1 November 1888
Antecedents of the Murderer
Antecedents of the Murderer
A London newspaper, The Daily News, has received a telegram from New York which sheds some light on the antecedents of the mysterious killer of London.
The telegram says that some months (sic) ago there occurred in the state of Texas a horrible series of murders of women.
The victims were nearly all black and because of this the sensation was not that great. The killer worked in the same way as the one in London and made the same mutilations.
Such an extraordinary coincidence has caused acceptance in London as much as in New York of the theory that the Whitechapel killer is probably the same as the Texas criminal who has changed his field of operations.
The fact that the murders and mutilations of women in Texas stopped some time ago, argues in favour of the supposition that the killer has moved elsewhere. The characteristic features of the London murders match those of Texas. The description of the man that some have seen, or claim to have seen, with the women murdered in London, match in that he is a man of foreign appearance and that he speaks with an American accent.
So it is very possible, indeed probable, that the murderer of women in the United States is the killer of women in London.
The circumstances surrounding the two new murders committed in London during the early morning of last Sunday, and which our correspondent fortunately telegraphed to us, leave no doubt that they are the work of the same hand as the previous four.
The killer of women, the "uterus stealer" - as the people of London call him - or Jack the Ripper, as the monster has named himself, far from being cared off by the pursuit and vigilance, has become more daring and while before he was content with one victim a week, now he has started to commit double murders.
The two he committed early Sunday morning were carried out in the space of one hour, in the same district, barely fifteen minutes walking distance from one another.
The first victim was found shortly before one in the morning in a passageway in Berner Street in the City. Just a few steps from where the body was lying the members of the International Club, who are nearly all Jews, were holding a party with a great chorus of voices and singing. Even if the victim had cried out, it would have been impossible to hear her.
At the hour mentioned the steward of the club who lives in the next house, returned from making various purchases in a cart and when he tried to turn into the passageway of his house he saw a shape on the ground and stopped the horse. The shape did not move either when he called or touched it with his whip, and when the steward climbed down he thought that the woman was drunk. Then he called out to some of the members of the club to help him to move the woman out of the way; but when he lit a match the group of them drew back horrified when confronted with the sight that met their eyes.
The woman's throat was cut, her face full of cuts and from her slashed abdomen the intestines protruded.
The body was still warm. She was dressed in simple, dirty clothing as worn by women who lead a bad life. In one hand she had some sweets and in the other some grapes.
One woman, whose door looks out onto the passageway, has stated that at quarter to one she heard the footsteps of the policeman on his round in the street and that she then went out to bolt the door and was in the doorway for some minutes. Neither she nor the police saw anyone in the passageway. Which, together with the fact that the body was warm when found, shows that the noise of the steward's cart must have startled the killer and that he fled without completing his gruesome task of taking the uterus at the moment when the club employee arrived.
The second victim was found in a small, badly lit square called Mitre Square, through which not a soul passes, which is joined to three other streets and which is only a step from St. James' Street, one of the most aristocratic in London.
The new victim likewise had her throat cut and also had many cuts on her face, the abdomen was opened, the intestines had been piled up on the chest and the uterus had been extracted. She must have died lying down.
The body was found by a policeman who passes through the square on his round every fifteen minutes. It is believed that the murderer and his victim managed, the moment the policeman had passed, to move to the darkest part of the square, the woman being enticed with some immoral proposition. The murderer had barely twelve minutes to commit the murder and the extraction of the uterus. But the most extraordinary thing in this case is that the watchman at a warehouse in the square was awake and heard not the slightest noise, though he heard perfectly the policeman's steps as he drew slowly near before discovering the body.
The two new victims are called Isabel Stride, known among her companions by the nickname "Long Liz" and Wally Warden. They were both women of thirty four years of age, both of loose habits, frequenters of public houses, and lastly, an extraordinary detail, both were married and separated from their husbands as had been the four women murdered previously.
Three days before these new murders, the Central News agency received a letter written in red ink and signed by Jack the Ripper. In it, the woman killer, or someone who claimed to be him, announced that they would not catch him soon, that he would continue "ripping" until they caught him, and that the from the next woman he killed he would cut off the ears to send them to the police. The letter ended with these words: "Now they say I am a doctor. Ha, ha!" The Central News agency thought this was a morbid joke. But the faces of the two women murdered on Sunday were covered with cuts, something the killer had not done before, which gave a certain credibility to the letter of Jack the Ripper.
The writing and the spelling of the letter are those of a well-educated person. The police, for its part, maintains that the murderer must be of a respectable appearance, because since the crimes began they have ceaselessly watched all suspicious looking men who are on the street with "unfortunates."
The search for the woman killer in London gave rise to a comic incident.
The reporter from a large circulation newspaper, inspired by the noble spirit which produced heroic acts in Archibald Forbes, in Stanley, in Bennet Burleigh and in famous war correspondents from the English press and which has on occasions inspired British journalists to mix with thieves in their dens and in prisons, with beggars in their lodging houses and with the sick in hospitals, to seek out social or administrative vices - this reporter had the idea of offering himself as a victim to the woman killer to uncover his mysterious personality, bring him into the hands of justice, if possible, and at the least to give the readers of his newspaper a most sensational account of his adventure with Jack the Ripper.
To this end the reporter, who is young and good looking, shaved and bathed carefully, dressed as a woman, practiced as much as possible the feminine walk and manner, and went out onto the street with his head covered with a suitable wig and a hat with an extended peak, as is now the fashion.
For two hours he walked the streets of Whitechapel, choosing the most out of the way places in the hope that the murderer would approach him, believing him to be a woman of the streets.
Jack the Ripper did not appear.
What did appear was a policeman who, after following him for some distance, roughly pulled off his wig and hat, saying:
"You are a man!"
There was no way to deny it. The policeman then asked the reporter if he was one of his fraternity, that is, a secret agent. The reporter admitted what his plan had been when he dressed as a woman.
But policemen are sceptical people and the one who surprised our reporter took him into custody, from where his friends from the press had to get him out.