By 1892, it was almost certain that something had happened to the person who had carried out the series of crimes that have passed down to posterity as the “Jack the Ripper murders.”
What that something was, nobody was 100% certain.
Several detectives who had worked on the case were hinting, and would continue to hint, that the police had, in fact, caught their man, but, for various reasons, were unable to proceed with a prosecution of the perpetrator of history’s most infamous killing spree.
Journalists, meanwhile, were still curious to know if the killer had indeed been identified – and, every so often, newspaper stories appeared throughout the 1890’s that seemed to suggest that the reason the killings had stopped was because the killer had been caught.
A UNNAMED SCOTLAND YARD DETECTIVE
One such story appeared in several newspapers across the country at the end of February 1892; and, since the articles are word for word exact matches, it would seem to have emanated from a press agency report.
The article itself is an intriguing one, since it purports to quote an unnamed Scotland Yard detective who had informed each of the papers “London Correspondent” that the police now knew the identity of Jack the Ripper.
It is also an extremely frustrating article in that it conceals as much as it reveals. If we could only learn who the supposed detective being quoted was; or who the suspect being “shadowed” was, we might come a little closer to uncovering the identity of Jack the Ripper.
But, as with so many stories that were circulating in the press in the 1880’s and 1890’s, the article only goes so far with its revelations, before it pulls back from the brink and pads out the remainder of the article by talking about a completely unrelated case!
The following version of the story appeared in The Gloucester Citizen on Friday the 26th of February 1892:-
TRACKING “JACK THE RIPPER”
REMARKABLE STATEMENT BY A DETECTIVE
“Telegraphing on Thursday night a London correspondent states:-
“I am in a position to give, on the authority of a Scotland Yard detective, a somewhat remarkable piece of information respecting the hunt of the English police after the perpetrator of the terrible series of East End murders which convulsed the whole country with horror a while ago.
We have heard nothing about ‘Jack the Ripper’ for same time past – over a year – and his murderous operations have not been renewed.
THEY HAVE DISCOVERED THE MAN
The reason for this is that the police have, for many months, been perfectly certain that they have discovered the man.
The chain of evidence has been completed with the exception of a single link.
That link they have been making unavailing endeavours to supply.
The suspected criminal, till within a month, at any rate, has been watched and shadowed night and day, awake and asleep, by Scotland Yard detectives.
Everything points to the conclusion that he has himself been perfectly aware of this vigilance on the part of the police, and it is, no doubt, from this cause, and this alone, that the Whitechapel murders have ceased.
HAD HE COMMITTED SUICIDE?
Mr. Farquharson, M.P., for West Dorset, was credited, I believe, some time since with having evolved a remarkable theory of his own in the matter.
He believed that the author of the outrages destroyed himself. [This would appear to be a reference to Jack the Ripper suspect Montague John Druitt.]
But, if the police have been on the right track, this theory is naturally exploded.
There is, as a matter of fact, nothing improbable in the belief arrived at by the Scotland Yard detectives in this matter.
COMMON FOR CRIMINALS TO GET OFF
It is quite common, indeed, for a criminal to get off in this manner.
Some time since – about two years – the London police were on the track of a begging letter writer, who had for some years made a fraudulent living out of members of Parliament and public men.
They knew who the man was perfectly well, shadowed him persistently in the East End, knew his address, and several of his friends and accomplices.
Yet they could not complete their chain of evidence.
The man was never nailed, and he finally left London because his business was too much hampered by the police.
But he has never, to this day, been arrested.””