Monday, 8th October 1888
Saturday the 6th October, will be marked with a red letter in these times of grace, as it has providentially passed over without a diabolical murder or two having been committed in East London. That is as much as can be hoped for nowadays, when we have to be thankful for the smallest of small mercies. In our wildest moments we never now entertain the hope that the police will find the man or men responsible for the horrors of the last two months. If by due precautions their recurrence can be obviated than there will be ground for congratulation. But here again it is to be feared that the people of Whitechapel are depending on a broken road. A vigilance committee of local residents has been formed for the protection of life in the district on which the deeds of the Whitechapel monster has riveted the eyes of the world. But it would appear from the story of the president of this committee that a man who from his general description and manner might well have been the author of all the atrocities was in his house, and in conversation with him for a quarter of an hour, after which he was permitted to depart in peace. Indeed, if the story as recorded means anything, it means that Mr. Lusk's visitor was animated by the ambition to add the President of the Vigilance Association to the list of his victims. This would have been a daring stroke of humour, and, if carried out, it would have shown that the murderer has no object in view beyond that of creating a sensation.
All the theories set up as to the methods and motives of the murderer have now been either discarded or exploded, and the police are now more at sea than ever, for they have not even a theory to help them. In the case of the Whitehall mystery they are also without a clue of any kind, though I am aware that the contrary has been stated. The assistance of the public in hunting for murderers is no doubt most useful at times; but it is also somewhat embarrassing. For instance, in the case of the Whitehall mystery, it was thought that a most valuable clue had been obtained by the discovery of a human leg on the railway embankment at Guildford. The limb was brought up to town with all possible despatch, and the police doctors were asked whether it matched the trunk found in Whitehall. But the doctors pronounced it not to be a human limb at all, and on further investigation discovered that it was a bear's paw. Now, the finding of a bear's paw at Guildford is scarcely less mysterious than finding a human body in Westminster, but fortunately curiosity on the former point is allayed by the statement that a bear recently died in the town with a travelling menagerie. This is only one of a thousand false scents and disappointments which the police have had to endure, but it indicates pretty well the difficulties in their way.
Apropos of the practice of offering rewards for the detection of crime, the Law Journal remarks that the Whitechapel murderer, "by slightly widening the circle of his crimes," that is, bringing himself within the limits of the City proper, "has brought to bear upon him a resource of barbarism of late years relegated to the past." It goes on to regret that the determination of the Home Secretary to discountenance the practice has not the binding force of law, and adds that an act of Parliament is necessary to "save the administration of the law from the periodical recourse to quack remedies to which it is exposed." As there is not the slightest probability that such an Act of Parliament will be initiated by the present Government it would e well if an Irish member brought forward one next session to carry out the views expressed by the legal newspaper I have quoted. It would be interesting to hear Mr. Balfour's views on such a proposal.
The Press Association says no incident of importance has occurred during the night in reference to the East End Murders, and at present no one is in custody in connection with them. Not only Whitechapel but other parts of London are patrolled by extra police, aided by volunteer detectives.
The following postal telegram was received by the Metropolitan Police at five minutes to twelve last night. It was handed in at an office in an eastern district at 7 p.m. -
Charles Warren, Head of the Police, Central office.
DEAR BOSS - If you are willing enough to catch me I am now in the City road lodging but near. You will have to find out, and I mean to do another murder to-night in Whitechapel. - Yours,
JACK THE RIPPER
A letter was also received at Commercial-street Police Station by the first post this morning, addressed "Commercial-street Police Station," in black lead pencil, the contents of which were also written in pencil. They were couched in ridiculous language. The police believe it to be the work of a lunatic. It was signed "Jack the Ripper," and said he was "going to work." He added that he was going to commit another murder in Goswell-road to-night, and spoke of having "several bottles of blood underground in Epping Forest," and frequently referred to "Jack the Ripper; underground." The letter has been handed to Inspector Abberline, who has communicated it to the G Division, in which district Goswell road is. Similar ridiculous letters have before been received by the police.
A letter has been received by a Manchester newspaper, and a post-card by a Brighton paper, signed "Jack, the Ripper." Both are more practical jokes.
A handsome polished oak coffin has been provided for the woman murdered in Mitre-square on Saturday night last.
At the Birmingham Police Court to-day a man giving the name of Alfred Napier Blanchard, a canvasser from London, was charged on his own confession with the Whitechapel murder. The prisoner was arrested on the strength of a statement he had been making in a publichouse containing a circumstantial account of his proceedings. He now denies any connection, and explains his confession by pleading mental excitement caused by reading about the affair. He was remanded till Monday, but the police do not consider the arrest important.
The Telegraph prints two more imaginary sketch portraits of the East End murderer, drawn from descriptions given of the man. The Telegraph explains that, in accordance with the general description furnished to the police by Mathew Packer and others, a number of sketches were prepared, portraying men of different nationalities, ages, and ranks of life. These were submitted to Packer, who unhesitatingly selected one of those now reproduced. The description of the supposed murderer given by Packer was yesterday confirmed by another man who, without being aware of the fact, also chose from the sketches the one which had been already selected by Packer.
The Central News says up to a late hour on Sunday evening all was quiet in Whitechapel district, and the excitement had somewhat subsided. The police and vigilance committee have, however, by no means relaxed their watchfulness, but nobody is now in custody, nor have any arrests to which importance can be attached been made. For several hours during Saturday night and Sunday morning uneasy suspicions were prevalent amongst the people in the streets, and the police were involved in much trouble and obliged to make several minute inquiries concerning persons given in charge by their neighbours in the thoroughfares.
The Press Association says - A journalist on Saturday night attempted to play the role of amateur detective by donning women's clothes. He succeeded in evading suspicion for some time, but eventually was surrounded by some women who declared that he was a man, and as a crowd soon gathered and continued to increase he found it desirable to proceed to Southwark police station, where the people called upon the police to take him into custody, but as hew as professionally well known there, he was ultimately able to return to his home without further molestation.
Respecting the Whitehall mystery it is to-day stated that the police have discovered that the flowered skirt round the corpse was obtained from a West-end draper, and that a piece of newspaper wrapped up with the body belongs to one bearing the date of August 24th which is further said to be the date n which the remains were found at Gildford.
No further discovery of importance has been made in connection with the mystery.