14. Spring Heeled Jack had strange abilities that were seen to be of either supernatural or scientific origin.
Spring Heeled Jack was supposedly incredibly quick on his feet, allowing him to flee the scene of his crimes without a trace. However, his primary skill was his ability to leap into the air to an improbable height. One of the first descriptions of this ability came in the aftermath of the initial attacks in 1837 when a businessman reported seeing a ‘leaping man’ on Barnes Common. Witnesses credited Jack with the ability to leap over obstacles between six and twenty feet in height. After Jane Alsop’s attack, he was said to have leaped straight into the air- and disappeared. As a result, many people took this as proof that Spring Heeled Jack had a supernatural origin.
However, Spring Heeled Jack left proof of a more earthly explanation. In the aftermath of the Mary Steven’s attack on Clapham Common, investigators discovered three-inch deep footprints near Clapham church- each bearing the marks of a spring. This discovery was followed on December 30thby descriptions by the residents of Lewisham of a figure wearing a bearskin and sprung shoes that allowed him to “jump to and fro before foot passengers.”
However, the ability to jump to great heights was not Spring Heeled Jack’s only alarming ability. For both Lucy Scales and Jane Alsop said that their attacker was able to conjure forth flames from nowhere. Jane Alsop described how her attacker “vomited forth a quantity of blue and white flames from his mouth. ” while Lucy Scales described how hers spurted “a quantity of blue flame” into her face. As a result, Lucy fell to the floor, unable to see and terrified.
During the aftermath of her attack, Lucy Scales suffered from violent fits. The Morning Post reported that the police believed Miss Scale’s indisposition was caused by her assailant “blowing through a tube in which spirits of wine, sulfur, and another ingredient were deposited and ignited.” However, not everyone was so sure that science was the key.