13 September 1888
In the very heart of London the fourth of a series of ghastly murders has
just been committed under circumstances of revolting atrocity and without
a single clue either as to the motive which could have prompted the crime
or as to the perpetrators of it. The body of the last victim was found
stabbed and mutilated in a savage manner, while those of the other three
were cut almost into ribbons. In each case the victims were women; and the
further circumstances that the crimes were all committed in the same
locality and were attended by the same hideous details leads to the
opinion that all four murders are the work of the same bloody hands.
So mysterious and sensational a crime has not been known for many years. It is almost incredible that with the London police regulations, counted as the best in the world, the mystery should have so long remained uncleared. Yet outside of a bare suspicion that an eccentric and deformed old man nicknamed "Leather Apron" may have had a hand in the murders, the officials confess themselves wholly at sea. The neighborhood is in a commotion, and though the streets are lined with blue coats, people tremble in their own houses and afraid to move out at night. If an unknown assassin can thus terrorize a whole quarter of the greatest city on the globe, and the efforts of the constabulary shall continue powerless to discover his identity and bring him to justice, the Cockneys are either very patient in their request for shrewder detective agencies or the superstition of the ignorant, that the Prince of Darkness himself is the midnight murderer, is in a fair way to come into general acceptance.