6 December 1897
TALE OF A SEA COOK WHO SAYS THE CONFESSOR WAS A CRAZY SAILOR
There never was a sailor without his favorite yarn to spin. Some of these tales told by men from the sea have become celebrated in song and story; others came only from the rich imagination of the Jacks and passed after a time unnoticed. There is a sailor on one of the steamers in Galveston at present who says he was once cook on a vessel, the Annie Laurie, and among the crew was a chap from London, who, in a fit of lunacy, confessed that he was the simon pure Jack the Ripper of Whitechapel fame. John Long is the name of the narrator who told yesterday of the Ripper. He says his story can be substantiated in every particular, and that if necessary he will do so.
Long says Jack the Ripper died in a hospital at Iquique, Chile, and he made his confession to a priest, and also to him, a short time before his death.
This is the way Long tells the story:
"The Annie Laurie was a bark. When I was a cook on her the captain was named Carstarphen. Some years ago we made a trip from Shields, England, to Iquique.
Before we left a man who signed as John Sanderson came aboard and was to become one of us. A short time after we started on the journey sanderson became sick and was taken to his bunk. He was in no fit condition to work, and we noticed that he was acting in a rather peculiar manner. He would slip out from his bunk and chase over the deck like a wild man. He would scream and say someone was following him. He had to be watched. A guard was placed by him all the time, and finally the captain had to give him an opiate to keep him quiet. When we were rounding Cape Horn the sailor seemed to be getting better, but before we reached Iquique he became so violent that he was sent to the hospital immediately upon arrival.
"Not long after he had left the ship I was taken ill and had to be sent to the hospital, and I was placed in a bunk beside that of Sanderson. He recognized me, and I saw he was still trying to escpae the demons he supposed were following him. One night he asked me if I knew anything about the Whitechapel murders. I did not at that time and told him so. By degrees he began to tell startling bits of information, about those horrible crimes, and at last confessed that he was Jack the Ripper. He made the same confession to a priest."
Long says Sanderson told him that his father was a surgeon and that he knew how to handle the knife pretty well. Long, continuing his narrative, gave Sanderson's confession thus as in Sanderson's language:
"I reached Whitechapel district late one night and met up with a woman, who joined me and we went into a dark alley. There I killed her. The body was mutilated and left to lie in the cold. I escaped. No officer seemed to get on my track, and the idea came to me that it would nice to kill a few others.
Later on I found a confederate who was as anxious for blood as I was, and we decided to go in the butcher business with women instead of animals. We secured a couple of butcher smocks, a kind of dress used around open, and we found this the easy way to do the killing and escape. The smocks were the means of preventing our crimes from being discovered. We were wild for blood. I was mad and nothing would satisfy me but the sight of a bloody and mutilated body of a Whitechapel woman. The people thought we were butchers, and paid no attention to our bloody garments, and I have stood before the police with the blood of a victim on my garments, and none of them were able to see that they had the Ripper in their grasp."
Such is supposed to be only the gist of the confession. Sanderson, having gone into the horrible details and told of how he went into the country later and worked on a farm. Afterward the sea drew him back, and he just happened to sign with the Annie Laurie before she sailed from Shields. The confession, Long says, was written and signed by the Ripper, and given to Long, who was later shipwrecked and the document lost. After the death of Sanderson the body was interred in a little cemetery at Iquique, and Long was one of the mourners.
The story came unsolicited to a News man and at its conclusion Long was very particular that it should appear clear that Sanderson was insane, which is no doubt true, as there are weak points in the tale. One of the weakest points came at the conslusion, when Long asked for a quarter "to get a cup of coffee and a bed." He got a dime, but the passing dime seemed to bear away with it what essence of truth the story formerly bore.