Today, there is a general consensus – though, as with so many things relating to the Whitechapel murders, not a 100% certainty – that the Jack the Ripper atrocities ended with the murder of Mary Kelly, on the 9th of November, 1888.
But, in early 1889, there was, most certainly, a great deal of trepidation that the killer might strike again at any moment.
Many newspapers were wondering what had become of the perpetrator of the crimes since the bloodbath in Miller’s Court, and many of them were also expressing the opinion that, in view of the fact the murderer had not been brought to justice, the Metropolitan Police had failed the people they were tasked with protecting.
On Saturday, 2nd February, 1889, the following article appeared in The Fife Free Press, and Kirkcaldy Guardian.
Although it began by criticising the detectives for not having done their duty and brought the murderer to justice, the article did point out that, in several respects, the efforts of the police had been hampered by the lack of clues left for them by the perpetrator of the atrocities.
Interestingly, it also repeated the belief that the killer had demonstrated medical knowledge in the way that he had carried out the mutilations on the bodies of his victims.
The article read:-
THE LONDON CRIMES
“At last the fact must, we fear, be confessed that the scent after the Whitechapel murderer has been lost.
Beyond arresting some scores of innocent people, and discovering hosts of clues which, so far, have proved barren, the police have done nothing. Apparently, they are not a step nearer to the end of their search than they were weeks ago, and the chances of the murderer being tracked down after all this lapse of time are very slight.
It is not at all pleasant to contemplate the probability of these Whitechapel horrors being added to the long list of unsolved mysteries.
Nevertheless, it looks exceedingly likely that such will be the case, and, unless the police retrieve their reputation at the eleventh hour, the result will be to furnish the criminal classes with an illustration of the facility with which the authority of the law can be evaded such as has never before been seen within living memory.
HE HAS GOT CLEAR AWAY
In single and isolated cases the police have often before shown themselves helpless, but here we have a series of crimes, the magnitude of which is almost unparalleled, and the perpetrator of which has, to all appearance, got clear away, despite all that the beat detectives in England have been able to do, and in defiance also of the hue and cry in which the population of the whole district has joined.
For the credit of those in the pay of the public – the guardians of the peoples’ safety – and in the highest interests of justice, the public have a right to expect that no labour and no expense should be spared in securing the miscreant.
NO CLUES FOR THE POLICE
He is still at large, and in the provinces as in London people wonder if the police have really done what was expected of them – their duty.
While reflecting, however, on the police it must be kept in view that the murderer (if only one) was most careful not to leave the slightest clue – not even a footprint, nor vestige of rag, nor even a torn off button behind.
He managed to perpetrate the whole round of crimes, seven in number, without being once seen, and to vanish completely, as if he had never existed.
All the victims were of the class of unfortunate women, who had been beguiled into some retired place, where their throats were cut and their bodies mutilated in a horrible and indescribable manner, yet in a way displaying considerable knowledge and skill in anatomy.
THE SEARCH FOR THE MURDERER
The striking sameness in the manner of committing the murders, of mutilating the bodies, and of the character of the vicitms, form really all the clue that the authorities have had to guide them in their search for the murderer.
It is, no doubt, a somewhat remarkable one, but it is a very slender one when standing alone.
The metropolitan journals still teem with suggestions to the police, but, with no clue to follow up, the murderer seems to have completely got the better of official vigilance, and promises soon to weary out patience.”