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Port Philip Herald

22 November 1888


I have had (writes an "ex convict" to a London paper) several years' intercourse with the most desperate of London criminals, and you may, possibly, on that account consent to add the following to the many suggested theories put forward in your admirable paper to explain the motive of, and thereby start a clue to, the Whitechapel murders. It appears to me that the murderer must have the three following qualifications for the successful perpetration of his crimes:-

1) Cause for deadly vengeance against the unfortunates of the streets;

2) an intimate knowledge of Whitechapel, and an equal familiarity with the snail-like alacrity of the London police; with

3) some experience of a dissecting room.

I would suggest to Sir Charles Warren that he should obtain from Sir Edward Du Cann the names of such convicts as have been liberated, say, during the last six months, who have been employed as infirmary orderlies in the respective prisons from whence discharged. Also the additional information, where such ex-prisoners hailed from before sentence, and whether prostitutes were associated with the police in their original detection or conviction. I believe the murderer to be a man who has suffered a long term of penal servitude for some crime that was brought home to him through the betrayal of one of those casual unfortunates who "pal in" with burglars and other such criminals while spending the "swag" of a successful "bust." I have worked and conversed with hundreds of such men in more than one convict prison, and I cannot help remembering the ferocity with which they invariably spoke of "the _____ who had them put away," and how they would "do" for her whenever they were "chucked up." Desperate as these men are when outside of prison, many of them - especially the "old fakes" - are models of good behavior while undergoing penal servitude, and they seek thereby to qualify for the most coveted of prison "billets" - infirmary orderlies. In this position they acquire a good deal of knowledge about the use of dissecting knives etc. as they are employed to clean up the place where the prison doctors carry on their post mortem examinations of dead convicts. My theory, therefore, such as it is, is this:-

1) The murderer is of the "old fake" criminal type.

2) He belongs to or is very familiar with Whitechapel.

3) He has served a long term, perhaps many terms, of imprisonment, some or all of which punishment he atributes to the class to which the murdered women belong.

4) His previous criminal career makes him familiar with the beat systems of the London police.

5) He has been an infirmary orderly in some convict prison, and he has recently terminated his last sentence.

Here is another theory of the murders:-

The Whitechapel murders, it seems, are all due to the modern disbelief in devils. That (observes St. James's Gazette) is the discovery made by a gentleman of Newcastle-on-tyne. According to this illuminated person, it is well within the powers of devils to commit assault and battery, and even murders. Devils surround us on every hand, says this student of demonology. "The race of evil ones," he tells us, "is not yet extirpated. The world is too young yet to accomplish their reformation. They are still with us. Who are they? " The gentleman obligingly answers his own inquiry. "Possibly ancestors of our own, unprogressed, unimproved human spirits." These spirits do not commit the murders themselves. They "wreak their malicious rage on their species when a fitting medium is found, and by their acquired skill protect such a one from discovery." Now we know exactly how hopeless it is to expect to find the Whitechapel murderer.