The Apron and the Message

His Escape Route From Mitre Square

Having murdered Catherine Eddowes in Mitre Square on 30th September 1888, the Whitechapel murder promptly fled into the streets of Spitalfields.

Since the police began converging on the murder scene within a few minutes of the body being discovered, and were fanning out into the streets of the locality, this is probably the night when they came closest to catching Jack the Ripper.

It is also the night when the murderer left behind his only clue in his entire reign of terror.

The Clue in the Doorway

In Goulston Street there still stands a sturdy building that in 1888 provided accommodation for Jewish traders who dealt in second - hand clothes on Petticoat lane or traded shoes at the footwear market on Wentworth Street.

Wentworth Model Dwellings where the clue was found.

Wentworth Model Dwellings
Goulston Street

Known as The “Wentworth Model Dwellings”, it was here in a doorway, at 2.45am , that PC Alfred Long discovered a section of Catherine Eddowes apron.

There were bloody finger marks on it and it was evident that the blade of a bloodied knife had been wiped clean upon it.

This clue, tells us exactly where the murderer was heading as he fled from the scene of Catherine Eddowes murder, and confirms the theory that he was an East - Ender living in the area.

It also answers an important question about his appearance as he fled from the scenes of his crimes.

Many people believe that the killer would have been drenched in blood after carrying out such gruesome murders.

But, since he asphyxiated his victims to render them unconscious before carrying out his mutilations, it is likely that there would have been minimal blood spatter since the hearts of his victims would have stopped beating.

He would have had blood on his hands and on his knife and, the longer he left this on his person, the more chance he had of being spotted.

So, as he fled from Mitre Square, his priority would have been to get rid of the incriminating blood stains, hence he took away the portion of Catherine Eddowes apron to do just that.

Of course, standing in the street and wiping his hands and his knife would have also been dangerous.

He needed privacy, and the dark doorway in Goulston Street appears to have provided sufficient cover for him to have wiped his hands, wiped his knife and then he simply dropped the apron and blended in to the neighbourhood.

The Mysterious Message on the Wall

But the doorway also contained a much more famous and, subsequently promoted, none clue.

Sir Charles Warren inspects the Goulston Street graffito.

Warren Studies the Message

For, scrawled in chalk on the wall above the apron, was the message "The Juwes are the men That Will not be blamed for nothing" (although several observers remembered slightly different wording to the Graffito).

Sir Charles Warren, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, fearful of a resurgence of the anti - Semitism that had swept the neighbourhood in the wake of the "Leather Apron" scare, ordered that the message be rubbed out, and it was duly erased at 5.30am before a photograph could be taken of it.

Despite numerous accusations from conspiracy theorists that Warren was, in fact, covering up evidence that incriminated government officials, a member of the Royal family or fellow Freemasons, his decisive action probably did prevent anti-Jewish rioting in the streets of the East End and his decision to erase the message may well have saved the lives of innocent Jews who would have fallen victim to mob hysteria had the graffito become common knowledge.

Indeed, in an article in the Evening News, dated 23rd July 1889, and titled "Interview With a Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department", the unnamed police officer, who may have been Inspector Edmund Reid, was emphatic that he "...firmly believed that a rising against the Jews in Whitechapel would have resulted when the news got bruited abroad..."

So, despite the fact that allegations of incompetence can, most certainly, be hurled in Warren's general direction for his handling of several parts of the case, the erasure of the Goulston Street Graffito is most certainly not one of them.

Police humiliation

But, Warren's decisiveness aside, the break of dawn on 30th September saw the police as a whole humiliated by the unknown miscreant who was responsible for the crimes.

He had, after all, murdered twice in the space of an hour and, in the case of Catherine Eddowes, had done so right under the noses of two police forces.

He had then escaped into the area where the police activity was intent on hunting him down, and yet he had felt confident to pause in a dark doorway and calmly wipe away the evidence of his crimes.

In the days that followed, the police would find their competency questioned ceaselessly in the newspapers and, desperate for a break through, they made public a letter which, far from giving them the break they so badly needed, would turn the murders into an international pantomime, create the legend of Jack the Ripper, and bring their investigation to the point of meltdown.

Follow this link to the Jack the Ripper letter.