Were these letters written by the killer Jack The Ripper? Or was it penned by one journalist hack working for one of those London newspapers seeking attention with the aim to raise awareness and circulation? Many newspapers were desperate to “up their” sales and “play on” the publics’ high gore ratio and their incessant need for “blood-thirsty” news.
The “Dear Boss” letter was a message allegedly written by the notorious Victorian serial killer known as Jack the Ripper. It was postmarked and received on 27 September 1888, by the Central News Agency of London. It was forwarded to Scotland Yard on 29 September 1888.
Written in red ink, the message, like most alleged Ripper letters that followed, contains spelling and punctuation errors. It reads:
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.Yours truly
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
Starting from left to right – first page to second page and signed.
This video finally reveals who wrote the infamous “Dear Boss” letter.
Initially the letter was considered to be just one of many hoaxes, but when the body of Catherine Eddowes was found with one earlobe severed on 30 September, the writer’s promise to “clip the ladys ears off” attracted attention. The Metropolitan Police published handbills with facsimiles of it and the Saucy Jacky postcard (which had referred to the earlier message and was received before the first became public knowledge) hoping someone would recognize the handwriting, but nothing came of this effort.
Many newspapers also reprinted the text in whole or in part. These two messages gained worldwide notoriety after their publication. It was the first time the “Jack the Ripper” name had been used to refer to the killer, and the term captured the imagination of the public. Soon hundreds of other letters claiming to be from “Jack the Ripper” were received, most copying key phrases from these letters.
After the murders, police officials stated that they believed this letter and the postcard were hoaxes by a local journalist. One journalist is reported to have confessed that he had written it and other messages purported to be from the Ripper in order “to keep the business alive”.
These suspicions were not well publicized, and the idea that the killer had sent messages taunting the police became one of the enduring legends of the Ripper case. Modern scholars are divided on which, if any, of the letters should be considered genuine, but the “Dear Boss” letter is one of three named most frequently as potentially having been written by the killer. A number of authors have tried to advance their theories by comparing handwriting samples of their suspects to the writing found in this letter.
Like many items related to the Ripper case, the “Dear Boss” letter disappeared from the police files not long after the investigation ended. It may have been kept as a souvenir by one of the investigating officers. It was returned anonymously to the Metropolitan Police in 1987, whereupon Scotland Yard recalled all the documents from their file from the Public Record Office, now The National Archives, at Kew. The return of the documents was announced in 1988.
In 1993 the handwriting of the Dear Boss letter was compared to that of the purported diary of James Maybrick. The report noted that the “characteristics of the Dear Boss letter follow closely upon the Round Hand writing style of the time and exhibit a good writing skill.
Over the course of the Ripper murders, the police, newspapers, and others received hundreds of letters regarding the case. Some were well-intentioned offers of advice for catching the killer, but the vast majority were useless.
Hundreds of letters claimed to have been written by the killer himself, and three of these in particular are prominent: the “Dear Boss” letter, the “Saucy Jacky” postcard and the “From Hell” letter.
The “Dear Boss” letter, dated 25 September, was postmarked 27 September 1888. It was received that day by the Central News Agency, and was forwarded to Scotland Yard on 29 September. Initially it was considered a hoax, but when Eddowes was found three days after the letter’s postmark with one ear partially cut off, the letter’s promise to “clip the ladys ears off” gained attention.However, Eddowes’ ear appears to have been nicked by the killer incidentally during his attack, and the letter writer’s threat to send the ears to the police was never carried out.
The name “Jack the Ripper” was first used in this letter by the signatory and gained worldwide notoriety after its publication. Most of the letters that followed copied this letter’s tone. Some sources claim that another letter dated 17 September 1888 was the first to use the name “Jack the Ripper”, but most experts believe that this was a fake inserted into police records in the 20th century.
The “Saucy Jacky” postcard was postmarked 1 October 1888 and was received the same day by the Central News Agency. The handwriting was similar to the “Dear Boss” letter. It mentions that two victims were killed very close to one another: “double event this time”, which was thought to refer to the murders of Stride and Eddowes.
It has been argued that the letter was mailed before the murders were publicised, making it unlikely that a crank would have such knowledge of the crime, but it was postmarked more than 24 hours after the killings took place, long after details were known and being published by journalists and talked about by residents of the area.
The “From Hell” letter was received by George Lusk, leader of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, on 16 October 1888. The handwriting and style is unlike that of the “Dear Boss” letter and “Saucy Jacky” postcard. The letter came with a small box in which Lusk discovered half of a kidney, preserved in “spirits of wine” (ethanol). Eddowes’ left kidney had been removed by the killer. The writer claimed that he “fried and ate” the missing kidney half.
There is disagreement over the kidney; some contend that it belonged to Eddowes, while others argue that it was nothing more than a macabre practical joke. The kidney was examined by Dr Thomas Openshaw of the London Hospital, who determined that it was human and from the left side, but (contrary to false newspaper reports) he could not determine any other biological characteristics. Openshaw subsequently also received a letter signed “Jack the Ripper”.
Scotland Yard published facsimiles of the “Dear Boss” letter and the postcard on 3 October, in the ultimately vain hope that someone would recognise the handwriting. Charles Warren explained in a letter to Godfrey Lushington, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department: “I think the whole thing a hoax but of course we are bound to try & ascertain the writer in any case.” On 7 October 1888, George R. Sims in the Sunday newspaper Referee implied scathingly that the letter was written by a journalist “to hurl the circulation of a newspaper sky high”.
Police officials later claimed to have identified a specific journalist as the author of both the “Dear Boss” letter and the postcard. The journalist was identified as Tom Bullen in a letter from Chief Inspector John Littlechild to George R. Sims dated 23 September 1913.
A journalist called Fred Best reportedly confessed in 1931 that he and a colleague at The Star had written the letters signed “Jack the Ripper” to heighten interest in the murders and “keep the business alive”
If you missed the first part of my investigative articles on who really was “Jack The Ripper” click http://livingmsia.com/2650-2/