One of the most misreported episodes in the hunt for Jack the Ripper is the story of how the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Charles Warren, attempted to use bloodhounds in an endeavour to catch the killer.
The idea that bloodhounds might be able to make the much needed breakthrough the the police seemed unable to make had, in fact, been suggested by the Home Office.
Sir Charles Warren had, at first, questioned the credibility of using dogs in an area where the pavements were well-trodden by people day and night and when the police had nothing from the killer to provide a scent that the dogs might follow.
His reservations notwithstanding, Sir Charles Warren agreed to trials being held in two London parks to see how effective bloodhounds could be. The fact that Warren himself acted as a decoy led to the oft reported, and totally inaccurate, story that the bloodhounds had hunted down none other than Sir Charles Warren himself.
Warren, however, was sufficiently impressed by the trails to issue orders that, in the event of further murders no-one was to go near the body until bloodhounds could be brought to the scene and set on the trail.
Thus it was that when, on 9TH November 1888, when the body of another victim, Mary Kelly, was found in her room in Miller’s Court, off Dorset Street in Spitalfields, the police delayed entering the room until the bloodhounds could be brought to the scene.
What they didn’t realise was that there had been disagreement over who should actually pay for the bloodhounds and their owner had taken them back and so they weren’t available.
It was because of that delay that a photographer was able to take a picture of the body of Mary Kelly as it lay on the bed in her room in Dorset Street. That photograph, is the only one we have of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims at the scene of the crime.
Looking at it, even today inured as we are to scenes of violence on television, in films and on news channels, it is hard to suppress a shudder and you really to see the raw ferocity and horror of the Jack the Ripper murders.
You can see the photograph and visit the site of Mary Kelly’s murder on our nightly tour of the streets of Jack the Ripper’s East End. Why not book your places now?