The East River Ripper: The Mysterious 1891 Murder of Old Shakespeare

2022 FAPA President’s Book Award: Bronze: Political/Current Events

Shortly after NYPD Chief of Detectives Thomas Byrnes publicly criticized the London police for failing to capture Jack the Ripper, he received a letter purportedly from Jack himself saying New York was his next target. Not long after, Byrnes was confronted by his own Ripper-style murder case in the death of Carrie Brown, a.k.a. “Old Shakespeare,” a colorful character who worked as a prostitute and had a penchant for quoting Shakespeare. Given the near-hysteria surrounding this vicious murder soon after the Jack the Ripper murders in London, people were worried that Jack might have actually come to America.

The detective bureau finally arrested Amir Ben Ali, an Algerian immigrant. The newspapers, however, immediately criticized Byrnes for moving too quickly, suggesting that he had tried to save face by pinning the crime on an easy target.

 

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