By February 1890, although, with hindsight, we now believe that no Jack the Ripper atrocities had taken place since the brutal murder of Mary Kelly on 9th November, 1888, the Victorians were not so sure, and, as a result, the newspapers were still on the look-out for any suggestion that the Whitechapel murderer had returned to the East End of London, or had, possibly, recommenced his crimes elsewhere.
In consequence, reports about him continued to appear in the newspapers and, in this article, you can read a roundup of those articles that were published in the pages f the papers throughout February, 1890.
A “JACK THE RIPPER” HOAX
The Cardiff Times, began the month, on Saturday, 1st February, 1890, with a report that yet another letter, purporting to come from the miscreant, had been received, this time sent to the Detective Department of the Leeds Constabulary:-
“A post-card was received on Monday by the Leeds Detective Department purporting to emanate from “Jack the Ripper.”
The card, which is written in pencil, reads as follows:-
“Monday, January 27.
Am in Leeds for a week. Going to be about tonight. My knife is sharp. I am ready – you cannot catch me:-(Signed) JACK THIS RIPPER.”
The police believe the affair to be a stupid hoax.”
“JACK THE RIPPER” SCARE AT HOLYWELL
That same day, The Liverpool Echo carried a story concerning a wanderer who, for some reason, decided to follow a servant girl late one night, and, in so doing, found himself in the town’s lock-up on suspicion of being the Whitechapel murderer:-
“Yesterday, at Holywell Police Court, a half-witted man named Joseph Douce, of Coleshill, Warwickshire, was charged with roaming about without any visible means of support.
It appeared that a domestic servant was passing the cemetery about ten o’clock the previous night ou her way to the Boft Tub Well, when she was followed by the prisoner, who carried a small black bag in his hand.
The girl, becoming alarmed because she thought she was being followed by “Jack the Ripper,” ran screaming into the town, and a search party was at once formed, who went in quest of the prisoner.
He was found reposing under a tree in the cemetery, where he said he was going to sleep for the night.
The prisoner was marched by the crowd to the police station, where he was locked up, his capture creating great excitement in the town.
The prisoner was discharged on promising to at once leave the town.”
A STRANGE STORY
The South Wales Echo, on Frida, 14th February, 1890, published a story which demonstrated the efforts that the police were still making to find the killer, and the impressive lengths to which individual undercover detectives were still willing to go in order to solve the mystery of the murderer’s identity:-
“A patient was recently admitted into a London infirmary and removed after a few weeks to an asylum.
The man, who came from the East End dropped some remarks about the Whitechapel murders which have led to inquiry, and a detective has been in the asylum constantly with the patient since, of course, disguised as another patient.
The police are trying to discover whether the man really knows anything about the crimes or is merely suffering under delusions.
It is said he has disclosed facts not previously known.”
THAT’S JACK THE RIPPER
Meanwhile, on Friday 14th February, 1890, The Chelmsford Chronicle reported on a case that had been heard at the local police court on the previous Monday, in which a tramp had reacted angrily, possibly with justification, when local children had started taunting him:-
“On Monday, before Mr. Alfred Taylor J.P., George Clark, 28, no address, was charged with vagrancy.
Inspector Penn said that the prisoner had begged on Sunday at two bouses in Portland-road, and he swore at children who were leaving Sunday school.
The prisoner said the children had shouted “That’s Jack the Ripper,” and this had annoyed him
He was sent to hard labour for seven days.”
THE MURDER OF AMELIA JEFFS
In West Ham, in East London, a young girl by the name of Amelia Jeffs had been murdered and the newspapers were suggesting that a reward might be offered to elicit information that might lead to the identity of her murderer.
IT HAS LED TO NOTHING
On Saturday, 22nd February, 1890, The Birmingham Mail published an article that pondered how effective the offer of various rewards had proved in the endeavours to trace the Whitechapel murderer:-
“A small fortune awaits the individual who will place the police in possession of information leading to the arrest of “Jack the Ripper.”
That fact has been published in every newspaper in the kingdom.
It has led nothing. The Whitechapel murderer is as great a mystery today as he was nearly two years ago, when the world was horrified by the news of the first of his shocking crimes.
But there is a vast difference between the murders which terrified Whitechapel and the tragedy which is now bewildering the police of the so-called “safest city the world.”
The “Jack the Ripper” deeds were absolutely without motive. The culprit attracted no attention in going to or returning from the scene the crime; he left nothing near his victims by which his identity, even in the smallest degree, could have been established.
In cases such as those, it is not surprising that human ingenuity is unable to discover the miscreant.”
DRUNK AND DISORDERLY
On Wednesday, 26th February, 1890, The Norwich Mercury, carried a story that demonstrates the fact that claiming to be the Whitechapel murderer was still proving very popular with those who had over-imbibed in their local pub:-
“Arthur Howard, of 23, Street, St. Saviour’s, bootmaker, was charged with being drunk and disorderly in St. Giles’ Street on Saturday last.
P.C. Varley’s attention being called to the prisoner’s condition by his noisy behaviour, and his exclamation that he was “Jack the Ripper,” the officer took him into custody.
The magistrates inflicted a fine of 5s, with 4s. 6d. costs.”
A JACK THE RIPPER SUICIDE
On Thursday, 27th February, 1890, The Dundee Courier published the following horrible report:-
“A horrible case of suicide has occurred at Withington Workhouse, near Manchester.
A blind pensioner of the 50th Regiment, named Thomas Nugent, was heard calling out for the night nurse, to whom he said:- ” Send for the doctor; I think my inside is coming out.”
The doctor found that the man had ripped open his abdomen with a knife as he lay in bed, and then pulled out his entrails with his hands!
The injuries led to his death.
The Coroner’s jury returned a verdict of suicide whilst temporarily insane.”