The Net Was Closing

By September, 1889, almost a year had passed since the Jack the Ripper murders had terrorised the people of the East End of London in particular, and the Victorian public at large.

Yet, the hunt for the killer was still going on, and articles were still appearing in the newspapers suggesting that the perpetrator’s apprehension was imminent.

One such article appeared in The Dundee Courier,  on Friday, 20th September, 1889:-


“There is one man in London (says the New York Herald) who knows more about “Jack the Ripper” than all the policemen and detectives in the metropolis.

For the present, for obvious prudential reasons, the name and address of this person cannot be disclosed. This gentleman, who possesses sufficient material and circumstantial evidence to hang ten “Jack the Rippers,” is in secret communication with Dr Forbes Winslow, and a reporter is in the confidence of the lunacy specialist.

“Jack the Ripper” is known.

He is known to the police, and he is known to several other persons.

The latter have supplied the former with full descriptions of his personality, manners, and habits, and at certain times there has actually been no doubt as to his whereabouts.

A photograph of Dr Forbes Winslow.
Dr Forbes Winslow


The invisibility in which “Jack” is enveloped is growing thinner, and to those who have followed his murderous movements it is certain that Nemesis is closing upon him, and that within a period that may be measured his capture and identity will be effected.

A good many people have seen “Jack the Ripper,” or they think they have, which, in the state of frenzy to which the public nerves have been worked, is very much the same thing.


A man living at Elham, near Canterbury, is quite certain that he has seen him.

He was a man who always had plenty of money, and pretended to be a travelling jeweller. He was always absent from Elham when the Whitechapel mutilations took place.

Some time ago, he gave out that he was going to Manchester. Two days later the Back-church Lane murder took place.

The Elham man cannot afford the expense of coming to London, but if that is paid for him he offers to come to London and put his hand on “Jack” right off.

A Mr Chivers, living at Brixton, called upon Dr. Forbes Winslow several times to give information about a Whitechapel murder, but unfortunately every time he called the doctor was out.


The doctor is on the murderer’s track. He possesses tangible proof of identity, and is convinced that he could effect his arrest in a week.

He means to act upon the clue supplied to him, and does not intend to call in the assistance of the police.

He has done that before, and has formed such an opinion of their incompetence and the mad jealousy which excites them tha,t in future operations, he would prefer to do without them.


Here is his remarkable story.

A gentleman, whom he had previously known, called upon him in reference to the Whitechapel murders.

“Jack the Ripper” lodged in this person’s house.

He knew that it was “Jack the Ripper” by putting two and two circumstances together.

Suspicions were first aroused by the lodger coming home about four o’clock one morning. He had expected to find everybody in bed, and to be able to get to his room unobserved. But, to his surprise, his landlord, Dr Winslow’s informant, had been kept up waiting for his wife, who was on a visit to some friends.

The lodger was excited and incoherent in his talk. He said that he had been having a rough time, that he had been assaulted, and had had his watch stolen, and he gave the name of the police station where he had laid a complaint.

Upon inquiries at the police station, this story was found to be entirely devoid of foundation. He had made no complaint, and the police had no knowledge of a street disturbance.

The man’s shirt and underclothing were found hanging over chairs. They had been washed, and had been put out to dry.

He was in the habit of talking about the women of the street, and he wrote “long rigmaroles” about them. His writing, in minute particulars, resembled that of the letters sent to the police purporting to come from “Jack the Ripper.”


He had a wardrobe as extensive as a Duke’s.

It included eight suits of clothes, eight pairs of boots, and eight hats.

The man can speak several languages, and when he went out he always carried a black bag.

He was apparently well off, and never wore the same hat on two successive occasions.

When he left his lodgings a quantity of bows, feathers, and flowers, and other articles which had belonged to the lower class of women were found in his room.

He also left behind him three pairs of boots and three pairs of goloshes, one of each of which is now in the possession of Doctor Winslow.

The boots are ordinary leather lace-up boots with thin soles.

The goloshes have indiarubber bottoms and American cloth uppers, and are bespattered with blood.

An illustration of Jack the Ripper's boots.
Jack The Ripper’s Boots. From The Illustrated Police News. Copyright, The British Library Board.


Doctor Winslow stated to a reporter:- “From my informant’s general description of the man, and the history of the case, I have not the slightest doubt that he is the Whitechapel murderer. He is a linguist, and under strong religious delusions with reference to the women in the streets.

He says he has done several wonderful operations.

He was constantly talking to himself, and he had a pistol which he used to keep on the sideboard in his room.

When anyone entered, he would rush across the room, and put his back against the sideboard, and, with his hands behind him, he would feel for the revolver.

I have seen more letters, and more people about this, and other Whitechapel murders than the Home Office, and I have not the slightest doubt that “Jack the Ripper” is a lunatic.

I don’t think anybody can have any doubt about that.”

Another murder is expected in a few days.


The Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee informs the press that the police at Leman Street, having received a letter stating that a tall, strong woman has for some time been working at different slaughterhouses attired as a man, inquiries were on Thursday morning made by the police at the slaughterhouses in Aldgate and Whitechapel.

The theory is thus raised that the murderer may be a woman.”