Albert Backert: International Man Of Hilarity

Posted: September 27, 2009 in Other Ripper Research
Though the police are very reticent upon the point, there is reason to believe that strenuous efforts are still being made with a view to discover the whereabouts of the man who is supposed to be connected with the Whitechapel murders. Mr. Albert Backert says that the handwriting in a letter sent to him is exactly the same as that of the communication received by Dr. Forbes Winslow signed "P.R. Lunigi." The latter was stated to be in the same handwriting as the one sent to Dr. Winslow previously, so that, whether or not they are written by "Jack the Ripper," all three have emanated from the same person. The police have had photographs of them sent to the Metropolitan Police Stations and Post Offices.
Source: Taranaki Herald, Volume XXXIX, Issue 8686, 24 January 1890, Page 2
The Mysterious Landlady of the Murderer,
The Police Sceptical.
LONDON, Oct. 17. – On Saturday morning last most of the London papers came out with a highly sensational story concerning "Jack the Ripper," which had, it was alleged, been communicated by a mysterious woman to Mr. Albert Backert, Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. [The story has already appeared in these columns.]
This morning, a Star man, having nothing better to do than to amuse himself, went and had a talk with Mr. Albert Backert. For so prolific a clue merchant he is a very young man. He has the staring eyes of the born poet, and the heavy under jaw of the born detective. He is
"Good morning, Mr. Backert, said the Star man. "This is a most important and sensational revelation."
"Extraordinary," said Mr. Backert
"Of course you took the woman at once to the police?"
"No. You see she did not want her name mentioned. Her husband, I think, had begged her to come to me and reveal all."
"But surely the police" –
"If the police like to come to me – and I shall probably see some of them this afternoon – we can go together and try to find her. Of course, if I cannot find her I shall have to advertise for her and her husband to come forward."
"But didn’t you take the name and address of the woman who gave you this surprising information?"
"My sister has her name. You see, my sister had a long chat – quite a long chat – with her before I saw her, and she told my sister her name, but she did not want it made public because she might have to leave, and -"
"But her address?"
"She did not give her address. She only said
You know, I can’t see what motive she could have had to come to me unless it was the truth she told. It is extraordin–"
"But it would be an unfortunate thing if through not taking her address such an important clue were lost. Why did you not take her to the police?"
"I had not the time to spare just then. But, as I say, if the police like to come to me we can go together and try to find her. I can’t see what motive she could have had to tell such an extraordi–"
"No. Quite so. You have found a good many clues to the Whitechapel murderer, haven’t you, Mr. Backert?"
"Yes. It was me who saw him in the Three Nuns, you know, and I gave a description of him from which a portrait was drawn, which was published in the papers, and the description tallied in every respect with one given by a woman who saw him. It is such an extraord–"
"It is, indeed. But what an odd thing that that woman never suspected anything
when the murders were being committed, and she had a blood-stained man in silent boots living in the house."
"Yes; wasn’t it? But you see he always paid up all right, and then as to the blood stains she thought he may have got them when he was out shooting birds and things, through carrying the birds in his pockets, as these sportsmen do. It is most extraor–"
"It is, indeed. But did he always lie in bed all day and go out all night?"
"Yes. He always did that."
"When did he go shooting those birds?"
"I didn’t ask her all the details. Besides, she thought it was paint on his clothes. So one day she said to him, "What a funny thing when you do so much painting that you only get red paint on your clothes."
"That was rather up against him. What did he say to that?"
"I didn’t ask her that."
"When did he do his painting?"
"In the morning, I suppose, before he went out. You see, he had a lot of over-coats, a great many over-coats, so–"
"Were they all bloodstained?"
"Oh, yes; all bloodstained. He had a lot of things, you see – hunting breeches and all sorts of things, and–"
"He only had one room, did he?"
"Yes, only one. You see, she had only one room to let, and he called and took it, and as he seemed a–"
"Yes, quite so. But how odd that she didn’t get suspicious of a young man living in one room with
"Oh, not twenty."
"I thought you said twenty."
"Oh no. A good many. A large number, but not twenty."
"How many?"
"I did not ask her exactly how many."
"But it was odd she did not think something was wrong. Did she suppose he always wiped his paint brushes on overcoats?"
"I did not ask her that. But, you see, she never saw him do any painting, and besides, you know, she supposed he got the blood marks through carrying the birds he shot in his pocket, like these sportsmen do."
"She supposed he got the red paint on all his overcoats through carrying dead birds in his pockets?"
"No. He got the red paint when he was painting through wiping his brush on his clothes. But I can’t see how she should have come to tell me such an extrao–"
"No, indeed. Unless it was true. I suppose you are very well known in Whitechapel?"
"Oh, yes. I was born there, and I know every court and alley. And, you see, when I go among the people, they’ll tell me things they won’t tell the police. That’s how I’ve got
And they all know me. You see, when the Guards’ petition was on I had the front of my house plastered over with posters, and that made me what they call popular, you know. Then I take up politics, and when there is an election or anything I’m seen on several platforms."
"And the Vigilance Committee?"
"I took up that, and it all went to make a bit of notoriety. We held the meetings in a public-house. That has been the ruin of more than one Vigilance Committee. They get together and talk, and then by the time they ought to be out doing something, why they’re that tight they want looking after themselves. It dwindled down, and I haven’t called a meeting for a long time. But now there’s something doing again I shall call a meeting, and have it in a big room I’ve got at my house."
Here the Star man grew
and said impressively, "Now, Mr. Backert, I may tell you that I have no authority to make you any offer, but I have reasons for asking you a question."
"What is it?" asked the clueist.
"Supposing – now, just supposing – that the Scotland Yard people were to make you a fair offer to take up the murder mystery, should you feel justified in accepting it?"
"I should. I would do anything possible. Of course, I have to earn my living."
"Perfectly. And supposing an independent organisation came forward and asked you to take on the job on their account, would you undertake it?"
"I should not care what the organisation was. I would do what I could."
So, when Scotland Yard make the offer, or when the independant organisation is formed, the public will have the satisfaction of knowing that Mr. Albert Backert is devoting all his time to the task of discovery. If a private individual can discover endless clues and twenty blood-stained overcoats in his spare time, what could not he do on the eight hours system at fair wages!
Is it necessary to say that Superintendent Arnold, at Leman street, has not at present heard from Mr. Backert’s visitor?
Neither do they expect to.
Source: Star, Issue 7028, 5 December 1890, Page 2
Mr. Albert Backert, Chairman of the so-called Whitechapel Vigilance Association, has been writing himself fearsome letters again signed "Jack the Ripper." At the time of the original scare, Mr. Backert, who is a consequential small tradesman in the murder neighborhood, recognised a glorious opportunity for self-advertisement. He instituted the Vigilance patrol, discovered all sorts of strange facts and circumstances which the police had somehow overlooked, and crammed those scores of hungry reporters and amateur detectives who then infested the neighborhood with his unique experiences. As a result the name of Albert Backert became "familiar to our ears as household words." He positively permeated the Whitechapel tragedies, and claimed increased importance and notoriety with each new assassination. Unfortunately even murder scares don’t last for ever. After a time the memory of Jack the Ripper began to fade, and Mr. Backert, horrified, saw himself sinking back gradually into black obscurity. Obviously something must be done. Better a sham Jack the Ripper than no Jack the Ripper at all. Mr. Backert’s first little comedy consisted of a mysterious interview with an unknown and untraceable female who knew Jack well; and was a great success till the Star made fun of it. Since then Mr. Backert has not been, to use Whitechapelese "so much thought on." He still, however, remains the local authority on the murders; and all the curious Americans and Australians who venture to the scene of the fabled Ripper’s exploits are referred to him. When sober, or merely "a little on," the great man’s narratives are highly entertaining, but on Mondays and Tuesdays, according to the police, he is "mostly boozed." This fact transpired at the Thames Police Court on Wednesday, whither Mr. Backert was haled for being "drunk and disorderly." The police are long suffering with rowdiness in Whitechapel, but on Monday the Chairman of the Vigilance Committee tried them too far. After being forcibly ejected four times from the shop of an unbelieving butcher, who threw doubts on his "Ripper rot," Mr. Backert got up a fight in the street. This was too much, and that night the great man made acquaintance with the cells, to which he has so often in imagination consigned ensanguined murderers.
Source: West Coast Times, Issue 9106, 25 August 1891, Page 4
According to the St. James’s Gazette Mr. Backert has received a letter from "Jack the Ripper." The letter is given as follows:
"George-yard, Whitechapel. – I am going to commence operations again shortly in this neighbourhood, and if you or your infernal gang in the least attempt to trace my whereabouts, so help my God, I’ll put a knife in your heart. So beware, and take warning, and let me alone. Let the police catch me if they can; it’s their duty. But I pity them, as I never intend to be taken alive. I have nearly been caught twice. –
                                          Yours truly, JACK THE RIPPER, G.W.B. – my initials."
Mr. Backert has handed the letter to the police.
Source: Wanganui Herald, Volume XXV, Issue 7510, 4 September 1891, Page 3

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