Over the course of the Ripper murders, the police and newspapers received many thousands of letters regarding the case. Some were from well-intentioned persons offering advice for catching the killer; the vast majority of these were deemed useless and subsequently ignored.
Perhaps more interesting were hundreds of letters which claimed to have been written by the killer ("Jack the Ripper" was a nickname coined by one such writer); however, the vast majority of such letters are considered hoaxes. Many experts contend that none of them are genuine, but of the ones cited as perhaps genuine, either by contemporary or modern authorities, three in particular are prominent:
· The "Dear Boss" letter, dated September 25, postmarked and received
· The "Saucy Jack" postcard, postmarked and received
· The "From Hell" letter, postmarked October 15 and received by George Lusk of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee on
After the "double event" of the early morning of September 30, police searched the area near the crime scenes in an effort to locate a suspect, witnesses or evidence. At about , Constable Alfred Long discovered a bloodstained scrap of cloth near a tenement on
There was graffiti in white chalk on the wall above where the apron was found. Long reported the message as "The Juwes are the men That Will not be Blamed for nothing." Other police officers recalled a slightly different message: "The Juwes are not The men That Will be Blamed for nothing."
Police Superintendent Thomas Arnold visited the scene and saw the graffiti. He feared that with daybreak and the beginning of the day's business, the message would be widely seen and might worsen the general Anti-Semitic sentiments of the populace. Since the Nichols murder, rumors had been circulating in the
While the graffiti was found in Metropolitan Police territory, the apron was from a victim killed in the City of
Most contemporary police concluded that the graffiti was a semi-literate attack on the area's Jewish population. Author Martin Fido notes that graffiti makes use of double negatives, a common feature of Cockney speech. He suggests that the graffiti might be translated into standard English as "The Jews are men who will not take responsibility for anything" and that the message was written by someone who believed he or she had been wronged by one of the many Jewish merchants or tradesmen in the area.
Before detailing the investigation into the Jack the Ripper crimes, it is important to note that investigative techniques and awareness have progressed greatly since the crimes. Many valuable forensic science techniques taken for granted today were unknown to the Victorian-era Metropolitan Police. The concept and motives of serial killers were poorly understood. Police recognized a sexual motive or element to the attacks, but were otherwise thoroughly unfamiliar with such crimes.
The Ripper murders mark an important watershed in modern British life. While not the first serial killer, Jack the Ripper was the first to create a worldwide media frenzy around his killings. Repeal of the Stamp Act in 1855 had enabled the publication of inexpensive newspapers with wider circulation. These mushroomed later in the Victorian era to include mass-circulation newspapers as cheap as a halfpenny, along with popular magazines such as the Illustrated Police News, making the Ripper the beneficiary of previously unparalleled publicity. This, combined with the fact that no one was ever convicted of the murders, created a haunting mythology that cast a shadow over later serial killers.
Some believe the killer's nickname was invented by newspapermen to make for a more interesting story that could sell more papers. The moniker first appeared in a letter ostensibly written by the murderer which most experts now believe was a hoax by a journalist. This practice then became a standard all over the world with examples such as the Boston Strangler, the Green River Killer, the Axeman of New Orleans, the Beltway Sniper, the Hillside Strangler, and the Zodiac Killer, besides the derivative British Yorkshire Ripper almost a hundred years later, and the unnamed perpetrator of the "Thames Nude Murders" of the 1960s, whom the press dubbed Jack the Stripper.
We will continue and finish our look at the phenomenon that is Jack the Ripper in our final installment tomorrow. Jack the Ripper is just another in a long line of reasons that I invite you to keep an open mind and to keep walking in this big weird world of ours!
I’m Average Joe