More Murders To Follow

Throughout the day of Saturday the 8th of September, 1888, news was emerging from Whitechapel that another murder, that of Annie Chapman, had occurred in Hanbury Street.

Word had also got out that a leather apron had been found close to where the body had been discovered.

Later that day, The Pall Mall Gazette took the opportunity to use the latest tragedy to attack the Metropolitan Police and to also highlight the perceived savagery of many of those who actually lived in the district where the Whitechapel murders were occurring:-


Something like a panic will be occasioned in London today by the announcement that another horrible murder has taken place in densely populated Whitechapel.

This makes the fourth murder of the same kind, the perpetrator of which has succeeded in escaping the vigilance of the police.

The triumphant success with which the metropolitan police have suppressed all political meetings in Trafalgar-square contrasts strangely with their absolute failure to prevent the most brutal kind of murder in Whitechapel.

The Criminal Investigation Department under Mr. Monro was so pre-occupied in tracking out the men suspected of meditating political crimes that the ordinary vulgar assassin has a free field in which to indulge his propensities.

Whether or not this is the true explanation of the immunity which the Whitechapel murderer enjoys, the fact of that immunity is undoubted.

A portrait of James Monro.
James Monro. From The Illustrated London News, 8th December 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board and the Mary Evans Picture Library.


Four poor women, miserable and wretched, have been murdered in the heart of a densely-populated quarter, and not only murdered but mutilated in a peculiarly brutal fashion, and so far the police do not seem to have discovered a single clue to the perpetrator of the crimes.

There is some reason to hope that the latest in this grim and gory series of outrages will supply some evidence as to the identity of the murderer. The knife with which he disembowelled his unfortunate victim and a leathern apron were, it is said, found by the corpse. if so, these are the only traces left by this mysterious criminal.

Dr. Anderson, the new chief of the Detective Department, will now have an admirable opportunity of showing that wits sharpened by reflections upon the deeper problems of “Human Destiny” and the millennium are quite capable of grappling with the mundane problems of the detection of crime.

A portrait of Sir Robert Anderson.
Sir Robert Anderson (1841 – 1918). Copyright, The British Library Board.


The fact that the police have been freely talking for a week past about a man nicknamed Leather Apron may have led the criminal to leave a leather apron near his victim in order to mislead. He certainly seems to have been capable of such an act of deliberate preparation.

The murder perpetrated this morning shows no indication of hurry or of alarm. He seems to have first killed the woman by cutting her throat so deeply as almost to sever her head from her shoulders, then to have disembowelled her, and then to have disposed of the viscera in a fashion recalling stories of Red Indian savagery.

A man who was cool enough to do this, and who had time enough to do it, was not likely to leave his leather apron behind him and his knife apparently for no purpose but to serve as a clue. But be this as it may, if the police know of a ruffian who wears a leather apron in Whitechapel whom they have suspected of previous crimes, no time should be lost in ascertaining whether this leather apron, if it really exists, can be identified as his.


This renewed reminder of the potentialities of revolting barbarity which lie latent in man will administer a salutary shock to the complacent optimism which assumes that the progress of civilization has rendered unnecessary the bolts and bars, social, moral, and legal, which keep the Mr. Hyde of humanity from assuming visible shape among us.


There certainly seems to be a tolerably realistic impersonification of Mr. Hyde at large in Whitechapel.

The Savage of Civilization whom we are raising by the hundred thousand in our slums is quite as capable of bathing his hands in blood as any Sioux who ever scalped a foe.

But we should not be surprised if the murderer in the present case should not turn out to be slum bred.

The nature of the outrages and the calling of the victims suggests that we have to look out for a man who is animated by that mania of bloodthirsty cruelty which sometimes springs from the unbridled indulgence of the worst passions.

We may have a plebeian Marquis De Sade at large in Whitechapel. If so, and if he is not promptly apprehended, we shall not have long to wait for another addition to the ghastly catalogue of murder.

Richard Mansfield is shown in the dual role of Jekyll and Hyde.
Richard Mansfield As Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. From The illustrated Sporting And Dramatic news, Saturday, 20th October, 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board.


There is some reason to hope that the sentiment of horror which the peculiar atrocity of the present crime excites, even in the most callous, will spur the police into a display of vigorous and intelligent activity.

At present the disaffection in the force is so widespread that, unless we are strangely misinformed, the police are thinking more of the possibility of striking against a system which has become intolerable than of over- exerting themselves in the detection of crime.


As for the community at large, the panic will probably be confined to the area within which this midnight murderer confines his operations.

If, however, a similar crime were now to be committed in the West End, there would be a panic the like of which we have not seen in our time.

From that, however, we shall probably be spared; but the public will be more or less uneasy as long as the Whitechapel murderer is left at large.”