The "Dear Boss" letter
On the 1st October 1888 the Daily News published a letter which had been received by the head of the Central News Agency on 27th September.
Dated 25th September 1888 the letter read:-
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet.
I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track.
That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits.
I am down on whores and I shant 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 and want to start again.
You will soon hear of me with my funny little games.
I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it.
Red ink is fit enough I hope ha ha.
The next job I do I shall clip the ladies ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldnt you.
Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight.
My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance.
Jack the Ripper
Don't mind me giving the trade name wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it.
No luck yet.
They say I’m a doctor now ha ha.
Jack the Ripper's legend is born
With the publication of this letter, the murderer was given the name that would launch him into legend.
A name that would become so well known the world over that the very mention of it, even to those who have little knowledge of the actual murders, could summon up vivid images of gas lit, foggy streets and of an unknown terror stalking the night shadows on a murderous and chilling quest.
The "From Hell" letter
On the 16th October 1888 Mr George Lusk, president of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, sat down to his dinner table.
A small cardboard box was delivered in the evening mail.
Opening it he discovered a letter addressed "From Hell" and, wrapped inside it, he found half a human kidney.
The letter read:-
I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you
Tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise.
I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer.
Catch me when you can
Did the letters come from the killer?
But did either letter actually come from the murderer?
The "Jack the Ripper" "Dear Boss" letter certainly did not.
Indeed several of the senior Police officers maintained that the letter was the work of an "enterprising London journalist", with one even adding that the journalist's identity was "known to senior Scotland Yard detectives."
And the Kidney, according to the City pathologist Dr Sedgewick Saunders, was unlikely, as had, and has, been claimed, to be the one removed from Catherine Eddowes.
Indeed he declared that the fact the Kidney was sodden in alcohol suggested that the Kidney had come from a hospital dissecting room, where it would obviously have been preserved in spirits of alcohol.
Aftermath of the double event
In the aftermath of the "Double Event" - the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes on 30th September 1888 - police activity in the district intensified throughout early October.
The "Jack the Ripper" correspondence had led to great media speculation.
The East End was in the grip of panic, coupled with a grim curiosity that saw morbid crowds gathering at the murder sites to speculate on the killer’s identity and motives.
As the Star of the East informed its readers:
"...The district of Whitechapel and Aldgate is.. in a state of ferment and panic. All night long there have been people in the streets, standing round coffee stalls and at other points.....talking of the .latest horrors, and even the men seemed to be in a state of terror.
Extra police have patrolled the streets.. and the police authorities... have come to the conclusion that publicity is the greatest aid to the detection of the perpetrator.. and all information is cheerfully imparted to the Press..."
Police activity intensifies
Despite lurid rumours, and several scares, the intensification of police activity appears to have deterred "Jack the Ripper” and, as a result, October passed with no further murders, although the atmosphere remained tense.
As one newspaper article pointed out:-
"...The police were nervously apprehensive that the night would not pass without some startling occurrence.
The most extra-ordinary precautions were taken in consequence, and so complete were the measures adopted.. that it seemed impossible for the murderer to make his appearance in the East End without detection. Large bodies of plain - clothes men were drafted to the Whitechapel district from other parts of London, and these, together with the detectives, were so numerous that in the more deserted thorough - fares almost every man met with was a police officer.."