THE interest aroused on the Continent in regard to the German Jack the Ripper has increased daily, but so far nothing has happened to equal the state of panic which reigned in London, and indeed throughout Great Britain, after the series of Jack the Ripper murders more than a generation ago. During the closing years of the last century woman after woman was discovered in the streets of London, mostly in unfrequented thoroughfares of the East End, brutally done to death.
There were several striking peculiarities about these crimes. The victims, in most cases, had been seen alive only a very short time before they had met with their shocking deaths, showing that the murderer was extraordinarily nimble in getting away after committing his foul crimes.
There was a remarkable similarity, too, in the way the women were murdered. Expert evidence showed that they were all mutilated in an abominable manner, but in a way which indicated great anatomical knowledge on the part of the perpetrator. In fact, it was generally agreed that the man must have been a doctor or medical student - albeit of great strength. Numberless clues were forthcoming, but they all culminated in barren disappointment. The police were baffled at every turn.
Numerous letters and postcards were received by different persons in London - sometimes relatives of the victims - the trend of some of them showing that the writer was a diabolical creature devoid of all human feelings, simply gloating over his bloody work and priding himself on his freedom from capture. Some of these communications were doubtless practical jokes; indeed the police were responsible for the statement, perhaps a true one, that they were all hoaxes, their aim being to allay the alarm felt throughout the country.
Soon the belief spread that every murder in the country at this time was committed by Jack the Ripper, although to the experts this was a demonstrable impossibility.
Still, when all was said and done, the murderer, so far as the public knew, was never caught and therefore never punished. This apparent failure of justice was considered a severe reproach to the authorities.
A short time ago, however, new light was thrown upon the identity of the murderer by a man released from Broadmoor, whose story is now published for the first time. The narrator, who lost no opportunity of disseminating what he had learned in the asylum, had completely recovered his reason, as will be understood by everyone familiar with the firm custody imposed upon the criminally insane.
During his stay at Broadmoor he learned many interesting things, and among them he gathered full details of the man who was known in Broadmoor as Jack the Ripper. This individual had been there for more than thirty years. He was a quiet, well-behaved man of great knowledge and culture, famous for his love of scientific books, and his fondness for diagnosing the ailments of persons with whom he came into daily contact. The warders used to point out the similarity of his characteristics with those of Jack the Ripper. Their explanation was that this man was actually caught by the police after one of his terrible crimes, but, since he was at once pronounced insane, by the prison doctors, he could not legally be placed on trial, and was accordingly sent to Broadmoor, without the details of his crime and capture being published.
The authorities knew that his capture would not appease the public, who would demand his execution, which was impossible owing to his insanity. He passed in Broadmoor under the name of Taylor, although that was not his real name. Like Jack the Ripper, he was regarded as a doctor. Both were exceptionally strong men, and to those who knew all the facts there were many other similarities far too striking to be the work of chance.
Inmates of Broadmoor Asylum have their special friends, and to his intimates Taylor confided a daring plan of escape which he confidently expected to bring to a successful issue.
His assiduous hobby was gardening, the flower-beds he tended being in a somewhat remote part of the asylum's extensive grounds.
He had only a comparatively low wall to climb. If only he could obtain solitude for the purpose, there was nothing between him and freedom. The opportune moment came. He started to climb the wall, helped by a series of inconspicuous footholds which in the intervals of gardening he had managed to contrive. He was already half way up when an iron chisel, which he had taken with him to help him on the other side of the wall, fell out of his hip pocket and crashed on to a glass frame nearby - making sufficient noise to attract attention, so that he was caught in the nick of time to prevent a criminal lunatic of the most dangerous type from being let loose upon the world.
Soon afterwards, perhaps mercifully, he died.
At Broadmoor he was known always as Jack the Ripper, and the curiously similar characteristics of the two men, coupled with other significant circumstances, convinced many persons, including some in high authority, that the mild and amiable "Mr. Taylor" was none other than the arch-murderer of modern times.
That the new Jack the Ripper is no nearer than Dusseldorf is a comfort these autumn nights.
Editor's note: Many of the above facts seem to describe Ripper suspect James Kelly, though it is not a perfect match.
|Press Reports: John Blunts Monthly - 16 December 1929|
|Press Reports: Washington Post - 21 March 1910|
|Message Boards: James Kelly|
|Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 20 October 1888|
|Press Reports: Times - 2 August 1883|
|Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - James Kelly|
|Ripper Media: Jimmy Kelly's Year of Ripper Murders|
|Ripper Media: Prisoner 1167: The Madman Who Was Jack the Ripper|
|Suspects: James Kelly|