In March, 1931, residents the hamlet of Gipsey Bridge, near Boston, in Lincolnshire, began receiving letters that purported to come from Jack the Ripper.
In a previous article, we told the story of the letter sent to Mr and Mrs Marriott.
However, other residents also received threatening missives, and so The Boston Guardian sent a reporter to the hamlet to interview some of those who had received the letters, and to gauge the mood of the people in the locality.
The newspaper published his story in its edition of Saturday, 7th March, 1931:-
ANOTHER LETTER FROM JACK THE RIPPER
Last week there was a Jack the Ripper scare arising from a letter making a threat of murder.
The Guardian heard of it, and treated it as nothing more than a silly joke – which, in fact, it was.
We had no desire to alarm people unduly, and, therefore, we refrained from giving prominence to what was, after all, but a trivial incident.
Since the affair has aroused some interest, however, we have made further investigations, which we publish today in order to allay any fears which may have arisen in the minds of some of the public.
Our representative, having just returned from Gipsey Bridge, writes:-
MR. PICKETT’S MISSIVE
“On Monday morning of this week, Mr. Pickett, the village carpenter, who resides close to the school, received a second of these mysterious missives.
The circumstances were precisely the same as the previous week, and the wording of the letter was almost identical.
Apparently “Jack the Ripper” was extremely anxious that this letter should not go astray, for it was enclosed in an ordinary envelope, sealed, and with the stamp affixed to the flap.
The address: “Mr. Pickett, Gipsey Bridge,” was inscribed in no fewer than four places.
As Mr. Pickett pointed out to me. the author of these letters is evidently someone that is intimately acquainted with the district and its residents.
Moreover, it is obvious that the writer has been at great pains to disguise his writing. In parts, the spelling and punctuation is crude, to say the least, while on the other hand, such words as “their” and “there” and “has” and “as” were correct in their application.
NOT TOO MUCH FEAR
When I walked into the hamlet this morning, I expected to find it completely deserted.
According to the stories told, the doors and windows should have been securely barred and padlocked.
Then again, I took particular care of the nature of my attire, for had I not been warned that any suspicious looking person was likely to have a gun pointed at his head?
But there was none of this.
The kiddies, just out of school, were running about the roadway in their usual care-free manner, and there was just as much activity as I should have found a year ago, had I visited the place.
THE VILLAGE SHOP
For a few minutes, I stood in the little village shop and chatted with Mr. and Mrs. E. A Whitelam.
Both have taken the threat with philosophic calm. They even joked with me, and Mr. Whitelam remarked to me that he supposed that it would be their turn to receive a letter on Monday morning.
But they were both emphatic in their denial of the story that they had offered a £10 reward for information that might lead to the arrest of the culprit.
I questioned them as to the truth of the rumour that one morning this week their dog was found to be ailing – possibly suffering from poison – but Mr. Whitelam was sure that he had seen nothing amiss with the creature.
Further inquiries elicited the information that, since the arrival of the second letter, even those who had been nervous had taken new courage.
Right from the start, the men-folk have not taken a great deal of notice of the threats, and their chief desire is that the perpetrator shall receive fitting punishment for the alarm and uneasiness caused to the women and children.
There have been isolated cases of real alarm, and I was told that one or two lads attending the school from Langrick way were so terrified by stories which came to their ears that they dare not travel the distance to and from home.
THE CONVERSATION OF THE DAY
Generally speaking, however, the village folk have carried on in their own quiet way.
The letters, of course, have been the conversation of the day, but the cottagers have not been frightened into remaining behind closed doors as I was led to believe they had.
The little chapel, located a mile or so away from the hamlet on the road towards Langrick Station, was crowded on Wednesday evening, and I was told that a large crowd, including a contingent from Anton’s Gowt, was expect at a social organised by the Primitive Methodist Church tonight.
As Mr. Pickett said to me, “Why should they be alarmed?”
Anonymous letters of this kind to no one harm unless they allow imagination to run riot with their better senses.
THREATS AT GRANTHAM
Two Grantham women have received letters of a threatening character, signed “Jack the Ripper.”
One woman, who has a family of five children, is warned by the writer of the letter not to treat the letter as a joke, and says that she has only until Monday to live.
The writing is small and illiterate, and bears the Grantham postmark, the stamp being placed upside down at the bottom of the envelope.
The communication has been handed over to the police.
THE MAN ON THE WALL
The woman told a press representative that three weeks ago she saw a man jump over the wall dividing the back entrance and the passage, and that she later saw a figure in black seated on the wall.
She felt that someone had been hanging around, and the letter had, most certainly, frightened her.
The letter, by the way, says that the wrier has been hanging around her house several times.”