As the end of September, 1888 approached, the fear of the Whitechapel murderer had begun to recede, there having been no fresh outrage since the murder of Annie Chapman on the 8th September, 1888.
As the nervousness began to diminish, the East End prostitutes began to return to the streets, and, in so doing, they put themselves in danger of encountering the perpetrator of the Whitechapel atrocities, or, for that matter, at the mercy of the unsavoury characters who roamed the East End streets after nightfall.
One lady, who appears to have come into contact with one of the less salubrious men was Elizabeth Hudson who, in the early hours of the morning of Friday, September, 28th, 1888, met an American by the name of James Johnson, who she evidently solicited and who then, so she later claimed, turned nasty with her.
Interestingly, there seemed to have been some doubt about the story told by Elizabeth Hudson, since Johnson, in his defence, claimed that he had not carried out the attack she had accused him of. Indeed, according to his version of what had happened, it was he who had been the victim of Elizabeth Johnson and her accomplice, Alice Anderson, both of whom had chased after him and had tried to rob him.
The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, in its edition of Saturday, 29th September, 1888, carried the story of Johnson’s subsequent court appearance:-
IMITATING THE WHITECHAPEL MURDERER
At Dalston Police Court, London, yesterday morning, James Johnson, aged 35, a well set, pale-complexioned man, clean-shaven, and with a strong American accent, giving his address as 18, Birdhurst road, St. John’s Hill, Wandsworth, describing himself as a waiter, was charged with assaulting Elizabeth Hudson, in Kingsland Road, early that morning.
Prosecutrix, who is described as an unfortunate, stated that, at about two o’clock in the morning the prisoner accosted her in Hudson Road, put his arm round her waist, and threw her on the pavement.
He then produced a long knife, and attempted to stab her. She screamed “Murder,” and the prisoner ran away. The knife was long, and had a sharp point.
ATTACKED ANOTHER WOMAN
Alice Anderson, calling herself a feather-curler, a friend of Hudson, deposed that, between one and two o’clock in the morning, she was in Kingsland road, when the prisoner accosted her and asked if he could walk home with her. She said she did not mind, and the prisoner accompanied her.
At a dark spot, however, he put his arm round her and tried to throw her to the ground, but she succeeded in knocking at a door and screamed “Murder.”
The prisoner then ran off, and a quarter of an hour later she heard screams, and running along she met Hudson, who told her that a man had thrown her down and attempted to stab her.
HE HAD NO KNIFE
The prisoner denied that he had a knife, and said that both witnesses ran after him and tried to steal from his pockets.
A Constable deposed to hearing cries and to stopping the prisoner, who was running away. No knife was found on the prisoner.
The Prisoner, in answer to the magistrate, again denied the women’s story, and said that he could produce his friends if necessary.
The Magistrate said he had better do so, and postponed the case till the afternoon when he was discharged.