The Whitechapel Murders and Letters to the Editor
While London was gripped by Jack the Ripper terror during the Autumn of 1888, letters where landing on the desks of local paper editors and even the police, purporting to be written by the Whitechapel murderer himself. Most deemed to be fakes, either from hoaxers or unscrupulous newspaper journalists creating fake news stories for their own paper circulation ambitions, but not all.
A letter to the Central News Agency London “Dear Boss”, introduced the name Jack the Ripper for the first time, a name that would live in infamy.
Why was the Dear Boss Letter not considered a hoax?
The Dear Boss letter would most certainly have joined the pile of hoax letters if it where not for the double murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, 5 days after the Dear Boss letter had been written. In the early hours of 30th September, in a dark yard off Berner Street, called Dutfield’s yard the body of Elizabeth Stride was found. The body was discovered by Louis Diemshutz, a steward from a nearby club. He rode his pony into the yard at 1am, his horse startled in the darkness, leading Diemshutz to dismount to find the body of Elizabeth. The body had a single wound to the throat, with some speculating Diemshutz and his horse had somehow disturbed the Whitechapel murder.
Berner Street now called Henriques Street
Murder of Elizabeth Stride or Elizabeth Watts
Elizabeth Stride was for some time miss identified as Elizabeth Watts, thanks to her sister who lay claim the deceased was indeed her sister, even after visiting the body 3 times in the mortuary. The issue only been cleared when the very much alive Elizabeth Watts hobbled into the coroner’s court.
Murder of Catherine Eddowes
45 minutes later that night, a second murder took place, a short distance away in Mitre Square. This time on the fringe of the City of London. Police Constable Watkins noticed a bundle lying on the ground in the south west corner of the square. Going over to investigate, Police Constable Watkins recoiled back in shock at the mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes.
The connection with the Dear Boss letters
The double murders where linked to the Dear Boss letter, from the line in the letter that read “The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you“. which eerily resembled what happened with the body of Elizabeth Eddowes. The connection was so certain at the time, the police followed through with the next line of the letter ” Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight” as they instructed the press to publish it, in the hope someone would recognise the hand writing. The Name Jack The Ripper entered the public lexicon.
The Dear Boss Letter in full
Letter written on the 25th of September 1888, and delivered to the central news agency on the 27th, in red ink, it read;
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck.
Jack the Ripper
Dont mind me giving the trade name
PS Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now. ha ha
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The Name ‘Jake the Ripper’, the world will not forget it
The Whitechapel murders had already been happening around Whitechapel by the time the ‘Dear Boss’ letter was sent. The letter was significant because it gave the world the name ‘Jack the Ripper’, a name the world would not forget. There is some speculation that the author of these letters was not of the crimes or Jack the Ripper, but was a journalist. Either way, the letters created a pseudo-identity of the murderer to a level of criminal notoriety not yet witnessed in society.
The Jack the Ripper trail, places of interest
Anything to add please comment below, will add to this list
- Durward street that was Buck’s Row Whitechapel school and cobblestones in the road.
- 29 Hanbury Street Spitalfields now the entrance to the Truman Brewery
- Ten Bells pub in Fornier St and Commercial st is a PUB
- It is also a Grade II listed building, now known for Jack the Ripper tours, memorabilia between 1976-88, the final victim, Mary Jane Kelly lived here, Annie Chapman may have used the pub
- Former pub called Ye Frying Pan 13 Brick Lane, on the junction with Thrawl street. It is not a pub now it is an Indian Restaurant; It was another Truman Hanbury and Buxton Pub. Polly Nichols victim drank here
- Princess Alice pub 42 commercial street, now called City Darts. Junction with Wentworth street Grade II listed building a Truman Hanbury and Buxton Pub. Frances Coles used it before her murder
- The Hoop & Grapes pub, on 14 widget street corner of Sandy’s Row few minutes away from Millers court a key site that always seems to come up with Jack the Ripper walks, or tales. The Story goes Jack the Ripper was last being seen here. A tall stranger, well dressed with a silk black hat approached a woman by the name of Mrs Paumier, outside selling chestnuts. The stranger said ‘have you heard about the murder in Dorset Street’. She replied, she had, and the stranger retorted “I know more about it than you”.
- Henriques street by Dutfields yard off Berners Street, now the schoolyard was the location of Elizabeth Stride’s murder.
- Mitre Square, the corner another victim was located by the name of Catherine Eddowes, buried here
- Dorset street Spitalfields / Millers Court, the final victim location, Mary Kelly.
- Castle Alley / Old Castle Street Aldgate the location of victim Alice Mckenzie
- Many victims lived around Dean street or Flower Street. This is now Lolesworth ST
- Gunthorpe St or as then known as George Yard was the location for the victim by the name of Martha Tabram.