To catch a killer: The hunt for Jack the Ripper

DATED: 14.03.14

During the hunt for Jack the Ripper throughout the autumn of terror 1888, many ideas and suggestions flooded in from the public and amateur detectives alike. Some good, some just plain awful, but very intriguing. I’ve highlighted a couple of the ideas that stood out in the legend of Jack the Ripper.


Did you know when the police seemed to make no progress in the hunt for Jack the Ripper it was suggested some of the east ends best trained boxers should be dressed in women’s clothes and walk the streets in an attempt to lure the killer into making an attack.

In the days before female officers, a humorous suggestion was to have male police officers dressed as ladies, roaming the East end streets at night hoping to attract the killer himself. This plan might not have been so humorous if not for the fact most male officers were 6 feet tall with moustaches and or beards.

The one time the police decided to use a female was on 14th October 1888 when Amelia Brown from Peckham was given the charming task of pretending to be a prostitute looking for business, while police hid nearby. The poor woman was only given a whistle for her personal protection.

Blood hounds 

With mounting pressure coming from all quarters for progress in tracking Jack the Ripper, any new ideas and methods which may have some merit were considered. (At this time there was little if any concept of forensic clues to assist the detection of the killer).

On the 9th October 1888, police commissioner Sir Charles Warren personally oversaw the trials of bloodhounds on Regents Park, London. Two hounds, Barnaby and Burgho, were brought down from Scarborough by the well-known breeder, Mr Brough. Sir Charles even acted as quarry in one of the trials and expressed himself satisfied with the results. The incident did, however acquire a certain mythology around the East End and reports that both the hounds and Sir Charles got lost in the London fog soon circulated.

Orders were given that Barnaby and Burgho be brought to the scene of the next murder and finally given their task. On the 9th November Mary Jane Kelly lay murdered in her small room in Dorset Street. Officers would not enter the room until the hounds had arrived. Could the Ripper be about to face justice? Sadly with an already over stretched budget the hounds had not been purchased , resulting in their owner returning with his dogs back to Scarborough. Could these two famous hounds have solved the most infamous case in criminal history? One wonders.

If you’d like to learn more about the many ways the police and locals tried to apprehend Jack the Ripper then try out London’s number one Jack the Ripper tour. Every day of the week at 7.30pm.

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The Jack the Ripper Casebook