Goulston Street

JACK THE RIPPER ‘THE DEMENTED GENIUS’ HIS DEEDS AND TIMES

23 – THE WRITING ON THE WALL

Screen Shot 2012-06-26 at 22.59.06 

Conspiracy or cock up, either way whatever occurred in Goulston Street in the early hours of the 30th September 1888 points towards something odorous. In simpler language it stinks. This is what happened. At 2.55 a.m. PC Long passed 118-119 Goulston Street, the entrance to Wentworth Model Dwellings. On his previous tour he had passed the archway at 2.20 a.m. The hallway was about five foot deep and dark but PC Long noticed a piece of apron on the floor below the stairs that led to the dwellings or flats.   The apron was smeared with blood.  PC Long stepped into the passageway and saw that there was writing on the wall.  Reports are vague about which wall but Superintendent Arnold stated that the chalk writing ‘was in such a position that it would have been rubbed out by the shoulders of persons passing in and out of the building.’ That implies the writing had not been there long and it was left on a wall at the side of the archway, perhaps the wall at the right of the entrance.   The wall was divided by a border, and the writing was on the black dado, the lower half. The bricks above the border were white. This is what the writing said or almost said. ‘The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.’ Amongst the witnesses there was a difference of opinion about the spelling of the word Jews, Juwes or Juews and where the negative was placed in the sentence.

Prior to the discovery of the apron and the writing on the wall two murders had been committed that morning. Liz Stride was discovered dead around 1 a.m., and 45 minutes later PC Edward Watkins found the mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes in Mitre Square.  Apart from being the scene of a brutal crime the location is important because Mitre Square was covered by the City Police.   Goulston Street came under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police.

goul2

After discovering the apron and seeing the writing on the wall PC Long called PC 190H, whose name is not recorded. PC Long asked PC 190H to keep guard at the entrance to 118-119 Goulston Street. Detectives arrived and these included Superintendent Arnold from the Metropolitan Police. Detective Halse and Major Smith who had visited the body of Eddowes in the mortuary also came to Goulston Street. Because both the Metropolitan Police and the City Police were interested in the discoveries by PC Long, more detectives arrived. Plenty were available because the City Police had recruited additional men to patrol the streets of their territory.  They had hoped to prevent the murders in Whitechapel spilling over into the City.

Superintendent Arnold of the Metropolitan Police wanted the writing to be washed away because, so it was said, it would inflame anti-Jewish feeling in Whitechapel. The dwellings at Goulston Street were occupied by local Jewish people. Superintendent Arnold left an inspector in charge until Sir Charles Warren could make a decision about what should happen to the writing.  Armed with a bucket and sponge the inspector waited. Superintendent McWilliam of City Police also made some decisions. He ordered the residences in the building to be searched. Unlike Superintendent Arnold the City Police Superintendent wanted the writing on the wall to be at least photographed. Superintendent McWilliam visited the mortuary and matched the piece of apron to the apron that the victim Eddowes was wearing. Whether McWilliam expected the writing to be photographed while he was absent is not known. Despite the difference in opinion and the presence of detectives who had a territorial interest in what happened next both Superintendents felt they could leave the scene of the crime.

goulston-street-clue-staircase

Sir Charles Warren arrived at Goulston Street at 5.00 a.m.  Following discussion and perhaps heated argument Warren ordered the writing to be washed away. This happened at 5.30 a.m. and as daylight arrived. Without the daylight the arguments may have been more protracted. No photographs were taken. The evidence was lost.   Six weeks later Sir Charles Warren was no longer Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

The official explanation is that the writing on the wall if seen could have caused an anti-Semitic riot. Superintendent Arnold mentioned what had happened after the rumours of a Jewish killer called Leather Apron. There had been ill feeling to suspicious characters but no riot. Neither was there a riot after the writing became public knowledge. Even if the fears of rioting were valid they only justified concealing the existence of the evidence. There were no grounds for destruction. When the writing was discovered, the police thought they were hunting a man who had killed six women with escalating savagery.   A compromise had been suggested before Sir Charles Warren arrived.  The writing could have been washed away after a photograph was taken. In view of the misgivings of the rival police force it is odd that Warren made such an emphatic decision.

18663691_303

Opinion regarding the behaviour of Sir Charles Warren at Goulston Street has become polarised. His defendants argue that he was right to be concerned about social unrest. Some of his critics claim a masonic conspiracy and insist that the actual spelling of Jews in the writing was either ‘Juwes’ or ‘Juewes’.   Their belief is that ‘Juwes’ refers not to the Jewish people but to the three men who murdered Hiram Abiff the architect of Solomon’s Temple. The three men were called Jubelo, Jubela and Jubelum. Sir Charles Warren was an enthusiastic freemason who had excavated below Solomon’s Temple.  Some of the conspiracy theories to emerge have been fanciful but a masonic conspiracy does not have to exist for us to wonder whether Sir Charles Warren that morning reacted to the writing as a freemason rather than an objective policeman.   We should be wary of creative theories but we are obliged to be suspicious.

Sir Charles Warren had Chief Inspector Donald Swanson employed at Scotland Yard to ensure that all aspects of the investigation reached the desk of the Commissioner. Neither man was disposed to visit the East End.  Somehow a senior policeman who had resisted viewing the scenes where brutal murders had occurred was persuaded in the early hours of the morning to visit Goulston Street and read a scrawl on a wall.

24071265897_087a1e0591_b

Suspicion is enhanced by the action of the police that followed. The reports from PC Long, Superintendent Arnold and Sir Charles Warren were delayed for almost a week and then all arrived on the same day. The suspicious believe that the police were taking time to reinvent what happened and line up their accounts. The newspapers reported that ‘Juwes’ was how the Polish immigrants referred to Jewish people. Without any supporting evidence Warren suggested that the spelling was probably Irish. Again it feels like misdirection had occurred.

The claim by Chief Inspector Walter Dew that the writing was no more than graffiti typical of the area is unconvincing. Casual graffiti is written where it is obvious and can be seen by passers by.  This is why motorway bridges and the sides of subway trains became popular locations. The writing on the wall was left in a dark doorway and next to a piece of leather apron stained with the blood of the most recent victim. The capital letters in the sentence were recorded as being three quarters of an inch high and the rest were in proportion. This is not typical graffiti and its coexistence alongside a piece of bloodied apron is an odd coincidence. It may or may not have been teasing from a killer who needed to pass some time out of sight.  But, if that were the case, why would Jack the Ripper be carrying a piece of chalk?

1608031500

 

Between the polemical arguments there is a mundane explanation that has so far been missed. The murder of Catherine Eddowes created a problem for the City and Metropolitan Police. The Metropolitan Police had authority over the clues, and the City Police had a murder to investigate in Mitre Square.   The likelihood of conflict and bruised feelings in a busy and claustrophobic archway at Goulston Street on the morning of the 30th September is not remote. An argument over authority could have easily escalated into a turf war that soon became an irrational battle. Sir Charles Warren had already been bruised by his arguments with Charles Monro over the independence of the CID. The dispute at 118-119 Goulston Street may have been an unbearable insult for an exasperated and weary man.

happy-days

But there are a lot of freemasons in the British Police, and a man who could be compelled to irrationality by a simple dispute with a neighbouring police force is also capable of responding to writing on a wall that suggests freemason knowledge. The dismissal of the alternative interpretation of the word Juwes or Juewes has been perfunctory. The claim that in 1888 there was only one masonic term for the three ‘ruffians’ that murdered the architect of Solomon’s Temple feels not just silly and defensive but deceitful.  Conspiracy or cockup are the alternative theories of history, and that morning of the 30th September 1888 Sir Charles Warren managed to provide evidence to support either interpretation. Over the 130 years that have elapsed since that damp morning in Goulston Street the colleagues and supporters of Sir Charles Warren have not helped him.

 Howard Jackson has had seven books published by Red Rattle Books including novels, short stories and collections of film criticism.   If you are interested in original horror and crime fiction and want information about the books of Howard Jackson and the other great titles at Red Rattle Books, click here.

 

Advertisements

JACK THE RIPPER ‘THE DEMENTED GENIUS’

TWENTY – THE LETTERS

 

Red-handwritten-letter 

Not all the letters now exist, and of the letters that have been preserved not all have envelopes that reveal intended addresses.   One letter was sent to the maid of a gentleman whose name was missing from the envelope.   The sender signed the letter Jack the Ripper and added that he craved blood. Not the type of thing to help a young woman sleep at night.   The Beatles and Elvis changed hairstyles. Like Batman, whose creation he may have inspired, Jack the Ripper also had fans and imitators. Some of the letters may have been from him but there are 210 in which the sender claimed to be either Jack the Ripper or the slayer of the victims. On the 10th of October 1888 seven letters arrived from locations that included London, Leicester and Edinburgh. As some letters have been mislaid, the likelihood is that in total around 300 letters were posted from people claiming to be the Ripper.   The letters were sent to the police, the press, those in authority and sometimes neighbours against whom there was a grievance.  2000 more letters arrived from people who thought they had something to contribute to the investigation.  Again not all these letters were posted to the police.  Some of the letters came from outside the country and not all were in the English language.  Of these mainly well-intentioned letters 700 were investigated by the police. The rest were ignored.

Pile-of-old-letters

Analysts have suggested that some of the frequent grammatical imperfections in the letters from supposed murderers are deliberate.   Those who believe they have identified the select few that came from the actual Ripper have noted inconsistencies between simple words being misspelt and more complicated examples being perfect.  This may be true but it is also odd, considering the ego required for murder, that there are no examples of a writer using the medium to demonstrate superior intelligence through literary ability.  The only letters that are grammatically sound appear after the death of Mary Jane Kelly.   Only one letter insists upon accomplishment and this opus of 81 lines of rhyming verse was sent on the 8th of November 1889 and to ‘the Superintendent of Great Scotland Yard London’.   The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner it is not but for once the self-congratulation is not restricted to the ability to be violent.

untitled-design-46

Handwriting experts, psychologists and writers desperate to discover the identity of the Ripper have pored over the letters that remain. This is certain. One, there were too many letters from too many different destinations for it all to be the work of one person.  Two, some of the letter writers would have written more than once.   Three, Jack the Ripper may have been the author of one or more of those letters.   Four, the rest is imaginative theory.

Five letters have received more attention than the rest. This is because of when they appeared, who saw them, when they were seen and the stylistic flourishes that were either copied or repeated. These five letters can be separated into two groups.   In the first group are three that announced the arrival of Jack the Ripper.   These three refer to each other and have persuaded many that they were written by the killer. The other two, which came later, had the added bonus of referring to the kidney that was sent to George Lusk the chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee.

91vOfF-SEEL._SY445_

The first letter of the initial three was received on the 27th of September 1888 by the news agency Central News.   In this letter the writer attempts a jocular tone. He uses the phrase ‘ha ha’ three times, a phrase that occasionally appeared in subsequent letters. The letter was signed Jack the Ripper and asked that the reader, ‘Don’t mind me giving the trade name.’ There was an apology for not writing the letter in blood and for red ink being used as a substitute. Because the blood was thick like glue, the writer had kept the blood in a ginger beer bottle. For someone who disembowelled his victims the use of empty ginger beer bottles is almost endearing.   The promise that ‘I shall clip the lady’s ears off and send to the police officers,’ indicated to some researchers that the letter was written by the Ripper.  Catherine Eddowes and Liz Stride were both murdered in the early hours of September 30 1888.  The lobe of the right ear of Catherine Eddowes was found in her clothing when the body was examined. The lobe, though, was not sent to the police. There was also a continuous cut across the neck that finished at the ear. The lobe was a casualty not an objective.

On the 1st of October 1888 a postcard was received by Central News.   The writer mentioned the previous ‘tip’ and claimed that he had no time to get ears for the police but he did promise a ‘double event’ the next day.   The murders of Liz Stride and Catherine Eddowes had occurred not much more than 24 hours earlier. If the writer had been using the postal service that exists today, the reference to the double event would have been evidence of a prediction. But in 1888 there were twelve deliveries a day.   There was time to read about the murders before sending the postcard.   Some experts believe that the letter and postcard were written by the same person although to this untrained eye they do not appear to be similar.  But 19th Century pens had a lethal edge to them and they could distort handwriting.

220px-FromHellLetter

The third communication to Central News arrived on the 5th of October 1888.   Attempts have been made to link all three letters but the tone in the third was very different. It contained biblical references and described the killings as work on behalf of God. The writer promised three murders the following day.  This did not happen.   Mary Jane Kelly was murdered a month later on the 9th of November. If the three murders did not occur a day later because the Ripper had a migraine, the headache lasted for some time.   There was a heartfelt plea in the letter that suggests the expectation of sympathy. The writer swore that he did not kill ‘the female whose body was found at Whitehall’. He adds that ‘if she was an honest woman I will hunt down and destroy her murderer’. This offer of help was not accepted by the police.

More than one policeman was convinced that the three letters were the work of a journalist who wanted a good story that sold newspapers.   There are even options for the possible authors including a visiting American.   The notion is that only a journalist would send a letter to a news agency but this can be challenged. Sending the letters to the agency ensured they became public knowledge. It also suited the police to say that the letters were not from the Ripper because they had no idea what to do about them.   Some policemen can be at their most confident when they are bereft of ideas. There was also the small matter of the writing on the wall in Goulston Street, which, because of the action by Sir Charles Warren, could not be compared to the handwriting in the letters.

bet166

Before George Lusk received the infamous human kidney he had already had a letter and a postcard from someone who claimed to be Jack the Ripper.   Neither correspondence is memorable. In the letter another double event was promised.  On the postcard was the redundant message that the writer did not have time to play ‘copper games’.   As chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee and a builder, Lusk would have been a busy man. He can be excused for not finding the letter and card interesting.   Over a hundred years later, though, his attitude towards the parcel that followed feels flippant. The letter was addressed as being ‘From hell’. Lusk may have been able to keep hell at a distance but history beckoned.   Inside the parcel were a letter and half of a human kidney.   According to the letter, the writer had eaten the other half and ‘it was very nise’.   Lusk kept the letter and kidney in his desk but mentioned it at the next meeting of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee.   Someone with sense suggested that perhaps members of the Committee should look at what was inside the desk of George Lusk.  This happened the next day.  The kidney was taken to a local doctor, and he referred it to Dr Openshaw at London Hospital. Dr Openshaw decided it was a human kidney, and members of the Committee assumed it must have belonged to Catherine Eddowes.  Dr Openshaw had to qualify his previous statements. He could not say if the kidney had belonged to a woman or whether it had been affected by heavy use of alcohol.

dearboss1_big

 

A report by Chief Inspector Swanson mangled the English language and without ever being convincing concluded that the kidney was taken from a body during a post mortem.   The medics contradicted each other. Dr Gordon Brown, the Divisional Surgeon, managed to even disagree with himself.  The vague Dr Openshaw may not have had the last word but he was honoured with a letter signed by Jack the Ripper that approved of the opinion of the Doctor, ‘You was rite it was the lift kidney … ’ This letter promised more ‘innerds’. None arrived.  With twelve postal deliveries a day there was no excuse for failing to follow through but no one complained.   The letter to Dr Openshaw had enough grammatical errors for them to feel more forced than normal.  An additional reference to the devil and his microscope teased Dr Openshaw. The writer asked if he had seen the devil with his microscope and scalpel looking at a kidney.   Patricia Cornwell compared this reference to a Cornish rhyme. The teasing continues.

Howard Jackson has had seven books published by Red Rattle Books including novels, short stories and collections of film criticism.   If you are interested in original horror and crime fiction and want information about the books of Howard Jackson and the other great titles at Red Rattle Books, click here.