Once the name “Jack the Ripper” had been released to the general public, in October, 1888, mentions of him began turning up in newspapers all over the country, and, for that matter, all over the world.
It is amazing how quickly the name caught the public imagination with the result that drunks and mysterious strangers were either referring to themselves as, or else being referred to as, “Jack the Ripper.
AN IMITATOR OF “JACK THE RIPPER”
One such imitator found himself appearing at South Shields Police Court on Tuesday the 27th of November, 1888, and his appearance was reported by The Shields Daily Gazette of that day:-
“Today, at the South Shields Police Court, Thomas Pritchard (25), described as a butcher, a native of Gateshead, was charged with being drunk and disorderly last night in Green Street.
Police Constable Scott stated that two women complained to him 0f the prisoner having threatened to rip them up, and, on arresting him, he found in his possession a butcher’s sheath knife.
He was then drunk, and the witness look him to the police station.
HE THREATENED THEM
The two women were called and they stated that last night they were in the snug of the Adam and Eve public-house, when the prisoner followed them in and requested them to close the door.
As they took no notice of him he got between them and the door and said, “I’ll be Jack the Ripper with you,” at the same time producing a knife. They became alarmed and got out of the room and went for an officer.
ADVISED THE TROW IT AWAY
Mr. Forrest, chemist, deposed that the prisoner went into his shop and asked for a light of his pipe. He had a knife, like the one produced, in his hand, and he said that the people outside were calling him “Jack the Ripper.”
He told the witness that he had bought the knife tor 10 1/2d and if people continued to call him he would use it.
He advised him to throw the knife away, and put it into his pocket and went out.
FOURTEEN DAYS IMPRISONMENT
In reply to the magistrates, the prisoner said that he was carrying the knife in his belt and he was pushed by the women at the bar and it fell out.
The magistrates observed that the knife was a dangerous thing to carry, and sentenced the prisoner to 14 days imprisonment, and said that the police were to retain the custody the knife.”
JACK THE RIPPER IN PARIS
A few weeks later, in early December, 1888, a mysterious stranger checked into a lodging house in Paris and left behind him a parcel which led to rumours that the mysterious Whitechapel murderer had decamped to the French capital:-
The Northern Whig reported on him in its edition of Wednesday, 12th December, 1888:-
“The Jack the Ripper craze has extended to Paris.
A couple of days ago a rather singular-looking individual engaged a bedroom at a lodging-house the Rue Geoffroy-Langevin. He did not inscribe his name on the register.
The next morning, it was discovered that the man had furtively left the house during the night, taking a clock that was in the apartment he had occupied with him.
THE BLOOD-STAINED COAT
But, evidently acting on the principle that exchange is no robbery, he had placed a parcel, enveloped in packing paper, up the chimney. This was quickly discovered.
On being opened the parcel was found to consist of a coat stained all over with blood.
The garment was one of those worn by bakers.
THE POLICE BAFFLED
Instantly rumours began to spread about that the mysterious stranger was Jack the Ripper, and for some time no little consternation reigned in the locality.
Whoever he was, he certainly spoke with a pronounced English accent.
No tidings of him have yet been gained. Like the Whitechapel demon, he has succeeded in completely baffling the police.”