Inspector Moore Leads A Ripper Tour Of One American Journalist

Posted: March 13, 2009 in Other Ripper Research
Chief Inspector Henry Moore
I found this interesting account of a journalist being led throughout the alleys and passageways of Whitechapel by Inspector Henry Moore. Moore explains to the journalist how difficult it was to locate Jack the Ripper’s whereabouts. He also describes the gory vision that awaited the Police at 13 Miller’s Court. Like Abberline, Moore explains that certain body parts and entrails were hanging from nails and on the backs of chairs located in the room.
A Philadelphian journalist, Mr. R. Harding Davis, has been publishing in a syndicate of American papers an account of a night he spent upon the scene of the Whitechapel murders, towards the end of August, in the company of Police Inspector Moore, in the course of which some interesting statements occur.
Mr. Davis had taken a letter of introduction to Dr. Robert Anderson, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department, who remarked to him, "I am sorry to say on your account and quite satisfied on my own that we have very few criminal "show places" in London. Of course there is the Scotland Yard Museum that visitors consider one of the sights, and then there is Whitechapel. But that is all. You ought to see Whitechapel. Even if the murders had not taken place there it would be still the show part of the city for those who take an interest in the dangerous classes. But you mustn’t expect to see criminals walking about with handcuffs on or to find the places they live in any different from the other dens of the district. My men can show you their lodging-houses, and can tell you that this or that man is a thief or a burglar, but he won’t look any different from anyone else." "Well, I only spoke of it because they say, as a rule, your people come over here expecting to see dukes wearing their coronets and the thieves of Whitechapel in prison-cut clothes, and they are disappointed. But I don’t think you will be disappointed in the district. After a stranger has gone over it he takes a much more lenient view of our failure to find Jack the Ripper, as they call him, than he did before.
Inspector Moore led the journalist through the network of narrow passageways as dark and loathsome as the great network of sewers that stretches underneath them a few feet below. "The chief of police from Austin, Texas came to see me," said the inspector, "and offered me a great deal of advice." But when I showed him this place (Castle-alley) and the courts around it, he took off his hat and said: "I apologise. I never saw anything like it before; we’ve nothing like it in all America." He said that at home an officer could stand on a street corner and look down four different streets and see all that went on in them for a quarter of a mile off. Now, you know, I might put two regiments of police in this half-mile of district, and half of them would be as completely out of sight and hearing of the others as though they were in separate cells of a prison. To give you an idea of it, my men formed a circle around the spot where one of the murders took place, guarding, they thought, every entrance and approach, and within a few minutes they found fifty people inside the lines. They had come in through two passageways which my men could not find. And then, you know, these people never lock their doors, and the murderer has only to lift the latch of the nearest house and walk through it and out the back way." In the course of their perambulations, the inspector tells the correspondent that "they call Whitechapel the "three F’s district – fried fish and fights." After they had passed a well-known lodging-house, the correspondent asked the inspector if he did not feel nervous, and he handed him his cane for an answer. It was a trivial-looking thing, painted to represent maple, but Mr. Davis found it was made of iron. "And then they wouldn’t attack me," Mr. Moore said. "It’s only those who don’t know me that I carry the cane for."
The inspector gazed calmly up and down the street and then remarked, apparently to a lamp across the way, "Better write: you mustn’t come too often." We walked on in silence for half a block, and then I suggested that he was using amateur as well as professional detectives in his search for the murderer. "About sixty," he replied laconically. The inspector was non-communicative, but I could see and hear for myself, and a dozen times during our tour women in rags, lodging-house keepers, proprietors of public-houses, and idle young men, dressed like all the other idle young men of the district, but with a straight bearing that told of discipline, and with the regulation shoe with which Scotland-yard marks its men, whispered a half-sentence as we passed, to which sometimes the inspector replied or to which he sometimes appeared utterly unconscious. From what he said later I learned that all Whitechapel is peopled with these spies. Sometimes they are only "plain-clothes" men, but besides these he has half a hundred and at times 200 unattached detectives, who pursue their respectable or otherwise callings while they keep an alert eye and ear for the faintest clue that may lead to the discovery of the invisible murderer.
"This was about the worst of the murders," said the inspector when they reached Dorset-street. "He cut the skeleton so clean of flesh that when I got here I could hardly tell whether it was a man or a woman. He hung the different parts of the body on nails and over the backs of chairs. It must have taken him an hour and a half in all. And when he was ready to go he found the door was jammed and had to make his escape through the larger of those two windows." Imagine how this man felt when he tried the door and found it was locked; that was before he thought of the window – believing that he was locked in with that bleeding skeleton and the strips of flesh that he had hung so fantastically about the room, that he had trapped himself beside his victim, and had helped to put the rope around his own neck. One would think the shock of the moment would have lasted for years to come, and kept him in hiding. But it apparently did not affect him that way, for he has killed five women since then. We knocked at the door and a woman opened it. She spoke to some one inside, and then told "Mister Inspector" to come in. It was a bare white-washed room with a bed in one corner. A man was in the bed, but he sat up and welcomed us good-naturedly. The inspector apologised for the intrusion, but the occupant of the bed said it didn’t matter, and obligingly traced out with his forefinger the streaks of blood upon the wall at his bedside. When he had done this he turned his face to the wall to go to sleep again, and the inspector ironically wished him pleasant dreams. I rather envied his nerve, and fancied waking up with those dark streaks a few inches from one’s face."
"What makes it so easy for him" – the inspector always referred to the murderer as "him" – is that the women lead him of their own free will to the spot where they know interruption is least likely. It is not as if he had to wait for his chance; they make the chance for him. I tell many of them to go home, but they say they have no home, and when I try to frighten them and speak of the danger they run they’ll laugh and say, "Oh, I know what you mean. I ain’t afraid of him. It’s the Ripper or the bridge with me. What’s the odds? And it’s true; that’s the worst of it."
The inspector feels his work and its responsibilities keenly. He talked of nothing else, and he apparently thinks, eats, and sleeps on nothing else. Once or twice he stopped, and pointing to a man and woman standing whispering on a corner, and said. "Now, why isn’t that Jack the Ripper?"
Why not indeed. When I was in the Scotland-yard museum I expressed some surprise that there were no relics on exhibition of the Whitechapel murders, the most notorious series of criminal events in the history of the world when one considers the civilisation of the city, and of the age in which they have occurred, and the detective who was showing me about said: "We have no relics; he never leaves so much as a rag behind him. There is no more of a clue to that chap’s identity than there is to the identity of some murderer who will kill someone a hundred years from now."
But they have thought they had clues. They have thought they had the murderer himself perhaps, hundreds of times. Suspicion has rested, so the inspector said, on people in every class of society – on club men, doctors and dockers, members of Parliament and members of the nobility, common sailors and learned scientists. In two squares the inspector pointed out three houses where he said he had gone to find him. He told the story to illustrate the degradation of the women of the district, but the point of interest in them to me was that in a space of 200 yards he had found three houses where the murderer was supposed to be in hiding.
Source: The Brisbane Courier, Thursday 19 December 1889, page 7

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