By early January, 1889, although the actual alarm and fear that was associated with the early Whitechapel murders had, to an extent, begun to abate, letters from the supposed perpetrator of the crimes were still being sent, and, whenever one arrived in a district, it had the effect of leading to a resurgence in the alarm.
JACK THE RIPPER IN MANCHESTER
The South Wales Echo, in its edition of Monday 14th January, 1889, published the following article which reported on a case that had gripped the people of one of the district’s of Manchester:-
An extraordinary story told at the week end in the Manchester papers, while it illustrates the morbidity of feeling created by the “Jack the Ripper” letters, shows also how a scare, absolutely without foundation, will, with the aid of a hysterical woman’s mischievous imagination, carry terror over a whole neighbourhood.
It appears that in one of the working districts of that city a girl of nineteen complained that she had received a number of threatening letters from “Jack the Ripper.”
As this was noised abroad it naturally caused considerable comment and something amounting to consternation, which was still further deepened by her declaration that she had been stabbed by a man.
These statements led the police to make special arrangements for the preservation of the peace in that district and for the detection of the supposed offender.
AN EVER NARROWING CIRCLE
Some of the letters were delivered by post, and others were found thrust under the door.
The police drew an ever-narrowing circle of suspicion around the house, and finally obtained from the girl the avowal that she herself was the culprit.
She had written the letters, she had deliberately cut herself in the arm, and had invented the sensational story of a man having endeavoured to kill her with a knife.
NO APPARENT MOTIVE
The girl’s singular conduct had no apparent motive, and although there was method in it, it must be considered one of those strange freaks of madness which to the average sane mind are unaccountable.
Medical science can sometimes explain such eccentric proceedings, and it is possible that pathology rather than ethics may supply the key to the mystery.
CREDIT TO THE POLICE
This disgusting hoax spread terror and alarm into many humble homes, and greatly increased the difficulties and responsibilities of the police who had the duty of protecting the neighbourhood.
Great credit is due to them for the patience and perseverance with which they tracked the real culprit, and now that she has been detected it may be hoped that people elsewhere will take no further notice of the silly and half-mad persons who seek profit or amusement in the concoction of letters from “Jack the Ripper.”
AN UNSOVED ENIGMA
The girl, when asked the motive of her strange conduct, said that she was unhappy at home but how this undesirable state of affairs would be remedied by addressing threatening letters to herself, she did not explain, and it will, we suppose, remain an unsolved enigma.”