By George R. Sims
Published in 1917, My Life is George R. Sims' account of some of his more notable exploits. Two pages recount how Sims, as a result of his likeness to a sketch of the alleged murderer, was mistaken for Jack the Ripper by a coffee-stall attendant. Sims himself admitted to the similarity and showed his good-nature in laughing off the incident.
As a journalist I followed the Jack the Ripper crimes at close quarters. I had a personal interest in the matter, for my portrait, which appeared outside the cover of a sixpenny edition of my "Social Kaleidoscope," was taken to Scotland Yard by a coffee-stall keeper as the likeness of the assassin.
On the night of the double murder, or rather in the small hours of the morning, a man had drunk a cup of coffee at the stall. The stall-keeper noticed that he had blood on his shirt-cuffs. The coffee merchant said, looking at him keenly, "Jack the Ripper's about perhaps to-night."
"Yes," replied the man, " he is pretty lively just now, isn't he? You may hear of two murders in the morning." Then he walked away.
At dawn the bodies of two women murdered by the Ripper were found.
Passing a newsvendor's shop that afternoon the coffee-stall keeper saw my likeness outside the book.
"That's the man!" he said, and bought the book. He took it first to Dr. Forbes Window, who was writing letters to the papers on the Ripper crimes at the time. Forbes Winslow, who knew me, told him it was absurd, but the man went off with the book to the Yard, and Forbes Winslow wrote to me and told me of the interview and the coffee-stall keeper's "mistake."
But it was quite a pardonable mistake. The redoubtable Ripper was not unlike me as I was at that time.
He was undoubtedly a doctor who had been in a lunatic asylum and had developed homicidal mania of a special kind.
Each of his murders was more maniacal than its predecessors, and the last was the worst of all.
After committing that he drowned himself. His body was found in the Thames after it had been in the river for nearly a month.
Had be been found alive there would have been no mystery about Jack the Ripper. The man would have been arrested and tried. But you can't try a corpse for a crime, however strong the suspicion may be.
And the authorities could not say, "This dead man was Jack the Ripper." The dead cannot defend themselves.
But there were circumstances which left very little doubt in the official mind as to the Ripper's identity.