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Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New York, USA
10 November 1888

London's Reign of Terror

The assassin of Whitechapel has claimed his ninth victim, having planned and executed his latest crime with all the deliberation and cunning that characterized his former exploits. The record of these murders is one of the most startling in the criminal history of any country, and while many theories have been advanced bearing on the identity of the culprit, no progress whatever has been made in the work of running him to ground. It is idle to blame the police and to institute comparisons between the efficiency of Scotland yard and that of the detective talent of New York. According to the last census London had a population of 5,500,000. There is but one policeman to every 625 people. New York's police force, in proportion to population, is very much larger, and beside this, as superintendent Murray points out, our chief city has no locality that in misery and crime corresponds with the Whitechapel district. The common assumption is that all the murders have been committed by the same person, and yet there would be no cause for surprise it it were discovered that such was not the case. However this may be, there is certainly great danger that the murders will appeal to disordered minds in other cities, and thus breed a spirit of slaughter horrible to contemplate. Already it is thought in some quarters that the fiend is likely to turn up anywhere. The mysterious disappearance of a woman named Caroline Rose from the steamer Egypt of the National Line during the vessel's last trip west is attributed to the Whitechapel murderer because a knife smeared with blood was found in her berth. All the steerage passengers, according to the morning papers, were inclined to think that "Jack the Ripper" had been on board.

The danger of imitation being duly considered, the fact remains that probabilities favor a recurrence of the crime in the same part of London. The series of fifteen butcheries, which the monster is said to contemplate, is still far from complete. Assuredly of great significance is it that all the victims belong to the same class of unfortunate women, for if the gratification of a homicidal mania was the sole thing in view the sex and character of the stricken would presumably not be the same in all instances. Rather would there be reason to infer that a variety of selections would be shown - that men, women and children from different walks of life would succumb to the assassin's knife. Something more, then, than ordinary blood-thirstiness must be premised, and, this admitted, the theory that the criminal is a reformatory maniac skilled in the use of the knife, cunning in the extreme, and probably perfectly sane on all other matters, would appear to be the most tangible. It has been said among other things that the assassin is an American, because he wears a slouch hat. If so ghastly a series of tragedies may be said to possess an element of humor, it is in imputing the crimes to an American for the reason specified. Much more reasonable would it be to infer that the murderer is a member or ex-member of the London police force, who, for some wrong, real or fancied, seeks to bring ridicule and disgrace on the entire police machinery of the metropolis. In the absence of a more rational explanation we prefer to hold to the theory that the murderer believes he has a sublime moral mission to perform in the extermination of fallen women, and that it is by no means improbable that the butcheries are the result of a conspiracy of similarly affected fanatics.

It is difficult to exaggerate the alarm which the horrors have caused in London. Here is the spectacle of a man killing at will, taking the keenest delight in his ability to evade detection and defying all the resources of civilization in his ghastly carnival. He mocks the detective skill of the proudest city in the world, and calmly announces that when his list of victims is complete he will gladly surrender. If there could be anything better calculated to bring into relief barrenness of ingenuity and resource not only on the part of the officials but of the whole people, it is not easy to imagine. Not too much is it to say that one more victim, in view of the excited condition of the public mind in England, may have serious effect on the stability of the Ministry. However unreasonable and unjust it may be the complaint against the Salisbury administration on the score of its inability to catch the murderer is so bitter that there will be no cause for surprise if it were compelled to retire in contempt beneath the lash of general condemnation. It is time for action, and the authorities of London can now well afford to turn the city upside down in their endeavors to allay popular clamor.