12 November 1888
The ninth Whitechapel murder finds the London police still without a tangible clue to the identity of the perpetrator of the most ghastly series of crimes. Almost as interesting a problem as the identity of the murderer is the question why the resources and methods of the London police should be so suddenly at fault in the presence of a series of crimes of such appalling magnitude. It is all very well for American newspaper correspondents to suggest that the inherent stupidity of the London police is sufficient explanation. It would be an insult to the intelligence of these gentlemen to suppose that they do not know better. The true explanation is, probably, that whereas ordinarily the first step in the detection of crime is to look for an intelligible and sufficient motive, the ordinary methods of the police are at fault in the presence of a crime for which no intelligible and sufficient motive can be imagined. As a general rule, murder is followed by detection very swiftly in England. If the motive be robbery, the fact is generally evident and the police are on the alert for attempts to dispose of the plunder. If the motive be revenge or the concealment of another crime, it is not difficult as a rule to discover who is interested in the death of the victim.l Then the fears of the criminal commonly aid in bringing about his detection. A murderer who is absolutely without fear, who makes no attempt at flight, fails to supply the police with the most common clues. An Anerican authority on police matters says that the New York police keep the well known criminals of that sity under constant survaillance, and when a crime is committed, knowing the men who commonly commit crimes of that particular character, they ascertain the whereabouts of as many of them as possible at the time the crime was committed. Those who are innocent of that particular crime are only too anxious to establish an alibi and can do so truthfully; the one who is guilty can only do so by lying to the detectives, which is highly dangerous and difficult. The London police have now to deal apparently with a murderer who does no belong to the recognized criminal classes. He may be any one man of several millions and presumably is too mad to do any of the silly things by which sane people generally betray themselves. It has been conjectured from his skill with the knife that he is a surgeon. He is just as likely to be a butcher. Blood upon a butcher's blue smock would not awaken suspicio as would blood upon a surgeon's frock coat. He is possibly a very mild mannered man when not engaged in murdering and mutilating women. The most remarkable thing about the mysterious individual is not that he should baffle the police, but that he should manage to avoid awakening suspicion among the people with whom he lives. Every man who has been absent from home on every one these nine occasions ought by this time to be an object of more or less suspicion to those who live under the same roof, even if that roof be miles away from Whitechapel.