Louis Diemschutz was the steward of the International Workingman’s Educations Society – also known as the Berner Street Club – which was based at number 40 Berner Street.
He also had a side line dealing in cheap jewellery, and on Saturday, 29th September, 1888, he had spent the day hawking his wares at a market near Crystal Palace, to the south of the River Thames.
He returned to Berner Street in the early hours of Sunday, 30th September, 1888, and, at around 1am, he turned his pony and costermonger’s barrow into Dutfield’s Yard, which sided onto the three-storey building that houses the club.
What happened next can be seen in our video:-
THE MAN WHO ALMOST CAUGHT JACK THE RIPPER
HIS PONY SHIED
As he turned into the yard, his pony shied, pulling, as Diemschutz would later recall, away from the side wall of the club, and refused to go any further.
Diemschutz leant forward to see what was causing the pony to hesitate and saw a dark pile directly in front of it.
He reached out with the handle of his whip and tried to lift it, but this he couldn’t do. So he jumped down and struck a match to get a batter view. The match was immediately extinguished by the breeze, but in its brief second’s flickering light he saw that the bundle was, in fact, the prone form of a woman.
HE THOUGHT IT WAS HIS WIFE
At this point Diemschutz believed that the woman was his wife and that she was drunk (it was never recorded or explained why he actually thought this) and so he went into the club to seek the assistance of the members in carrying her back into the building.
To his surprise, he found his wife inside the club – presumably sober – and so he went to some of the club members and told them that there was a woman lying in the yard.
They went with him into Dutfield’s Yard, and by the light f a candle, or a match (there were different press reports about what illumination they actually uses) they saw a stream of blood running from the woman’s throat.
DID HE INTERRUPT THE KILLER?
The woman would later be identified as Elizabeth Stride, and it would be discovered that, although the killer had cut her throat, he had not mutilated the rest of her body, as was the case with the other Jack the Ripper victims.
The police, therefore, surmised that Louis Diemschutz had actually interrupted the killer when he first came into the yard.
It is also likely, therefore, that Elizabeth Stride’s murderer was still at the scene of the crime, when Diemschutz was originally in the yard looking at the body.
If he had not presumed that the woman was his wife and then gone into the club to fetch assistance, but had, instead, raised the alarm there and then, people would have come running to the yard and the murderer would have been caught, quite lietrally, red-handed at the scene of his latest atrocity.
But, because Diemschutz didn’t raise the alarm, but went into the club, the killer was given those vital minutes to escape from the yard and head to the City of London where, in the course of the next 45 minutes, he met and murdered his next victim, Catherine Eddowes.
DO YOU AGREE?
So, Louis Diemschutz was the man who almost caught Jack the Ripper.
Or was he.
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