Springheeled Jack Strikes Again Stateside

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Springheeled Jack was originally spotted in London.  In 1837, Springheeled Jack assaulted three women and his reign of terror began.  Described as Satan crossed with Batman, he continued to be witnessed between 1843 through 1845, in the 1860s, the 1870s, and 1904.

(images:36303960@N03/flickr)

(images:[email protected]/flickr)

Springheeled Jack got his name due to the tremendous leaps he made, carrying him great distances as he terrorized local residents.  He was tall, thin, powerful and had cloaked, fiery eyes.  Jack reportedly startled his guests with a loud shrieking nose.  Commonly jumping in front of coaches, he would terrify horses and disrupt coachmen.  Springheeled Jack would allegedly flap his wings, or in some accounts, a cape, before dashing off unscathed.

In 1838, London declared Springheeled Jack a public menace and instituted a vigilance committee to take him down.  After a series of assaults in which Jack scratched the belly and ripped the dresses off female victims, the town had finally had enough.

Shortly after Jack was made the subject of searches, an eighteen year old girl fell victim to his tricks.  Shouting outside the young woman’s home that he had found Jack and needed her to assist with the police, she left her home.  Springheeled Jack began tearing at her clothes.  She struggled before being rescued by her sister.  Even after they raced into the house and locked the door, Jack continued knocking until the police were called.  When he heard them approaching, Jack dashed away.  A week later, he appeared at another local home and only opted to leave when a servant started screaming uncontrollably.

(images:aeillill/flickr)

(images:aeillill/flickr)

Initially, Springheeled Jack was rumored to be Henry, Marquis of Waterford.  An Irish nobleman, he was known for his rowdy habirs and cruel humor.  The rumors began after one victim indicated seeing a ‘W” embroidered on Springheeled Jack’s cape.  Rumors ceased, however, when Henry died in 1859 and sightings of Springheeled Jack continued.

New theories surfaced when Springheeled Jack took his first life.  In 1845, he murdered a thirteen year old prostitute.  He threw her into an open sewer and watched her drown.  This led local residents to argue that he was likely Jack the Ripper, who terrorized and killed prostitutes in 1888.  Their terrorizing occurred during the same time period in 1837 to 1904 and it was perhaps more than a coincidence that the only life Springheeled Jack took was that of a prostitute.

(images:adrian84/flickr)

(images:adrian84/flickr)

Jack the Ripper was an unidentified serial killer in London.  He received his title when a letter, allegedly written by him, was sent to the press.  In it he described his work and future plans to kill.  He signed it with his trade name and the nickname stuck.  His attacks involved female prostitutes.  Before mutilating the bodies, Jack the Ripper slashed the throats of his victims.  Because of the removal of internal organs, some theorized that he had a surgical or anatomical knowledge.  Media coverage of his actions was broad and quickly spread fear through the London area.  The  murders of the victims linked to Jack the Ripper were never solved.

While the early reign of Springheeled Jack was centered in London, he was rumored to make his way stateside in 1938.  He was spotted in Silver City, New Mexico by four children.  The story made news when each child gave a similar account of their interaction with the creature and none had ever heard of him prior to their own experience.

Megan Borchert
Megan Borchert
Lover of all things unusual, Megan is a staff attorney for the state of South Dakota. When she's not stuffed in an office writing case synopses, you can find her at home with her army of Schnauzers, snuggled up with some strong wine and a good book.

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