Once the original “Dear Boss” letter had been released, and the name of “Jack the Ripper” had entered the public lexicon, hoaxers across the land found the urge to join the snowballing letter-writing pastime, and, by the end of October, 1888, the authorities were swamped by a veritable tsunami of correspondence pertaining to the East End atrocities.
The irony is that, in the month when the name of “Jack the Ripper” became universally famous, the actual Whitechapel murderer (whoever he (or she) might have been), for some reason opted to lay low, and no murders took place during that month.
PEOPLE WERE STILL NERVOUS
Of course, it didn’t mean that the districts of Whitechapel and Spitalfields were not in a state of heightened alert, and the police in the neighbourhood where the murders had been perpetrated were continuously on the look out for any hint that the killer was about to strike again.
And then, in early November, 1888, a scrap of paper, found on the ground in a street in Spitlafields, raised the fear that the murderer had, indeed, carried out another of his barbaric crimes, and had hidden the body in the locality.
THE MYSTERIOUS MISSIVE
Several newspapers picked up on the story of the mysterious missive, amongst them The Belfast News-Letter, which, on Monday, 5th November, 1888, published details of the claims made in the letter:-
It looks as if we are never to hear the last of these anonymous “Jack the Rippers” who have done so much to terrify the nervous portion of the community.
“At a late hour last night the police at Whitechapel were informed that a piece of paper had been picked up in Spitalfields, stating that the now notorious “‘Jack” had perpetrated another murder on the previous night, and that the body was hidden away in Osborne Street, in “a dreadfully mutilated condition.”
A CRUEL AND HEARTLESS HOAX
The police, who are inclined to regard the matter as a cruel and heartless hoax, immediately made inquiries in every possible direction, but they could obtain no information that any person in the locality was missing.
The authorities ought to take steps to bring to punishment some off the silly scribblers who have done so much to bring discredit upon the country and the age in which they live.”
LETTER FROM “JACK THE RIPPER”
ALLEGED MURDER OF A WOMAN
BODY HIDDEN AWAY
The Sheffield Telegraph, in its edition of Monday, 5th November, published the full text of the note:-
“At a late hour on Saturday night the following notice was read out to the police, as printed in the informations, at Whitechapel:-
Today a piece of paper was picked up in Spitalfields on which was written:-
In spite of all your police precautions, and in spite of all the efforts of the Vigilance Committee, I committed another murder last night, and hid the body away in Osborne Street, headless, legless, armless, and naked.
Jack the Ripper.”
LOOKED UPON AS A HOAX
Though the matter looked upon as a hoax, all constables were ordered to make every inquiry in the neighbourhood to see if anything had been found or whether anyone was missing.
They were, however, specially enjoined to use their utmost endeavours to try and trace the author of the writing.
Special instructions were also ordered to be given the auxiliary detectives and officers who went on duty at midnight.”