Tuesday, May 27, 2014

London's Rippers, Slashers & Snippers


Let go beyond the notorious 'Jack the Ripper' and look at other less-famous beasts in London's history.

During the 1680s, a supernatural predator stalked London. They called him 'Whipping Tom', and he preyed upon women around Chancery Lane, Fetter Lane, Strand, Holborn and Fleet Street. Although Whipping Tom was an obscure lunatic, his crimes inspired a booklet that emerged in 1681, entitled Whipping Tom Brought to Light and Exposed to View.

Whipping Tom was said to prowl the streets after dusk and accost women, hitch their dresses up and spank them furiously, at times with a metal rod, shouting “Spanko!”.

Those who believed in him felt he was not of this Earth, who seemed to bound away at great speed and height after slashing, exposing and mocking his hapless female victims.

Between 1788 and 1790, a phantom aggressor prowled the capital. His repertoire of sadism included: stabbing the faces of women through a fake nosegay, slashing at clothing and bounding away into the shadows, and stalking females and hurling obscenities. Even more strangely he had attached blades to his knees and stabbed at women’s buttocks, leaving more than fifty victims with shredded clothing and sliced flesh.

Local panic hit the streets, while some men wore badges in order to let terrified women know that they were not the dreaded spectre, and were approachable. Despite the effort descriptions of the maniac were all too inconsistent, despite the many victims.

A 23-year old Rhynwick Williams was accused of following an Anne Porter. Despite having an alibi for other attacks, Williams was charged by the magistrates for the defacement of clothing, which, during the time, was given a harsher penalty than attempted murder. Though there was shoddy evidence and a questionable trial it still could not prevent a six-year jail term.

The infamous Spring Heeled Jack was another tormentor and slasher of females. Fast-forward almost thirty-years and gasp at the horror of the Phantom Skirt-Slasher Of Piccadilly, who for a terrifying reign of six-months prowled the London underground like some blade-wielding, elusive ghoul. Like some teasing menace, the phantom frequently haunted the escalators, cutting loose the fabric from women’s skirts to expose, unknown to the poor victims, their under garments, revealing their buttocks. The phantom-cutter, who would in 1977 become known as 'Jack The Snipper', would then flee into the depths of the underground, awaiting his next victim.

Although the skirt-ripper never wounded any of his victims, his perverted attacks bizarrely echoed those of Spring-Heeled Jack, as he reveled in exposing his victims underwear and genital area, and even the more vicious London Monster before him. In the summer of 1977 the spectre was finally caught, unlike many of his sadistic relatives, and turned out to be a twenty-three year old school career officer Graham Carter, who’d even kept a diary of his weird exploits.

On Halloween 1998, a pet cat with a severed head was found in a garden in Wimbledon. The horrifying discovery led some to believe that a satanic cult were on the prowl at night, whilst others claimed that the ‘M25 Monster’, a local big cat, possibly a lynx, had devoured the domestic feline.

At Stepney and New Barnet around the same time, other cats were found, but their heads remained absent, and on November 11th a psychologist was called in by police to create a profile of what the press had dubbed ‘the cat-ripper’. The Independent reported that the “… cat ripper may attack humans next”, causing a reasonable stir in the press and the local community. Ten rabbits were next on the hit list, but further south at Twickenham, an Eileen Tattershall lost her cat in grisly fashion.

The London cat-rippings of 1998 continued into 1999. An inspector analyzing the decapitations claimed that foxes, badgers and dogs had also been the cause, although there is no evidence of any animal native to England that kills in such a fashion.

The satanic connection came to the fore on several occasions, despite such rumored activity often being nothing more than local urban myth. Forensic psychologist Susan Hope-Burland commented, “...this scale of ritualized cruelty is rare. It’s very reminiscent of the way serial killers behave.”

After a lull in activity, the summer of 2001 brought more rippings, with half a Muntjac deer being discovered in Wycombe, it's wounds having all the traits of a 'big cat'.

Similar attacks would would occur for the next five years later, proof that the ‘cat-ripper’ was a sum of many parts...but definitely real nonetheless.

Sources:
londonist.com
The London Monster: A Sanguinary Tale
georgianlondon.com
springheeled-jack.com
Crime, Police, and Penal Policy: European Experiences 1750-1940
independent.co.uk
telegraph.co.uk
Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters






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