Stewart P. Evans
As the Local Detective Inspector of 'H' or Whitechapel Division in 1888, the reminsiscences of Edmund Reid regarding the murders are, of course, of great interest. In his early 40's at this time Reid was another of the very experienced officers associated with the case, and was the officer in charge of the enquiries into the murders of Emma Elizabeth Smith, in April, 1888, and Martha Tabram in August, 1888. He retired in 1896, having served longer than anyone else at that time in the rank.
The early 1900's, a time when many of the retired senior officers were publishing their reminiscences, saw a resurgence of interest in the Whitechapel murders of 1888. It was at this time that Reid went into print, giving his memories on the subject. Under the headline 'HUNTED "JACK THE RIPPER"' 'Ex-Detective-Inspr Reid's New Theory' appeared in Lloyd's Weekly News of February 4, 1912, as follows -
'Good Word for Whitechapel
"I was the last C.I.D. inspector to be appointed by Sir Howard Vincent, and after about three years at Scotland Yard I was sent to form the detective department of a new division, the 'J,' which extended from Bethnel Green to Chigwell Hill in Essex. I remained there for twelve months, and was then sent to take charge of the Whitechapel division, where I found some exciting work in the series of 'Ripper murders.' "Whitechapel has an evil reputation, and one that it does not deserve. During the whole time that I had charge there I never saw a drunken Jew. I always found them industrious, and good fellows to live among. Even the so-called 'Whitechapel murders' were not peculiar to that division, for one was in the City of London, one in Bethnal Green, four in Spitalfields, two in St George's, and only one in Whitechapel. "I have been asked to tell the story of the 'Ripper' series many times, but to do so would necessitate the devotion of weeks of labour to the matter. But this I will say at once. I challenge anyone to produce a tittle of evidence of any kind against anyone. The earth has been raked over and the seas have been swept, to find this criminal 'Jack the Ripper,' always without success. It still amuses me to read the writings of such men as Dr. Anderson, Dr. Forbes Winslow, Major Arthur Griffiths, and many others, all holding different theories, but all of them wrong. I have answered many of them in print, and would only add here that I was on the scene and ought to know.
New Theory of the Ripper Murders.
"Here are the only known facts. The whole of the murders were done after the public-houses were closed; the victims were all of the same class, the lowest of the low, and living within a quarter of a mile of each other; all were murdered within half a mile area; all were killed in the same manner. That is all we know for certain. "My opinion is that the perpetrator of the crimes was a man who was in the habit of using a certain public-house, and of remaining there until closing time. Leaving with the rest of the customers, with what soldiers call 'a touch of delirium triangle,' he would leave with one of the women. "My belief is that he would in some dark corner attack her with the knife and cut her up. Having satisfied his maniacal blood-lust he would go away home, and the next day know nothing about it. One thing is to my mind quite certain, and that is that he lived in the district. "The police, of course, did everything possible with a view to the arrest of the man. A set of rules was laid down as to the sending for assistance immediately upon any discovery, not only to Scotland Yard, but also to everyone who was likely to be required or of assistance. And there was always a sort of interesting speculation as to who would reach the the scene of a new crime first. "Inspector Abbeline [sic] and Inspector Moore, with a whole staff of detective officers from other divisions, and from the Yard, were sent to render every possible assistance, and there were vigilance societies formed, the members of which used to black their faces, and turn their coats inside out, and adopt all sorts of fantastic disguises before they turned out. To one of the officers of this organisation the late Queen Victoria sent a letter of commendation, and the public subscribed very liberally. Officially and otherwise many thousands of pounds were spent in the effort to catch 'Jack' but he eluded us all.'
A first airing of a 'Jack the Drunkard' theory! The flaws in Reid's story are apparent, as in so many cases of ex-police officers' reminiscences he appears to be saying it all from memory. But he does show a refreshing honesty in owning to the fact that the police failed to convict the murderer.'