Doctors, Letters, and Missing Details

Katlyn Burchard, Guest Writer

The Morning Star and Dial

October 1, 1888

Discovered early in the morning on September 30, the bodies of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine turned up on Dutfields Yard and Mitre Square. Both women were found with their faces mutilated and abdomens cut open, but proof of missing organs has not yet been released. Police have no doubt that they were victims of the Whitechapel Murders. The hunt continues for the Whitechapel Murderer, and if you have any information, do not hesitate to contact the police.


A case is a case, no matter how big or small. But this case was a big one; it didn’t matter who you were.

After the first news article came out about the discoveries of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, all of Whitechapel, London, buzzed with intrigue about the infamous fiend behind the murders. Police and detectives alike were piling hours upon hours of investigations, and guess who gets to join in all the fun?

Me. Nathaniel Mason, the newest detective on the team.

Giddiness bubbled in my chest as I made my way home for the evening. Walking briskly through the streets, I couldn’t help but imagine myself not only solving the Eddowes case, but all of the Whitechapel Murders.

I stumbled into the small apartment I shared with a friend of mine. I debated whether to start my investigations, or wait until I got back to work. As I began to set up at my small desk, something sticking out of one the drawers caught my eye.

I pulled out an envelope with my roommate’s name, Jacob, on it. I met Jacob Turner when I first moved to Whitechapel. I desperately needed someplace to stay, and Jacob needed someone to look after his place while he worked at London Hospital. We seemed to fit each other’s needs, and had been living together for the past eight months.

Strange, I thought, to be in my desk. I should give it back. But, the envelope wasn’t sealed, and a bright red stain on the corner caught my eye. Curiosity bested me, and I unfolded the paper.

I realized that I recognized it from somewhere. The handwriting, the red stains, the name signed at the bottom. . .

“Is that mine?”

I dropped the letter on my desk, startled by Jacob’s sudden appearance. “Um, it was in my drawer. . .”

“That doesn’t mean you should be looking at it.” Jacob slunk over to an armchair beside my desk and sat down. “I ran out of paper earlier and I figured you wouldn’t mind if I borrowed some.”

“I don’t mind. But, Jacob. . . you didn’t actually write this, did you?”

He shrugged. “Can’t remember. I assume a patient report?”

I let out a nervous laugh. “Do you remember the Ripper letter that they published earlier this week in the newspaper? The ‘Dear Boss’ one linked to the recent murders?” He nodded. “It’s eerily similar to that. It’s even signed the same way.”

Jacob only stared at me with a blank expression. “That must’ve been a copy I got from somebody. Patients are a little obsessed with this so-called Ripper, you know.” He stood and swept it off the desk. “No big deal, I’ll just throw it away.” He neatly folded the letter and slipped it in his pocket, avoiding the waste bucket mere feet away.

Unease rose in my chest; I suppressed it and asked, “Want to hear some good news?”

“With everything going on around here recently, any news sounds great to me.”

I went to my desk and pulled out the morning newspaper, showing Jacob the front page with the pictures of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes. “I was given a case today.” I handed the paper to him. “I’m going to solve the murder of Catherine Eddowes!” I smiled at him, but Jacob’s face contorted with confusion and anger. “What’s the matter? Aren’t you happy for me?”

He stood from the armchair, forcefully throwing the newspaper back at me. “Why you? Why not somebody else?” He swore under his breath. “You have to give the case to somebody else.” He seemed panicked, frantically pacing the small room and mumbling curses to himself.

“I can’t give it to somebody else.” He stopped pacing and faced me. “And frankly, I don’t want to. This could be the start of an amazing career! Why would I give this up?”

“Nathaniel, if you don’t give up that case, you’re going to regret it. You just need to trust me on this. Give. Up. The case.”

I stared in disbelief. In the short time I knew him, Jacob had become somewhat of a close friend. To think he wouldn’t want the best for me was an outrageous thought. I wanted the best for him, so why shouldn’t he return the feeling?

I knew how much this case mattered to me. I couldn’t let that go. “I’m not going to give it up. I’m going to solve it.”

Jacob stormed out of the room yelling, “You’re going to regret this, Nathaniel!” I heard the door to his room slam. His sudden outbursts surprised me. I couldn’t ignore the tension anymore.

But it’s Jacob, I thought to myself, this should blow over soon. I was a little shaken up, but not too much that a cup of tea wouldn’t fix it.

I was filling up the teakettle when I heard the door to Jacob’s room open. His large footsteps sounded throughout the small apartment as he made his way through. I heard him stop behind me. “I’m making tea if you want—”

I turned to face him, and saw Jacob wielding a crowbar over his head.


He swung.


I jolted awake; a sudden rush of pain spread through my head. I tried to reach for the pain, but my arms were tied around the back of an armchair. The same armchair Jacob was sitting in mere. . . minutes ago? Hours ago? How much time had passed? As I pondered this, I studied the massive amount of blood on my clothes.

Then I looked up at Jacob sitting at my desk with his doctors bag. The contents unfurled across my work, all neatly in a row, smallest to largest. A crude smile was plastered on his face.

“Jacob, what’s going on?”

“Oh, Nathaniel. You haven’t figured it out yet, have you?” He picked up one of the tools from the desk and twirled it in his hand. “I can’t have you on that case because I know you’ll solve it. And while that may be good for you, it isn’t good for me.” He jabbed the sharp end of the tool into the wooden desk. “And I have to do what’s good for me in the long run.”

Fear beat out of my chest. “Jacob, whatever you’re going to do, you don’t have to do it. I’ll give up the case. I won’t tell anyone about the letters—”

“That’s over now, Nathaniel. I can’t have the possibility of this getting out to the public.”

“Why are you doing this? What you’re doing to innocent people. . . it’s not right. What you’re doing to me isn’t right.”

He shot out a barking laugh. “Why do I do this? Because they’re women! Despicable creatures, especially in the likes of prostitutes. They have no soul, why not finish them off? They’re only mere ladies whose lives are going nowhere and won’t be missed. And to dismember them and take out vital things that makes them women. . . it’s thrilling.” He picked up another tool: a scalpel.

“Please, stop this. If you let me go, I promise I’ll stay quiet.”

He stood and walked over to my chair, “I won’t be taking any chances.” He brought the scalpel up to the corner of my mouth and I felt a sharp pain where it pierced my skin. He let it fall and went back to his array of tools.

I could taste the blood at the corner of my mouth. “Jacob, please, whatever you’re about to do, you don’t need to do it. Just let me go and we can get you help. You need to stop this.” I struggled against the restraints. “You don’t have to live this life. I—I could help you, if you just let me—”

“Stop it!” he yelled. “Stop! Be quiet! This is how it is, Nathaniel. Every second you’re alive is a second closer to me being discovered.”

I cried. I cried for my family who would have to live without a goodbye. I cried for myself, for I knew that this was it. I cried for Jacob; for my friend who had gone mad.

I had no hope, but I had to give it one last shot. “Jacob. . . please, don’t do this.”

“Please,” he said as he picked up the amputation saw. “Call me Jack.”





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   18 April, 2019.

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