8 October 1888
At The Birmingham Public Office on Saturday, before Messrs. J.D. Goodman and W. Holliday (magistrates), Alfred Napier Blanchard (34), described as a canvasser, of 2, Rowland Grove, Rowland Road, Handsworth, was charged on his own confession with committing the Whitechapel murders.
Detective-sergeant Ashby said that on Friday night the prisoner was in a public-house in Newtown Row, and he told the landlord that he was the Whitechapel murderer. He repeated the statement to several people and witness arrested him. When at Duke Street Police Station he denied being the murderer, but witness thought proper to keep him in custody. The police had not yet had time to make inquiries, and knew nothing of the prisoner's antecedents.
Richard King, landlord of the Fox and Goose, Newtown Row, said the prisoner came to his house about eleven o'clock on Friday morning, and remained till about a quarter past eight at night. During his stay in the house he drank about five and a half pints of beer. About half-past twelve o'clock he asked witness what kind of detectives they had in Birmingham. Witness told him he believed them to be very clever men. Prisoner said that it would be a funny thing if the Whitechapel murderer were to give himself up in Birmingham. Witness acquiesced, and prisoner continued, "I am the Whitechapel murderer." Turning round to an elderly gentleman sitting in the bar, prisoner said, "Look here, old gentleman; perhaps you would not think there was a murderer in the house." "I don't know about that," replied the customer; "you might not look unlike one." Prisoner said, "I am one, then." Later on the old gentleman asked prisoner had he got the knife with him, and he answered that he had left a long knife behind him. Someone asked prisoner how he did the murders without making the victims scream. He explained that this was done "simply by placing the thumb and finger on the windpipe and cutting the throat with the right hand." He said he had "done six of them in London." He was sober when he made this statement. Turning round to witness prisoner said, "You are a fool if you don't get the thousand pounds reward offered for me; you may as well have it as anyone else."
Mr. Farndale (Chief Constable) informed the magistrates that he did not attach the least importance to this arrest. At the same time prisoner had placed himself in a most serious position, and could not complain if the magistrates thought fit to remand him for inquiries. At present nothing had been ascertained with respect to him beyond information contained in some papers found upon him.
Mr. Goodman thought that some further inquiries should be made.
The prisoner asked if he might say a few words, and, having obtained permission, stated that he was stationed in London, and was a canvasser for a London firm. He had recently been working up North. He was now on his way to London, and when he made the statement incriminating himself was labouring under great excitement, having been previously reading the reports of the inquests. The statement was, on the face of it, ridiculous, and he was sure they would admit that. He could give them references in Birmingham.
Mr. Barradale (Magistrates' Clerk) told the prisoner that he could give any references he had to Mr. Farndale for inquiry. As the prisoner said he was a murderer, it was a question whether time should not be given to make inquiries.
Mr. Goodman: It is your own fault that you are in this position.
The prisoner said he was aware of this, but at the same time he was labouring under great excitement.
Mr. Barradale: Were you suffering from the drink?
Prisoner: Partly from drink and partly from nervousness. I had been drinking for two or three days.
The prisoner was remanded until to-morrow.
Mr. Barradale told him that if he wished any messages to be sent the police would assist him in every way. He could telegraph to anybody living away from the town and write to anyone he thought proper.
As he was proceeding towards the cells, prisoner said he had a favour to ask. Would the press be kind enough not to mention this case? It was a serious matter for him, and should his employer get to hear about it he would lose his situation.
Mr. Barradale: The magistrates have no power over the press.
The prisoner then went below.