Friday, 7 September 1888
The Whitechapel murder has taken a turn of most ghastly romance. Those whose sensations were not handicapped while they read it by a haunting idea that "the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" was a performance at least as grotesque as it was grim will remember how the horrible Hyde in one of his transformations, butchered a woman just for the fun of the thing. That is an effective passage in the book, and those whom it thrilled with a pleasing terror will snatch fearful joy from the story of "Leather Apron" as narrated in an evening sheet. "Leather Apron" whose soubriquet, derived from the constant wear of such a garment, has a ring of midnight deeds and darksome mystery about it, is a real entity, an actual man or monster, for according to the Star he is a mixture of both, who is very well known in East London where he has long been the terror and tyrant of females of the "unfortunate" class. He is described as a man of hideous aspect, with the strength of a bull and the spirit of a demon. His visage perpetually set in a malignant grin, and his sinister eye - a la Mr. Hyde as you perceive - are enough to give a nervous person fits. It seems, ever, that this Cockney Caliban has stabbed or otherwise maltreated scores of the wretched women on whose earnings he lived, for he never worked, but passed idle days on the blackmail extorted from his victims. He is suspected of worse crimes. It appears that his favourite threat to tardy or reluctant taxpayers, was that he meant to "rip them up" and as he always carries a sharpened shoemakers knife it is certain that he has never been without the way to execute his will. All this is exciting enough, and quite a triumph for the sort which has thrilled the town with it. But there is a serious side to the business if it be true that a woman meeting "Leather Apron" in the streets a day or two ago called on a constable to arrest him for the murder, declaring that she had seen him a couple of hours before the mutilated body of Nicholls was found in company with the deceased. "Leather Apron," it seems, did not offer any denial at first to several repetitions of the charge of murder, but the policeman let him go, and we are now awaiting further developments of this very extraordinary proof that truth is stranger than fiction.