The grim crimes executed by Jack the Ripper in Victorian London remain the capital’s most shocking murders. Meanwhile, Spring Heeled Jack, fifty years before the Ripper attacks, made his name by assaulting women on dark nights and vanishing into the quilt of darkness. However, and surprisingly, London’s sinister past is littered with similar accounts performed by other assailants.
Between 1788 and 1790, one-hundred years before the Ripper, a very sadistic attacker prowled the capital. He would become known as the London Monster, a vile individual who caused panic on the streets as he attacked women in freakish fashion.
The slashing of clothing, stabbing of faces after luring them to sniff fake nosegay, and attaching blades to his knees and stabbing their buttocks were just a handful of sinister acts within his ghastly repertoire. As more than fifty women succumbed to the terror, local men began to wear badges in order to let women know they weren’t the assailant and a No Monster Club was formed.
Eventually, the arrest of 23-year-old Rhynwick Williams came after he was accused of stalking a woman, but despite the six-year jail term it seems the police had got the wrong man simply to keep the peace. The attacks continued, but sporadically before fading into folklore.
During the swingin’ Sixties the Skirt Slasher of Piccadilly made a brief name for himself. This miserable character haunted women on escalators and for six months removed pieces of fabric from women’s garments, often without their knowledge and during the 1970s he was, or someone similar, to become known as Jack The Snipper after a series of attacks around tube stations, and the predator was often seen fleeing into the depths of the station.
Then, 23-year-old career officer Graham Carter was apprehended. He was found to have kept a diary of his attacks and ordered to cough up £270. Around the same time a Jack the Stripper was also on the loose, but that’s another story…
During the late ‘70s and early ‘80s a phantom known as the Platform Maniac was said to be pushing people to their deaths on remote train platforms across London. Of course, no-one saw the psychopath but rumour spread like wildfire and an urban legend was born. Often you would hear from someone who knew another that had possibly experienced the terror of the platform killer. No-one was ever arrested for the crimes but every tragic accident on the platforms was often blamed on some clever yet sick attack by the sadist who gradually faded from the human subconscious.
In 1998 the Phantom Cat-Ripper was patrolling London and killing cats with surgical precision. This was another unseen lunatic who left moggy’s decapitated or bereft of tail before slinking into the shadows.
This gruesome reign of terror was analysed by psychiatrists and monitored by police. Evidence at times suggested a larger, exotic cat may have feasted on the cats, whilst rumours that a cat serial killer was on the loose caused local panic before the RSPCA concluded that vehicles had simply done the damage, despite many cats being found away from roads.
To be continued…