Mr George Lusk was the president of the Mile End Vigilance Committee. Following the murders of Elizabethh Stride and Catherine Eddowes he stepped up his attempts to help the police track down the killer. He was in contact with both the Home Office and Queen Victoria asking that a reward be offered for information that might lead to the murderer’s apprehension. In addition he was very active in the area itself addressing public meetings and making his own enquiries amongst local informants in the hope of gaining a breakthrough in the case. As a result of his increased public profile he had become something of a local celebrity and, by mid-October, he had attracted a stalker.
On Thursday 4th October a man of about 30-40 years old, who sported a bushy, brown beard, whiskers and a moustache turned up at Mr Lusk’s house in Alderney Street, Mile End. Having asked for him by name he was informed that Lusk was in fact ar his son’s nearby tavern.
The man duly turned up at the tavern and attempted to persuade Mr Lusk to go into a private room with him. Mr Lusk found the strangers appearance and manner both suspicious and repulsive and refused. He did, however, agree to a quiet chat in the bar-parlour. As they were chatting the stranger suddenly removed a pencil from his side pocket and, proceeding to purposely drop it on the floor, ordered Lusk to pick it up. As he turned to do so, Lusk noticed the man make a “swift though silent movement” with his right hand towards his side pocket. Lusk saw him do this and made it apparent he had seen the movement. The stranger promptly assumed a nonchalant air and enquired where the nearest coffee house was. Lusk gave him directions to one on Mile End Road whereupon the man left the premises. Lusk followed but lost the man when he disappeared up a court.
On 10th October another suspicious character was seen lurking outside Lusk’s house. Then, on 12th October, Lusk was targeted by one the Jack the Ripper letter writers who threatened a “double event, but not in Whitechapel. Got rather too warm there.”
A few days later another letter arrived addressed to him as “Head Vigilance Committee, Alderney-street, Mile End. This letter taunted:- “Say Boss – you seem rare frightened, guess I’d like to give you fits…”
On 15th October a man entered a leather shop close to the London Hospital and asked a Miss Marsh, who was working behind the counter, if she knew Mr George Lusk’s address. She didn’t, but showed him a newspaper article that gave his street but not his house number.
The next day George Lusk would receive a package, wrapped in brown paper and addressed to him by name. It bore the street name, but not the number of his house. This package, and its accompanying letter, would add a bizarre twist to the case and become one the most famous pieces of Jack the Ripper correspondence.
Check back on the 16th October for the full story of the mysterious package.