Inspector Abberline has been called back to Whitechapel in order to assist in the hunt for the infamous Whitechapel Murderer known as Jack the Ripper.
(Warning: Probably completely historically inaccurate – I’m an amateur Ripperologist)
Inspector Frederick Abberline stepped out of the cab with a sigh and set off down the street at once, his brow furrowed in concentration.
He had not been away from Whitechapel very long; he had only been transferred to the Central Office of Scotland Yard a little under a year ago, and now he was being moved back to the district he had first been promoted to Local Inspector of the Criminal Investigation Department.
“Lovely day, ain’t it?” A fruit stall owner said cheerily as Abberline passed, keenly watching a customer browse his wares.
Abberline smiled and nodded to the man, but quickly retracted it. His work didn’t leave much time for pleasantries. He had to reach the Metropolitan Police Department as soon as he could.
Abberline was puffing for breath by the time he reached the H Division’s headquarters, and stopped, leaning heavily on his cane, before pushing the door open and stepping inside.
“Frederick Abberline,” he informed the young man sitting behind the desk in the front room, “Inspector First-Class from the CO Division at Scotland Yard.”
The man’s eyes lit up with delight.
“Abberline!” the man cried, standing up and grasping Abberline’s hand merrily. “It’s been too long! Dew, remember? Detective Constable Walter Dew.”
“Ah, Dew. I barely recognised you! How’s your wife keeping?”
“Kate is very well, thank you,” Dew said as he led Abberline towards a door. “Please, come in. We’ve been expecting you.”
Within the office, Abberline was introduced to Commissioner Anderson, Inspector Arnold, Sergeant Godley, DI Reid, and Commissioner Warren.
“It’s splendid to see you ‘ere, Abberline!” Reid said, running his hand through his hair. “I’ve been in over my ‘ead with these Whitechapel murders an’ all.”
“Not to fear, Detective Inspector,” Abberline replied, nodding graciously. “I’m sure we shall have this criminal caught in no time.”
“I do ‘ope so, Inspector. The Boss down in Scotland Yard tells me you’re in charge of all the men ‘ere, and I second that.”
Abberline spent the remainder of the day poring over the files concerning the Whitechapel Murderer – the unknown criminal who had supposedly killed several women in the area. The following day, he was shown the crime scenes by his fellow police officers, giving little help.
The next day, another victim was found.
Upon his arrival at the scene, Abberline hunkered down and leant close to the body, studying it carefully. Slumped against the fence at the rear of 29 Hanbury Street, the woman was lying awkwardly in a pool of blood, her face distinctively swollen and deformed.
Abberline stood, but continued to look the woman over.
“Annie Chapman, forty-seven,” Anderson said, flipping through his notebook. “Prostitute, just like the rest of them.”
Abberline grimaced at the ugly sight before him. “Slit throat, probably the cause of death, and additional post-mortem abdominal mutilation. It’s hard to tell from all the blood, but I’m guessing that the killer cut something out of her… her uterus?”
“Any witnesses?” Sergeant Godley asked, appearing through the gate.
“None so far,” Anderson sighed. “Only John Davis, who found her body a little before six. He said he found her as he was going home. Not much more to say, I’m afraid.”
The investigation continued with little progress, and three weeks later, a curious letter came to the police.
“Another hoax,” Godley said dismissively, throwing the crimson-inked paper down upon the desk once more. “God knows we have enough of them.”
That night, Abberline was woken by an incessant knocking on his door.
“Alright, alright, I’m coming!” he grumbled as he shuffled to the front of his house in his nightgown and swung the door open. Immediately, all the fatigue was chased from his body.
“I’m sorry, Inspector,” Dew panted, his eyes dilated in the gloom. “We’ve had two more.”
Abberline stood in silence with the other officers by his side, staring at the wall in bewilderment. They had just been called from the scene of Catherine Eddowes’ murder, which they had visited after the scene of Elizabeth Stride’s.
“PC Long discovered the scrap of bloodstained apron here, and the message at the same time,” Anderson informed the group. “As you can see, it’s written in chalk. We don’t know if Jack wrote it himself, or if someone else had at a different time.”
Abberline felt sick as he read the graffiti for the umpteenth time that morning.
The Juwes are the men That Will not be Blamed for nothing
“This is awful. Wipe this off at once,” Inspector Arnold ordered. When several men began to make noises of disagreement, he turned a gaze on them that silenced the lot.
“When daylight comes, the message will fuel the anti-sematic feelings towards the populace. It cannot be allowed to remain.”
“But it’s part of a crime scene,” Dew said, frowning. “It should at least be photographed before being erased.”
“We can record it. PC Long himself already copied it down, hasn’t he?”
Warren nodded as Arnold spoke, and stepped towards the wall, wiping the chalk away on the sleeve of his coat, leaving nothing but a faint, white smear.
“I’m telling you it could mean something!” Reid bellowed, waving the letter in the air, his face purple with frustration.
“And I’m telling you that you’re so obsessed with finding this man that you are jumping at every single piece of possible evidence.” Commissioner Warren removed his hat and rubbed his head tiredly.
“But ‘ow could a fraud have known Jack would cut Eddowes’ ear off? ‘Ere, it even says in the letter. ‘The next job I do I shall clip the lady’s ears off.’”
“Stop calling him Jack, Detective Inspector,” Warren said calmly. “A single letter changes nothing. It could be mere coincidence.”
“There is no such thing as coincidence!”
“I still think this is worth posting in the papers,” Abberline stepped in. “If it is just a hoax and someone recognises the handwriting, we can arrest them on the charge of obstruction of justice.”
Warren huffed but said nothing more on the matter.
A facsimile of the letter was soon sent to the printers with a plea for any recognition of the handwriting to be taken to the police immediately. Although he tried to push it from his mind, Abberline couldn’t help feeling a cold shiver every time he thought of the infamous ‘Dear Boss’ letter.
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
Two weeks after the double murder of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, Abberline walked into the police station and his ears were bombarded with gossip about the previous day.
“Have you heard?” Dew asked Abberline as he looked around in confusion. When the latter shook his balding head, Dew began.
“Mister Lusk received a parcel from Jack the Ripper,” he explained excitedly.
George Lusk was the president of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, a group of local men who patrolled the streets at night in the hope of catching the Whitechapel Murderer.
“When he opened it up,” Dew continued, “he found half a kidney preserved in wine.”
“I hear he screamed like a girl,” Godley chuckled as he passed.
“How do we know it was from the Ripper?” Abberline enquired.
“A letter came with it, starting with, ‘From Hell,’ mind you. It said it was half of the kidney of one of his victims. Medical examiners say it proves similar to that of Eddowes, and we never found her kidney.”
“Put this in the file immediately,” Abberline ordered, then swung his hat back on and called a cab to see Lusk and the new evidence.
“There’s no convincing ‘im?” Reid asked piteously, twisting his hat in his hands.
“Commissioner Warren is quite adamant of his decision.”
Warren had experienced a significant degree of degrading publicity for the past few weeks, and he had finally had enough. He had resigned earlier that day.
Abberline’s sigh silenced Reid instantly. “I’m sorry, but he won’t see reason. I suppose we shall have to last without him.”
Later that very day, another murder victim was found.
“Commissioner Warren ordered no one to enter the crime scene until he returned,” Abberline informed his team as they walked swiftly through Miller’s Court. The group of officers waited patiently for some three hours before Warren stepped out of a cab nearby.
At first glance, Abberline turned away from the body and gagged.
“Mary Jane Kelly, about twenty-five. Discovered when Thomas Bowyer came to collect the rent.”
The woman’s corpse was lying on her bed, her blood staining the sheets and floor as it dripped from her mutilated body. Not a single limb was left untouched, her eyes staring blankly at the group.
“Detective Constable, are you not well?” Abberline asked Dew when he noticed his pale face. Dew tore his eyes away from the body and looked into Abberline’s face with evident fright.
“I knew her. Not personally, but I saw Miss Kelly often enough around Whitechapel Road and such. Excuse me.” He stepped outside before anything else could be said.
“Well then,” Warren said gruffly. “We’d best begin this examination.”
The trail was cold. The police had no way of following the killer any longer. The terror of Jack the Ripper had subsided considerably, and only one other murder had been discovered before Abberline was called away from Whitechapel to pursue a different investigation.
Abberline stood at his desk, staring miserably at the file before him. He had failed to help catch the monster he was sent for. He could do nothing more than push the dark thought to the back of his mind for the future.
Before his retirement four years later, Abberline solved the investigation of the Cleveland Street Scandal, and received eighty-four commendations and awards for his work. However, there was not a day in Abberline’s life that he was not shadowed by the dark figure of horror that he had failed to apprehend that was Jack the Ripper.
JACK THE RIPPER LETTERS:
(Note: Three ‘canonical’ letters exist, including the following and the ‘Saucy Jacky’ postcard. Only the two mentioned in the story have been included here)
‘Dear Boss’ letter, dated September 27, 1888 (received by the police September 29, a day before the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes)
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
‘From Hell’ letter, received October 16, 1888
I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman and prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer
Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk