June, 1889, began with newspaper reports that Jack the Ripper had, once again, managed to evade capture by detectives, this time in New York.
The Burnley Express was one of several newspapers that carried a report on the incident that had, so it was claimed, almost led to the apprehension of the perpetrator of the Whitechapel atrocities in its edition of Saturday 1st June 1889:-
“Mr. Rogan, of Bridge-lane, Preston, has just received a letter from his brother, who is in Bermuda, which contains the following extraordinary statement:-
“A suspicious looking man was followed by the detectives on board our steamer in New York, bound for Bermuda.
The detectives were not sure who the man was, but the man was sure he knew them, so he slipped over the side of the vessel.
The detectives, thinking the man was still on board, landed in Bermuda, but found the bird had flown. However, they found and searched his trunk – there was no one on board to claim it, and they found it full of clothing and doctor’s tools and sharp knives.
The police were right. This was “Jack the Ripper!””
HAD HE RETURNED?
However, the story that dominated the newspapers throughout much of June 1889, was the news that the dismembered remains of a woman had been found at various locations along the banks of the River Thames in London.
The discovery had coincided with the arrival of several more letters, purporting to have been sent by Jack the Ripper, and this led to inevitable speculation that the Whitechapel murderer may have returned, and that he may have changed his modus operandi.
The Globe, in its edition of Friday, 7th June 1889, carried the following report on this latest atrocity:-
“Sinister rumours seem to be afloat as to the probability of a recurrence of the terrible murder mysteries of last year.
London has not had a great sensation of the sort for some time past.
The vulgar appetite, having supped full of horrors during so long a period some months ago, is not unwilling to recommence after an interval of comparative freedom from excitement.
The latest “Thames Mystery” is the pretext seized upon by the stormy petrels of sensation to flutter this way and that, predicting a recrudescence of the mysterious “Jack the Ripper.”
As to the “Thames Mystery” itself, it seems foolish to assume any connection between this horrible, but not uncommon, crime and the fantastic atrocities of the Whitechapel criminal.
It is pretty plain, from the medical evidence, why the deed was done; the only question is who did it and who was the victim?
It is said, however, that, previous to the discovery of the remains, letters were received by the police purporting to come from “Jack the Ripper,” and threatening a new descent upon London.
Of course one knows – and the fact was demonstrated dozens of times last year – that there are always plenty of half crazy people prepared to go off their foolish heads and imagine themselves murderers, or what not, at a moment’s notice.
Still, if it be true that the police have received letters of the kind alleged, it is a somewhat strange coincidence that they should have come just previous to the finding of these mysterious murdered limbs in the river and in Battersea Park.
As we said before, there is no reason to suppose that this dismemberment was a new fancy on the part of the devilish imagination which mutilated the poor women of Whitechapel; still, it must be admitted that the omens are not calculated to increase the public confidence.”
MORE LETTERS FROM “JACK THE RIPPER”
The Hull Daily Mail, on the same day, Friday 7th June 1889, republished a report on the letters from another newspaper:-
A correspondent writes to the St. James’s Gazette:-
“A circumstance, which was not at first regarded in any serious light, but which derives a certain amount of importance taken in connection with subsequent events, has occurred at Leman-street Police Station.
Three days previous to the discovery of the mutilated remains in the Thames, a letter was received at the above-mentioned police station, headed, “He is not dead, but liveth.” It was signed “Jack the Ripper,” and conveyed an intimation that the writer was about to “recommence operations” in that neighbourhood.
As stated, no particular attention was paid to this missive at the time; but the subsequent discovery of the remains of a woman, supposed to have been murdered, again drew attention to the matter, and yesterday another letter, of which the following is a copy, was received:-
“I see you have been finding the pieces. How is it you have not caught me yet? Look out for more pieces.”
The letter is signed “Jack the Ripper.””
ECHOES FROM THE METROPOLIS
A few days later, on Tuesday 11th June 1889, The Peterhead Sentinel and General Advertiser for Buchan District, published a full report on the findings thus far:-
We have been painfully reminded this week that that extraordinary fiend “Jack the Ripper” is still at large. He may not be the perpetrator of the latest atrocity, but its discovery has reminded us of his existence.
The mutilated remains of a woman have been discovered partly in the Thames and partly in Battersea Park. On four different days – Tuesday, Thursday, yesterday, and today – these remains have been found, and the doctors say conclusively that they are all parts of one human being, who appears to have been horribly murdered and then hacked to pieces.
The first discovery on Tuesday was that of the abdomen and part of the viscera, and, at the time of writing, nearly all the parts have been found, except the head.
Medical testimony is to the effect that the woman had not been dead twenty-four hours when the first remains were found.
A CLUE TO HER IDENTITY
As yet, her identity has not been established, though the police have several clues.
The underclothing in which one of the parcels was wrapped was marked “L. E. Fisher,” and, with this clue, it is hoped that the identity will be fully established.
FOUND IN DIFFERENT PLACES
A remarkable feature of the mystery, which the police are now busy in trying to unravel, is that the places where the different portions of the body were found are wide apart.
Two simultaneous discoveries were made on Tuesday, one at Horsleydown and another at Battersea, and these two places are separated by a distance of five miles. A third discovery was made on Thursday in Battersea Park, near the part of the river where the first remains were found Tuesday. The left leg was found near Wandsworth bridge, and the right leg floating in the river off Limehouse.
The distance between these two places is over six miles.
I need hardly say that public indignation has broken out afresh at the discovery of this latest atrocity.
THE STYLE OF THE MUTILATIONS
The style of the mutilations suggests “Jack the Ripper,” and the only question is whether he has adopted this new method of disposing of the remains of his victims.
The man, whoever he was, must have made several journeys through the streets with his bundles, which were all tied up separately.
MISSIVES FROM THE KILLER
The atrocities of “Jack the Ripper” were first brought home to the minds of the public in August of last year.
Since then, many letters purporting to be from this fiend have been received at police and newspaper offices. Many of them have been palpable hoaxes, but the belief is widely entertained that some are genuine, and that “Jack the Ripper” has actual existence as the perpetrator of these horrible crimes.
I myself saw in a newspaper office early this year a “Jack the Ripper” letter which was smeared over with red stuff to resemble blood. It was very short, and far as I can remember, ran something like this:-
“They have not caught me yet. You’ll hear from me by-and-bye – “Jack the Ripper.”
The handwriting was evidently disguised, but the composition did not appear to be that of an illiterate person
The editor who showed me the letter said it was the second he had received, the first coming to hand shortly after the perpetration of one of the murders.
On subsequently handing the letters over to the police, he was informed that hundreds of such documents had been received. The authorities certainly treat the bulk of them as hoaxes.
THE PRESENT AFFAIR
Certain circumstance are alleged to have transpired which might suggest the hand of “Jack the Ripper” in the present affair.
It is said that, at the end of last week, a letter purporting to come from him was received at Leman Street Police Station, which is not far from the scene of one of the recent discoveries.
It told the police to “look out” as “another job” was going to be done.
On Wedenesday, after the first portion of the mutilated remains had been found, another letter was received at the same police station which is said to have contained these words:- “I see you have been finding the pieces. Look out for more of them.”
Of course, the letters may be the silly joke of some foolish person, but they are capable of another interpretation.”
THE THAMES MYSTERY
By the end of the month, the woman had been identified as Elizabeth Jackson (1865 – 1889), albeit, as can be deduced from the following article, which appeared in The Nottingham Evening Post on Wednesday, 26th of June, 1889, the police were still in the dark as to who had carried out this latest brutal murder, although it was more than apparent that they did not believe it to be a resurgence of the Ripper crimes:-
“The police are gaining ground daily in their investigation of the latest Thames mystery.
Elizabeth Jackson, the supposed victim, was born in the neighbourhood of Chenie-place, Pimlico, and for the past four or five years had led the life of an unfortunate.
On the 21st of the present month, the police obtained a clue to her identity, and also to a man, John Fairclough, who cohabited with her.
She was last known to have lived at a common lodging-house in Turk’s-row, near Chelsea Barracks, and left there on May 21st.
Two days later she was seen in the neighbourhood in a destitute condition, and she told an acquaintance that she had been sleeping on seats on Chelsea embankment.
This was the last that was seen of her until the discovery of her remains in a mutilated condition.”