The Whitechapel Murderer – A Discovery

In September, 1889, the discovery of a female torso, beneath a railway arch in Pinching Street, Whitechapel, led to speculation that Jack the Ripper had returned to the area and had resumed his murderous activities.

Policemen standing under the arch where the body was found.
From The Penny Illustrated Paper, 21st September 1889. Copyright, The British Library Board.


As with the media coverage that had marked each of the murders of the previous autumn of 1888, the press began speculating about who the perpetrator of the crimes might be, and all manner of stories and rumours were again in circulation.

Illustrative of this renewed speculation is the following article, which appeared in The Northern Daily Telegraph, on Monday, September 16th, 1889:-


“What may prove an important discovery in connection with the recent murder in Whitechapel was made on Saturday night.

A fireman named Etherden was standing on a floating fire-station near Charing Cross, when he noticed something floating by. On reaching, he found that it was a brown paper parcel, which contained a chemise covered with blood.

The parcel was handed over to the police at Scotland Yard.


Some important information has, it is alleged, come to the knowledge of the Metropolitan police, which it is thought may probably lead to an elucidation of the terrible mystery associated with the series of murderous outrages London.

Not long since, there resided in the Metropolis – or, rather, its outskirts – an ordinarily well-dressed man who occupied a house by himself, his wife having left him.

At the time of the seventh murder in Whitechapel – when the police, as they have done in each case, made great exertions to obtain the slightest clue, the suspected man, having sold his furniture hurriedly, left the locality on the plea that he was going abroad.

Then it dawned upon one of his neighbours that the individual in question came home on the morning of one of the murders in such an altered garb as to astonish those who had known him.

His explanation – that he had so dressed as a practical joke – was accepted, while, to account for some blood on his clothes, he said he had been assaulted.

For a time, nothing more was thought of the occurrence, his neighbours fully believed that he had sailed for America; but, strange to say, the man was recently seen in London, and on the morning the horrible discovery was made in Pinchin Street it is now believed he was in that district, and that he probably passed one of the police officers called to the scene.

The authorities think that they are now on the track of the Whitechapel miscreant.


A man went to a London newspaper office early yesterday morning and said that another murder had been committed in Hanbury Street, Whitechapel.

A reporter was sent down to investigate, but was unable to learn anything definite from the police.

There was a rumour among some of the men that hang about the coffee stalls that a murder had been committed in Hanbury Street, or, according to others, in Buck’s-row.

A search in the darkest slums and most hidden courts and doorways and passages in and near Hanbury street proved as fruitless as the inquiries.”


The same newspaper also carried an article that was reproduced from the “Dagonet” column that, at the time, was being written for the Referee by George Sims.

In the article, Sims pondered how, if the Whitechapel murderer was ever brought to justice it would as likely be by chance as by design and he presented his readers with a possible scenario as to the apprehension of the ripper.


“”Dagonet” alluding in the Referee to the murder says:-

My own little private idea of what may happen one day, if chance comes to the aid of law and order, is this.

A young policeman, new to his work, and not up to the dodges of the old hands, will one night feel a strong desire to smoke a pipe steal over him.

Not being well up in the methods usually adopted by the astute Robert to enjoy forty whiffs in the open without risking discovery, our young policeman will sneak up a quiet alley or passage, or take himself to a dark corner and ensconce himself behind a cart barrow, and there yield to the seduction of the fragrant weed.

Jack the Ripper, accompanied by the Jill to be ripped, will enter the place, and the young policeman will be a horrified spectator of the scene.

In some way as this, it is just on the cards that the great mystery of Modern Babylon may be laid bare to the eyes of men.”