In the aftermath of the Jack the Ripper murders, it is surprising how many people simply could not resist the temptation to put pen to paper and send letters to all and sundry, purporting to come from the perpetrator of the crimes.
From early October, 1888, numerous letters were received by the police authorities, by local politicians and officials, or by people whose names either appeared in the newspapers concerning the Whitechapel murders, or who were simply mentioned in the daily press because their jobs just happened to link their names to the crimes and the murders.
LETTER FROM “JACK THE RIPPER”
In the wake of the murder of Mary Kelly, which took place in Dorset Street, Spitalfields, on the 9th November, 1888, Mrs. M’Carthy, the wife of John M’Carthy, Mary Kelly’s landlord, was targeted by one of the missive writers.
The Glasgow Evening Post, reported on the letter that she had received on Monday 12th November 1888:-
“It is reported that Mrs. M’Carthy, wife of the landlord of No. 26 Dorset Street, this morning received by post a letter signed “Jack the Ripper,” saying they were not to worry themselves because he meant to do two more murders in the neighbourhood, a mother and a daughter this time.
The letter was immediately taken to Commercial Street Police Station and handed to the inspector on duty.
A Press Association reporter on inquiring at Commercial Street Police Station subsequently was informed that no such letter had been received there.
The Press Association says that later inquiries show that such a letter was received by Mrs. M’Carthy.
The text was as follows:-
“Don’t alarm yourself. I am going to do another, but this time it will be a mother and daughter.”
The letter, which was signed “Jack the Ripper,” was at once handed to the police authorities.”
THE WHITECHAPEL MURDER. LETTER FROM JACK THE RIPPER.
Letters continued to be sent throughout the rest of 1888 and on through 1889.
For example, The Bristol Mercury carried the following report of one such letter in its edition of Saturday, 5th October 1889:-
“On Saturday evening the Press Association received a letter bearing the East London postmark, purporting to be from Jack the Ripper.
The envelope was apparently addressed by a different person to the writer of the letter, which was written on a torn single sheet of notepaper, and was as follows:-
“E, 28th September.
I hope to resume operations about Tuesday or Wednesday night. Don’t let the coppers know, Jack the Ripper.’”
The envelope was smeared with red ink, and the signature was underlined with red ink.”
LETTER FROM “JACK THE RIPPER”
It wasn’t just people in London who were singled out to become recipients of epistles from the supposed perpetrator of the atrocities, as is evidenced by the following article, which appeared in The Northern Daily Telegraph, on Tuesday, 29th October, 1889:-
“The following letter, smeared with blood, has been received by Mr Hawkes, the Birmingham coroner, purporting to be from Jack the Ripper:-
“Mr coroner for the borough of Birmingham,
Dear Sir, – l have picked out two likely victims in your city and shall proceed to work in a few days.
I have been in Birmingham three weeks, and as I do not think you have enough to do I shall give you a nice little job
Your faithful friend.
Jack The Ripper.”
The letter has been handed to the police.”
THREATS TAKEN SERIOUSLY
The letters continued to be sent well into the 1890’s, and, as can be seen from the following article, which appeared in The Kirkintilloch Herald on Wednesday, 8th October, 1890, the police had little choice but to take the threats contained in some of the missives seriously, as they still were not sure that the Whitechapel atrocities had, in fact, come to an end:-
“The Metropolitan Police have had another intimation from “Jack the Ripper” in the shape of a letter delivered at Whitechapel, in which the usual warnings are given, and on the fact becoming known it caused a revival of the scare.
It appears that the police have from time to time received numerous anonymous communications, and although none have been actually disregarded, yet the one received early this week was deemed of sufficient importance to be circulated, which was done on Tuesday in a quiet and unostentatious manner throughout the entire police force of the metropolis.
The following is the text of the letter:-
“261, Whitechapel-road, London, Sept. 28, 1890.
Dear Mr.___ _, Please look out round your quarter. I am about to commit a murder in your neighbourhood. I am, yours faithfully, Jack the Ripper. I saw your name in Lloyds.”
The neighbourhood is supposed to be Victoria-park-road, South Hackney.
THE SEASON OF THE YEAR
The Central News says that although the police have circulated the letter they attach little importance to it, but in consequence of it being the season of the year in which “Jack” committed his last atrocity, they have taken special precautions.
The activity in the slums has been resumed, and the men on duty have been urged to renewed vigilance, and, in certain districts, extra men have been put on with the latest “improvements” in dress and noiseless boots.
Secluded spots are especially to be watched.
The warning, says The Daily Chronicle, should not be too lightly treated.
The missive may, of course, be a stupid practical joke, but it is not improbable that the fiend is among us once more, and that this is one of his cynical warnings.
THE GOULSTON STREET GRAFFITO
We know that the mysterious Whitechapel woman-slayer had a penchant for scribbling, as witness his writing on the wall, which Sir Charles Warren was ill-advised enough to order to be rubbed out without its being photographed.
Moreover, it is to be remembered that some of the outrages were preceded by written warnings.”