|Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide|
|This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.|
John Pizer was born in 1850 and was better known as Leather Apron, he was a Polish Jewish boot finisher, who lived at 22 Mulberry Street.
He came under suspicion after the murder of Mary Ann Nichols, when the newspapers reported that the police were looking for a man named Leather Apron, who had been ill treating prostitutes in the area. According to a reporter from the Star newspaper at least 50 women described the man who had been ill treating them. He is 5ft 4" inches in height and wears a dark close fitting cap, he is thickset and has an unusually thick neck, his hair is black and closely clipped, he is aged between 38 to 40 and has a small black moustache. His expression is said to be sinister, his eyes small and glittering, his lips are usually parted in a grin, which is not only unreassuring, but is excessively repellent. He always carries a knife and gets his nickname from a leather apron he always wore. He was said to be a slipper maker by trade, though does not work. His name nobody knows, but they are all united in the belief that he is a Jew or of Jewish parentage.
Sergeant William Thick, who had known Pizer for eighteen years, knew that when people in the neighbourhood spoke of Leather Apron, they meant Pizer. Thick went to Mulberry Street shortly after 8am on 10 September 1888 to fetch Pizer, who had been lying low on the advice of his brother. Pizer believed if he went outdoors he would be torn to pieces by angry mobs searching for Leather Apron. His brother, and other relatives, confirmed his alibi the night Annie Chapman was murdered.
Pizer was taken to Leman Street police station, and when questioned he said he was unaware that he was known as Leather Apron. While he accepted that he had worn a leather apron home from work, he had in fact not done so for some time, because he had recently been out of work. His neighbours, family and friends denied that he was known as Leather Apron. Pizer was soon cleared of any involvement in the Whitechapel murders. On the night Mary Ann Nichols was murdered he had been staying at Crossman's Lodging House in Holloway Road, and at 1.30am spoke to a policeman about a fire at London Docks, which he then went to see. The fire had broken out at 8.30 at one of the huge warehouses, and was extremely fierce and could be seen for miles around. Though brought under control by 11o'clock, it was not fully extinguished until several hours later. He did not watch the fire long, before returning back to Crossman's, arriving there about 2.15am. He paid his 4d for his bed, then sat in the kitchen and smoked a clay pipe, he slept until 11am, when he was awoken by the attendant. He later learned of the murder from a placard he saw in the street. The police confirmed the account of his movements.
It was reported that Pizer had received compensation from the newspapers, after slanderous stories were printed about him, the amount he received however, was not as substantial as some writers have claimed.
The East London Observer gave this rather unflattering description of Pizer, it said, 'His face was not altogether pleasant to look upon by reason of the grizzly black strips of hair, nearly an inch in length, which almost covered his face, the thin lips too had a cruel sardonic kind of look, which was increased if anything by the drooping dark moustache and side whiskers. His hair was short, smooth and dark, intermingled with grey, his head was slightly bald on top, his head was large and was fixed to the body by a thick, heavy looking neck. He appeared splay footed and spoke with a thick guttural foreign accent'. Pizer said this description of him bore no more resemblance to him, as it did the man in the moon.
If Pizer was Leather Apron, and we have no reason for supposing he was not, then judging by the stories and description's of Leather Apron, the newspaper description of Pizer would appear to have been quite accurate.
He died in July 1897 of gastro enteritis in the London hospital, after a lifetime of poor health.
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