One of the intriguing things about the Jack the Ripper crimes, is just how many former detectives, who claimed to have inside knowledge of the case, were happily chatting with the newspapers in the early years of the 20th century.
Indeed, so many “former” detectives were talking to the press and offering their own theories, or even facts, about what had become of the man who had been responsible for carrying out the Whitechapel murders that you would be forgiven for believing that there was, in fact, no mystery about the killer’s identity and that Jack the Ripper had been caught many years before!
Some of the detectives were happy to have their theories published under their actual names; others, by contrast, were not so keen to be identified – perhaps for fear of losing their police pensions for what was, after all, a gross breach of official etiquette.
A case of this latter approach appeared in The Chard and Ilminster News on Saturday, 6th May 1905:-
JACK THE RIPPER
WHY HE WAS NOT CAUGHT
AN EX-DETECTIVE’S THEORY
“According to an interview with a well-known ex-detective, which appeared in the “Sun” on Saturday night, the notorious.”Jack the Ripper” would have been captured long ago had it not been for official red-tapeism.
He (the detective) himself knew the man well by sight, and in the disguises of clergymen, navvies, and several other “make-ups,” had followed him for hours at a stretch.
He, however, was never able to catch him red-handed, and he was not in a position to arrest him.
EVERY INCIDENT REPORTED
He was compelled to report every incident to police headquarters, with the result that one of the chiefs was called upon to carry out the further investigation, and as the officials were unknown to the subordinates there was a lack of cohesion and pulling together which was absolutely necessary if such a clever criminal was to be captured.
It will be remembered that a reward of £2,000 and £1000 a year for life was offered to any person who could bring the perpetrator of the crimes to justice.
This is said to have caused the powers that be to see that no subordinate should have the credit of reaping so handsome a reward. A “head” or no one was to have the splendid pension.
THE MURDERER WAS AN AMERICAN
In the opinion of this informant, who has since left the force, the murderer was an American, and he was a member of an Irish secret society, which was carrying on a clandestine war in England at the time of the great Parnell Commission for the express purpose of turning the attention of Englishmen from the doings of the Commission.
The murderer was undoubtedly known to more than one police officer.
He was about five foot seven and a half in height, of slim but well build, about 35 years of age, and apparently a man of culture, and probably a medical student, judging by the expeditious way in which the horrible crimes were carried out.
LAST LIVING NEAR FINSBURY SQUARE
The detective last saw him in Columbia Road, and he was then living near Finsbury Square.
He says he would know him anywhere and that he could pick him out of a thousand men.”