In June, 1909, twenty-one years after the Whitechapel murders had terrorised the streets of the East End of London, news broke that a similar series of fo crimes had occurred in Liverpool.
The Dundee Evening Telegraph took up the story in its edition of Thursday 17th June 1909:-
JACK THE RIPPER ATTACKS WOMEN IN THE STREETS
“Certain districts of Liverpool are just now terror-stricken, owing to a series of outrages which have been perpetrated by a criminal still at large, and it seems that for some weeks past a veritable Jack the Ripper has been in Liverpool.
The theatre or area of these diabolical crimes has so far been of somewhat limited extent. There is a cluster of more or less undainty dwellings, where people not quite of the lower class congregate. The neighbourhood is burrowed and tunnelled with dark passages and gloomy alleys – once picturesque and renowned in the history of Liverpool, as the Strawberry Gardens.
TWO OF THE CASES
Two of the cases are at the moment in the public institutions.
In one instance, an actual partial disembowelment of a woman has taken place. She was decoyed into some dark alley, and subsequently attacked. She was stabbed with a sharp instrument. This victim has now been in the institution referred to for some time, and she is gradually recovering – so it is authoritatively stated – from her deplorable injuries.
Another woman is in another institution, and her case is substantially and practically the same. She is still confined to bed, and will have a long struggle to regain her health and strength.
FIVE OR SIX CASES
Altogether, there have been five or six outrages of the kind, and there is every reason, from surgical inspection, to warrant the assertion that the injuries were inflicted by the same instrument, and probably by the same hand.
The instrument used was a very sharp knife, or, as some incline to believe, a mounted lance, longer in the shaft than usual. The penetrating power of this lance was great, and the wounds are all clean cut. There was apparently no bungling – only a sudden sharp thrust, and withdrawal, and it is suggested that the scoundrel had some knowledge of human anatomy.
The victims have reported that they did not experience great pain at the time of the outrage, but, afterwards, they were quite unable to move, and blood flowed freely.
A DESCRIPTION OF THE ATTACKER
The perpetrator is described as a man of about 25 years age, well dressed, smart looking, and quick in his movements.
He is of dark complexion, but is hardly thought to be a foreigner.
Three of the man’s victims were attacked in one night, and the others at different periods.”
The newspaper then went on to provide its readers with a summary of the 1888 ripper crimes, and suggested, interestingly, that there had in fact been an arrest of a suspect:-
THE LONDON “RIPPER” CRIMES
“In 1888, much excitement was caused in Whitechapel, London, by the murder and brutal mutilation of unfortunate women at different times. Emma Smith, 3rd April; Martha Turner, 7th August; Mary Nichols, 31st August; Annie Chapman, 7th, September.
The evidence showed the murderer possessed surgical knowledge.
Two more women were murdered in a similar manner near Commercial Road and Aldgate. Elizabeth Watts, or Stride, and C. Conway. or Eddowes – early in the morning of September 30, 1888.
The Crown offered a reward of £500 for any information relative to the Aldgate murder.
Another murder took place in Spitalfields in November 1888, and another on December 28th of the same year.
Four other women were murdered during the following year. In February 1891, a man was arrested on suspicion, but was discharged on March 3.
A LUNATIC OF THE WORST TYPE
It is generally understood that the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders eventually came into the hands of justice, and proved to be a lunatic of the worst type, and unable to plead, and was never put upon his trial in consequence.
Whether this is the true sequel or not of the long series of crimes that horrified and paralysed the East End of London for a time, we cannot say, but it remains a persistent belief locally that the original Jack the Ripper is no longer living, and that he died a raving lunatic in a criminal asylum.”
FIENDISH OUTRAGES ON WOMEN
REIGN OF TERROR IN LIVERPOOL
The Nottingham Evening Post, added a little more detail in its edition of Thursday 17th June 1909:-
“For the last four or five weeks, one district in Liverpool has been haunted by some vicious man who has week after week devoted himself to criminal and violent assaults on women.
So far, the victims number half a dozen, and in each case the unfortunate woman has been stabbed or cut more or less severely.
The perpetrator of these outrages is being diligently sought by the police, but up to the present has escaped capture.
THE STORY OF THE CRIMES
The story of the crimes is very much the same in every instance.
At night, variously between ten o’clock and midnight, a young man, apparently of the working class, has either been solicited or has accosted one of the unhappy sisterhood who frequent the populous thoroughfares of every city, and has then accompanied the woman to some quiet street or passage in the neighbourhood.
Suddenly, the man has hurried off, and then, or in some cases not till some time elapsed, the unfortunate woman has discovered that she has been cut or stabbed, the wound having been inflicted by some very sharp instrument with a rapidity which robbed the injury of any accompanying pain till the bleeding which followed revealed what had occurred.
LOCATION OF THE ASSAULTS
Two or three of those crimes had been committed before the matter was reported to the police, but as late as last Saturday night two outrages were reported within an hour of each other.
All the brutal assaults have been committed in the neighbourhood of Brunswick-road and Lowhill, where something very like a reign of terror now prevails.
NO SERIOUS INJURIES
Fortunately, none of the victims has been vitally injured so far, but, in two cases, the wounds were so serious that the women for a time had to be treated in hospital.
It is obvious, therefore, that the criminal had no deliberate intention to commit murder, but carefully and callously planned his attacks on the miserable class of women indicated either from insane or revengeful motives.”
DIABOLICAL LIVERPOOL CRIMES
The Hull Daily Mail, updated its readers about the known facts of the case on Saturday, 19th June, 1909:-
“The following description has been issued of a Jack the Ripper, who is terrifying Liverpool with his crimes: A man of about 25 years of age, some five feet 3 to 4 inches in height, of fair complexion, clean-shaven, dressed in a dark grey tweed suit, grey tweed cap, Shakespeare collar and tie, and apparently of respectable working-class type. He is generally believed to be a lunatic.
MORE CASES AND POLICE SECRECY
So far he is known to have attacked six different women in Liverpool, in each case inflicting upon them wounds of a terrible description.
It is believed, however, that other cases have occurred; but the victims are reluctant to make themselves known.
It was not until Wednesday that the police made known the facts, as they thought secrecy might help them to catch the miscreant.
The theatre of the diabolical crimes is the low-class neighbourhood lying between Prescot Street and West Derby Road.
Of the victims, three are stated to be women who have been lured into dark and secluded thoroughfares. When the assailant got his prey safely decoyed from the eyes of the world at large, he deliberately stabbed her in the body, and at once made good his escape, leaving his poor and unfortunate victim to do as best she could for herself.
A LADY IN A QUEUE STABBED
In other cases, however, the crimes had been committed quite openly, and the victims had apparently been women whose characters were beyond reproach, and who were evidently innocent and non-suspecting pedestrians in some of the main streets of the city.
In one instance, the Jack the Ripper deliberately attacked a lady to whom he had not even spoken, and who was standing in the queue of people awaiting admission to the second house at the Hippodrome.
His other two victims were individuals who refused to comply with his suggestions, and upon whom took revenge by most dastardly attacks.
In every instance, he took good care to be well out of sight before the unfortunate victims had fully realised what had occurred, and before they could raise an alarm.
It is understood that Scotland Yard have been approached in the matter; but there is no reason to believe that the crimes, similar though they may be in character, are connected with the Whitechapel horrors of 1888.”
A GERMAN ARRESTED
The Belfast Morning News, on Monday 21st June 1907, carried the news that a suspect had been arrested over the weekend:-
“On Saturday morning, the Liverpool police detained a German on suspicion of being concerned in the remarkable stabbing outrages upon women in Liverpool.
On Friday evening, a woman informed the police that she had had a quarrel with a stranger in a house in Kirby Street.
After a few words had passed, the woman alleges, the man took a lance from his pocket and made an attack upon her. She evaded the blow, and the stranger dashed into the street, the woman raising the alarm.
The police immediately commenced a hunt, and, sometime after, made an arrest at Bootle.
The man custody is stated to be middle-aged and of the labouring class.
It now transpires that the young woman, who accompanied the detectives in the search for the accused, stated that on Tuesday night she was accosted by a man who appeared to be a foreigner. She noticed that he possessed an ugly weapon, with a blade two or three inches long. She screamed and managed to escape.
THE SUSPECT NAMED
On Saturday the German, whose name is Harry Rudolf Voight (36), was remanded on the charge of attempting to murder Annie Parkinson in a house in Kirby Street on the previous day.
Evidence was given of the prisoner’s arrest at a house in Bootle, and the finding of a sharp-bladed knife upon him, though he denied he had any instrument in his possession.”
A FOREIGNER ARRESTED
The Northern Whig, on Monday 21st June 1909, gave more details about the suspect:-
“After a week of the greatest anxiety to Liverpool, a man was arrested early on Saturday morning in connection with the revolting ripper outrages which have taken place in the city.
For days past, there has been the greatest alarm at the doings of the miscreant, who attacked women with a knife and escaped without leaving behind him the slightest trace.
All the outrages were confined to one area of the city, that of which the B Division of the police has charge, and affairs became so acute that a special band of disguised detectives were on duty each night to track the criminal.
THE WHOLE DISTRICT ANXIOUS
It was not until Friday night that any real chase was embarked upon, and, as a result of it, a foreigner named Harry Rudolph Voight is under arrest on a charge of attempted murder.
The whole district was anxious, and the slightest assembly of a crowd has provoked the one query “Is it Jack the Ripper?”
Any unfortunate individual taken up by the police and observed by the inhabitants was at once believed to be the notorious man, and the police have had a trying time.
THE PURSUIT OF VOIGHT
There was a scene of great excitement in Kirby Street during the evening, when a young woman ran out of a house there shouting that “Jack the Ripper” was inside. Her excitement prevented her from giving anything like coherent account for some time, but, when she visited the Prescot Street Bridewell, the police acted at once.
Three officers took the chase of a man whose description the woman gave, and after several hours found themselves at Bootle.
With the greatest care, they examined every hiding place that could be suggested, and eventually drew up at a house in Brook’s Road. This they entered, returning a few minutes later with the prisoner Voight.
He was removed in a cab to the main bridewell.
Voight is a rather well-dressed man of about 35, with a black moustache, and he proceeded to the bridewell very quietly.
HIS COURT APPEARANCE
Later in the morning, he was brought before the stipendiary. He made no reply to the charge. On the application of the police, the prisoner was remanded until today, when it is probable that there will be still another remand.”
However, as The Sheffield Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday, 26th June 1909, the magistrate, for no discernible reason, decided to drop the case against Voight:-
“Arrested recently during what is known as the “Jack the Ripper” panic in Liverpool, a German ship’s steward named Rudolph Henry Voight, was at the local Court, yesterday, charged on remand with attempting to wound a girl named Annie Parkinson.
HIS MEETING WITH ANNIE PARKINSON
Mr. Duder, for the prosecution, said that on the evening of the 18th inst. Voight was in Lime Street, when he met this girl.
In the course of the conversation, he asked her if she would go to Paris. He said that he had come over to England, and that he wanted to take six girls back with him for engagement there. Would she get the rest of the number for him?
He said that the clothes he was then wearing were a disguise, and that he would meet her the following day for the purpose of completing the arrangements.
He did meet her, and in the course of conversation talked about the cases of the stabbing of women in Liverpool, and remarked, “You don’t think I am him! I would not do anything like that.”
Then he went on to say that the man the English detectives were looking for was staring them in the eyes, but they were too slow.
THE ATTACK AT THE HOUSE
They proceeded to a house, and there, while sitting in the kitchen, the prisoner again referred to the subject, and produced what the girl and two other women would describe as a glittering instrument, which appeared to be very sharp.
He asked Parkinson to leave the room with him, and she consented, although she felt alarmed at the man’s manner.
When they were together he attempted to stab her in the body with the instrument, but she shouted and attracted the attention of the other two women.
The prisoner thereupon rushed into the front room, banged the front door open, and ran away.
Next day, after his arrest, he was identified by the girl.
The magistrate said that, after hearing the evidence, he did not think there was a case which judge would leave to the jury.”
WAS HE GUILTY?
Quite why the magistrate should have dismissed the case against Voight is difficult to ascertain. However, it is interesting to note that, after this no further attacks of this nature took place.