Little Bits of History

Going Postal

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 15, 2013
Jack the Ripper murder reported

Jack the Ripper murder reported

October 15, 1888: A letter is sent to Mr. Lusk, supposedly coming “From hell.” This was the third and last of the letters most frequently deemed to have come from an unknown assailant terrorizing the streets of London’s Whitechapel area. While the crime spree is given different dates due to “unknown assailant” status for other crime victims, there are five canonical victims. Mary Ann Nichols, aka Polly, was murdered on August 31, 1888. Annie Chapman fell on September 8. Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were both killed on September 30 and Mary Jane Kelly was butchered on November 9. There were 11 similar murders between April 3, 1888 and February 13, 1891. The five listed are said to be the true victims of the criminal dubbed Jack the Ripper.

The first of the three most likely letters from Jack, the “Dear Boss” letter, was sent to the Central News Agency of London on September 27, 1888. The letter commented on various aspects of the case and was written in red ink since the blood saved from the last victim had clotted and couldn’t be used. The author promised to cut the ears off the next victim and send them to the police. The next missive, the “Saucy Jacky” postcard, was sent October 1. The postcard refers to the two killings on September 30. There was some speculation these letters may have also been hoaxes perpetrated by journalists. Scotland Yard was inundated with them, but these three were given credence.

The “From hell” letter was sent to George Lusk, the head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. The letter arrived with a small box containing a human kidney preserved in ethanol. One of Eddowes’s kidneys had been removed at the time of her murder. Many of the physical evidence artifacts have been removed from police custody. It is assumed they were stolen as souvenirs from the famous case. What we have today are photographs of the postcard and last letter. The first letter was returned anonymously to the Metropolitan Police in 1988.

The case was never solved. Six main suspects were identified by the police at the time. Five more possible perpetrators were identified by journalists and citizens interested in the case. Fourteen other names have been mentioned by researchers working from a later date. No one knows who Jack the Ripper was, why he started his killing spree, and even more importantly – why he stopped. The name for the murderer came from the signature line of the Dear Boss letter. It was signed “Jack the Ripper” with an additional line “Dont mind me giving the trade name.”

“Mr Lusk,
I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer” – entire text of the ‘From hell’ letter

“I was not codding dear old Boss when I gave you the tip, you’ll hear about Saucy Jacky’s work tomorrow double event this time number one squealed a bit couldn’t finish straight off. Had not got time to get ears off for police thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again.” – entire text of the ‘Saucy Jacky” postcard

“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.” – partial text from ‘Dear Boss’ letter

“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.” – partial text from ‘Dear Boss’ letter

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The police suspects for Jack the Ripper were: Montague John Druitt, Seweryn Kłosowski alias George Chapman, Aaron Kosminski, Michael Ostrog, John Pizer, James Thomas Sadler, and Francis Tumblety. The press and public opinion of the time listed more suspects: William Henry Bury, Thomas Neill Cream, Thomas Hayne Cutbush, Frederick Bailey Deeming, Carl Feigenbaum, and Robert Donston Stephenson. Authors of later times added even more suspects: Joseph Barnett, Lewis Carroll, David Cohen, William Withey Gull, George Hutchinson, James Kelly, James Maybrick, Alexander Pedachenko, Walter Sickert, Joseph Silver, James Kenneth Stephen, Francis Thompson, Duke of Clarence, and Sir John Williams. There is still no definitive answer to the crime.

Also on this day: Rostov Ripper – In 1992, Andrei Chikatilo, of Russia, was found guilty of 52 murders.
You Got Some ‘Splainin To Do – In 1851, I Love Lucy premiered.
Chance Chants – In 1764, Edward Gibbon was inspired to write his work on the fall of Rome.

Who Was He?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 31, 2010

Mary Ann Nichols

August 31, 1888: Mary Ann Nichols is brutally murdered by someone wielding a long sharp knife. Her body was discovered in Bucks Row in the Whitechapel District of London, England. She was the first of five victims of an elusive serial killer. All victims were women who were of “ill repute” and all the bodies were mutilated.

The next victim was Annie Chapman who was killed on September 8 and then Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were murdered on September 30. Finally, Mary Jane Kelly was killed on November 9. The murderer was never found, but his legend remains alive.

Suspected in the slayings were 1) Kosminski – a poor Jew from the area; 2) Montague John Druitt – 31-year-old barrister and teacher who committed suicide in December 1888; 3) Michael Ostrog – 55-year-old Russian-born thief who spent time in many asylums over the years; and 4) Dr. Francis J. Tumblety – 56-year-old American “quack doctor” who left the country in 1888. Other names have been brought forward, including a member of the Royal Family – Prince Edward.

These five murders are part of a larger cluster of attacks. Eleven women were attacked over close to four years in the Whitechapel area. The wounds inflicted on the remaining six victims did not match those of the five listed above and are assumed to have been committed by other person or persons unknown. The brutal murderer of prostitutes was said to have sent a letter to the news and signed it by that most fearful of murderous names – Jack the Ripper.

“Murder is terribly exhausting.” – Albert Camus

“The very emphasis of the commandment: Thou shalt not kill, makes it certain that we are descended from an endlessly long chain of generations of murderers, whose love of murder was in their blood as it is perhaps also in ours.” – Sigmund Freud

“Murder is born of love, and love attains the greatest intensity in murder.” – Octave Mirbeau

“No doubt Jack the Ripper excused himself on the grounds that it was human nature.” – A.A. Milne

“There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper.” – Camille Paglia

Also on this day, in 1900 Coke is first served in England.
Bonus Link: In  1997, Diana
, Princess of Wales, is killed in a car crash.