Did Fred Best Write The Letter

Another possible culprit was suggested in August 1966, in an article that appeared in Crime and Detection in which the author recalled a meeting he had had in 1931 with an ex-journalist whom he refers to only as “Best,” who, “though well past 70”, was “spry and clear minded.”

Their conversation turned to the Whitechapel murders, and Best talked of his days as a penny-a-liner on The Star newspaper covering the crimes.


He claimed that he and a provincial colleague had been responsible for all the Ripper letters, in order ”to keep the business alive.”

Best, told the author that a close reading of The Star of the time might be informative and that an experienced graphologist with an open mind would be able to find in the original letters “numerous earmarks” of an experienced journalist at work.


That Best should have worked for The Star is interesting, as The Star was the newspaper that, in early September had gone to town over coverage of the escapades of Leather Apron.

In fact, so lurid was the Star’s reporting of Leather Apron that some commentators have expressed the opinion that The Star actually invented him!

As September progressed, and John Pizer was identified as Leather Apron, but exonerated of any involvement in the crimes, mentions of this early suspect dwindled rapidly.

But then the Jack the Ripper letter was made public, and the newspapers had a new bogeyman with which to terrify the public.


The Star, however, was openly critical of other newspapers’ coverage of the Jack the Ripper letters, singling out the Daily Telegraph in particular, for giving publicity to the correspondence, and questioning why they should, “print facsimiles of the ghastly but very silly letters from Jack the Ripper?”

“We were offered them by the “Central News”, the paper revealed, “and declined to print them.”


In his 2009 book Jack the Ripper, Andrew Cook, claimed that Star journalist Frederick Best had been the reporter who picked up the Leather Apron story, which was then worked into the Leather Apron scare by senior members of the newspaper.

When interest in this story died out following the exoneration of John Pizer, Best had come up with the “Dear Boss” letter.

Andrew even quotes from a letter purportedly written by John Brunner, a shareholder in The Star, in which he stated that Best should have been dismissed from the newspaper for an ‘attempt to mislead Central News during the Whitechapel murders’.


The book, which was subsequently made into a Channel Five documentary, “Revealed:- Jack The Ripper Tabloid Killer”, even featured a graphologist who compared Frederick Best’s handwriting with the handwriting of the letter to the Central News and concluded that, in her opinion, it was not anyone other than Best that wrote the ‘Dear Boss’ letter.