Dr. Forbes Winslow we learn from the Central News, is under the impression that the Whitechapel murderer, whom he believes to be a homicidal maniac, is just now in a "lucid interval," in which condition he would be "comparatively rational," and forgetful of what he had done. When the lucid interval wears off Dr. Forbes Winslow expects that he will resume his terrible work. If the distinguished doctor be right in his two surmises we must only hope that the lucid interval will continue. A comparatively rational maniac is better than a positively bloodthirsty one.
The president of the Society of Cyclists foresees a great career for the patron vehicle of the society as an agent in the prevention and detection of crime. Sir Charles Warren, he stated last night, at the opening meeting of the society, takes the liveliest interest in the subject of providing the police with cycles. The idea at present is that there should be four kinds of machines for the police - one for rapid communication, another a tandem, strong and light, a third a combined tandem, capable of carrying, say, ten men to fires or a tumult, and the fourth an ambulance cycle.
Since the question is being taken up in this practical way it is possible that we may be getting beyond the region of theory, and may be within measurable distance of the actual employment of cycles in connection with police work. It is quite evident that under certain circumstances some such contrivance as a tandem tricycle capable of carrying half-a-dozen men rapidly to a spot where they were needed would be very useful. The New York patrol waggon is a better thing and a simpler, but if we cannot have patrol waggons let us at least have cycles, and let Sir Charles Warren hurry up with his police alarum posts. It is useless, however, to expect that the cycle will ever be of much use for pursuing a flying criminal.
Last night, Mr. Matthew Packer, who keeps a fruitshop next to the gateway where the Berner-street murder was committed, stated that this last night or two he has felt greatly alarmed owing to his having seen a man exactly like the one who bought the grapes off him for the unfortunate murdered woman, Elizabeth Stride, a short time before the murder was committed. He alleges that he had often seen the man before the murder, as well as the woman who was murdered in Berner-street, but he had not seen any one resembling the man since the murder till he saw him again last Saturday night.
He was then standing with his fruit stall in the Commercial-road when he caught sight of him staring him full in the face. He kept calm and collected for a little time, hoping that a policeman would come by, but not one came. After passing and repassing him several times, the man then came behind him in the horse road looking in a very evil and menacing manner at him. He was so terrified that he left his stall and ran to a shoeblack that was near, and, pointing to the man, asked him to keep his eye on him and watch him.
His great fear was that the fellow was going to stab him to prevent him from identifying him, should anything be brought against him, or his arrest take place. No sooner, however, had he called the shoeblack's attention to him, than he ran away as fast as he could and succeeded in getting on a passing tram. He would have followed the tram had he been able to run, or if he could have left his stall, but he could not has he had several pounds of fruit on it. He has little doubt about him being the man, as he knew him again in a moment.
As a coincidence it may be remarked that there have again been several complaints from women who have been accosted by a well-dressed man, supposed to answer the description of the assassin, during the last several nights. One woman so accosted blew a whistle and in a very short time about twenty policemen were on the scene, and the man was taken to Leman-street police-station, but he was liberated on Saturday morning, as he succeeded in giving a satisfactory account of himself.
By the last post last night a letter, purporting to come from the assassin, was received by the police at the Poplar Police Station, in which the writer said he was going to commit three more murders. The following is said to be the wording: "Oct. 30, 1888. - Dear Boss - I am going to commit three more murders, two women and a child, and I shall take their hearts this time. - Yours truly, (signed) JACK THE RIPPER."
The letter was enclosed in an envelope which, in addition to the Poplar post-mark, also bore the Ealing post-mark, and was directed to the sergeant.
Though the police do not attach serious importance to it, a copy was sent to the Commissioner of Police. The information, with accompanying instructions, were at once telegraphed to the different stations, ordering every possible vigilance to be used in case of an attempted repetition of the crimes. It is stated that an endeabour will be made at Ealing to discover the sender, and already various inquiries are going on to-day.
The opening of the new Ratcliff Highway Refuge and Night Shelter in Betts-stret, St. George's-in-the-East, in connection with the "Bridge of Hope" Mission, took place, yesterday, in the presence of the Marchioness of Tavistock, and a number of ladies and gentlemen. The work carried on at the "Bridge of Hope" consists in the rescue of the fallen, the preventive work among young girls and children, and the night shelter and mission work among the very poor. During the year there had been received into the refuge 204 cases, into the preventive homes 93, and 1,027 nights' lodgings had been given in the shelter. The company having inspected the new building, assembled in the mission hall under the presidency of the Rev. C. H. Turner, rector of St. George's-in-the-East. After an address from the Rev. H. Jones, in which he traced the history of the mission, the Bishop of Bedford offered a dedicatory prayer, and the Marchioness of Tavistock then formally declared the building open. The Bishop of Bedford, in the course of an address, hoped that no one would think that the condition of things in the East-end was worse now than it was, because of the dreadful outrages which had been committed there. He hoped no one would come to the conclusion, whoever might have perpetrated these dreadful outrages, that he was an East-ender. His own firm conviction was that he came - he would not in the presence of Lady Tavistock say from the West-end - but that he came from some other part of London. Speaking of Whitechapel and Spitalfields, he did not hesitate to say that the condition of things there was very much better than it was some ten years ago. What would make it much worse than it was, and undo a great deal of the work that had been and was being done, was that an enormous influx of inexperienced workers should come down there at once and stand in the way of those who knew their work and did it to the best of their ability. To those whose hearts had been moved by what they had heard and read, he could honestly say that they could not to better than help Miss Steer, the honorary superintendent, in her work. One thousand pounds had still to be raised for the new buildings, and it would strengthen her hands immensely if that debt were wiped off. - Mr. J. Howard, M.P., the Rev. J.W. Horsley, and other gentlemen also delivered brief addressed.
The Central News is informed that Dr. Forbes Winslow and other leading authorities on mental disorders are still of opinion that the murders in Whitechapel were committed by a homicidal lunatic, notwithstanding that an opinion to the contrary has been expressed by one lunacy specialist whose views were sought by the police authorities. Dr. Forbes Winslow believes that the murderer has lately been in a "lucid interval." In that condition he would be comparatively rational, and also forgetful of what he had done. As soon as this passes off he will resume his terrible work.
A representative of The Evening News this morning had an interview with Mr. Matthew Packer, at 44, Berner-street, with reference to the rumour that the supposed Whitechapel assassin had been seen by him again on Saturday last. Packer made the following statement:
"Between seven and eight o'clock, on Saturday evening last, I was standing with my barrow at the corner of Greenfield-street, Commercial-road, when I saw a man pass by on the opposite side of Greenfield-street, near the watchmaker's shop. I recognized him in a minute as the man I had seen outside my shop on the night when Elizabeth Stride was murdered in Berner-street. It was the man who bought the grapes and gave them to the woman that was afterwards found murdered in the yard. I shall never forget his face, and should know him again amongst a thousand men."
"I can tell you what it was. I was pretty night knocked over with fright. It gave me such a turn as I have never had in my life. I was too frightened and staggered to know what I was about, and I saw in a minute that the man knew me as well. He looked hard at me as he passed, and then turned round and passed again, with a most vicious look on his face, that made me think I should not have liked to have been with him in any quiet corner. I'm sure he'd have killed me. He walked by four times altogether, and I thought he wanted to get close to me, so I kept moving round to the north side of my barrow. I then called to a young chap that I knew who was standing at the corner of the street, and asked him to keep an eye on the man, as I was afraid he meant mischief. There were no policemen in sight, and I was afraid to lose sight of the man. I sent the young chap for a policeman, and the man seeing there was something up jumped into a tram that was going to Blackwall.