29 September 1888
The story of the American anatomist and his offer, which the Whitechapel Coroner put before the world as a possible explanation of the recent mysterious murders, has been traced by a morning contemporary, through a process of "exhaustion", to one of two hospitals - Middlesex and University College. At no other London hospital is anything known of the story. At these the investigator is met by a refusal to give information which he not unnaturally takes to imply that there is some information which might be given - an' they would give it. Now, it seems to us that the public has a perfect right to get to the very bottom of this matter; and with the information already in our hands this cannot be a very difficult matter. The Coroner received a letter from an official - whom he calls a "sub curator" - at a London hospital, giving a detailed account of the visit of this American, of the precise amount of his offer - twenty pounds - of the part of the body he required, and of the purpose for which he required it. We have the right to demand from what hospital this story came - whether it came officially, or merely on the officer's personal responsibility - and whether the American's visit is a mere rumour or was duly recorded in the visiting books of the hospital. It is said that a story in some respects tallying with that contained in the letter to the Coroner is afloat at one of the hospitals. have we here a mere réchauffé of this story? If we have, the sooner we are told the better, and the medical profession relieved of the unmerited scandal. If we have a really genuine story it cannot be difficult to verify it. What was the book and who was the American publisher by whom it was to be published? Did the sub curator obtain the answer to these questions from the American visitor, or did he, too, refuse to "give any information"? The whole story has on the face of it many a priori improbabilities, but it does not necessarily, of course, follow that it is untrue. But our point is that, whether true or untrue, the present state of uncertainty is bad for the public mind, bad for the medical profession, and, above all, bad for our detective department - upon whom it reflects little credit that this problem still remains unsolved.
Here is the latest result of the investigations of our admirable guardians of the peace into the Whitechapel murders:-
The police state that they noted, as an extraordinary circumstance, that when they went on duty on Thursday night they saw a very long chalk mark on the pavement in Kingsland road, one directing point coming to the word "Look!" and, further on, "I am Leather Apron. Five more, and I will give myself up." Beneath this was a rude drawing of a man with a knife uplifted towards a woman.
Oh, simplicity sacred and ineffable! We should judge that Leather Apron was still in his petticoats. Clearly here is a clue at last.
A BIRMINGHAM "CONFESSION"
The following letter reached the Birmingham Post last night. We cannot (says that paper) say that we entertain very high hopes that it will lead to the apprehension of the murderer.
Sept. 28th 1888
I wish to give myself up as the White Chaple (sic) murderer. I am now in a desperate State of Mind and can console my feelings no longer. I was in a Hospital Corps in India, for ten years. The Climate affected My brain, so that, at times I was Completely Mad and unconsous (sic) of My Doings. I was paid for My Crimes and Eagerly to Grasp the Gold I Slaughtered the Innocent defenceless creatures. I am now looking forward for nothing but death & hope God will forgive me for my desperate Crimes.
I Come to Birmingham with the intention of throwing the Police off my Scent. I can rest neither Day or Night without some Gastley (sic) figure appears before my eyes. I startle in my dreams and fancy I am in the prison cell fettered down with iron chains. I can restrain my conscious no longer, So I shall leave myself to the penelety (sic) of my Crime.
It shall be at the Police Station in Moorstreet On Saturday at Mid Day where I can make a full confession of my Crime.