It is quite remarkable how, once the infamous “Dear Boss” missive had been made public, people all over the country decided it would be a great idea to imitate the perpetrator of the East End atrocities, who was now known universally as “Jack the Ripper.”
The allure of the name, together with the sentiments that were expressed in the letter, proved an inspiration for all manner of hoax and mischievous missive composers, and, by January, 1889, the case was inundated with similar letters purporting to have been written either by the unknown miscreant himself, or by “somebody” who was close to the murderer and privy to his innermost thoughts.
On Thursday, 17th January, 1889, The Wells Journal published the following story about an attempt to imitate the killer by sending threatening letters to a young woman in Manchester:-
JACK THE RIPPER CRAZE
A WOMAN STABS HERSELF
The Chief Constable of Manchester on Thursday reported to the Watch Committee an extraordinary case which had occupied the city police for some time with remarkable result.
On the 21st of November last, a young woman, aged about nineteen years of age, reported to the police that she had received a threatening letter, signed “Jack the Ripper,” and couched in the usual language.
Letters continued to arrive, some by post and others being put under the door.
Nineteen letters in all were received threatening to take the girl’s life as well as that of a companion. Some of the letters were stained with blood, and others had a coffin rudely drawn upon them.
A MAN QUESTIONED
Whilst the police were trying to discover the sender of the missives, some young women who work with the girl pointed out a man as having followed them, and they accused him of being the writer of the letters. The man was spoken to by the police, but he turned out to be quite innocent of the affair.
Next day, however, the girl received a letter by post purporting to come from “Jack the Ripper,” and saying that she thought she had got him “pinched,” but that he had “squared” the police, and again threatened to kill her.
A companion of the complainant also received two similar letters.
STABBED IN THE BACK YARD
The matter became more serious later on, for, on December 21st, the girl reported that she had been stabbed.
She stated that she went into the back yard at home with a jug, and saw a man on the wall with a knife in his hand. He at once struck her, and, in order to save her face, she put up her left arm and received a cut near her wrist. She then screamed, and her father ran out but could see no one.
She was taken to surgery, where it was found that her arm mas severely cut, and had to be stitched.
ALARM AND EXCITEMENT
The matter created great alarm and excitement in the neighbourhood, and at the Roman Catholic chapel, which the complainant and the other girl who received letters attended, special prayers were offered for their safety, and that the man might soon be brought to justice, and the clergy paid frequent visits to both families.
A WATCH WAS KEPT AND THE CULPRIT CAUGHT
After the report of the stabbing, the police set a close watch on the two houses, and from something recently discovered the district superintendent of police sent for the complainant and questioned her, and ultimately she confessed that she had written all the letters herself.
As to the alleged attack on her in the back yard, she stated that she never went into the yard, and never saw any man.
She herself cut her arm with a knife in the scullery, and then set up a scream.
The only explanation of her conduct she could give was that she was “unhappy at home.”
No action has been taken against her, and the Watch Committee in publishing the case as, “probably a sample of other cases as far as the letters go, suppress the names of all concerned.”