SUSPECTS AT THE TIME
On 19th September Sir Charles Warren wrote to the Home Office to update them on progress, or to be more precise lack progress, in the police investigation. “A great number of clues have been examined & exhausted without finding anything suspicious. A large staff of men are employed and every point is being examined which seems to offer any prospect of a discovery.” He also mentioned three men against whom the police had suspicions.
The first was Jacob Isenschmid, an insane pork butcher from Switzerland who had been arrested at Holloway and was now in an asylum. Abberline had written of this suspect on 18th September “Although at present we are unable to procure any evidence any evidence to connect him with the murders, he appears to be the most likely person that has come under our notice to have committed the crimes.” Apparently two doctors Dr Cowan and Dr Landseer had alerted the police to the fact that this man, whom they knew to be a lunatic, was the murderer. His landlord told the police that he was absent from his lodgings during the night when Annie Chapman was murdered. His estranged wife, Mary, told Sergeant Thicke that although her husband was violent she did not thing he would “…injure anyone but me. I think he would kill me if he had the chance.” But, as with Ludwig, Isenschmid was also not the murderer, for on the 30th September, when the killer struck again, the mad Swiss Pork Butcher was caged in an asylum.
Warren’s second suspect was Oswald Puckeridge who had been “released from an asylum on 4th August [and who] has threatened to rip people up. He is being looked for but cannot be found as yet.” Not a great deal has been found about Puckeridge, and even less is known about why the police suspected him. It would seem that the police may have traced him and eliminated him as a suspect, since his name was not included on later lists of suspects.
The final suspect is even more elusive since Warren doesn’t identify him but merely states that “A brothel keeper who will not give her address or name writs to say that a man living in her house was seen with blood on him on morning of murder. She described his appearance & said where he might be seen. When the detectives came near him he bolted, got away & there is no clue to the writer of the letter.”
Evidently the police were no nearer catching the killer by the end of September 1888 than they had been at the start of Jack the Ripper’s killing spree. But the suspects being brought in and questioned at least give us an insight into the type of person the police thought they were dealing with and so provide us with something of an insight into the police thinking at the height of the Jack the Ripper scare.
However, it is now time to look beyond the autumn of terror and look at the suspects that the police had after the final Jack the Ripper murder, that of Mary Kelly on the 9th November 1888.