Inspector Henry Moore (1848 - 1918), was one of the officers who was sent from Scotland Yard to supplement the East End detective force who were investigating the Whitechapel murders in September, 1888.
He worked as a subordinate to Inspector Frederick George Abberline until, in 1889, Abberline was recalled to Scotland Yard to investigate the Cleveland Street scandal, at which point Moore was put in charge of the on the ground investigation into the case, and remained in charge until 1896, when, with the certainty that the crimes had stopped, the hunt for the Whitechapel murderer was wound down.
As the lead detective on the case, from 1889 to 1896, and as a member of the team of detectives who pursued the ripper through the streets of Whitechapel throughout the autumn of 1888, Moore's opinions and recollections on the case are, to say the least, interesting; and, fortunately, he was happy to hold forth on the case.
In August, 1889, the American journalist Richard Harding Davis (1864 -1916), arrived in London to research an article about the Whitechapel murders.
Having arrived at the Metropolitan Police headquarters at Scotland Yard, he met with Assistant Commissioner, and head of the Criminal Investigation Department, Sir Robert Anderson, who then arranged for him to head out to Whitechapel and be escorted around the streets by the, by then, lead detective on the case, Inspector Henry Moore.
Harding's subsequent article was reproduced by The Pall Mall Gazette on November 4th, 1889, and provides us with a fascinating glimpse of the streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields whilst the Jack the Ripper scare still held sway.
The article also gives us an idea of some of the measures that the police were adopting in their attempts to bring the elusive Whitechapel murderer to justice.
Robert Anderson, began by diving the American journalist the low-down on the district he was about to visit:-
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.
DR. ANDERSON ON CRIMINAL "SHOW PLACES"
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 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 he still be 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 to be 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."
The journalist suggested that he had never found that they looked any different from any one 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."
Having been briefed on what to expect, and what not to expect, Harding headed east, and arrived at Leman Street Police Station, where he was introduced to the officer who was to be his tour guide for the night:-
Proceeding to Leman-street police station at nine o'clock at night in fulfillment of an engagement made by Dr Anderson, Mr. Davis found the entrance to the station barricaded with several crossings of red tape.
It was very different from the easy discipline of an American police station, and from the nights when, as a police reporter, I walked unquestioned into the roll room and woke up the sergeant in charge to ask if there was anything on the slate, and to be told, sleepily, that there was "nothing but drunks."
The superintendent introduced me to a well-dressed gentleman of athletic build, who, he said was Inspector Moore, the chief of the detective force that has, since April, 1888, covered the notorious district of the Whitechapel murders.
The inspector has been twenty years in the force, and it was his work on the murder committed by the American, Lamson [this is referring to George Henry Lamson (1852 - 1882), an American doctor, who poisoned his 18-year-old brother-in-law in 1881, and was hanged for the crime on 28th April, 1882], that brought him the distinguished and most unwelcome work on which he is still engaged."
As the ripper scare had gathered momentum over the course of the previous twelve months, the Metropolitan Police had find themselves facing hostile criticism, not only from the British press and public, but also from over their overseas counterparts.
Some of the criticism had been unfair, and had been made by people whom had no understanding of the problems that the warren-like complexity that the district posed to the investigating London detectives.
Inspector Moore, was more than happy to put the record straight, and told Harding about a particular American police chief, who had been only too willing to proffer his advice on what the Metropolitan Police were doing wrong; until, that is, Moore had taken him on a tour of the area and had shown him one of the murder sites:-
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, just 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 [this had been the scene of the murder of Alice McKenzie in July, 1889]), and the courts around it, he took off his hat and said: "I apologise, I never saw anything like it before. We've nothing hike 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 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 end 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."
Having put the record straight, Inspector Moore gave Harding another insight into the area, and revealed to him why he felt safe about traversing some of the most crime-ridden streets in London, at all times of the day and night, and often alone:-
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 through 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 that 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."
One of the intriguing things about the ripper investigation, is the number of plain clothes detectives who were drafted into the area at the height of the scare, not to mention the number of amateur detectives that were out on the streets on the murderers trail.
Hardin was given a glimpse of some of the nefarious nocturnal activities that the police were pursuing:-
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 od 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 learnt 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 two hundred 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."
One of the actual murder locations that they visited that night was 13 Miller's Court, where Mary Kelly had been murdered, on the 9th of November of the previous year.
The two actually visited the room in which the atrocious crime had taken place, and met with the current residents of the room.
Moore, reportedly, claimed to have seen inside Mary Kelly's room in the immediate aftermath of her murder, and to have seen the body as it lay on the bed.
It should be noted, however, that the account that appeared in the article appears to have been exaggerated, and certain facts that are given - such as the killer escaping through the window, and the fact that he had hung bits of flesh and body parts around the room, are at odds with the reported facts:-
"This was about the worst of the murders," said the inspector, when they reached Dorset Street. "He cut the skeleton so clean that, when I got here, here I could not 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 he had to make his escape through the larger of those two windows.
Imagine how 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 wound 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 more women since then.
We knocked at the door and a woman opened it. She spoke to someone inside, and then told "Mister Inspector" to come in. It was a bare white-washed room, with a single 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 that 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 his face."
Having held forth on the gruesome scene inside 13, Miller's Court, Inspector Moore, turned his attention the type of women that Jack the Ripper was choosing as his victims, and made a point that is extremely valid, i.e., it wasn't the murderer, but, rather, his victims who chose the locations where the murders occurred.
He also revealed the effect that the crimes, and the hunt for the perpetrator, had had on him:-
"What makes it so easy for him" - the inspector always referred to the murderer "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. And then they are so miserable and so hopeless, so utterly lost to all that makes a person want to live, that for the sake of fourpence, enough to get drunk on, they will go in any man's company, and run the risk that it is not 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 to the danger they run, they'll laugh and say, "Oh, I know what you mean. I aint afraid of him. It's the Ripper or the bridge with me. What's the odds?"
And,it' true; that's the worst of it"
The inspector feels his work and its responsibilities keenly. He talked of nothing else, and he apparently eats and sleeps on nothing else.
Once or twice he stopped, and pointing to a man and woman standing whispering on a corner, 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 chaps identity than there is to the identity of some murderer who will kill some one a hundred years from now."
Obviously, at the time, the hunt for the murderer was still going-on, and numerous clues and lines of enquiry were being pursued.
But, as Inspector Moore explained, the investigation was being hindered hoaxers, letter-writers and, on occasion, even by the very detectives who were out on the streets trying to catch Jack the Ripper before he killed again:-
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 two hundred yards, he had found three houses where the murderer was supposed to be in hiding. This shows that there must have been hundreds of men suspected of whom the public have heard nothing.
Inspector Moore said that his own detectives, amateur and professional, would occasionally follow each other for a week with the idea that they were tracking the murderer.
"And then we are so often misled by false clues, suggested by people who have a spite to work off. We get any number of letters throwing the most circumstantial evidence about a certain man, and when we run it out we find the evidence has been cooked up by someone who hates him probably, or some woman whom be has thrown over. All this takes time and money, and from the nature of our work we can say nothing of what we are doing; we can only speak when it is done. I have received 2,000 letters of advice from America alone; you can fancy how many I get from this country.
"And then there is the practical joker who sends us letters written in blood and bottles of blood, parts of the human body or the entrails of animals which he says he took from is victim.
It is not an easy piece of work, I assure you. I work seventeen and eighteen hour a day. If I get into bed I think maybe he is at it now, and I grow restless, and finally get up and tramp the courts and alleys until morning."
It had been a five hours' walk through more misery, vice and crime than can perhaps been found in as small a space, less than a square mile, in any other great city."
As there tour of the area approached its end, and the journalist and the inspector neared Leman Street Police Station, Moore pointed out a location that, in his opinion, would make the perfect spot for a murder to be carried out. In so doing, he, inadvertently, pointed out the location where the next Whitechapel murders victim, the unknown lady whose torso was found beneath a railway arch in Pinchin Street, would be discovered, less than a month later:-
There had been only eight murders then. And as we neared station I remember the inspector's pointing into the dark arches of the London, Tilbury, and Southend Railway, and saying: "Now, what a place for a murder that would be."
A week later, while I was in mid-ocean on my way back, the body of the ninth victim was found, just under those very arches, and not three minutes walk from the police-station, I don't know whether Jack the Ripper was lurking near us that night and had acted on the inspector's suggestion, or whether the inspector is Jack the Ripper himself, but the coincidence is certainly suspicious.
As for myself, although I assented to its being a good place for murder at the time, I can prove an alibi by the ships captain."
The Pall Mall Gazette, November 4th, 1889.
Walter Dew. I Caught Crippen Blackie and Son Ltd (1938).