From the moment the Dear Boss Jack the Ripper” letter was made public, the unknown miscreant was given a name that would turn him into a legendary figure.
Indeed, it is amazing how, almost from the outset, the name”Jack the Ripper” caught the public imagination and soon it became difficult, if not impossible to separate the reality of the Whitechapel murders from the myth of Jack the Ripper.
Numerous people came to see it as a huge joke to imitate the author of the missive, and letters signed with the nom-de-plume were still being sent well into the 20th century.
People as diverse as Miriam Howells, a welsh housewife – who, so we are told saw the act of penning a letter as nothing more than a huge joke, kept the police busy for many years.
As late as 1930, several of the residents of the Leicestershire village of Enderbyalso found themselves the unwanting recipients of several communications from the killer.
The Bellshill Speaker, on Saturday the 30th of November 1901, published the following article on yet another hoax in relation to the Whitechapel murders and the unknown miscreant responsible for them:-
THE “JACK THE RIPPER” SCARE IN MOTHERWELL
The so-called “Jack Thc Ripper” scare in Motherwell, which has got publicity in some quarters, is regarded as nothing but a hoax.
Some weeks ago certain persons living in Motherwell and the surrounding district received letters written in red ink and signed “Jack the Ripper” or some other blood-curdling nom-de-plume threatening the parties with murder.
From the first, the police authorities were of the opinion that these letters were the result of practical joking by some youth, but the fact of these having been received, and the story circulated, has caused something of a scare in Motherwell, particularly amongst the female section of the community.
FURTHER PROOF OF A HOAX
Further proof, however, was given on Monday that the whole thing is a hoax by the fact that, at about seven o’clock in the morning, a youth of about sixteen years of age was alleged to have been found in a semi-conscious condition in Melville Drive.
This youth, it appears, was one of the recipients of the threatening letters.
The morning was dark, but his cries attracted a woman who lived in a house near at hand. Help was secured, and he was conveyed home.
SET UPON AND KICKED
The youth stated that he was set upon and that he was kicked till he became unconscious by some person whom he did not see, and who then ran off.
When the lad was taken home medical aid was summoned, but a careful examination by the doctor failed to disclose the slightest indication of any violence whatever. There were no signs of his having been kicked at all.
Another peculiar feature of the case is the fact that where the lad was said to have been kicked there were several inches of mud, but no mud at all was found on his clothes.
NO CAUSE FOR ALARM
The whole matter, of course, is difficult to explain, but the police and others who know the circumstances have their own beliefs in regard to the strange occurrence.
It is only right, however, that the public should know that there need be no scare and that the letters are not believed to be genuine, but are the work of some evil-disposed practical joker.