One of the interesting things that is apparent from the newspapers in the first few weeks of 1888 is the fact that the murders were generating fear far outside the district in which they were occurring.
JACK THE RIPPER IN LIVERPOOL
The Daily News, for example, reported on the case of a young woman who had been walking along Shiel Road, in Liverpool, close to Shiel Park, on the evening of the previous Wednesday, when she was stopped by an elderly woman who was around 60 years old. The woman appeared to be in an extremely agitated state and she urged the younger woman not to go into the nearby park.
By way of explanation, she explained that she had been sitting on a bench in the park just a few minutes before, when she had been approached by a respectably dressed man, attired in a black coat, light trousers, and a soft felt hat, who asked her if she knew of any “loose women” in the neighbourhood.
He then took out a long bladed knife and informed her that it was his intention to kill as many women in Liverpool as in London, adding that he would send the ears of the first victim to the editor of the Liverpool Daily Post.
The old woman was absolutely terrified and told the younger lady that she “hardly knew how she got away from the man.” The Daily News, assured its readers that “the story is vouched for as being strictly correct..”
WAS JACK THE RIPPER ABOUT TO FLEE THE COUNTRY?
Meanwhile, the police, so the newspaper informed its readers, were keeping a careful watch on the steamers that were sailing from Liverpool bound for America and passengers were being carefully monitored by detectives in the belief that “the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders may endeavour to make his escape via Liverpool.”
WAS HE ABOUT TO MURDER IN BELFAST?
The “Jack the Ripper” Dear Boss letter, which the police had made public in early October, had caught the public imagination and all manner of imitation correspondence was being sent to the police and to newspapers.
In Belfast, for example, the Evening Telegraph, published a letter that it had received the previous afternoon which was written in red ink and was covered in several red blotches, intended to look like bloodstains. The letter read:-
I have arrived in your city, as London is too warm for me just now, so that Belfast had better look out, for I intend to commence operations on Saturday night. I have spotted some nice fat ones who will cut up well. I am longing to begin, for I love my work.
Jack the Ripper.
LETTERS IN PARIS
The murders were also generating a huge sensation abroad and, according to the Paris correspondent of The Daily News, they had “got on weak brains and set madmen and lovers of practical jokes writing to the Prefect of Police. M. Goron, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department,..” One such missive read:-
You must have heard of the Whitechapel murders. This is the explanation of their mysterious side. There are partners, I and another, in this business. One is in England and the other in France. I am at Brest, and am going to Paris to operate as does my London colleague in London. We are seeking in the human body that which the doctors have never found. You will try in vain to hunt us down. Our next victim will be a woman between twenty and thirty. We will cut her carotid artery, disembowel her, amputate four fingers of her left hand, leaving the thumb only. Meanwhile you will hear of me, and in three weeks at most.
SUICIDE IN HANBURY STREET
The Morning Advertiser carried the story of the suicide of a Mrs. Sodeaux, who, together with her husband and eight year old daughter, occupied the top floor at 65 Hanbury Street, a few doors away from the house where Annie Chapman had been murdered the previous month.
Mrs Sodeaux had been depressed for some time but, with the onset of the Whitechapel Murders, her agitation had increased dramatically.
On the previous Sunday her husband had taken a razor off her, as he believed that she might use it to kill herself. The next day, she had appeared happier and here husband believed that it was, therefore, safe to leave her alone with the child.
But then, on the Wednesday, she had left the house saying that she was going on an errand. When she hadn’t returned after a considerable time, her daughter went to look for her and found her hanging by a rope from the bannisters of the stairs.
According to The Morning Advertiser, “The child ran for assistance and, eventually, the police were called and the body was cut down, although life was then extinct.”
JOHN PIZER IN COURT
In other news, John Pizer – whose name had been in the press a great detail in early September over the Leather Apron scare – had appeared at Thames Magistrates Court, not as the accused this time, but because he alleged that he had been assaulted by one Emily Patzwold.
According to Pizer’s testimony, on the morning of the 4th of October 1888 he had gone out to buy some cheese for his breakfast when he met Patzwold in the street. She became abusive towards him and called him “Leather Apron.” He ignored her , he said, and carried on walking.
But, as he made his way home, she confronted him again and, this time, went so far as to strike him three times in the face, knocking off his hat in the process. As he bent down to pick it up she hit him again. Several witnesses managed to get him away from her and, when he got home, his brother urged him to report the assault to the police, which he duly did.
However, at the subsequent trial of Emily Patzwold, several witnesses testified that they had seen Pizer deliberately spit in Mrs. Patzwold’s face as he made his way to the shop. On his return, they said, she had asked him why he did it, to which he replied, “I like it. I like it.” He then struck her, and the defendant retaliated by hitting him back.
The Magistrate, Mr Lushington, however, was unconvinced by the allegations against Pizer, stating that he had no doubts that it was, in fact, “the defendant [who had] struck the complainant in the face” not the other way around, and he duly fined Mrs, Patzwold 10 shillings, with 2 shillings costs.