JULY 2018

JULY 2018
One Hundred Years Later, Same Message. 1916 - 2017


Monday, May 08, 2017

BLOODY JACK Chapter Nineteen

I think the tipping point came on Monday, 1 October, 1888 when even the staid Times of London bowed to the pressures from their advertisers and customers. On that date the story went the 19th century equivalent of “viral”  The Times story that day read, “In the early hours of Yesterday morning two more horrible murders were committed in the East of London... No doubt seems to be entertained by the police that these terrible crimes were the work of the same fiendish hands...”
In the first mentioned case", said The Times,  "the body was found in a gateway, and although the murder...may be regarded as of almost ordinary character – the unfortunate woman only having her throat cut – (there is) little doubt...that the assassin intended to mutilate...The murder in the City...(had) indescribable mutilations...some anatomical skill seems to have been displayed...At Three O'clock yesterday afternoon a meeting of nearly a thousand persons took place in Victoria Park...a resolution was unanimously passed that it was high time (Home Secretary Henry Matthews and Scotland Yard head Charles Warren) should resign...”
The un-staid London Evening News was a little free-er with their facts. “On Sunday morning a woman was found with her throat cut and her body partially mutilated in a court in Berner street...the deed was done in the short period of twenty minutes...in the time which the police surgeon said a medical expert would take to do it...Having been disturbed in his first attempt...the murderer seems to have made his way towards the City, and to have met another "unfortunate”,...He...cut her throat...then proceeded to disembowel her. He must have been extremely quick at his work...the City beats being much shorter than those of the Metropolitan Police.”
The News editorialized, “Successive editions of the Sunday papers were getting a marvelous sale yesterday...The police yesterday afternoon took possession of Mitre-square and kept out the people... There was also a crowd of perhaps a couple of hundred persons outside the gateway in Berner-street during the day, and at ten o'clock last night there were perhaps 150 assembled in the roadway...”
The Evening News noted that Monday, “A TERRIBLE PANIC Has taken possession of the entire district, and its effects are to be seen in the wild, terrified faces of the women, and heard in the muttered imprecations of the men...WHERE WERE THE POLICE?...It seems incredible that, within the short space of twelve minutes, a man and woman should have entered the deserted precincts of Mitre-square, that the man should have murdered his victim, disemboweled her with the same unerring skill...and should have made his escape...He must, when he hurried away...have been reeking with blood”.
The News reporter noted the increased police presence at the murder scenes and suggested it reminded him of “the old adage about locking the stable door after the steed has been stolen.” He described the crowd in Berner Street as being made up of, “nearly all classes. Clubmen from the West-end rubbed shoulders with the grimy denizens of St. George's-in-the-East: daintily dressed ladies...elbowed their way amid knots of their less favored sisters, whose dirty and ragged apparel betokened the misery of their daily surroundings”
The London Evening News offered its readers one tidbit of real information - “The body found in Berner-street has been identified as that of Elizabeth Stride.” But then returned to building  hysteria “....the murder... grows bolder by impunity. One victim for one night was his former rule. He now...cuts off two within an hour...It is impossible to avoid the depressing conviction that the Police are about to fail once more, as they have failed with CHAPMAN, as they have failed with NICHOLLS, as they have failed with TABRAM... The Police have done nothing, they have thought of nothing, and in their detective capacity they have shown themselves distinctly inferior.”
The Irish Times knew just who to blame. “Sir CHARLES WARREN (above, right)...appears at last to understand that it will be fatal to men in his position if those murders are not traced.”  The Home Secretary, Henry Matthews (above, left), was described on the floor of Parliament as “helpless, heedless, useless”, and The Daily Telegraph urged his resignation. Many already suspected the conservative British government of Lord Salisbury was responsible for disinformation and dirty tricks political campaigns against Irish self government movement. They were right, but not knowing details of the Home Office's Irish Section – Section D – they could not know that Charles Warren had no responsibility over these political black ops. So he got the blame for it all.
Under a Monday evening column titled “What We Think”, The Star said the killer had again, “got away clear; and again the police...confess that they have not a clue. They are waiting for a seventh and an eighth murder, just as they waited for a fifth...Meanwhile, Whitechapel is half mad with fear. The people are afraid even to talk with a stranger.... It is the duty of journalists to keep their heads cool, and not inflame men's passions...” They then proceeded to do just that. “Two theories are suggested to us,” warned The Star a few sentences further down, “that he may wear woman's clothes, or may be a policeman.”
The police, of course, are helpless,” continued The Star. “We expect nothing of them. The Metropolitan force is rotten to the core, and it is a mildly farcical comment on the hopeless unfitness of Sir CHARLES WARREN (above)...there must be an agitation against Sir CHARLES WARREN, who is now...detaching more men from regular police and detective duty to political work....”  But the Star did get one piece of information right. In that same Monday evening edition they mentioned, “After committing the second murder, the man seems to have gone back towards the scene of the former. An apron, which is thought by the police to belong to the woman found in Mitre-square, as it was the same material as part of her dress, was found in Goldstar Street. It was smeared with blood, and had been evidently carried away by the murderer to wipe his hands with.”
The Star's reporter returned to Berner Street in the afternoon and found that “Blue helmets were as thick as bees in a clover field...Prominent among those on the spot...was Superintendent Foster, of the City Police. He personally...paid a visit to the scene of the Berner street tragedy, to compare the two cases...As he came out of Berner street, a man in a tweed suit was seen walking by his side, and someone in the crowd shouted out: "There they go. The super's got him. I told you he was a toff." This silly remark was enough to turn the tide of attention in the direction of the officer and his companion ..their unsought retinue followed...till they met the tide from the other direction, and then the side streets swallowed up the surplus and the officials escaped.” 
That night another reporter for The Star saw, “little groups of ill-clad women standing under the glare of a street lamp or huddling in a doorway talking..."He'll be coming through the houses and pulling us out of our beds next," says one. "Not he," says another; "he's too clever for that."
On that same Monday, the Central News dropped a bombshell – the killer had written a letter, in red ink (above), and dated the previous Tuesday, 25 September. It read - in part - , "Dear Boss - I keep on hearing the police have caught me...I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me rare fits. I am down on whores, and I shan't quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now? I love my work...I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger-beer bottle...but it went thick like glue, and I can't use it. Red ink is fit enough, ha, ha, ha!...My knife is so nice and sharp, I want to get to work right away, if I get the chance. Good, cock, "Yours truly,JACK THE RIPPER."  There was a post script - “Don't mind me giving the trade name. Wasn't good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands, curse it. They say I'm a doctor. Ha! ha! ha! ha!"
So there it was – that iconic name – Jack the Ripper – its first appearance in print. And, added the Central News Service, that very morning they had received a post card, this written in red chalk, but smeared with blood. “"Double event this time," it read. "Number One squealed a bit...JACK THE RIPPER." Added the News Service, “..it does not seem unreasonable to suppose that the cool, calculating villain who is responsible for the crimes has chosen to ...convey to the Press his grimly diabolical humor.”
Neither missive was actually written by the killer, of course. The letter had been written mailed and received during the two week lull in the case, before the murders of 30 September. It was an attempt to keep the story going, to generate additional newspaper sales. And the post card was merely another ploy, feeding the horror machine which had become Jack the Ripper. On that same Monday, the News printed a letter from builder and self made man George Akin Lusk (above),  naming himself as Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, and encouraging Home Secretary Matthews to offer a reward for the capture of the killer. Volunteers from the committee were already patrolling the streets and pubs of Whitechapel, which might explain why the killer had moved so far outside his usual hunting fields..
But the most important development from the the double event weekend was that at last, Jack the Ripper was a going financial concern. There would be legal, sociological and political effects of  Bloody Jack. But the murderer and his victims had become of secondary importance.
- 30 -

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