Wednesday, 14 November 1888
The London police have celebrated the retirement of their chief by stumbling upon the first clue which looks as if it could possibly lead to anything. Unless the story told by the man Hutchinson is made out of whole cloth-a question which it ought not to take a competent detective two hours to settle-there is now a shadow of hope of capturing the miscreant who has been committing so much butchery. But, in the meantime, it would be just as well to keep a sharp eye upon Hutchinson himself. He may be a convenient person to have about at a critical stage of the investigation which is soon to follow. The man popularly known as "Jack the Ripper" is full of devices, and it would not be surprising if it were found necessary later to put Hutchinson in his turn on the defensive.
Important Testimony of a Groom at the Inquest in London Yesterday.
The London police are jubilant in the belief that at last they have obtained important clews to the identity of the Whitechapel fiend. At the inquest on the last victim of the murderer yesterday George Hutchinson, a groom, who had known the victim for some years and saw her with a male companion shortly before 2 o'clock on the morning of the murder, testified that he saw a well-dressed man, with a Semitic cast of countenance, accost the woman on the street at the house mentioned on Friday morning, and the circumstance of his acquaintance with her induced him to follow the pair as they walked together. He looked straight into the man's face as he turned to accompany the woman and followed them to Miller Court out of mere curiosity.
Hutchinson had not thought of the previous murders and certainly no suspicion that the man contemplated violence, since his conspicuous manifestations of affection for his companion as they walked along formed a large part of the incentive to keep them in sight. After the couple entered the house Hutchinson heard sounds of merriment in the girl's room and remained at the entrance to the court for fully three-quarters of an hour. About 3 o'clock the sounds ceased and he walked into the court, but finding that the light in the room had been extinguished he went home. During the hour occupied in standing at the entrance to or promenading the court he did not see a policeman.
There is every reason to believe Hutchinson's statement, and the police place great reliance upon his description of the man, believing that it will enable them to run him down. The witness who testified yesterday to having seen the woman enter the house with a man with a blotched face was evidently mistaken as to the night, as his description of her companion is totally unlike that of Hutchinson's in every particular. The bulk of the evidence taken fixes the time of the murder at between 3.30 and 4 o'clock. Another witness at the inquest gave an almost identical description of the man, although Hutchinson and he had no communication with each other.
French Horrors Recalled by the Whitechapel Murders.
A special cable dispatch to the New York Mail and Express says: "Late last night a man who was publicly proclaiming himself to be 'Jack, the Ripper,' was arrested. He asserted that he is a doctor at St. George's hospital. It required a squad of policemen to protect him from the crowd, who tried to lynch him. The man is detained in custody for the present."
Apropos of this reported arrest of another suspect in connection with the Whitechapel murder mystery, the New Yorker Zeitung of today contains a cablegram from Paris, of which the following is a literal translation:
"A few weeks ago, while sitting in the café de Boulevard I happened to look in an English newspaper. Suddenly my interest was awakened by a notice stating that the corpse of a young girl had been found in Whitechapel. She had evidently been murdered. Added to this was the statement that a few days ago a murder had taken place on the same spot under similar circumstances, which had caused great excitement among the lower classes of the population.
"Involuntarily this newspaper notice brought my thoughts back to the time of my stay in Paris, years ago. At that time a series of most atrocious murders had filled all Paris with horror and indignation and spurred the Parisian police on to a feverish activity. The fiendish deeds at that time had an astonishing similarity to the brutal murder, the account of which I had just read. The horrid mutilation of the body in all cases was the same. I, however, soon forgot that fearful coincidence, and would not have thought of it more had not, some time afterward, the news of another horrible Whitechapel murder attracted my attention.
"Then, again, those fearful reminiscences came with force to my mind, and I remembered all the circumstances as they were impressed upon it fifteen years before. My memory did not retain the name of the murderer, who afterward, not through the ability of the police, but more through an accident, had been brought to trial; but I remember that the murderer did not pay with his life for the fiendish deed, and the possibility that the same man had now regained his liberty shot into my head.
"Was the same man who was called 'Sauveur des ames perdus' (saver of lost souls) then by the people still living and at liberty? The conclusion was terribly logical that he had begun his bloody activity now on the other side of the channel.
"So the first thing I wanted to know was whether the man had regained his liberty.
"In my inquiries I found out that his name was Nicolaus Wassilyi, and that the unfortunate had left the Russian city of Tiraspol, in the department of Chersan, where he had been imprisoned since the 1st of January of this year.
"The does not, however, yet prove the identity of the 'sauvuer (sic) des ames perdus' with the woman killer of Whitechapel, but it is perhaps a clew which will awaken interest in the word over.
"The following facts are gathered from diligent researches from acts of the Palais de Justice in Paris and from the private lunatic asylum in Bayonne:
"In the year 1872 there was a movement in the orthodox church of Russia against some sectarians, which caused a good deal of excitement. Some of the people who were menaced because of their religion fled from the country. Most of them were peasants who, without many pangs, could take leave of their homes, where suffering stared them in the face on all sides.
"Nicolaus Wassilyi only left a good home. His parents were quite wealthy. They had had him well educated, and had even sent him to the college at Odessa. But Nicolaus was a fanatic sectarian, and he soon assumed the role of leader among them. The chief belief of his sect was the renunciation of all earthly joys in order to secure immortal life in paradise after death. Members of the sect, whether male or female, were strictly forbidden having anything to do with the opposite sex.
"Wassilyi fled to Paris. He was an excellent type of a Russian. He had a tall, elastic figure, a regular manly physiogomy (sic), with burning, languishing eyes, and with a pale, waxen-like complexion. He soon avoided all contact with his countrymen. He took up a small lodging in the quarter Mouffelard, where all the poor and miserable of Paris lived. Here he soon became a riddle to his neighbors.
"He used to stay all day long in his room studying some large books. At nightfall he went out and wandered aimlessly through the streets until the morning dawned. He was often seen talking with abandoned women in the street, and it soon became known that he followed a secret mission in doing so. That is why the voice of the people called him sauveur des ames perdues.
"First he tried mild persuasion in speaking to the poor, fallen creatures. By the light of the street lanterns he lectured them, telling them to return to the paths of virtue and give up their life of shame. When mere words had no effect he went so far as to put premiums on virtue, and give large sums to the cocottes on condition that they commenced a new life.
"Some of the women were really touched by his earnestness, and promised to follow his advice. He could often be seen on the street corners preaching to gaudy nymphs, who bitterly shed tears. But his mission did not seem to be crowned with success. He often met girls, who had taken a holy oath that they would sin no more again on the street.
"Then there was a change. He would approach a woman, speak to her in a kindly way, and would follow her home. Then, when alone with the helpless creature, he would take out a butcher-knife, kneed on her prostrate body and force her to take a holy oath not to solicit again. He seemed to believe in these forced oaths, and always went away seemingly happy.
"One evening the 'saveur des ames perdues,' as usual, left his home. In the Rue de Richelieu he met a young woman. Not with that impertinent smile which leaves nobody in doubt about her vocation, but in a decent way she crossed his path. She had an elf-like, elegant figure, and beautiful blue eyes.
"Wassilyi was armed against the glances of women, but this girl's look seemed to make a deep impression on him. He spoke to her - she was a lost one, too - but not with brutal force. With kind sympathy he touched her so deeply that she told him the whole story of her life - the story of a poor parentless girl, whom a rough fate had torn from happiness and splendor into a world of misery and shame.
"Wassilyi for the first time in his life fell in love with a woman. He procured her a place in a business house and paid liberally for her support, although he made her believe that she was supporting herself.
"For several weeks the girl, who had some regard for her protector, kept straight in the path of virtue. But one day when Wassilyi visited her home, a thing he seldom did, and then only when an old guardian of hers was present, he found that she was gone.
"She had left a letter to him, in which she said that, though thankful to him for all the kindness, her life was now too 'ennuyant' for her, and that she preferred to be left alone.
"Wassilyi was in a fearful mood after this. He wandered so restlessly through the streets as to awaken the attention of the constables. Eight weeks afterward he disappeared. At the same time Medline, the woman whom he had supported, was found murdered in the quarter where she had formerly led a life of shame.
"Two days afterward in a quiet side street of the Faubourg St. Germain the corpse of another murdered woman was found. Three days afterward a phryne of the Quartier Mouffetard was butchered at night time. All the murders were perpetrated in the same horrible way as those in Whitechapel. Jewels and everything of value on the corpse remained untouched. Five more victims were found butchered in the Arrondissement des Pantheon between the Boulevards St. Michel and de l'Hapital.
"Then, in the Rue de Lyon, an attack was made on a street girl, who had the chance to cry for help before she was strangled. A throng gathered, the police arrived, and the would-be murderer was captured. In was Nicolaus Wassilyi. The mob wanted to lynch him, but he was protected.
"When his trial was in progress his lawyer, Jules Glaunier, claimed that his client was insane. The jury decided that such was the case and Wassilyi was sent back to Russia, after a short stay in the private asylum of Bayonne. From Toraspol he was released on January 1 of this year.
"This, in short, is the story I unearthed.
"Is Wassilyi the Whitechapel murderer?
"He is in the possession of considerable wealth."