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Henry Birch's Mysterious Caller

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Henry Birch's Mysterious Caller

Post by Karen on Sun 12 Jun 2011 - 22:22

Another Letter from "Jack the Ripper."

London papers by the incoming mail contain further news concerning the Berner-street and Mitre Square murders.


The "Central News" of October 12 says a startling act has just come to light in connection with the recent Whitechapel murders. After killing Catherine Eddowes in Mitre square the murderer, it is now known, walked to Goulston-street, where he threw away the piece of the deceased's woman apron upon which he wiped his hands and knife. Within a few feet of this spot he had written upon the wall: "The Jews shall not be blamed for nothing." Most unfortunately one of the police officers gave orders for this writing to be immediately sponged out, probably with a view of stifling the morbid curiosity which it would certainly have aroused; but in so doing a very important link was destroyed; for, had the writing been photographed, a certain clue would have been in the hands of the authorities. The witnesses who saw the writing, however, state that it was similar in character to that of the letters sent to the "Central News" office, and signed "Jack the Ripper." Though it would be far better to have clearly demonstrated this by photography, there is no reason to believe that the writer of the letter and postcard sent to the "Central News," facsimiles of which are now to be seen outside of every police station, is the actual murderer. The police consequently are very anxious that every citizen who can identify the handwriting should without delay communicate with the authorities. The "Central News," since the original letter and postcard of "Jack the Ripper," were published, have been receiving from 30 to 40 communications daily signed "Jack the Ripper." These are evidently the concoction of silly notoriety-hunters. A third communication, however, has been received from the writer of the "Original Jack the Ripper" letter, and a postcard which, acting upon official advice, it has been deemed prudent to withhold for the present. It may be stated, however, that although the miscreant avows his intention of committing further crimes shortly, it is only against women of the unfortunate class that his threats are directed, his desire being to respect and protect honest women.


A Vienna correspondent states that Dr. Block, a member of the Austrian Reichsrath, has called his attention to certain facts which may throw a new light on the Whitechapel murders. In various German criminal codes of the 17th and 18th centuries, as also in statues of a more recent date, punishments are prescribed for the mutilation of female corpses with the object of making from certain organs the so-called "dietslichter or schlaflichter" respectively (thieves' candles and soporific candles). According to an old superstition still rife in various parts of Germany, the light from such candles will throw those upon whom it falls into the deepest slumbers, and they may consequently become a valuable instrument to the thieving profession. Among other cases the "schlafslichter" were heard of at the trial of the notorious German robber, Theodore Unger, surnamed Handsome Charley, who was executed at Mogdeluy in 1810. It was on that occasion discovered that a regular manufactory had been established by gangs of thieves for the production of such candles. That this superstition has survived among German thieves to the present day was proved by a case tried at Biala in Galica as recently as 1875. In this the body of a woman had been found mutilated in precisely the same way as were the victims of the Whitechapel murders.


The "Daily News" correspondent telegraphs: The Whitechapel murders have not only been a newspaper sensation of the first magnitude, but have got on weak brains and set madmen and lovers of practical jokes writing to the Prefect of Police. M. Gauren, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department, receives letters written from both. The following was received by him recently:

"Sir, - You must have heard of the Whitechapel murders. This is the explanation of their mysterious side. There are partners - I and another - in this business; one is in England and the other in France. I am at Brest, and am going to Paris to operate as does my London colleague in London. We are seeking in the human body that which the doctors have never found, and you will try in vain to hunt us down."


It is stated that the police authorities attach a great deal of importance to the spelling of the word Jews in the writing on the wall at the spot where the Mitre-square murderer threw away a portion of the murdered woman's apron. The language of the Jews in the East End is a hybrid dialect known as Yiddish, and their mode of spelling the word Jews would be "Juives." This the police consider a strong indication that the crime was committed by one of the numerous foreigners by whom the East End is infested. The order to erase the words on the wall, as stated in evidence at the inquest, was given by an officer in the Metropolitan Police Force with the humane intention of averting an increase of the Anti-Jewish feeling which is, unfortunately, but undoubtedly, very general in the East End of London. So real were the apprehensions of the police authorities in this way, that on the Sunday night of the murders the chief police stations in the East End were reinforced by fifty constables each.


The police, says the "Star," have reason to believe that the Whitechapel murderer is a man of several disguises. It will be remembered that Ann Nicholls was murdered on the night of August 30th, and on the following night it was reported that a woman was set upon by a gang of roughs in Cambridge Heath Road, one of whom had attempted to force her into an alleyway. This report proved to be false as far as the gang were concerned. The police ascertained, however, that a woman had been set upon by a man, and that her cries had attracted a number of others whose efforts to capture her assailants led to the gang story. The miscreant escaped in the direction of the Commercial Road. That was about 11 o'clock, and not later than a quarter-past 11 a man stepped hurriedly into a yard entrance at No. 2, Little Turner-street, Commercial Road. On one side of the yard is a milk stand; the man asked for a glass of milk, and when served drank it hurriedly, and then, looking about in a frightened manner, asked if he might step back into the yard. The proprietor, Henry Birch, did not object, but presently, his suspicions being aroused, he stepped towards the man and found him drawing on a suit of new overalls over his ordinary clothes. The pants were already on, and he was stooping to take a jacket from a black shiny bag which lay at his feet. When the proprietor Birch stepped up to him he seemed to be very much upset by the interruption, and for a moment could not speak; but presently he said, "That was a terrible murder last night, wasn't it?" and, before Birch could answer, he added, "I think I've got a clue," and snatching up his bag he disappeared down the street. Mr. Birch then thought he might be a detective adopting a disguise for some purpose, but the police believe he was the man who assaulted the woman in Cambridge Heath Road, and that he donned the overalls to mislead anyone who might be tracing him. They have the name of the woman referred to, and her description tallies with that given by Birch of his mysterious caller, whose clothing was described as a blue serge suit and a stiff hat.

Source: Auckland Star, Volume XIX, Issue 280, 27 November 1888, Page 8

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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