When the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper was on a murder spree in 1888, the Ealing Police Station and local journalists received many notes claiming to be from the man responsible for the killings.
One of them will be up for auction this October, nearly 130 years after it was sent.
“Beware there is two women I want here,” it reads. “They are bastards and I mean to have them my knife is still in good order it is a students knife and I hope you liked the half of kidney. I am Jack the Ripper.”
Whether or not any of the letters linked to the case were actually from the murderer — who was thought to be connected to 11 different killings in Whitechapel, London that year — has been the subject of much suspicion over the decades.
No one was ever convicted in the case, but the killer’s notoriety has lasted more than a century thanks to the particularly brutal way he mutilated the victims, his specific focus on female sex workers, and the media frenzy with which the murders were covered.
Many people thought the letters were written by journalists, just to spice up the story and attract readers.
The most famous message (which is even referred to in this particular postcard), was sent to George Lusk, the chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, along with a piece of human kidney.
I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman 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
Some sources suggest that more than 1,000 letters were written by people claiming to be the Whitechapel killer — but the “From Hell” letter and the one up for sale this year seem more legitimate than most, according to experts.
The card was sent to the Ealing Police Station in October, 1888 — shortly before the murder of Mary Kelly. Kelly was a 25-year-old prostitute and was the last of the five victims most commonly thought to be linked to the one killer.
It has been determined that the artifact is indeed from 1888. It was taken from the Whitechapel murderer file by a member of the Metropolitan Police, who brought it home with it upon his retirement in 1966.
Now, it’s being sold by his widow.
Even if the note wasn’t actually written by the murderer, it is still a rare item directly tied to the famous case.
“No such police related Ripper communication, and with such good provenance, has been offered for auction in living memory,” Grand Auctions said in a statement. “We are dealing with a very rare artifact indeed connected to a person who has never gone out of the news.”
This won’t be the first time people have sold items related to what is perhaps the world’s most notorious cold case.
In 2014, auctioneers sold items (including handcuffs and a truncheon) that had belonged to PC Edward Watkins — a policeman on the original 1888 case — for nearly $23,000. And this past June, an 1888 police flier warning Whitechapel residents about the murders was sold in New York for $35,000.
Next, read about a diary containing murder confessions that was recently linked to Jack the Ripper. Then, take a look inside the incredibly twisted murder mansion of H.H. Holmes.