Extracts from the memoirs of Chief Superintendent Drake Verdier, (1848-13/09/1927).
Jack Rips Through Bellhamshire
For much of 1898 and 99 the villagers of Gifham feared for their lives, for night-time was a terror, that regularly brought death to one or more villagers. At first it was thought that a feral dog — or dogs — was responsible for the deaths, as all the bodies showed signs of being bitten and the victim’s had had some of their flesh eaten. On the Thursday after Christmas 1898 was when I was called in, a body was found in the fields near Gifham — it was that of the pregnant wife, of a wealth, local land owner. On this occasion things were different, the woman’s body showed none of the usual signs of an animal attack — the previous ones had all shown such signs — despite which there were far too many similarities with the earlier bodies, for them not have been killed by the same killer. All the bodies had suffered massive blood-loss and there was no signs of a struggle, also there was far too little blood found, at all of the scenes of the crimes. The lack of the animal bites on the body — that had concealed the evidence, of the true nature, of the attacks, on the earlier bodies — revealed that some kind of blade had slit one of her wrists.
By the place, where we entered the field, where the body was found, there was a wrecked trap — it had lost a wheel, the previous evening. Both people who had occupied the trap, when it had been wrecked, were severely injured in the accident — John, the youngest son of George Fitzjames baronet, was nearly killed in the accident. That morning, he was abed, in what was expected to be his deathbed. The trap’s other occupant, a Miss Roberta Fitzjames, a distant cousin of Sir George’s, had died in the early hours of that morning, after heroically, despite her terrible injuries, carrying the mortally wounded, unconscious John Fitzjames the several miles, across fields, to the Fitzjamess’ home.