Dr. Percy John Clark (1865 – 1942), was the assistant to Dr. George Bagster Phillips at the time of the Whitechapel murders, in which capacity he assisted at the post mortems on the bodies of several of the victims.
He would, therefore, have heard what the doctors and the police thought about the crimes and would have been privy to at least some of the information that the police had collected about the case.
In 1910, there was a great deal of press excitement over the publication that year of the memoirs of Sir Robert Anderson in which he stated that the police knew the identity of the perpetrator of the crimes.
Dr Clark was approached for his reaction to the revelation by a journalist from The East London Observer, and he consented to give an interview, which was published in the newspaper on Saturday, 14th May, 1910:-
THE IDENTITY OF JACK THE RIPPER
Few people – if, indeed, a single person – are able to speak on the subject oi the Whitechapel murders with the same authority as Dr Percy Clark, 2, Spital Square.
At the time of the outrages, Dr. Clark was assistant to Dr. Phillips, the divisional police surgeon, and they carried out the post-mortems of the victims. Dr, Clark assisted at all. At the death of Dr. Phillips he took over the practice.
In an interview with a representative of the East London Observer, Dr. Clark spoke freely on the subject.
At the time the murders , however, both Dr. Phillips and he were, naturally reserved on the subject, and even now Dr. Clark thinks it better to let the matter rest.
DR CLARK’S VIEWS ON THE CASE
In view of the recent publicity given to the theories as to the perpetrator of the crimes, our representative called on Dr. Clark, who in this interview for the first time gives his views on the matter.
He pointed out that, during the scare, all sorts of stories were spread through the newspapers, and every murder that was perpetrated was attributed to “Jack, the Ripper.”
For instance, a headless and armless woman was found and her death was attributed to him. “But this case”, Dr. Clark points out, “in no way resembled those in Dorset Street and Hanbury Street.”
“All the Ripper murders,” he said, “were similar in character, and they were all the work of a homicidal maniac,. The victims were unfortunate women of the lowest type. It is my idea that the perpetrator was a man who had become a man who had become insane, Probably of the lowest class.”
DID HE HAVE MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE?
“One of the suppositions was that he was a medical student, or something of that sort.”
“There was nothing of a professional character about these wounds. The bodies were simply slashed about from head to foot.”
Dr. Clark possesses a photograph of the Dorset Street victim [Mary Kelly]. It presents a horrible sight. The body is cut about in the most ruthless manner. Scarcely any of the face is left, and the lower limbs were lacerated.”
“Mr. Phillips,” said Dr. Clark, did not believe in publishing details of these cases The reporters never got the least information from him, so that a great many of the details were pure imagination.”
“I say he was a man not in a decent position in life, because, however low a man of that kind sinks, he would be chary of consorting with these women. If he were a sailor or a man on a cattle boat – as has been suggested – he would not be.
In one case there was exhibited a knowledge of butchery or killing animals, judging from the way that the body was disembowelled. But there was never any justification for the suggestion that the culprit was professional man.
The Dorset Street murder was done inside a room, so that he had plenty of time.
The others were committed in a court or street”
WERE THEY ALL CARRIED OUT BY ONE MAN
“Do you think that they were all the wok of one man?”
“I am not so certain of that. You see, if you publish details of cases of that kind – and all the evidence at the inquests appeared in the papers – a weak minded individual will be induced to emulate the crime, which was evidently done with a butcher’s knife or a table knife.
Because of this it was thought that the deeds were perpetrated by a butcher, or someone acquainted with the killing or cleaning of animals. It need not necessarily have been a butcher because so many people can do that work.”
Asked if he thought that one man was responsible tor all the murders, Dr. Clark said:- “I think perhaps one was responsible for three of them. I would not like to say that he did the others.”
NO CLUES TO FOLLOW
“It is surely a remarkable thing that the police could not get a clue?”
“Not in the the least. No one is more cunning than a maniac. Then, again, he would be one of the low type of which you see thousands loafing about the streets.”
“Isn’t it rather curious that he should not have revealed himself in some way since?”
“No, anything might have happened to him. He may have died or have got shut up in a lunatic asylum.”
“Possibly he may have no recollection of having done the deeds?”
“Possibly not. ”
NOT HAPPENED BEFORE OR SINCE
“Nothing of that kind of slashing as done by the murderer has ever occurred before or since?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Mr. George R. Sims states that the man committed suicide.”
“That is really supposition.
As far as I heard – and I think I heard most about the cases – there was never the slightest clue to anybody. The whole thing was theory.”
“And I suppose it will remain so?”
“It will remain so, because you could not believe the word of the man who committed these crimes, even if he told you he had committed them.
You have only to look at that photograph to see that it is the work of a homicidal maniac.”