Moab, Utah, U.S.A.
16 July 1897
QUEER FAD OF A WELATHY LONDON CLUBMAN
Is Middle Aged and Not Eccentric - On Each Murder's Anniversary He Dons Clothes and Visits the Scene of Tragedy
London possesses a "Jack the Ripper" of whom it is proud. This man is Mr. Howard Denver, of Weymouth Street, member of the prominent London clubs and of an excellent family. He is wealthy, belongs to the leisured classes and is unmarried. To his friends he is known as "Jack the Ripper Jr.," says the Philadelphia Inquirer.
This man earned his title by purchasing from every source where they could by any amount of effort be obtained, the suits of criminals - the trousers, the coat, the shoes, the hat which the murderer wore when he committed the deed. These suits are in demand by the collectors of odd things, and often Mr. Denver has had to pay heavily for a suit, but in the end he has outdistanced his competitors, except in one or two famous instances.
A suit worn by the original "Jack the Ripper" when he murdered a girl in Whitechapel without disfiguring her features was bidden over his head by another enthusiastic London collector. This greatly worried Mr. Denver, but he rallied and outbid his rival when the next chance occurred. Sales of murderers' clothing are not advertised, so one wonders how a collector can obtain them. To get possession he must work harder than most collectors, for his prize is not offered for sale in any public way. He must watch for it, see it, grab it and possession becomes ten points of the law.
Once when the case was on trial of a German butcher who murdered his wife Mr. Denver haunted the courtroom night and day. When the clothing was produced in evidence it was horribly stained. The evidence was so convincing that all knew the verdict would be "guilty." Mr. Denver realized that as soon as the prisoner was found guilty he would be removed and the clothing thrown away, as having done its work. To be on hand, therefore, at the right moment was an absolute necessity.
Sure enough the verdict went for the Crown and the prison warden ordered the old clothes thrown away. They were consigned to an ash heap for transportation to the city dumping place. This was a rare chance for the collector of criminal wardrobes. Stealing into the area where the ash cans were kept, he deftly flashed out the clothing, getting the suit entire, even to the undershirt - and all for nothing. That is the only suit in his collection that did not cost him a penny.
A fad is of but little use if you cannot put it to some practical test occasionally. Mr. Denver enjoys his to the utmost, for it is a source of never ending amusement to him in a certain way. Being a gentleman of leisure, time hangs heavily on his hands, or would hang heavily were it not for this fad and his delightful way of putting it to good account.
In a ledger which he keeps in his bachelor apartments there is a page giving the date of the murders that were committed. Opposite the date is a description of the suit of clothes the murderer wore. Below follows an account of the murder and the steps the guilty man took that day.
As the anniversaries come around Mr. Denver dresses himself in the suit indicated in the book and marches out to "repeat the murder." He first goes to the clubs, for he belongs to every club of prominence in London, and greets his friends.
They look him over and applaud or turn away in horror, according as the fad strikes them. A bottle of wine follows. Then, stimulated by his refreshment, the "Ripper Jr." goes out to Whitechapel, or any other spot where the murder was committed, and walks over the haunted path. His routes lie mostly in the poorer parts of London, but sometimes they take him down Piccadilly or along the Strand, He is unabashed, however, no matter what his guise and plods merrily along, often followed by a crowd of curious hoodlums, if the clothing is very disreputable. If only slightly bloodstained and not torn, it passes in the crowd unnoticed. No one meeting this quiet, well conducted though badly dressed man would realize that he was a faddist of the most pronounced type.
Mr. Denver's companion upon all his rambles is a collie of intelligent countenance. This dog is at once a companion and a protector. Often in the midnight excursions of his master - for the hour of the murder is closely observed - the collie has had all he could do to protect his master. Through the lower parts of London he has gone with him at hours when no well meaning man can afford to be abroad, and in quarters where each new face is viewed with suspicion.
Mr. Denver is no longer a young man. He has reached an age when a fad becomes a grand passion; and the desire for collecting the paraphernalia is strong upon him. He owns ninety suits, and ninety times a year goes out dressed in his old rage. More murders were committed in winter than in summer - three to one - and on a certain day every February this self designated murderer is obliged to make six changes within twenty four hours in order to celebrate all the anniversaries.