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What Ike Lewis Really Saw That Night

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What Ike Lewis Really Saw That Night

Post by Karen on Sun 28 Feb 2010 - 22:58


Dwellers in the Murder Quarter.
Strange Sights.

Yiddish and Kosher Rum.



Jack the Ripper has come back. His threats in letters to the police that he would begin work again in July were not idle and empty. On July 17 his eighth victim, a poor woman of forty named Alice Mackenzie, who had lived for six years with a man named M'Cormack, was found weltering in her blood in Castle Alley, a little narrow blind alley turning out of Whitechapel High Road, and within a stone's throw of the scene several of his other crimes.


The whole labyrinth of streets and lanes and alleys was simply swarming with police, and yet the murderer has eluded all their vigilance again. "All the murders" says the Herald, "have been audacious." The murderer has in each case taken chances which would have frightened any ordinary assassin from his purpose. But yesterday's murder beats them all in this respect. The police were in front of him, behind him and all round him. There were three constables at least on watch within hearing of his victim's shriek, had his first blow failed. There was a lighted bedroom just above him, in which two people were going to bed. They were not fifteen feet from him when he struck. The woman was found lying diagonally across the narrow four-foot sidewalk on the left-hand side of Castle Alley as you go in from Whitechapel road, this great thoroughfare being only thirty yards away. She was dead, and the work of mutilation, interfered with by a singular circumstance, had begun when the murderer was warned by the appoaching steps of Constable 272 H, and slipped up the alley and out into Whitechapel road through the dark, narrow court. He must have gone this way, because there was no other outlet without passing 272 H. And yet to go through this court and out into the street, he must have passed only a few yards - ten at most - from a Constable stationed in front of the very buildings between which the court runs.


At a quarter past twelve Constable 423 H stopped under the very lamp-post by which the woman was found and ate his luncheon. He was there perhaps ten minutes. Between twenty and twenty-five minutes past, Constable 272 H came up from Wentworth street on his regular patrol, going up the right side of the alley and coming back on the left. He passed out, and the alley was tenantless at half past twelve. And yet at ten minutes to one when he returned the body lay there covered with blood, the victim dead, and partially mutilated, with no trace whatever of the assassin. He had kept the same close watch on the patrol as he did in Mitre square. He took the same incredible chances and succeeded in the same incredible way. The death was as absolutely silent as have been all the rest. There was no sound even of conversation, because the words, unless voiced in a low tone, would have been heard by the people overhead. In all the annals of assassination as a fine art there has been nothing to surpass this case."


An observant and philosophical reporter on the London Star, visited the scene of Tuesday's murders with a view to studying the people amongst whom Jack the Ripper commits his mysterious crimes. He says:

"It is a strangely quiet and indifferent crowd which peers at the splashes of blood underneath the lamp-post in Castle yard, where the new victim of the Whitechapel murderer lay, a few hours ago, with her gashed throat in the kennel, and her legs almost touching the doorways of Messrs King's workshops. It is a Jew crowd, for the two Castle streets are almost purely Jewish quarters. Little Jew boys, with big beady eyes and sallow faces, sit on the steps of big barrack-like Board school hard by towering high above the ramshackle hovels of Castle street. Sallow, sickly little creatures are they, but shrewd and self-possessed. The women stand about in knots, huge, stayless women, with breasts hanging down. Then there is the Jew young man, with his cigarette, there, consumptive-looking, but wiry. One of them was out at one in the morning. "What were you doing at that time of night?" we ask, and he becomes less communicative, taking us for detectives. But he soon brisks up again. Ike Lewis, of Old Castle street, is the man to see. He saw the man cutting away, and called for the police, and when they came "Jack" was gone. Yes, Ike Lewis is plainly the man to interview. He is a shrewd, well-looking young gentleman enough, but for detective purposes he is a fraud. To us he says nothing; he has been sucked dry already, and there is no squeezing more out of him. Seen her? No. He was going into Castle Alley out of New Castle street, and was stopped in the passage by a policeman - not arrested. "The paper called you a man," said one of his comrades, with gentle sarcasm, which young Ike does not resent, and we leave him.

Source: Star, Issue 6644, 7 September 1889, Page 2

Note: If this is a true account, then Ike Lewis may have been the one person who saw the Ripper up close. Undoubtedly, he was reluctant to speak about what he saw that night to the press and public due to the fact that several persons were threatened by Jack the Ripper on other occasions. I am sure that he only spoke of what he saw to the police. He was not considered a suspect since he was not arrested, no blood or knife was found on his person, and he did seek out a police officer to accompany him to the crime scene in progress. This Ike Lewis may be one of the most important witnesses to a Ripper crime being carried out.

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