Skip to comments.The London Monster: The Saturday Strangeness
Posted on 09/03/2009 7:37:15 AM PDT by Nikas777
The London Monster
The Saturday Strangeness
Neil Arnold on August 22, 2009 3:00 PM
29. Phantom Assailants: Part One
One hundred years previous to Jack The Rippers reign of ghastly terror, London was overshadowed by another spectral attacker a phantom aggressor that, although seemingly dreadful and unique, would simply become one of many urban legends pertaining to mysterious and elusive assailants across the world, with many actually analysing the peculiar cases of ripping, and asking did such psychopaths exist or were they the product of local hysteria?
Between 1788 and 1790, an evil jester of an attacker 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 womens buttocks, leaving more than fifty victims with shredded clothing and sliced flesh.
Unfortunately descriptions of the maniac were all too inconsistent, despite the many victims, and local panic hit the streets, with a No Monster Club being formed, involving men who, as club rule, began to wear badges in order to let terrified women know that they were not the dreaded spectre, and were approachable.
The famed Bow Street Runners police force were unable to track the ripper, as local thieves had a field day amongst the melee of piquerism and panic.
Finally, after one hazy encounter at St. James Par, 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. It seems that some higher authority was simply out to charge an innocent man to clear up the panic, but after such an absurd hearing, Williams was granted a retrial. However, even shoddy evidence could not prevent a six-year jail term.
The attacks continued, but to a lesser extent, and then faded into folklore.
30. Phantom Assailants: Part Two
One hundred years before the fog-saturated reign of Jack The Ripper there was the London Monster of 1788 (see previous episode). Fifty years later came the bewildering spectacle of the iron-clawed Spring Heeled Jack (episode 11), 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 womens 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 revelled 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, whod even kept a diary of his weird exploits.
The phantom, who had stalked the nightmares of many women during his time, was alleged to have attacked more than seventeen skirts and was ordered to pay £270 for his offences.
Whilst such attackers appear as bogeymen of folklore, they are in fact rather common the Halifax Slasher, the Mad Gasser Of Mattoon (Illinois) and nasty flesh-rippers from China, Germany, the U.S.A. and France have all displayed similar traits in that they stalk females in dark alleys or stations and jab, hack, stab, puncture and prod clothing and flesh with all manner of sharp devices.
It is a strange world of what David Bowie termed scary monsters and super-creeps!
31. Phantom Assailants: Part Three
The last two episodes of the Strangeness have concentrated on bizarre and elusive individuals who have slashed their way into folklore. This third instalment in the mini-series continues the thread except that the victims have been domestic cats!
1998 was a very grisly year throughout the city with regards to frequent mysterious moggie murders, by way of decapitation and tail removal. Forty cats had turned up in eight months from as far a field as Bexley and Sidcup towards Kent, and further into the heart of London at Camden, Tottenham and Hackney. Environmental officers from Bexley Council investigated one particular carcass that had been completely drained of blood and bereft of head. Strangely, most of the victims were found not far from their homes, often discovered in the back or front gardens.
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 variety.
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, with The Independent reporting 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, towards the festive season, an Eileen Tattershall lost her cat Bonkers in grisly fashion. Even a £1,000 reward couldnt flush the mystery attacker out.
As the sliced up moggies turned up, many cat owners would be spending their Christmas without their beloved pussies.
To be continued
34. Phantom Assailants: Part Four
Continued from episode 31
The London cat-rippings of 1998 continued into 1999. Even more bizarre was the RSPCA voice that stated, after several months of methodical research into the strange deaths, that vehicles were to blame! An inspector analysing the decapitations claimed that foxes, badgers and dogs had also been the cause, although Im unaware of any animal native to England that kills in such a fashion. The vehicle theory was also dismissed by cat owners who claimed that many of their pets had been discovered in their back gardens or far from a road.
The satanic connection came to the fore on several occasions, despite such rumoured activity often being nothing more than local urban myth. Forensic psychologist Susan Hope-Burland commented, this scale of ritualised cruelty is rare. Its very reminiscent of the way serial killers behave.
Whilst the hysteria and wild theories were becoming as confusing as the mystery itself, the killings spread to North London and Surrey.
After what seemed like a lull (or should that be a lack of press interest?), the summer of 2001 brought more rippings, with half a Muntjac deer being discovered in Wycombe, its wounds having all the traits of a puma or leopard kill.
By this time the Bexley big cat had been spotted several times, but no connection made by the authorities between the two; and further north a handful of strange attacks on swans, which were found decapitated, had all the hall marks of a big cat attack. At Penge, a nineteen-year old white pet cat was found beheaded; and in New Malden another pet cat had its tail hacked off a similar attack would occur five years later, proof that the cat-ripper was a sum of many parts, but definitely real.
In episodes 29, 30, 31 and 34 I spoke about London's phantom assailants - a variety of elusive rippers, snippers, cutters and stabbers said to have lurked in the darkest corners of the capital, hell-bent on slashing their way through female victims and disappearing into the black of night like ghosts.
I mentioned that one of the first of these sadistic spooks was 'the London monster', who emerged in 1790 and, by strapping blades to his knees, used to jab at the buttocks of his victims as well as stab them in the face by tricking them into sniffing a fake nosegay that disguised a sharp object. And yet before this monster, during the 1680s, another seemingly 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!".
What kind of pervert was this? Such was the stealth of this assassin that those who believed in him felt he was not of this Earth, but an evasive apparition akin to the later Spring-Heeled Jack (whose attacks began in 1837), who seemed to bound away at great speed and height after slashing, exposing and mocking his hapless female victims.
Three years previous to S.H.J. many women were attacked and stabbed in the Clerkenwell area. Their attackers were described as evil-looking and like ruffians, the weapon used was a sharp file. Two men were caught and found guilty of the crimes. Three years after Jack The Ripper's reign of terror in 1888, six women were stabbed in their buttocks in the Kennington suburb. A Mr Colicott was arrested but then released. Proof that phantom assailants are always in our midst but not all get away.
Source: The London Monster by Jan Bondeson
Spring Heeled Jack was responsible for personal terror in my youth:
When I was around 10 years old, I went to stay the weekend with my uncle and aunt.
As is always my habit, I was the last to go to bed as I enjoyed staying up to the wee hours of the morning.
I decided to read a book on urban-legends/myths, and lo and behold, came across the story of “Spring Heeled Jack”.
Needless to say, it was a sleepless night, especially considering the room I was staying in had no curtains and I was CERTAIN that Mr. Jack was peering in on me everytime I closed my eyes...
Even if it is BS - and by that I mean it is a figment of people's imagination it is fascinating to me because people imagine the same thing seperated by thousands of miles and decades of time.
Bill Bryson lived in England for many years, and in one of his books, wondered about the English and why they were so amused by the word “bottom”.
Thanks Nikas 777 (you're on a roll!) for the topic and dragonblustar for the ping.
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I appreciate the ping, but it seems a bit of a downer.
John Fiedler was right! (See “Star Trek” episode “Wolf in the Fold.”)
He was featured in an episode of the old "Jackie Chan Adventures" cartoon. That's the first time I heard of him.
I study esoteric stuff - not because I think there are real per say but real events distorted or imaginary it tells us something about the way the mind sees things in the context of culture and time in history.
So what's your theory about the Good People?
What ‘Good People’ are you referencing?
You know . . . the People of Peace? The Fair Folk? The Little People? Don't you know they don't like being talked about and even when one does one must use euphemisms?
When most people think of fairies they think of Tinkerbell or the Elizabethan/Victorian insectal creatures. They are a bowdlerization of the real thing, which is decidedly more sinister.
The thing that fascinates me about fairies is that they don't really fit into any category. They're not beings from religion, they're not "space aliens" . . . what are they? There's no religious reason people should believe in them (unlike angels and demons), yet they exist in the folklore of all the peoples of the world.
A professor at the local university once loaned me a copy of a C.S. Lewis book that had a chapter on the fairies (the "Longevi," Lewis calls them in the book). My professor friend shared with me his on theory as to the origin and persistence of belief in fairies: he said that medieval man (at least in Western Europe) lived in a world where everything was explained down to the last detail, where everything fitted in, where everything made sense. He said that the human mind rebels against such a situation and creates something that doesn't fit in. I found that very interesting.
The Good People are nothing to be trifled with. The medieval peasant who came upon them during a night trek through the woods would hide, his heart beating at once in joy and fear. And remember the words of Allingham: "Up the airy mountain/ Down the rushing glen/ we daren't go a-hunting/ For fear of little men."
Nah. This ain't Tinkerbell we're talking about.
There's another reason for my fascination. According to my mother, who grew up in a rural area known for unexplained phenomena, her family looked out and saw little women dressed in blue dancing in the road (this was before my mother was born, and down the road a bit from where she actually grew up, but not by much). Of course, I suppose her family could have just made that up, but I don't know.
My mother has this superstitious Greek folk tale/practice that she does when something mysteriously vanishes.
For example she was writing a check and the check fell off the desk and vanished. She looked everywhere for it and could not find it. I helped. Nothing showed up.
So she took out a needle and said while nailing it down that she called out the goblin and she was pinning him down until it returned the check. I laughed. My mom and her silly beliefs.
The next day the check appeared. My mom out of spite kept the goblin/gremlin/fairy pinned a day longer and then let it go in agreement to the bargain.
You’re not the only one to hear of Spring Heeled Jack, I read about him in the book Strange Stories Amazing Facts, put out by Readers Digest, and I think there is a little illustration of him there.