By the second week of October 1888 the streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields had seen an influx of police officers, both uniformed and plain clothed, as the police threshed about, seemingly in the dark, desperately trying to catch the killer who many now knew by the name “Jack the Ripper.”
The effect of these extra police was to make it extremely difficult for the killer to strike again, and the whole of October would pass with no further murders. In addition the presence of so many police in the area had seen a general downturn in crime as a whole.
The plain clothes officers were wandering the streets at night wearing all manner of disguises – in the case of one officer even disguising himself as a woman in the hope of attracting the murderous attention of the Ripper.
Other officers were disguised as every day “shabby genteel” residents and workers in the hope they might overhear something or learn something that might lead them to the killer. The joke in the area, however, was that, no matter what disguises these plain clothed officers wore, they always kept their police issue boots on and thus they were quite easy to spot!
The investigating officers had reached the conclusion that the letter signed Jack the Ripper had, in fact, not come from the killer, but had been a prank missive, probably written by a journalist, or at least someone who knew how the newspaper industry worked. After all, an ordinary person would probably send such a letter to a local newspaper, whereas, whoever composed the Dear Boss letter, knew that by sending it to a News Agency it would get a far wider circulation.
Furthermore, other letters, some bearing the same chilling signature, some offering advice on where to look for the killer, others mocking the police for their inability to catch the monster were starting to come in.
The financial gain that could be generated by the murders hadn’t gone unnoticed by the area’s entrepreneurs and all manner of penny dreadful publications were being produced to sate the appetite of a public that was hungry for any salacious morsel of gossip about the murders.
Meanwhile those who had premises that overlooked the murder sites – particularly those who lived in Hanbury Street where Annie Chapman had been murdered in a back yard on 8TH September 1888 – had discovered that the sudden notoriety of their address could be quite profitable and they were charging people to view the murder sites from their windows.
The whole saga of the Whitechapel Murders was beginning to take on an air of street pantomime.
Meanwhile the police continued to follow leads, many of them bogus, bring in suspects, all of whom would be ruled out and would either be released or else sent to a lunatic asylum.