As the end of September 1888 approached the police were continuing their investigation into the murder of Annie Chapman, which had taken place on the 8th of September.
They weren’t being helped by the fact that the murders had started to capture the public imagination, with the result that people were coming forward to confess to the crime.
The Birmingham Daily Post reported on one such case in its edition of Friday 28th September 1888:-
THE WHITECHAPEL MURDERS
Shortly before midnight on Tuesday, a man giving the name of John Fitzgerald entered the charge room of the Wandsworth Police Station and informed Inspector Blakemore that he wanted to make a confession.
He was cautioned in the usual way; but said that he was determined to tell all he knew, and forthwith asserted that he was the murderer of Annie Chapman, in Hanbury Street, Whitechapel.
What he said further is reserved by the police. They refuse to divulge any other facts.
Fitzgerald was immediately taken into custody and placed in one of the cells.
He was not, however, charged in the usual way, being merely detained.
TAKEN TO LEMAN STREET
Later on, between one and two o’clock yesterday morning, he was conveyed by a sergeant to the Leman Street Police Station, in Whitechapel.
Fitzgerald is a stranger to the locality.
He is unknown by the police at Wandsworth, and nothing has been discovered as to his antecedents.
During the latter part of Tuesday evening he is said to have spent some hours in public-houses in the High Street.
HIS DESCRIPTION DOES NOT TALLY
The Central News says Fitzgerald’s description does not tally with that given at the inquest of a man seen in Hanbury Street on the morning of the murder.
It seems that Fitzgerald first communicated the intelligence to a private individual, who subsequently gave its purport to the police.
A search was made and Fitzgerald was discovered in a common lodging house at Wandsworth.
LIVING IN HAMMERSMITH
He is known to have been living recently at Hammersmith.
His self-accusation is said to be not altogether clear, and it is even reported that he cannot give the date of the murder, so that the authorities are not inclined to place much reliance on his statements.
WHO IS FITZGERALD?
The Shields Daily Gazette posed the above question before informing its readers that:-
Telegraphing at noon today, a London correspondent says that the man Fitzgerald, who accused himself to the police at Wandsworth last night of being the Whitechapel murderer, is a bricklayer’s labourer.
He says he has been wandering about the country, and appears to have been under the influence of drink.
His statements are somewhat incoherent, and his appearance does not tally with the descriptions given at the inquest.
The authorities disincline to attach importance to the matter.
TALKING ABOUT THE MURDER
A companion of Fitzgerald, named John Locus, has made a statement to the effect that Fitzgerald entered a public-house in Wandsworth last evening and commenced talking about the Whitechapel murder.
He produced a knife with which he illustrated a theory as to how the murder was committed.
He then left, saying he had to go home.
He will be charged at the Thames Police Court.