Mr George Lusk was the president of the Mile End Vigilance Committee, and organisation which was set up on the 10th September 1888 in the wake of the murder of Annie Chapman, the second of Jack the Ripper’s victims whose body was found in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street on 8th September 1888.
He lived in Alderney-street, Mile-end and throughout early October 1888 his name was appearing regularly in the newspapers as he and his fellow committee members were badgering the authorities in order to get them to off a reward for information that might lead to the apprehension of the Whitechapel Murderer.
In the aftermath of the “Double Event” (the 30th September 1888 when two women – Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes (from whose body a kidney had been removed) – were murdered within an hour of each other) the police had released the Dear Boss Jack the Ripper letter, the missive that gave the killer the name which would, effectively, create the legend of Jack the Ripper.
The release of this letter proved to be a costly mistake. Since it almost certainly wasn’t written by the killer, it brought the police no closer to catching him. What it did do was spark of a series of imitation letters, as people began emulating the author by writing their own letters.
One such letter was sent to Mr. George Lusk and was delivered to his house in Alderney-street, Mile-end on the evening of Tuesday 16th October 1888.
The letter was written in red ink and was addressed “From Hell.” But it was the contents of the letter that turned George Lusk’s stomach and added an extra degree of sensationalism to the Jack the Ripper investigation. For, wrapped inside the letter was half a human kidney, which the killer claimed to have taken from the body of “one women.” The letter’s author also boasted that he had fried and eaten the other half and then ended the letter with the taunt “Catch Me When You Can Mishter Lusk.”
This letter has since become known as the From Hell Letter and has been the source of endless speculation as to whether or not it was sent by the killer and the kidney was, therefore, the one that had been removed from Catherine Eddowes body by her killer.
The general consensus is that the letter and the enclosed kidney were sent by a medical student as a practical joke, but at the time there was much press speculation that they were genuine.
On our Jack the Ripper Tour we show a copy of the “From Hell” letter and present the arguments both for and against its authenticity.