Monday December 3rd, 1888
STARTLING THEORY OF THE CITY OF LONDON DETECTIVES.
NOT ONE MAN'S WORK
Probably a Conspiracy to Murder Unfortunates Conceived by Religious Monomaniacs.
SPECIAL CABLE TELEGRAPH TO THE TIMES
LONDON. December 2.- I have ascertained that the police have for some time past been working on a clue on which a more than plausible theory explanatory of the motive for the commission of the Whitechapel horrors has been built up. The city police are entitled to the credit of whatever results may eventuate from their discovery, but hitherto they have been exceedingly reticent as to the result of their investigations. To-day, however, I gathered the following details of the lines they are working on from a thoroughly reliable source.
The City of London detectives first came into the case with full authority on September 30, shortly before one o'clock in the morning of which day Elizabeth Stride was murdered outside the Socialist Club in Berners (sic) street, and Catharine Beddowes (sic) was butchered in Mitre Square. Previous to this date the pursuit of the Whitechapel fiend had been directed by the Scotland Yard authorities, they being in control of the Metropolitan as distinct from the city police. The woman Beddowes (sic), however, whose body was found in Mitre Square, having been slain within the city limits, the control of the investigation devolved upon the authorities in the old Jewry, the headquarters of the city detective force. The city Vidocqs are, taken as a body, a far more intellectual class of men than their brethren of Scotland Yard.
The ablest officers were detailed to work up the case, but the fullest investigation of the meagre facts at their disposal failed to lead to the apprehension of the murderer. They however arrived at a conclusion which, if correct, tends to explode the almost universally-held theory that these horrible crimes are all the work of a single miscreant. Carefully calculating the time it would take to cover the ground between Berners (sic) street and Mitre Square and having approximately fixed the hour at which each murder was committed they were forced to the conclusion that if the same man murdered both the women Catharine Beddowes (sic) must have met him by appointment in Mitre Square, as the supposition that he found her in this unfrequented place at the exact moment he desired was clearly untenable. It must be borne in mind that the saloons in London all close promptly at 12.30 A.M. The unhappy women of the class to which Elizabeth Stride and Catharine Beddowes (sic) belonged find the only field for obtaining their wretched means of livelihood, after the drinking places have closed, among the crowds of half-drunken men who throng the leading thoroughfares of the district.
It is obvious, then, that at 1 P.M. the woman Stride (sic) would not have been parading the silent Mitre Square, wholly unfrequented after dark, unless she was waiting there for some one. On the other hand if the murderer of Elizabeth Stride in Berners (sic) street had not been interrupted in his ghastly work, judging by the mutilations practiced in the other cases, he would have spent at least another quarter of an hour at his devilish work. Admitting this, he would have been then too late to keep his appointment with Beddowes (sic), and it is only on the supposition that such an appointment had been made, and that the woman went there to meet the murderer, that the theory of the two murders having been committed by the same hand will hold water.
The city detectives then early in the first week of October came to a definite conclusion, namely, that the two women met their death at the hands of different men. It was but taking a single step further to conclude that these two men were acting in collusion. The long interval that had elapsed between this and the previous butchery, the fact that the women belonged to the same class and the coincidence that the killing was done within the same thirty-five minutes all pointed to the same conclusion - that the murders had been deliberately planned, probably to be consummated at the same moment, for if even a couple of hours had elapsed between the two crimes the neighborhood would on the discovery of the first, have become so "hot" that the perpetrator of the second outrage would have found the matter of his escape rendered doubly difficult.
The two brainy men who thus theorized, although they firmly believed they had at last opened the case, were still at a loss in what direction to look for the authors of the fearful crimes. With the utmost patience they sought out the degraded companions of the dead women, and bit by bit they learned all that probably ever will be known of their habits, tastes and mode of life.
After a week or more of this dreary work they struck a woman whose half drunken babbling seemed to suggest a possible clue to the unraveling of the secret they were so industriously working at. This woman had known Beddowes (sic) intimately, and only about a week before the day she met her death poor Catharine had in a fit of maudlin confidence told this companion that she meditated going into a reformatory. She had, she said, on the previous night got into conversation with a stranger, who had, as she put it, tried to convert her, and earnestly begged her to discontinue her mode of life. He had worked on the woman's feelings by drawing a fearful picture of the hereafter staring her in the face if she should be suddenly cut off in her life of sin and shame. On his leaving her she pleaded poverty as an excuse for her sinful mode of life, and he thereupon gave her five shillings, telling her to meet him again in a week's time, adding that if in the meantime she would give up her evil ways and decide to go into a home he would use his influence to get her into one. The woman could not fix the exact date on which Beddowes (sic) made this statement to her, but thought it was about a week before the woman was killed. At eleven o'clock on the night of Thursday, the day before the murder, she saw Catharine and took a drink with her. Beddowes (sic) was then much the worse for liquor. She left her shortly after that hour, saying she was going to meet a friend. She was never seen again alive, but less than two hours later her mutilated body was found lying in Mitre Square.
The detectives had no reason to doubt this story and every effort by advertisements and handbills was made to discover the man who had talked with Catharine Beddowes (sic) a week before the murder and given her five shillings. Up to the present the personality of this man remains shrouded in mystery. The detectives argued that if he was innocent in intent he would at once have come forward, most people will be inclined to agree with them.
Having got thus far, the detectives had a consultation with George Lewis, the great criminal lawyer, of Ely Place, Holborn. They went to him because it was well known that he had from the first held the theory that the murders were the work of a religious monomaniac, and the slender clue they had picked up seemed to point in that direction. No man has had so wide a criminal experience as George Lewis. He has been in every great murder case for the last twenty years and his father before him enjoyed the largest criminal practice in England. From a careful and exhaustive consideration of the facts laid before him by the city detectives, Mr. Lewis is understood to have deduced the following conclusions:
Positive-First. That the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catharine Beddowes (sic) were not committed by one and the same person. Second. That the two or more murderers were acting in collusion and by pre-arrangement.
Probable-First. That the series of murder have been committed by two or more men whose motive is the checking of prostitution. The unprecedented barbarities practiced on the bodies are perpetrated with the view of terrifying the women of the district into abandoning their mode of life. Second. That the murderers are religious monomaniacs.
The city detectives have since been quietly working in this direction. For obvious reasons they decline to afford any information as to the result of their investigations. It is an open secret, however, that certain members of a quasi-religious organization whose eccentric methods have again and again encountered adverse criticism at the hands of the press and the public have been closely watched for some time past. As at present it is understood that not a tittle of direct evidence is forthcoming against these suspects no arrest have been made. The fact that so long a period elapsed between the murders of September 30 and the slaughtering of the latest victim on November 9 leads the detectives to believe that they are on the right track. The last murder, on November 9, came as a great surprise to them, but it was skillfully timed, as that being Lord Mayor's Day, on which the city is thronged with sight-seers, every available detective and policeman was on street duty.