On Sunday February 18th 1894, Reynolds Newspaper featured a headline that posed the question “Jack The Ripper – Is He In Dartmoor Prison Asylum?”
Th article purported to be based around a similar article that had appeared in The Morning Leader, which, in turn, appears to have been based on the revelations that had been appearing in appearing in The Sun newspaper over the previous week, suggesting that their journalists had visited the perpetrator of the crimes in Broadmoor Asylum.
DIDN’T KNOW HIS DART FROM HIS BROAD
It would appear that the subsequent reports in Reynolds and The Leader were attempts to muscle in on The Sun exclusive and that the journalist who wrote the piece was mixing up his Dart and his Broad!
The article is intriguing though in that, despite the fact several years had elapsed since the end of the murders, the newspapers, evidently, still saw “Jack the Ripper” as newsworthy.
I will leave the reader to draw their own conclusions on the veracity of the article and will simply reproduce it in full.
SENSATIONAL NEWSPAPER REPORTS
So, the article read as follows:-
“Sensational reports have been published in some London papers regarding the identity of the person who committed the Jack the Ripper crimes. The Morning Leader says their representative has had an interview with an inspector of the Metropolitan Police. Briefly told, the conversation was as follows:-
WHILST ON DUTY IN WHITECHAPEL
“It was while I was on duty,” said the Inspector, “in the vicinity of Whitechapel that I became acquainted with the outrages upon women that baffled the police and shocked the sensibility of London.
I became a detective in more than the ordinary sense. Dates, clues, suggestions, and theories I eagerly devoured. My pertinacity was rewarded. After a time I secured evidence, in my judgement, ample to lay before the Scotland Yard authorities.”
WHAT WAS THE EVIDENCE
“What was your evidence?” inquired representative. “Have you the knife with which he committed the deed? Have you any material evidence in support of your story?” These questions were eagerly asked and readily answered.
JACK THE RIPPER’S KNIFE
“I have in my possession now, and have already submitted it for inspection to the Scotland Yard authorities, the knife with which I shall endeavour to prove the Whitechapel murders were committed.”
“Do the Scotland Yard authorities believe in your story?” “Well, “said the Inspector, after a pause,” they believe in my story to this extent that they have allowed me a bonus for the information I have supplied. I do not, however, rest satisfied with that. If the man whom I am prepared to name is the murderer, I wish him brought to justice so that the English mind may be cleansed for ever from the memory of Jack the Ripper.
“You have undertaken a large order, said our representative. “To begin with, where is the man?”
INCARCERATED IN DARTMOOR ASYLUM
“At the present moment he is incarcerated in the Dartmoor asylum, and has been there continuously from the date of the last Whitechapel murderer,” was the reply.
“Have you apprised the authorities of this?”
A VICTIM OF RED TAPE!
“Yes,” said the officer.
“Have they done nothing?” There was an air of reluctance in the Inspector’s manner as he answered this question. Red tape appeared to have selected him as a particular victim.” Not much,” was the careless rejoinder.” In a case of that kind perhaps it would be unwise for any of the rank-and-file of the force to affect the capture.”
“Ah, jealousy in the force! How, then, do you hope to secure his arrest and conviction?” Said our representative.
I NEED THE HELP OF THE PRESS
“Only with the aid of the Press,” replied the officer,” can I hope to succeed, and you will do a public service by disclosing my story, and statements so specifically made ought easily and readily to be either confirmed or contradicted.”
“Precisely. What is your evidence?” Our reporter asked.
THE KNIFE IS OF CHINESE ORIGIN
“In my possession I hold the knife, of Chinese manufacture, with which the Whitechapel crimes were perpetrated. I at the same time, can disclose the movements of the man, whom I am prepared to name, during the intervals between the murders. I am able to trace him to the asylum after the last crime, and although he is now abandoned to insanity he has yet remembrance of the past, and all his conversations and confessions are relating to the East End horrors.”
“Surely you do not rely for a conviction upon the confessions other men admittedly mad?” Asked the Pressmen.
“No,” was the rapid rejoinder: “I reject confessions that rely solely upon material evidence. All I wish is that the authorities may be moved to interest themselves in my investigations so that my story may either be confirmed or refuted.”
TOLD BY A WELL-PLACED OFFICER
The above statement was circumstantially told to a Morning Leader representative by a well-placed officer in the police force whose name can be supplied.”
REFERENCES TO THOMAS CUTBUSH
And so the article ended. It would appear that the officer, if he actually existed, was talking about Jack the Ripper suspect Thomas Cutbush.
If the inspector was for real, and not a figment of journalistic invention, it would most certainly be interesting to know what became of the knife and, perhaps more importantly, how he came by it.
BUT, WE’LL NEVER KNOW
Sadly, as with so many facets of the case, with the passage of so many years it is now almost impossible to hope that we could learn a bit more about this report and its sources.