The Nine Bad Jacks

On April 3rd, 1892, The St Paul Sunday Globe, published the following article, which demonstrates how the Jack the Ripper crimes, of 1888, had so captured the imagination of people the world over, that many criminals, murderers and otherwise, were being given the sobriquet “Jack.”


A Class Of Criminals Whose Evil Deeds Have Mystified The World
Their Singular Methods Awaken A Psychological Inquiry
Deeds Which Range From Practical Joking To Repulsive Brutality. 

“This may be fitly termed the age of “Jack, the Modern Bogy Man.” Ghosts and hobgoblins pale into insignificance beside him.

Since the beginning of the horrible slaughter of women in Whitechapel, every man who has committed any singularly surprising act or crime has been dubbed “Jack,” with the nature of his eccentricity fully explained by the addition of two words that tell the story.

History now has recorded nine distinct “Jacks,” and all of them, with the exception of the London fiend, are now within a radius of 100 miles of New York.

Their depredations are various in nature; some of them have fallen into the clutches of the law. but the majority are still puzzles to the police and public. and, from the present outlook, will remain so.

The London “Jack the Ripper” stands at the head of the list. Not only is he the pioneer “Jack,” but the finish of his work and his marvellous escapes have alone won for him the unenviable title of leader.

A sketch of what Jack the Ripper was thought to look like.
The Image Of Jack The Ripper That Accompanied The Article.


One murder has been committed in New York by “Jack the Ripper,” and, as far as details are concerned, the mutilation was similar to that done in Whitechapel, and the character of the woman the same as the European victims.

A man is now serving a life sentence for the crime.

This murder was committed early on the morning of the 24th of last April,  in room No. 31, on the fifth floor of a notorious dive at the corner of Catharine and Water streets, known as the East River hotel.

The room was assigned late the night before to a lightly built man and Carrie Brown, an old woman known by her associates as “Shakespeare,” on account of her ability to recite entire acts from the great poet’s works.

At 9 o’clock the next morning a young bartender went through the hotel awakening the sleepers and turning them out.

He received no response from No. 31, and after waiting a few minutes and knocking again, he pushed open the door.

The sight that met his gaze caused him to utter a cry of horror.

On the bed lay the body of old “Shakespeare.” She was frightfully slashed about the lower portion of her body.

The details of the tragedy, with the exception that the knife was found, had such a striking similarity to the London murders that the police at once concluded New York had been paid a visit by the original “ripper.”


Inspector Byrnes, who had once remarked that, if “Jack, the Ripper” ever did any work In New York, he would have him in less than forty-eight hours, made good his words.

He flooded the district with scores of his best men, and any number of suspects were caught in the dragnet.

Out of these a man known as “Frenchy,” upon whom blood stains were found, was chosen as the murderer.

At the trial, which was one of the most interesting murder trials ever held in this city, “Frenchy,” through an interpreter, said his name was Ameer Ben Ali and that he came from the tribe of Ben Aisha, inhabiting a valley near Algiers.

He claimed never to have seen the woman he was charged with killing and protested his innocence loudly.

A sketch of Ben Ali.
The Sketch Of The Supposed Murderer of Carrie Brown.



The evidence against him was circumstantial, but so cleverly was it woven that it shattered the defence.

The strongest testimony was that of Dr. Formad, the expert, who made an examination of the blood and dirt taken front under the Arabian’s fingernails and who said the corpuscles were similar to those in the blood taken from the body of the murdered woman.

The jury returned a verdict of murder in the second degree, and the man is now serving a life sentence at Sing Sing.

As far as Ben Ali’s guilt was concerned, this verdict was practically an acquittal for him, and to this day the general opinion is that the murderer of “Shakespeare” is still at large.

The argument advanced, and it is certainly a strong one, is that if Ben Ali committed the deed, which was a most brutal one, he should certainly have paid the full penalty of the crime with his life.


The next “Jack” of importance was a man whose tendencies for slashing were as fiendish as those of the “Ripper”, but, in this case, only drunken men were attacked and their throats cut by a single heavy stroke of a Keen razor.

The attention of the police was first attracted to the operations of “Jack the Slasher” on Dec. 29. 1891.

Shortly after midnight on that date, a man staggered into the Elizabeth Street Police station, bleeding profusely from a gash in his throat that extended from ear to ear.

He said he was James Heflin, a cook, and that he had been drinking most of the night.

Only a few minutes previous a man had approached him from behind and cut him. He turned, but saw nothing more than a figure skulking away in the darkness.

Louis Larsen, a Swedish sailor was the next victim.

He was also drunk, and had his throat cut at about 3 a. m. on Jan. 8.

He could give no description of his assailant, but said that he had been attacked from behind.

About 2 o’clock on the morning of Jan. 8, John Clark, a seventeen-year-old boy, who had left his home in Elizabeth, N. J., to come to this city on a drunk, staggered into the Oak Street station, almost dead from the effects of a gaping wound in his throat.

He got a good look at his assailant, however, and was positive he could identify him.

The next man who fell under the slasher’s knife was George Williams, of Brooklyn, who was attacked in Oliver Street, near the Catherine Street ferry.

He was too drunk to give a description of the man who committed the deed.


On the morning of the 15th, only four days later, the police were set on their mettle by finding the body of John Carson, with his throat cut from ear to ear, in front of a stable at 37 Chrystle street.

The wound had been inflicted in exactly the same manner as the others.

Scores of policemen in citizens’ clothes patrolled the district nightly.

Among them was William Masterson, of the Oak Street station.


About 2 o’clock, on the morning of Jan. 17, he noticed a suspicious character in Roosevelt Street and followed him at a distance.

The man soon began dogging the footsteps of a drunken man, and when they had walked two blocks, closed in, and, grabbing the victim from behind, slashed his throat and then started away.

Masterson quickly jumped on the scene. and, knocking the fellow down, secured him.

The drunken man was William Miller.


Thus was “Jack the Slasher” caught, and nicely, too, and he acknowledged to Inspector Byrnes that he had committed the two murders and the other assaults.

He was identified as Henry G. Dowd, and he came from a very good family.

He was undoubtedly insane, for he said he had a mania to kill drunken Dutchmen who bore a resemblance to a man who had once insulted his mother.

He is now in an asylum.

A sketch of Henry Dowd.
The Newspaper Sketch Of Henry G. Dowd.


In this man, a most peculiar form of insanity was discovered.

His presence was first made known to the police last summer, when numerous complaints were made at the Nineteenth precinct station by women whose dresses were spotted with ink.

When the story was published many other complaints were received, and it was found that in all cases the dresses ruined were exceptionally new and pretty.

None of the women could give any description of the person who threw the ink from the fact that the fluid was thrown on the back of the skirt, and consequently not discovered until the dress was removed.

It was clearly a case of “morbid impulse.”

For three mouths the mysterious man continued unmolested in his destructive work.

His field of operations was among the shopping districts in Sixth Avenue and on Fourteenth and Twenty-Third Streets.

In August he was caught in the act of squirting ink on the dress of a woman on Sixth Avenue.

He had in his pocket a good-sized bottle of ink, and in his hand was a small glass and a rubber tube, such as is used in filling fountain pens, and which had been his weapon in every case.

He was a man about thirty years of age, poorly dressed, and, as he could not or would not give any account of himself, he was sent to Bellevue to be examined as to his sanity.

There are undoubtedly many women who never reported the destruction of their gowns in this strange manner.


This fellow’s operations were similar to those of the preceding character, and the form of insanity – a desire to throw something at a woman’s dress – of the same development.

He was first heard from in upper Sixth Avenue, between Fortieth and Sixtieth streets.

His plan was to stand in a doorway, and, when a victim passed, throw on her a cupful of water.

He would always make it appear accidental and offer profuse apologies.

The frequency of the act, however, brought about a complaint to the police, and he disappeared, only to turn up a month later on the East side, where he repeated his actions.

When complaints were made from this quarter, he stopped his queer work and has not been heard from since.


On Monday, news reached this city that the ruffian who created a reign of terror in Danbury, Conn.two months ago has resumed his work, and, as a consequence, every young woman in the town is afraid to venture out on the street at night unless accompanied by a sturdy male escort.

A few nights ago two girls were passing through Harmony Street, when a man sprang from behind a tree and threw his arm around one of them.

The girls screamed loudly, and the man released his grasp upon the approach of two men.

The man appeared in Connecticut two months ago, and hugged two or three young girls nightly.

Once or twice he has kissed his victims, but is generally content to hug them tightly until their screams attract attention.

Searching parties were unsuccessful before, but they are being organized again.”

A skecth showing a man hugging a girl.
The Illustration Showing Jack The Hugger.


From November, 1890, until late last summer, the inhabitants of a dozen New Jersey towns in the vicinity of Elizabeth were terrorized at different intervals of about two weeks at a time by the appearance of a heavily built man, with a villainous face, which most of the time was hidden by a huge slouch hat.

Upon striking a town, he would wait until about 8 o’clock in the evening: and then start on a tour of peeping.

He would always select the windows of the room in which the family were sitting, and, upon being discovered, he would drop out of sight as completely as if he had gone through the earth.

As a rule, he would peep into about nine houses a night, and would let one night elapse before repeating the queer actions around other houses.

He was never known to remain longer than two weeks in one town, but in many cases return visits were paid after an absence of a month or more.

The excitement at one time became so high throughout the besieged locality that searching parties were instituted and, although many long and weary vigils were kept. “Jack the Peeper” was never caught.

The remarkable faculty he had of disappearing almost instantly still remains an unfathomable mystery.

One of the best theories advanced is that he is a man who is hunting down some person who has wronged him or his kin, and whom he knows only by face.


For the past months, complaints have been received at the Nineteenth Police precinct from women who said that an elderly, well-dressed man who frequented the shopping district stuck his face close to theirs and smiled and made himself otherwise annoying.

Last week Mrs. Clara A. Wendell, of 229 Eighth Avenue, was inflicted with his smile, and she promptly called a policeman and had the man arrested.

At the Jefferson Market Police-court, he gave his name as Henry Hartman, and said, he lived in Brooklyn.

He could not explain his peculiar actions and was discharged with a reprimand, after paying, a small fine.

He will be kept track of, however.

A sketch of Jack the Smiler approaching two women.
The Paper’s Depiction Of Jack The Smiler.


The man to whom this appellation belongs is unique in his class, from the fact that he appeared in two guises and frequented two localities – the extremes of social life.

Clad in torn and soiled garments, he showed up among the tenements on the east side about a year and a half ago, and brought himself at once into prominence by kissing schoolgirls as they were returning home from the afternoon session.

Dressed neatly, and showing excellent taste, he would parade Fifth Avenue, and politely ask every young lady who happened to catch his fancy to kiss him.

Complaints were made to the police from both districts, and it was found that the physical descriptions of the “two” men tallied exactly.

Upon investigation, it was found that he would remain in one guise a week and then assume the other, after the fashion of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

He was never caught.


This title explains itself, and the intentions of the man to whom it was applied are easily guessed at.

He terrorized the young girls on the east side of the lower portion of the city for over three months last spring, and was looked upon as some terrible being, although all he did was to snip their hanging locks while they were not looking, and then escape.

The theft was generally made while the victims were looking into shop windows, and those who suffered thus prided themselves on their wealth of hair, which they allowed to hang in curls or braids down their back.

The cutting was done with a big pair of Keen scissors, and one clip was all that was ever necessary.

The police searched long for him, but without success.

He probably sold the hair at a good price to dealers in switches and wigs.”