29 March 1894
The Possible Discovery of the Whitechapel Fiend
The Suspected Man is a Hopeless Lunatic in Broadmoor Asylum - Laborious Record of his Past Life - His
Peculiar habits - Significant Remark When Arrested - the Crime for Which He was Held - His Life in the
The Possible Discovery of the Whitechapel Fiend
The Suspected Man is a Hopeless Lunatic in Broadmoor Asylum - Laborious Record of his Past Life - His Peculiar habits - Significant Remark When Arrested - the Crime for Which He was Held - His Life in the Asylum.
The London Sun claims to have discovered the famous - or infamous - "Jack the Ripper", the central figure in the greatest murder mystery of the century. His name, where he worked, what he worked at, his personal habits, and, more important still, his personal movements during the period within which the series of murders took place, have all been ascertained by patient work and searching inquiry. The man is now a hopeless lunatic in Broadmoor asylum. But at, and previous to, the period referred to, he was an idle, somewhat dissolute fellow. He was dissolute, that is to say, in the sense that he kept bad company. He was in several situations years ago but he was not steady in any of them.
He spent most of the day in bed; it was only when night came that he seemed roused to activity and to interest in life. Then he used to go out, disappear, no one knew whither, and never return till early on the following morning. And when he did retire, his appearance was such as to reveal to any gaze but that of a blind affection some idea of the horrible work in which he had been engaged. He always exhibited a strong love for anatomical study, and he spent a portion of the day in making rough drawings of the bodies of women, and of their mutilation, after the fashion in which the bodies of the women murdered in Whitechapel were found to be mutilated.
Jack the Ripper, at the asylum in which he is at present incarcerated, is just over 33 years of age. He is a man of about 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches in height. He is thin, and walks with a slight stoop, as if his chest troubled him. His face is narrow and short, with a high receding forehead, his eyes large and dark, with the expression of a hunted beast in them; his nose thick and prominent, his lips full and red, and his jaws give sign of much power and determination.
A man who had committed such murders as those in Whitechapel must have been so insane as to have the daring simplicity of a lunatic, and, therefore, able to make an escape where a sane one would find it impossible to do so, from the sheer simplicity and calmness of utter insanity.
This man, now in Broadmoor Lunatic Asylum, while lying in his night-shirt in a bedroom, guarded by four wardens, suddenly sprang up, knocked his keepers down, belted out of the door, and over a wall eight feet high into a house in a busy thoroughfare, with bare legs and shirt-tail flying, and passing through it, reaches the back garden, and then, jumping several garden walls, comes to another house, which he enters. He finds a pair of striped trousers, check jacket, brown overcoat, black felt hat, and a pair of old boots, which he immediately puts on. And while the crowd in full pursuit are clamouring for admission at the other house into which he had been seen to go, the fugitive comes out of the front door of the neighboring house, and walks calmly and collectedly past the excited crowd, and under the very nose of the people who are looking for him.
The man identified as Jack the Ripper was committed to the asylum in which he is at present incarcerated after having been brought up before a London magistrate on a charge of stabbing six girls on different dates. The case was not gone into, medical evidence being forthcoming to show that the prisoner was not responsible for his actions. Previous to his apprehension on this charge the accused committed a murderous attack on a female relative, and upon a domestic servant in her employ, and it was consequent upon these acts that he was detained in the place whence he escaped in the dramatic and almost marvellous manner already described. It is one of the most curious features in this strange story that many persons at the time were of (the) opinion that this man was Jack the Ripper and many who knew him well had certainly heard the suggestion.
When he was arrested he made a most significant observation. "is this," he said, "for the Mile End job? I mean the public-house next the Syndicate where I just missed her that time. They took me to be of the Jewish persuasion." This is an extraordinary observation in connection with the facts we are about to relate. Enquiries were made for any trace of the "Mile End job in the public-house next the Syndicate," to which the lunatic referred on his arrest. It was discovered that next to the Jewish Synagogue, in the East End, there is a public-house, and that during the Jack the Ripper period of 1888 some disturbance was one night caused at the bar of the public-house by a fallen woman screaming out that " Jack the Ripper" was talking to her. She had been drinking and conversing with a young man of slight build and of sallow features, and she pointed to him when she made the startling announcement that he was "Jack the Ripper". The man immediately took to his heels, departing with an alacrity that prevented all pursuit. The incident was but briefly reported in the daily papers under the heading of "Another Jack the Ripper Scare." But a description of the man whom the woman pointed out was given as that of a man of 27 or 28 years, slight of build, and Jewish appearance, his face being thin and sallow. This led to the theory entertained for some time that "Jack the Ripper" was a Jew. The public-house incident took place about the middle of September. ON the night of September 30, 1888, two women were killed, one in Berners street, and one in Mitre square. Over the latter there was written on the rough wall in chalk: "The Jews are not the men that will be blamed for nothing." These facts enormously add to the proof that the man who mad this observation was the same man who had murdered the two women on the night of September 30, 1888. The mistake of naming "syndicate" for synagogue rather adds to the strength of the story.
This man was born in 1863 in London. His father separated from his mother, whom he is said to have treated badly. In the case of the father, the morbid element appears in the ill-treatment of his wife, the neglect of his child, and finally in his flying from his responsibilities and in his contracting a bigamous marriage abroad. The boy was employed in several offices, but in none of them for a long time, and in nearly every case his dismissal came from some such irregularity as one would expect in the case of such a man. One of the worst of these irregularities was his constant irregularity of hours. He had begun at an early age that system of night walking and stopping in bed late in the mornings which finally developed into his turning night into day, and working under the protection of darkness his fiendish crimes. At the time when he committed the Whitechapel murders, this tendency had so far developed that he spent most of every day in bed, and it was not til 9 or 10 o'clock at night that he ever went forth.
Two representatives of the Sun went to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum in order to come face to face with that inscrutable criminal. Two warders guided them toward a corner which was flooded with light from a large window, and Dr. Nicholson, stepping forward, said in a cheery tone: "Well, my man, how are you?" No verbal response came from this strange being, but, as if seized with some sudden conception of what was required of him, he tore off his loosely knotted necktie, opened his shirt collar, bared his breast, and expanded his chest in a manner suggestive of one undergoing a medical examination. But never a word did he utter. The medical superintendent humored his fancy and tapped the region of his lungs, saying: "Yes, yes, that's all right. You are in capital form. You are quite comfortable here, are you not?"
"Come, now, won't you tell these gentlemen how you are getting on? They would be very glad to hear that you were well."
It was useless. The voice of the Whitechapel fiend will never again be heard on earth by other than a warder in Broadmoor Asylum. When, in a dull and stupid manner, he perceived that apparently no further examination was required of him, he fastened his shirt, but slightly resisted one of the warders who attempted to arrange his scarf for him. Then he did a strange thing. He grasped his throat with his left hand, threw back his head, and placed his right hand at the base of his skull. What he meant by this action neither Dr. Nicholson nor the attendant warders knew. "He never speaks now," said the medical superintendent, "and he is in the final and most troublesome stage of lunacy, having lost all his self-respect."
The police who have been interested in the Whitechapel murder cases are not disposed to give much credit to the Sun's story, which is generally regarded as sensational, and open to grave suspicions as to its veracity.