Followed A Suspicious Man
John Lardy made a brief appearance in the Victorian newspapers in October, 1888.
He, apparently, approached the City Of London Police on the afternoon of Thursday, 18th October, 1888, and made a statement regarding a suspicious looking man, whom, so he said, had the appearance of an American, and whom he (Lardy) and a friend had followed all over Whitechapel from 10.30pm on Wednesday, 17th October.
The Daily News, published a full account of his statement on Friday, 19th October, 1888:-
A REMARKABLE STORY
The City Police have under observation a man Whose movements in Whitechapel, Mile-end, and Bermondsey are attended with suspicion.
A man, who is said to be an American, was arrested in Bermondsey at one o'clock yesterday morning, and taken to the police station.
His conduct, demeanor, and appearance gave rise to great suspicion, and his apprehension and general particulars were wired to the City police.
Following this, a conference took place yesterday afternoon between a young man named John Lardy, of Redman's-row, Mile-end, and the head of the detective department at the Old Jewry, at which he stated as follows:-
"At 10.30 last night, I was with a friend and a young woman outside the Grave Maurice Tavern, opposite the London Hospital, when I noticed a man whom I had never seen before come across the road, look into each compartment of the tavern, and enter the house.
He came out again directly, and carefully looked up and down the road, and then walked over the road to the front of the hospital, where two women were standing talking. They were, I believe, loose women.
The man said something to them, but I did not hear his words. The women shook their heads and said, "No".
I said to my friend, "What a funny-looking man. I wonder if he is the murderer." My friend replied, "Let us follow him."
We said goodnight to our friend and followed the man.
When opposite the Pavilion Theatre, he drew himself up in an instant, and looked carefully round. We believe that he saw us following him, and he disappeared into a doorway.
We stopped for a moment or two, and he came out of his hiding place and went into a newspaper shop next door. shop next door.
During the whole time we saw him his right hand was in his overcoat pocket, apparently clutching something.
He bought a paper at the shop, and folded it up on his chest with his left hand, and then left the shop, looking up and down the road as he did so, and carefully reading the placards outside the shop window.
He afterwards started of towards Aldgate, and we followed him.
When he got to the corner of Duke-street (the street leading to Mitre-square), he turned, and, seeing that we were following him, re-crossed the road and walked hack to Lemon-street end went down it.
Wen he reached Royal Mint-street, he went into King-street, which is very narrow, and my friend and I ran round to the other end of the street, hoping to see him come out there. Just as we got to the other end of King-street we heard a door close, and we waited to see if the man reopened it, for we felt sure that he was the man, although we had not seen him go into the house.
We both waited for 25 minutes, when we WHATS THIS the same come out of the house. He came up the street, and we stepped back and allowed him to pass, and he went in the direction of the Whitechapel-road.
He went away so quickly that we lost sight of him in the fog, which was then very thick. The time then was just after 12.
When he reappeared from the house we noticed that he was very differently dressed to what he was when we first saw him, the most noticeable being his overcoat. At first, he was wearing a sort of short, frock coat reaching his knees only, but when he came out of the house in King-street he had on a large overcoat which reached to within three inches of the ground.
From what I could see, he appeared to be between forty and forty-five years of age, and from five feet eleven inches to six feet in height. (A man 5ft. 11in. was placed before Lardy, who said, "My man was a little taller than you.")
He wore a low hat with a square crown, but I Cannot describe either his trousers or boots.
He had the appearance of an American. His cheek-bones were high and prominent, his face thin, cheeks sunken, and he had a moustache only, his cheeks and chin being clean haven. The moustache was, I believe, a false one, for it was all awry, one end pointing upward, and the other towards the ground. His hair was dark, apparently black, and somewhat long."
From what has since come to the knowledge of the police it is inferred that, on leaving King-street, the stranger made his way over London Bridge into Bermondsey, where he was apprehended, and there is no doubt that the description of the Bermondsey and King-street men tally in nearly every particular."
Source: The Daily News, Friday, 19th October, 1888.
However, by the evening of the 19th of October, 1888, the "Central News" had made further enquiries, and the whole story about the arrest of a mysterious American had been discredited.
The The Eastern Evening News - along with many other newspapers on that evening and the next day - published the following rebuttal of the story:-
The Central News learns upon enquiry that the statement as to the city police having arrested a supposed American in Bermondsey for connection with the Whitechapel murders is untrue.
No one is now in custody.
The man called Lardy made a statement to the City Police yesterday, but no importance is attached to what he said."
Source: The Eastern Evening News, Friday, 19th October, 1888.