informant was one Edward Larkins, a clerk who shared one theory with Scotland Yard on November 13, 1888. He then believed Antoni Pricha to have been the killer, as he resembled the widely published sketch detailed from George Hutchinson's testimony. Pricha was investigated and found to have had an alibi for the Kelly murder of November 9th. He was subsequently released.
Larkins later asserted that the murders must have been the work of a collaboration of Portugese sailors, naming Manuel Cruz Xavier, Jose Laurenco, Joao de Souza Machado, and Joachim de Rocha as suspects. This theory, apparently the one of which Williams makes reference in Later Leaves, was investigated by police and found to be completely groundless.
I have something to say in reference to the Whitechapel murders that 1 think will be read with interest by many of my readers.
Without entering into the details of those horrible tragedies, I may mention that they all occurred within the Worship Street and Thames districts, and that, as I foresaw the possibility of the assassin, if arrested, being brought before me, I made it my business to personally visit all the scenes of the crimes, and to make what medical and other inquiries I thought desirable.
As my readers are aware, the murderer has not been arrested ; but a curious set of circumstances which tend, perhaps, to throw light upon the mystery came to my knowledge at the time.
For excellent reasons, I shall abstain, at any rate at present, from entering into the details of this matter.
It is not, however, that I lack the necessary permission of the person principally interested. He has placed in my possession all the documents relating to this matter, and has unreservedly given tile permission to make whatever use of them I like. The reasons for my reticence are concerned merely with the interests of justice.
I was sitting alone one afternoon, on a day on which I was off duty, when a card was brought to me, and I was informed that the gentleman whose name it bore desired that I would see him.
My visitor was at once shown in. He explained that he had called for the purpose of having a conversation with me with regard to the perpetrator, or perpetrators, of the East End murders. He had, he said, taken a very great interest in the matter, and had set on foot a number of inquiries that had yielded a result which, in his opinion, afforded an undoubted clue to the mystery, and indicated beyond any doubt the individual, or individuals, on whom this load of guilt rested.
My visitor handed me a written statement in which his conclusions were clearly set forth, together with the facts and calculations on which they were based ; and, I am bound to say, this theory-for theory it, of necessity, is-struck me as being remarkably ingenious and worthy of the closest attention.
Besides the written statement, this gentleman showed me copies of a number of letters that he had received from various persons in response to the representations he had made. It appeared that he had communicated his ideas to the proper authorities, and that they had given them every attention.
Of course, the theory set forth by my visitor may he a correct one or it may not. Nothing, however, has occurred to prove it fallacious during the many months that have elapsed since the last of this terrible series of crimes.
As I have said, I cannot take the reader into my confidence over this matter, as, possibly, in doing so I might be hampering the future course of justice. One statement, however, I may make, and, inasmuch as it is calculated to allay public fears, I do so with great pleasure. The cessation of the East End murders dates from the time when certain action was taken as a result of the promulgation of these ideas.