One of the major aspects of the Whitechapel murders is the sheer number of letters that were received which, either offered advice on how to catch the killer, or else actually purported to have been written by the murderer and either boasted about his previous crimes, or warned of imminent further atrocities.
The large bulk of these letters are now forgotten.
Indeed, the only two that ever really tend to get mentioned a great deal are the Dear Boss letter of September 1888, or the From Hell letter that was sent to Mr George Lusk.
We, in fact, have a full article about them on this page
MORE LETTERS WERE SENT
But, there were many, many more letters sent, and those letters were not confined to the period in 1888 when the Jack the Ripper scare was at its height.
DR FORBES WINSLOW’S LETTER
For example, on October 9th 1889, The Western Daily Press, carried the following report:-
“The Exchange Telegraph Company says that Dr. Forbes Winslow on Monday received an envelope addressed to “Dr. Forbes Winslow, London,” containing a slip of paper, on which was written: “Next week you will hear of me – Jack The Ripper.” The letter, which was stained with blood, has been sent to Scotland Yard.”
A LETTER TO MR ALBERT BACKHERT
On October 14th 1890, The Yorkshire Post was one of many newspapers that reported on a missive that had been sent to the Secretary of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, William Albert Bachert (his name was spelt Backhert in this article, and Bakert in several others).
The article read:-
“Mr. Albert Backhert, chairman of the White-chapel Vigilance Committee, on Saturday received the following letter:-
Whitechapal, 9th Oct. 1889.
I write you these few lines to let you know, as you are the boss of the Vigilant Society, that the last job wasn’t me, for I shouldn’t have made such a ‘botch’ of it. Never mind, young man, you can keep your lamps open for the 18th October. I am on the job again. There’s no blood knocking about or I would let you see some. Never mind, look out old man. You’r a brave sort. You thought you had me once. Don’t forget the 18th.—Yours in haste, JACK THE RIPPER.”
The envelope bears the East London postmark, and was posted on Saturday. The writing corresponds with that in the letters previously received by Mr. Backhert.
On Saturday night a post-card was received the Islington police bearing the following words: “Jack the Ripper, mischief again on a tall vestry man in Wray Crescent, Hamley Road, Islington Park, on Monday, Amen.”
Not much importance is attached to the matter, but certain precautions have been taken”
Evidently, the letter writers were thrilling to their task throughout October 1888, and on 31st The York Herald updated its readers with a report on two new missives:-
“Some further letters are in circulation purporting to be connected with the notorious White-chapel crimes.
Among these is a letter which has been received by Dr. Forbes Winelow, of Wimpole-street, which is as follows:-
22, Hammersmith-road, Chelsea.
I defy you to find out who has done the Whitechapel murder in the summer – not the last one.
You had better look out for yourself, or else Jack the R. may do you something, in your house too, before the end of December.
Mind, now, the 9th of November, there may be another murder, so look out, old Sir Funk.
Tell all London another ripper open will take place about the 8th or 9th proximo, not in Whitechapel, but in London – perhaps in Clapham or the West End.
Write to the Poste Restante, Charing Cross. Address to P. S. R. Lunigi.”
On the 12th inst. the Chairman of the White-chapel Vigilance Committee received a letter purporting to have been sent by “Jack the Ripper,” threatening to commence operations again on the 18th.
On Saturday morning last Mr. Backert again received a letter in a similar handwriting, which he has handed over to the police.
The letter bears the Customs post-mark, and was posted on Friday night.
The following is the letter:-
You are one too many for me this time. Whitechapel is too well watched. I could not bring a job off on the 18th. However, I intend to do the next job indoors.
Yours in haste,
JACK THE RIPPER. – Albert Backert.”
AT WORK IN HACKNEY OR STRAND
On October 9th 1890, The Yorkshire Post was one of many newspapers that reported on another missive that had been sent to the Secretary of the William Albert Bachert.
The paper reported that:-
“Mr. Backert, secretary to the Vigilance Committee in East London, has received another card signed Jack the Ripper, running thus:
Be prepared for another murder and mutilation not in Whitechapel, but in the Hackney district, perhaps the Strand way. I never mean to quit my ripping. I love my work too much for that. Ha! ha! Ten more murders I intend to do.”
It is stated that although little importance is attached to this letter yet special precautions have been taken, and the Home Office will be asked to grant special powers to the Vigilance Committee.”
ANOTHER LETTER TO MR BACHERT
By June 30th 1891, the press frenzy concerning the Whitechapel murders had long since faded, and yet another letter that was sent to the Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, William Albert Bachert was still able to generate countrywide press coverage.
According to The Western Times, the letter was in the same style and was signed in the same way as several other letters that Mr Bachert had received previously.
The text read:-
George-yard. Whitechapel – I am going to commence operations again shortly in this neighbourhood, and if you or your infernal gang in the least attempt to trace my whereabouts, so help my God, I’ll put a knife in your heart. So beware and take warning, and let me alone. Let the police catch me if they can; it’s their duty. But I pity them, as I never intend to be taken alive. I have nearly been caught twice. – Yours truly JACK THE RIPPER. G. W. B. my initials.”
According to the newspaper reports, Bachert had handed the letter over to the police who were investigating it.
THE ALLURE OF THE RIPPER
What these letters demonstrate is that the allure of the ripper letters was still strong in the public consciousness long after the unknown miscreant had ended his reign of terror in the East End of London.
Indeed, it was these letters that, in a away, helped imbue the sordid series of murders that took place in Whitechapel in the autumn of 1888 with a posthumous immortality that has remained with us to this day.