WHITECHAPEL, THE DISTRICT OF THE RECENT AWFUL MURDERS
It Is a Part of the World's Metropolis Reeking in Vice and Steeped in Poverty and Misery - Some Terrible Murders of History
London now has a horror that interests the police and public of the civilized world, and has called out a bewildering variety of opinions from experts in the morbid anatomy of crime and insanity. The plainest statement of the press excites anger, pity and disgust. Within a few weeks seven women of the lowest class of unfortunates to be found in the notorious slums of Whitechapel have been found dead in the streets; in each case the corpse was shockingly mutilated, and in all but one the whole internal organ of reproduction was removed, the line of section indicating that the act was done by a person versed in the anatomy of the parts, and skilful with the surgeon's knife. In the one case where this was not done the body was still warm and bleeding, indicating that the perpetrator had been frightened away before completing his task.
During the same period the corpse pf a woman similarly mutilated was found in a town in the north of England; and if, as seems likely, the murderer was the same, this makes his eighth victim. The first two cases excited no great interest, as quarrels and murders are no new thing in the Whitechapel district, but the horrible monotony of the crimes has since made this a case of world importance.
Alienists are unanimous in the opinion that the murderer is a monomaniac with a homicidal turn; and many add that he is what medical science calls a "sexual pervert" - that is, a man in whom the natural instincts have been changed by disease or excess into a blind hatred and desire to kill and mangle.
The London police have been completely at sea, and some of the theories put forth by their chief are too absurd for one's patience. One, for instance, was that an American medical student did the deeds because he wanted to collect a number of anatomical specimens! The most remarkable theory is that the monomaniac has been injured, or thinks he has, by one of these women, and is wreaking his vengeance on the class. His cunning is wonderful - not an uncommon thing in monomaniacs. Dr. William hammond, the eminent alienist, very sensibly says that the police have gone wrong from the start, because they have looked only for a self evident villain, a man "whose face would go far to hang him," while the probabilities are many to one that the perpetrator is a decorous and soft spoken gentleman, living an apparently virtuous life, a man whose closest acquaintances do not suspect of crime.
Chief Inspector Byrnes of New York city, accepts the opinion of Dr. Hammond and insists that the New York police could have caught the man by using the women as decoys. He adds:
"We caught the fellow who had a mania for throwing vitriol upon women's dresses red handed immediately after it was reported. His crime was localised. He frequented Fourteenth street. I made victims for him, and my men were thickly scattered through that district. We have no such autocratic powers as the London police, but if a crime is so plainly localised in one particular district, as in the case of these London murders, we would most assuredly arrest the perpetrator in short order."
|Dissertations: The New York Affair, Part II|
|Press Reports: Bismarck Daily Tribune - 11 October 1888|
|Press Reports: Daily Northwestern - 3 October 1888|
|Press Reports: Star - 4 October 1888|